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20 Harsh Life Lessons Everyone Should Learn In Their 20s

20 Harsh Life Lessons Everyone Should Learn In Their 20s

Your 20s can be the most challenging years of your life. They can also be some of the best. There are also vast differences between a 20-year-old and a 29-year-old, and when there are so many changes that happen in your 20s, you might start to wonder if you will ever have it all figured out. But I’ve got some good news — nobody has it all figured out! Here are 20 life lessons everyone should learn in their 20s.

1. You don’t have everything figured out

I want to remind you of this again. I used to feel so much pressure to figure it all out. We can be so hard on ourselves when we don’t believe we are living the life we are expected to live. Give yourself a break.

2. You don’t have as many friends as before

As you progress through your 20s, you just won’t have as many friends as you used to. Your friends’ interests may change. Both your interests may change!

3. It’s hard to settle down (even if you want to)

Life begins to pull you in many directions. Maybe you want to try living in a new city. Maybe you have a new job opportunity that relocates you to a new city anyway. It’s normal to be drawn to many opportunities.

4. Life doesn’t get easier

While it may be exiting and new to venture out on your own, it doesn’t come without its challenges. The truth is most of life is a grind, and in your 20s you are figuring out the best ways to get through it.

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5. It’s really hard to save money

Financial experts and pundits are always telling people in their 20s to put money away now because by the time you are 65 you will have a nice nest egg. The truth is, for many 20 somethings, it’s just hard to save.

6. Debt is your worst enemy

I could write an entire article on debt in your 20s. Not only are many 20-year-olds burdened with student debt, but credit card debt can also be troublesome. The numbers on student debt alone are staggering.

7. You change jobs, a lot

It’s tough to be raised with a sense of entitlement. We were given trophies for everything. In your 20s, it’s okay to change careers and try out new things. It still is wise to stay at a job for as long as possible but don’t ever feel like you are stuck.

8. You might move back in with your parents

I certainly did. I am lucky my parents accepted me back in after I’d hit some hard times. I’m not the only one who did. According to the New York Times, “One in five people in their 20s and early 30s is currently living with his or her parents.” Remember to make a plan to move out!

9. Loving yourself is hard

It’s difficult to remember to love yourself when you are trying to figure out who you are. It may sound corny, but actually tell yourself you love yourself. I wish I had done better in this area. Even if other people don’t, remember to love yourself first.

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10. Relationships make you crazy

You fall in love. You break up with someone. You think you’re in love and realize that other person isn’t. You think you know what’s important to you but then it changes. Your 20s are full of crazy relationships.

11. The real world sucks

You learn a lot of harsh truths when you hit your 20s. Often we are naive to the struggles our parents went though when we were kids. The more you discover in your 20s, the more you know it just isn’t much fun to do the real world stuff.

12. You can’t party like you used to

As I continue to get older, I understand this more and more. The recovery time from drinking, staying up late, or dancing the night away only increases with age. Also, remember to get plenty of sleep.

13. Your company doesn’t care about you

This is another problem of feeling entitled but it’s also just as true. Companies really care about one thing — the bottom line. You are just helping them reach that bottom line. As much as companies praise team work and culture, the reality is that you are replaceable.

14. College might not have been worth it

If you went to college, you probably had a great time. Most of us have degrees that either we will never use or we will realize we are no longer interested in the field we chose.

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15. It sucks to feel older

I know some will say, “You’re still in 20s or 30s, that’s not old!” Well, yes, I get that. However, you do start to notice your body is changing. You get sore easily. You’re not as flexible as you once were. In your 20s you will notice these things for the first time.

16. You make bad decisions

In our 20s we get caught up in making the “right decision.” We already feel like we’ve made enough mistakes and don’t want to disappoint anyone again. One bad decision won’t ruin your life, but really do try to make good choices.

17. It’s okay to try new things

Your 20s is the perfect time to take risks. Travel the world. Learn something new. Be more vulnerable. I don’t care what anyone says, your 20s is the best time to get out of your comfort zone.

18. You continue to compare yourself to others

You compare yourself to your peers and think some of them have everything figured out. Even though they appear to have figured things out, the reality is they are probably just as scared as you.

19. Peer pressure doesn’t go away

While your friends may not dare you to do something, you still feel the pressure to be a doctor, lawyer, make more money, etc. Often, these pressures just don’t align with who we are, so we become angry with ourselves. Begin to accept yourself just the way you are.

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20. There is no magic bullet to success

I used to think that I’d figure it all out in my 20s and then I’d be a success. Remember that all of us take a unique path to success and there is no one right path to take.

I survived my 20s and so can you. There is no doubt they are a confusing, strange, and lonely time. But they can also be a lot of fun. I accomplished a lot in my 20s, no doubt. I wish I wasn’t so hard on myself and was more accepting of who I was. Take these 20 harsh realities as a reminder that we all struggle with similar things and that your 20s is only a small sliver of a long and prosperous life.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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