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20 Things Highly Successful People Do In Their 20s

20 Things Highly Successful People Do In Their 20s

Most people hit their stride in their thirties and forties. Studies show that major life milestones previously reserved for twenty-somethings , like marriage, buying a home and starting a family are occurring later in life.

But that doesn’t mean that the twenties aren’t an important decade for personal and professional development. Instead, they are a time when character development occurs and choices set a course for the future.

Let’s look at 20 life changes highly successful people made in their twenties.

1. Try Different Industries like Martha Stewart

martha stewart

    Martha Stewart worked as a model and then as a stock broker on Wall Street before beginning the catering business that led to her eponymous company. All of that experience led her to be successful.

    “There were very few women on the time on Wall St. … I never considered myself unequal.”

    Of course we know she met uber-success with her lifestyle brand, but those early experiences in modeling and stock brokerage imparted important lessons. So don’t be frustrated if you aren’t in your permanent profession yet!

    2. Build Sweat Equity like Oprah

    oprah

      It might be hard to remember a time when Oprah wasn’t a superstar. But she paid her dues as a radio television news reporter in Nashville, Tennessee, and Baltimore, Maryland, bouncing between different stations to learn the craft after college.  After 5 years, she was given her own show in Baltimore, which lasted 8 years. Next came a morning show in Chicago. The Oprah Winfrey Show wasn’t nationally syndicated until 1986, after 15 years of work in broadcasting.

      “What other people label or might try to call failure, I have learned is just God’s way of pointing you in a new direction.”

      Don’t be frustrated by being the “low man on the totem pole.” Everyone needs time to learn and grow outside of the pressure of the spotlight. Even Oprah.

      3. Learn from Hitting Rock Bottom like Tim Allen

      tim allen

        For some people, hitting rock bottom puts the future into clear focus. Comedian Tim Allen, now starring in the ABC sitcom Last Man Standing, was arrested for cocaine possession and drug trafficking in 1978.

        “When I went to jail, reality hit so hard that it took my breath away, took my stance away, took my strength away. I was there buck naked, humiliated, sitting in my own crap and urine — this is a metaphor. My ego had run off. Your ego is the biggest coward.”

        If you’ve recently made a mistake, remember that a little perspective and humility go a long way! Turning that mistake into a learning experience shows maturity as well as personal and professional development.

        4. Find the Right Life Partner like Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos

        kelly ripa and mark consuelos

          Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos married in 1996 when they were both in their twenties. She went on to huge fame, starring in the Regis and Kelly Show (now Kelly and Michael Show), and he starred on All My Children and now Alpha House.

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          Finding the right partner offers a foundation for both your personal and professional life.

          “He is the person I was meant to be with forever, and I think he feels the same way. We really do have quite an allegiance to one another. No matter what, we support each other in everything we do.”

          5. Make Your Own Education like Steve Jobs

          steve jobs

            Staying in school is clearly the safer path to success. But for some young entrepreneurs, college is not necessary. Steve Jobs famously dropped out of Reed College and started Apple Computers with Steve Wozniak in a garage. At his 2005 commencement address to the graduates of Stanford, he explained:

            “After six months [at college], I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.”

            6. Take a Risk like Marissa Mayer

            marissa mayer

              Marissa Mayer was given 14 job offers after graduation at Stanford University. One of those was from Google – at that time the company only had 19 employees and no women on staff.  But she went on to be a part of some of the most successful Google products before transitioning to Yahoo to act as CEO.

              “I helped build Google, but I don’t like to rest on [my] laurels. I think the most interesting thing is what happens next.”

              7. Start a Business like Jay-Z

              20140121bwJayzMag06

                Sean Carter had rapped under the nickname Jay-Z for many years, but it wasn’t until he founded Roc-A-Fella Records with two friends that he became a star. Under his own label, Jay-Z released Reasonable Doubt, which is now widely thought of as a classic hip-hop album.

                “There’s not a lot of people who have come of age in rap because it’s only 30 years old…As more people come of age, hopefully the topics get broader and then the audience will stay around longer.”

                8. Take Advantage of Compounding Interest like Warren Buffet

                warren buffet

                  Putting a few hundred dollars a year away now and letting compounding interest work its magic for decades until retirement will result in more money than trying to play catch-up with the same amount later in life. And with our collective credit scores hovering below average in a lot of places, that’s advice we should take. Warren Buffet had that figured out, since he started investing right after college.

                  “I will tell you how to become rich. Close the doors. Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful.”

                  9. Work in Sales like Howard Schultz

                  howard schultz

                    There is a lot that can be learned in sales that will teach lessons for future success: how to make a good first impression, how to persuade and convince others, how to take rejection well, among many other things.  Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz started as a Xerox salesman. That led him to a job as a coffee machine salesmen, which is how he crossed paths with his current career.

                    In his book, Pour Your Heart Into It, Schultz writes:

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                    “Cold-calling was great training for business. It taught me to think on my feet. So many doors slammed on me that I had to develop a thick skin and a concise sales pitch for a then-newfangled machine called a word processor. But the work fascinated me, and I kept my sense of humor and adventure. I thrived on the competition, trying to be the best, to be noticed, to provide the most leads to my salesmen. I wanted to win.”

                    10. Find a Mentor like Condoleezza Rice

                    condoleezza rice

                      Long before she became Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice took a class at the University of Denver taught by Dr. Josef Korbel (father of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright).  His leadership and passion for Soviet and eastern European politics inspired Rice to change majors and pursue that career path.

                      The two stayed in touch, the mentor encouraging his mentee to pursue a doctorate, which led her to a professorship and placed her on the radar of federal government agencies.  According to this NPR story:

                       “To Rice, Korbel was a dazzling mentor, the person she cites as having inspired her to become a diplomat.”

                      11. Go to School like Eric Schmidt

                      Eric-Schmidt

                        If dropping out of school is part of the story of success for some, staying in school and learning as much as possible is a more common and sure path to achievement.

                        Eric Schmidt, former CEO and now executive chairman of Google, is among the richest people in the world. Schmidt spend many years studying, including an undergraduate degree at Princeton, a stint at the International House Berkeley, then an M.S. degree for designing and executing a campus-wide network of computers at UC Berkeley. To cap it off, he got a Ph.D. in computer engineering.

                        In an address to Berkeley students many years later, Schmidt explained that part of his inspiration came from campus life.

                        “Back then, back when I was, like you…it felt like a new world was being imagined right here on campus, in all the different labs and workshops and dorms. There was something in the air that made you think — something that made you dream.”

                        12. Be Willing to Work 24/7 like Richard Branson

                        Richard-Branson

                          Richard Branson, founder and owner of Virgin Group, got his start when he opened a record label in his 20s.  For a man who is trying to launch one of the first commercial space flights, it might be hard to picture him pounding the pavement and worrying about making ends meet. His advice? Hard work pays off.

                          He said in an interview of his early years:

                          “Building a business from scratch is 24 hours, 7 days a week, divorces, it’s difficult to hold your family life together, it’s bloody hard work and only one word really matters — and that’s surviving.”

                          13. Work in Retail like John Steinberg

                          john steinberg

                            Similar to sales, retail offers a lot of life lessons that will serve you no matter which career path you choose. John Steinberg, CEO of Daily Mail North America, learned a lot working retail with his sister. He ran all over the store, selling lots of low cost items, while his sister stayed in the high-priced section and only sold a few pieces a day. But his sister had higher profits.

                            “I learned that…if you can work smart on items with high order value and high margin, you will always be better off than working hard on low value, low margin items.”

                            He also says he learned the importance of technical expertise and responsibility in that retail position.

                            14. Learn a Trade like Harrison Ford

                            harrison-ford

                              It’s hard to imagine Harrison Ford struggling like you and me, but he did.  After heading to California to pursue acting, the work wasn’t steady enough for Ford to pay the bills.  He took up carpentry to earn extra money, learning from books and taking on small projects to begin.  Eventually he was recommended to Hollywood and music industry executives and stars, which gave him foray into more acting jobs.

                              “I had helped George Lucas audition other actors for the principle parts, and with no expectation or indication that I might be considered for the part of Han, I was quite surprised when I was offered the part. My principle job at the time was carpentry, I had been under contract as an actor at Columbia and Universal.

                              I had a house at the time I wanted to remodel, a bit of the wreck of a house. I’d invest money in tools but wouldn’t have money for materials, so I realized this was another way of putting food on the table. And allowing me to pick and choose from the acting jobs that were being offered at the time.”

                              So don’t think a particular field or line of work is below you. Consider your talents and think about trade jobs. You never know where they may lead!

                              15. Share Your Good Fortune With Others like Steve Wozniak

                              Steve-Wozniak

                                Steve Wozniak co-founded Apple Computers with Steve Jobs and is often cited as the person who brought on the personal computer revolution.

                                When it came time for Apple Computers to go public, Wozniak thought some of the longtime employees were being left out of the stock option agreements. Unhappy with the distribution of the stock, he sold cheaply or gave away thousands of Apple shares to those he felt had been treated unfairly. Why? Woz, as he is called, said,

                                “I’d rather be liked than rich.”

                                16. Give Yourself A Timeline like Jon Hamm

                                Premiere Of AMC's "Mad Men" Season 6 - Arrivals

                                  The Mad Men star had a difficult time getting work when he started in Hollywood. John Hamm shared an apartment with other actors and found it difficult to get cast when he was in his twenties. After three years of no work, he gave himself an ultimatum: get work by age 30, or switch jobs.

                                  Of that time, Hamm said:

                                  “You either suck that up and find another agent, or you go home and say you gave it a shot, but that’s the end of that. The last thing I wanted to be out here was one of those actors who’s 45 years old, with a tenuous grasp of their own reality, and not really working much. So I gave myself five years. I said, if I can’t get it going by the time I’m 30, I’m in the wrong place. And as soon as I said that, it’s like I started working right away.”

                                  Sometimes a change in perspective is the inspiration needed to be successful.

                                  17. Remember Your Dreams like Ang Lee

                                  Ang Lee, best director nominee for his film "Life of Pi", arrives at the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood

                                    Filmmaker Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Life of Pi, Brokeback Mountain), spend his twenties taking on odd jobs related to film and theater: working as an editorial assistant and helping crews with equipment while trying to write and shop his screenplays to Hollywood executives.

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                                    He took on “Mr. Mom” duties to feel like he was being a true partner to his wife, the family’s primary bread winner. When he was ready to give up, she encouraged him to always remember his dreams, and that inspired him to redouble his efforts. Lee wrote:

                                    “Sometime after, I obtained funding for my screenplay, and began to shoot my own films. And after that, a few of my films started to win international awards. Recalling earlier times, my wife confessed, ‘I’ve always believed that you only need one gift. Your gift is making films.”

                                    18. Pick A Solid Business Partner like Bill Gates and Paul Allen

                                    paul-allen-and-bill-gates-in-the-early-days-jpg

                                      We’ve already covered the importance of picking a solid life partner, but hitching your wagon to someone else’s in business is also important.  Bill Gates started Microsoft with Paul Allen when they were both in their twenties after becoming friends in high school. Said Allen,

                                      “Our great string of successes had married my vision to his unmatched aptitude for business.”

                                      Despite the unraveling of Gates’ and Allen’s partnership after Microsoft was under way, Allen still admits that, in the early days, “We had an amazing friendship and an amazing partnership.”

                                      19. Overcome Insecurities like Kristen Wiig

                                      kristen wiig

                                        Most people who know Kristen Wiig from Saturday Night Live wouldn’t believe that she was terrified of public speaking. But she overcame that fear in her 20s by taking an acting class at the University of Arizona.

                                        “I don’t really like talking in front of groups of people. Through high school if ever I had to give a speech, I would try to get out of it or not go to school that day… But I took the class, and I liked it, and the teacher was really encouraging for me to keep doing it.”

                                        So use your twenties to conquer fears head on, instead of letting them grow and cause more anxiety later in life.

                                        20. Let Your Failure Help Set Your Course Like Suze Orman

                                        suze orman

                                          Most people turn to Suze Orman for financial advice without realizing she’s come by her knowledge of bankruptcy first hand. After waitressing for several years, she decided to open her own restaurant. She got backing from loyal customers, and without personal knowledge about investing, gave her money to a broker to invest on her behalf. A get-rich-quick scheme from the broker failed, and Orman lost all of her capital. Yet this experience led her to learn more about investing, and she went on to become a broker at the same firm. Now, Americans look to her:

                                          “My job is to be the financial truth crusader. …Hope for the best. But plan for the worst.”

                                          So if you’ve suffered a setback in your twenties, may you use it as inspiration to forge a new, better career!

                                          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via pixabay.com

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                                          Kayla Matthews

                                          Productivity and self-improvement blogger

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                                          Last Updated on May 21, 2019

                                          How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

                                          How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

                                          Regardless of how creative you already consider yourself to be, there’s a good chance you would like to level up your creative abilities.

                                          You might want to write a better song, think of better solutions to problems at work or around the home or maybe paint a picture.

                                          In any case, the good news is that creativity is not born: it’s made, and each one of us has the potential to be more creative and come up with incredible ideas.

                                          “Creativity is any act, idea, or product that changes an existing domain, or that transforms an existing domain into a new one.” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

                                          The definition of creativity is broad, and reminds us that creativity is not limited to artists or musicians. It does however require that we have some kind of impact on the domain in which we create.

                                          Creativity also emphasizes values.

                                          “The process of having original ideas that have value” — Ken Robinson

                                          This makes up for what Csikszentmihalyi misses out. For instance, we can make a change in the world without adding significant value. Any destructive act, like smashing a window, creates change, but it doesn’t necessarily create valuable change.

                                          In short, there isn’t one single definition of creativity It’s up to us to find a definition that feels true and useful. When you know what your standard is, It’s much easier to embrace creativity and start to cultivate it.

                                          And in this article, you will learn how to be more creative and take a good look at what goes into the creative skill:

                                          1. Cultivate Focus

                                          In order to create, there needs to be a focus on creating something, whether it’s a song, a theory, a product, or a sculpture.

                                          You could also call this “drive” – it’s the initial spark that drives the solution to a problem, or the will to get on your laptop and start typing.

                                          However, it’s worth noting there are different stages to the creative process: the divergent stage and the convergent stage.

                                          In the divergent stage, we want a broad focus – we want to be willing to let in lots of different inputs, ideas and insights. This is the time for brainstorming all possible ideas and solutions.

                                          In the convergent stage, we start to narrow our focus, like a camera lens. At this stage, we start to drill down to a handful of ideas or solutions, discriminating throughout the process.

                                          How to cultivate focus?

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                                          Take a 20 Minute Walk

                                          Walking away and getting your heart rate up is the best free tool you have in regaining your focus.

                                          I know it might seem counterintuitive to take a break right when you’re at your busiest, and especially when you’re drowning in your massive to do list, but the effects it will have on your clarity and ability to focus are undeniable.

                                          Walking is physiologically proven to release stress, and clear your mind. In fact, most of my most brilliant ideas (and some pretty terrible ones too) have occurred on my daily walks.

                                          If you give this technique a try, what you’ll find is that you’re much more productive than you were before you took a breather.

                                          Over time, if you do these walks daily, you’ll quickly find that your to-do list starts to feel a lot less significant, and a lot more doable. It’s all about keeping razor focused, and that’s what short daily walks will gift you.

                                          2. Build a Structure

                                          When I wake up in the morning, I start the day with a structure in mind. I know that 15 minutes will be dedicated to meditation, 30 minutes to coffee and reading, 20 minutes to yoga and so on.

                                          The structure of this morning routine might be boring, but the act of each task in itself has the potential to be, on some level, “creative.”

                                          The point of structure is that it gives you the space to make time for something you want to do. It helps you carve out the time to do your creative work. Once you begin that thing in itself, you are free to go about it however you’d like.

                                          Without structure, we can lose focus and can feel overwhelmed with possibility. If you’ve ever looked at a blank page and felt too overwhelmed with possibility to make a mark on it, you’ll know what I mean. How much easier it gets when you are given some guidelines or a deadline?

                                          The trick is finding the right amount of structure for you and your creative needs. Too little structure and we feel overwhelmed. Too much structure, and we risk feeling limited and stifled.

                                          Again, it’s worth thinking about creating in those two stages: divergent (less structure) and convergent (more structure.)

                                          How to build a structure?

                                          Create a Morning Routine

                                          Your morning routine doesn’t have to be rigid or so arduous you dread waking up. In fact, it should feel like the opposite. When you get a routine that works for you, you’ll look forward to starting the day.

                                          We all have different needs and preferences which can shape our ideal routine. In the book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey, you can be inspired over 160 different creators’ daily routines, from Charles Darwin to Pablo Picasso.

                                          Experiment with any that take your fancy, and see how you feel with a bit more structure to start your day.

                                          You can also take a look at this article about morning routine for inspirations: The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive All Day

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                                          3. Find Motivation

                                          There is a theory that suggests: people will be most creative when they feel motivated primarily by the interest, satisfaction, and challenge of the work itself — not by external pressures. This is also known as intrinsic motivation; a drive that comes from within.

                                          Think of a time when you did some of your best work — chances are you were totally absorbed in what you were doing, to the exclusion of everything else. You were completely focused on the work itself, barely noticing time flying by.

                                          Now think of a time when you felt under pressure to perform. Maybe it was an exam, or a commission for an important client, or maybe your boss had told you “there’s a lot riding on this.”

                                          Notice the difference? In the first memory, you were driven by intrinsic motivation, which made it relatively easy, even enjoyable, to be highly creative.

                                          In the second memory however, extrinsic motivation was breathing down your neck, distracting you by whispering about the rewards for success and the horrible consequences of failure: likely making it harder to focus on the task at hand.

                                          For this reason, intrinsic motivation, if you can find it, is what separates the good from great creative work.

                                          This isn’t to say only internal motivators help. I personally get motivated by luring myself to work with a good cappuccino at my favourite cafe. That will get me ready to write or edit or whatever I’ve been avoiding.

                                          How to find motivation?

                                          Connect to Your “Why”

                                          Your “Why” is your fuel: the thing that drives you forward, that gives you a reason to do what you’re doing.

                                          ‘He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.’ — Friedrich Nietzche

                                          When you have a reason to do something, a purpose or a goal that matters to you, you can connect your daily actions to it. Then, each act becomes infused with meaning and you find that intrinsic motivation comes naturally.

                                          The trick is to remember your “why” and connect with it on a regular basis.

                                          Think about how you want to feel on a daily basis. What would you like to accomplish in the next year? What would you like for yourself in the next five years? How about in your lifetime?

                                          Ultimately, the tasks you face on a daily basis, or at least some of them, will connect to a greater purpose if you follow this path and you will find you feel more motivated to create and less resistance.

                                          If you aren’t sure where to start looking for motivation, this will help: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

                                          4. Be an Expert in a Chosen Domain

                                          Research has shown that just as expertise in one domain does not predict expertise in other unrelated domains; creativity in one domain does not predict creativity in other unrelated domains.[1]

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                                          So just because you can paint a pretty picture, doesn’t mean you can creatively solve a mathematical problem.

                                          If you’ve taken one of those tests like the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, which will ask you to think of a bazillion uses for a pencil, and scored well, unfortunately this is only an indicator of divergent thinking skills. It is not a predictor for creativity all round.

                                          The good news is, you can train your creativity in your chosen domain. Much like a muscle, you can isolate exercises to strengthen it.

                                          Of course you can still do a total body workout – or atotal creativity workout – but it means your creativity-training exercises need to come from a wide variety of domains; not just thinking up uses for a pencil.

                                          How to become an expert?

                                          Make a Mastery Training Plan

                                          Following our physical workout analogy, it’s worth applying the habits of great athletes to your chosen creative domain. For example:

                                          1. Decide what area/s you want to work on

                                          Much like a tennis player who decides they need to improve their serving technique, you can decide what area within your creative domain you want to improve at. Get specific.

                                          2. Decide how much time you can dedicate

                                          Most of us don’t have all day to train like a pro tennis player might, but you can likely squeeze 20 to 30 minutes in a day, if you want to. Whatever the time you can allow is, decide to dedicate yourself to it.

                                          3. Review your progress

                                          Finally, in order to check your progress, you can take regular reviews. Decide what your metrics are, and take time each week to check in with yourself.

                                          How many days did you practice? How did you compare to the previous week? This kind of review can help you stay on track, and actually creates more intrinsic motivation as you see yourself develop.

                                          5. Create a Conducive Environment

                                          A psychologist in 1943 proposed that behaviour is:[2]

                                          “a function of both the person as well as the physical environment they are in.”

                                          I would suggest that the act of creating is a behaviour and that, even though it begins as an internal process, it’s very much affected by and even dependent on the environment we are in.

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                                          I started noticing how environment affects me when I worked in an office. Over time, I realized that the more people who were in or who were talking, the more distracted I was. If I got to the office early before my coworkers arrived, I was twice as effective.

                                          I was even more effective if I was at home. Now that I work from home, I know I’m even more effective when in certain coffee shops. Ideally, places that have high ceilings, gentle lighting, some barely noticeable background music – and excellent coffee.

                                          It’s these little variations in our environment that can really shape our creative output.

                                          If you’re an introvert, you probably do your best work alone. If you’re an extrovert, you probably do your best work in the company of others.

                                          This isn’t to say you should find one way of doing things and stick to it: in fact, varying your environment from time to time is a great way to stoke the creative fire too, which we’ll touch on more later.

                                          How to create a conducive environment?

                                          Add or Subtract Stimuli

                                          Novelty in our environment has been shown to stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that increases our desire to seek out reward.[3]

                                          If you’re looking for creative motivation, adding some novelty into your environment can be just what you need.

                                          On the other hand, some people are highly sensitive and when it comes to having too much stimulation in their environment, they find it difficult to focus.

                                          Experiment with working in different environments. Note how you feel. Note whether you do better creative work or have more interesting ideas when you’re alone or with others.

                                          Try listening to music, people chatting or try being in complete silence. Try a dimly lit room, try working in bright sunlight.

                                          In each case, note how you feel before, during and afterwards and rate the quality of your work.

                                          The Bottom Line

                                          Creativity is not one particular skill or talent one can have. It comes in as many broad and unique flavors as there are people on this earth.

                                          To be more creative, take little steps each day. Acknowledge where and when you feel most inspired, motivated and original and spend more energy in those areas.

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                                          Featured photo credit: Sticker Mule via unsplash.com

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