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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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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

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