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I Wish I Knew These Sooner: 15 Mistakes 20-Somethings Make

I Wish I Knew These Sooner: 15 Mistakes 20-Somethings Make

Twenty-somethings get a lot of condemnation on the internet and this list below isn’t meant to demoralize you. Rather, it’s an acknowledgment that life is hard, especially when you only have about 20 years of experience (most of which was spent on Pokemon cards and bike riding). Here are 15 common mistakes 20-somethings make — and how to avoid some of them.

1. Poor living arrangements

Wouldn’t it be awesome to live with my best buds, or my new, amazing girlfriend? Nope, probably not. Moving in with a partner too early, or with certain friends, could mean unpleasant surprises. There are courteous people, and there are those who blast Biggie Smalls at 6 a.m. Unfortunately, you may not know the difference until it’s 6 a.m. Know their flaws before you live with them. This way, you’ll at least be prepared to work around them.

2. Taking on too much

Today’s schedule reads: cleaning the house, work, volunteering, going on a date, visiting a friend, grocery shopping, and then the gym. Sounds great. In theory. Unfortunately, you’re confined to this human body that needs sleep and stuff. If you’re an introvert, this is an even more insane schedule. We may have the freedom to “do it all,” but that doesn’t mean we have to do it all right this second.

3. Lack of direction

College is a time for discovery and trying new things, right? I guess, but at what expense? College doesn’t have to be a time for wasting all of your (or your parents’) money. It doesn’t have to mean skipping classes, losing focus, and trying to please everyone with your “coolness.” While all of this may be a learning experience, it’s also a big time waster. Let’s face it, people who chase the “college experience” usually just end up peeing their pants.

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4. Dating catastrophes

I’m a firm believer in everyone not dating until they’re 40. Anything before that just gets in the way of your development. Alright, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but 20-somethings who drain all their energy in a bad relationship are wasting precious time. If you are settling in at college or a new career, a bad relationship is something that will just hold up your personal progress. Fights, sadness, confusion, jealousy, etc. All of it is an unnecessary distraction.

5. Debt

Loans are a bummer, so let’s just get them out of the way early on this list. Loans are not always a mistake. However, if you take out a loan only to realize later that it did not benefit you (and you’re now stuck with meaningless debt) — that was a 20-something move. In our defense, ever-expanding tuition costs and the complex uncertainties of the job market make investing in education a game of musical chairs. You don’t know if you’ll end up in a cozy salaried seat or standing out in the cold. So just keep in mind that your aspirations may change.

6. Heat-of-the-moment tattoos

“Wow, wouldn’t it be awesome to have a penguin riding a shark on my leg forever?” No, absolutely not. But when you’re a 20-something, an “absolutely not” can look like a “hell, yes.” I have plenty of friends with random, not-so-flattering tattoos that they got for free, at a convention, from a friend, while drunk, or all of those combined. Maybe you even got your girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s name tattooed, only to curse them out and break up a week later. It happens to the best of us. Just look up a tattoo removal specialist, stop with the self-induced shame, and move on, 20-somethings.

7. Caring what others think (a lot)

This is always a mistake, no matter what age you are. It seems like as we age, we’re a little more equipped to deflect other’s judgments and discouragements. But when we’re fresh out of our Sociology 101 class, we may not deal with unintentionally hurtful people well — people who are nursing their own wounds while judging us under false pretenses. This is not your problem, and it is not about you. You will never stop caring what others think until you truly believe that.

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8. Drinking too much

Some people will never have this problem. They are sure of themselves, responsible, and emotionally mature. For the rest of us 20-somethings, there will be those nights. For a fraction of us, a lot of them. Know this: drinking does not solve problems. It does not fix relationships. It does not make you happier, more fun, or more attractive. If you use alcohol to boost your self-esteem, you’re going to be disappointed eventually. You shouldn’t be drinking your courage; you should be earning it.

9. Marrying too quickly

Divorce has become quite common ever since we stopped condemning divorcées to hell a few decades ago. But that doesn’t mean you should collect divorces just because you can. Sure, you may be in love with someone while in your 20s, but that doesn’t necessitate marriage. If you have different values or can’t live comfortably with someone now, marriage will only intensify those problems.

10. Your youth: would you like fries with that?

I know it feels harmless to eat nothing but Arby’s cajun fries until you’re about 28, but there are plenty of reasons not to. For one, many illnesses nowadays are chronic and degenerative, meaning you could work up to a disease after several years of neglected health. It’s also a bad habit to develop early in life, meaning it will be tougher to break when you get old and have to.

11. Relocating for the wrong reasons

Twenty-somethings are all about relocating, and it works great for many. However, if your reasons for relocating are anywhere along the lines of bettering yourself, changing your relationships, “finding your passion,” or “making a clean start,” be careful. A lot of these things are entirely internal processes. You may regretfully realize upon arriving at your new “mecca,” that things (aka you) are exactly the same.

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12. Extensive planning

Remember that girl from high school who had her wedding day planned out right down to the last detail? Remember how nuts you thought she was? Right. So what makes you think that your extensive planning is any less nutty? It’s great to plan out your day tomorrow, or plan a general career trajectory if you know what you want. It’s just not good to get bogged down in details that probably won’t even matter when the time comes. Trust your future self. He or she is totally awesome, and knows more than you possibly could right now.

13. Going against your gut

Maybe you believe in intuition, conscience, instincts, etc. Regardless of what you call it, your guidance system shouldn’t be ignored. Your gut is on your side; it’s not trying to screw you over. Listening to my gut would’ve saved 22-year-old me hundreds of dollars in scam money — too bad I had told it to shut up that day.

14. Being selfish

Isn’t it funny how volunteer positions are often targeted at older, retired people or stay-at-home moms? What is it about being young that makes us think our time is too valuable to help others? Yes, it’s a time when we are not financially stable, but selfless endeavors don’t have to take up your whole week. Helping others always makes people happy. It’s in our bones. Just ask every successful person ever.

15. Beating yourself up

On the opposite end of the spectrum, it’s sometimes hard for 20-somethings to give themselves credit. Most of your time during this decade will probably be spent in a “working towards” mindset, instead of an “enjoying being” mindset. Try to counter that by taking note of how far you’ve come and what you’ve already achieved. (Not going to Arby’s today totally counts.)

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Conclusion

Don’t worry, this doesn’t cover them all. There are plenty more mistakes you can make as a 20-something! But in all seriousness, you can survive all these and more — and you’ll be wiser for it.

Featured photo credit: Nemo via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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