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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 September 18, 2020

                                          How to Be More Self-Assured and Get More Done During the Week

                                          How to Be More Self-Assured and Get More Done During the Week

                                          Time is a great leveler isn’t it? We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Even if you’re self-assured, the day may never feel quite long enough.

                                          Why is it that some people can be so much more productive and achieve so much more in a typical day, while others struggle to achieve anything apart from feeling time crunched and overwhelmed?

                                          Everyone I know and work with wants to make the best use of their time. They want to learn how to be more self-assured, happier, and work less—all while growing in their career.

                                          How effectively we use our time—and how we actually work in our business—can make a huge difference to the amount we accomplish in a day or week. It can also make us more focused and more confident.

                                          Do you want to have more thinking and creative time? Do you want to spend more time working on your business rather than working at or in your business? In this article, we’ll show you how.

                                          Get More Done by Gaining Confidence

                                          What if you had a strategy for making the best use of your time that brings you more joy and allows you to focus on the biggest activities and opportunities in your business? You may find the following outline below to be helpful:

                                          1. Create an Exciting Vision

                                          If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you know when you get there?

                                          You want to be more productive and spend more time getting the right stuff done. Well, you need to create a compelling and exciting vision of your future.

                                          What does this future look like? How will you feel when you get there?

                                          Creating a new vision, especially one that is a lot bigger than where you are right now, has a way of igniting your passion. It may be something that feels hard to achieve, but every step you take towards that bigger vision will certainly build your confidence.

                                          Create a vision board to feel more self-assured.

                                            Commitment to this vision, and accomplishing continual daily progress depends on your ability to look at any situation you’re faced with or currently in, feel self-assured, and see something bigger ahead.

                                            Also, when you know where you’re headed, you will instinctively start to see all the new opportunities and connections that will get you there.

                                            Make a vision map to get you started on the path to better productivity. This doesn’t have to be fully actualized, but you should know at least what direction you are heading.

                                            2. Build a Strategic Plan

                                            Once you have your future vision mapped out, the next step is to build a strategic plan to get you there.

                                            Your future vision may be for 3 years or 5 years, or you may choose a longer time frame. Any timeframe over 3 years may feel like a long way away.

                                            You may wonder how you are ever going to feel confident and motivated on this bigger future years from now when you feel as though you have so much to accomplish today.

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                                            The first step is to decide on some specific goals for the next 12 months. Don’t list too many or you may begin to feel overwhelmed.

                                            The magic number for me and my clients is usually five annual goals.

                                            These are big goals that will create massive change in your business and life and bridge your current situation to your bigger future; accomplishing these goals one by one will help to increase your confidence on a daily basis.

                                            3. Get on Goal Planning

                                            Get yourself a piece of blank paper and a pen and divide the paper into 4 columns: A, B, C, and D.

                                            Ask yourself the question: What is great in my business and life right now? Write these things down in Column A. This might be a couple of things, five things, ten things, whatever feels right to you.

                                            Then ask yourself: What things are happening right now that I don’t want in my future? Write these things down in Column B.

                                            This is your opportunity to take a step back and look at the things that are simply not working. You may list people that are bringing you down or projects that you don’t want to work on any more. Maybe you’ll include a service offering that’s going nowhere. It could be the people you’re working with, or it could be your pricing.

                                            Now, let’s look at your personal strengths. Write down everything that you’re great at in Column C.

                                            These could be things that you’re doing right now and having success with. It could also be things you know you’re awesome at but you’re not spending enough time on.

                                            Column D is for your biggest opportunities. Is there a new service/product you could offer your ideal customers? Is there a new innovation you could bring to market? Just take some time out and really think and list these things in Column D.

                                            Once you’ve analyzed everything you’ve written down, take some time to really think about what goals you want to set for your business and life in the next 12 months.

                                            4. Set Outcomes to Build Confidence

                                            You now have your goals, and you’ll feel self-assured and raring to go. They are written down and you’re committed to achieving them. You feel self-assured and motivated.

                                            But how do you ensure that you stay on the correct course to achieve these goals?

                                            Managing and juggling day-to-day projects can get in the way. Dealing with problems can get in the way. Staying on top of orders, managing cash flow, and handling day-to-day stuff can move your ship off course.

                                            You want to be productive and achieve your goals, but you also need to ensure the day and week runs smoothly.

                                            One way to ensure this happens is to set 90 Day Outcome Goals; within those Outcome Goals, put some specific process goals that need to be undertaken.

                                            Let’s say you want to get 10 more speaking jobs in the next 90 days, and you know that you typically convert 50% of opportunities.

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                                            Therefore, your process goal needs to be to have 20 conversations in the next 90 Days to deliver the 10 new pieces of work. You will then work out who you can have those conversations with.

                                            It’s smart to overshoot, so you will more easily hit your target. This is a clear plan to work through because with every win, your confidence will grow.

                                            5. Completely Commit to Your Success

                                            If you are not truly committed to achieving your goals, then chances are that you won’t reach them.

                                            Motivation can only take you so far. It is the intentional commitment[1] and emotional investment in your future success that will move you forward.

                                            Think back to any time that you really committed to achieving something. There must have been a reason you actually achieved what you set out to achieve. What motivated you?

                                            Were you fully invested? Why did it matter? Did you have to be really courageous to achieve it?

                                            How did it feel when you achieved it? What difference did it make?

                                            When have you felt truly self-assured? When you are committed to something, then you are propelled into action. Your mindset is focused, and your body follows; you want to get it done.

                                            And, when you do get it done, your confidence goes through the roof. You feel a level of certainty in achieving the goal you set out to accomplish.

                                            6. Focus on Your Strengths

                                            To feel self-assured and build up the confidence needed to achieve our biggest goals, we need to focus on our strengths.

                                            What are you best at? What are your unique skills? You want to spend as much time as you can working in the areas that you’re great at.

                                            Multiply your strengths. These areas are where you add the biggest value. They often bring you the biggest amount of joy, and you feel more and more confident when you are using your unique skills.

                                            If you think there is a specific capability you need to learn or be better at, spend more focused time in that area.

                                            Many of us want to do it all. We want to be good at everything. We want to offer a lot of services. But, in reality, there are some very specific things we are great at; nobody is good at everything!

                                            Spending more time adding value in the areas where you excel can create breakthrough results and boost confidence.

                                            7. Embrace the Present

                                            Sometimes we spend so much time thinking about the future or worrying about the past that we forget the present moment[2].

                                            Are you spending most of your day reacting to things, or have you taken the time to think about what your perfect day looks like?

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                                            We all have the opportunity to create rather than react, to decide what we do with our day. All of our future success can be created in the present moment if we just take a step back and take action.

                                            Sometimes, doing it now is more important than doing it perfectly. There are hidden opportunities in every moment. We need to make sure we don’t miss them if we want to feel self-assured.

                                            8. Calm the Whirlwind

                                            The day-to-day life in business and life can be hard, which leads us to feel less self-assured.

                                            Your mind may be full to bursting with all of the things you feel you have to do. The phrase “I don’t have time” has almost become an instant reaction by so many people when new opportunities are presented.

                                            There is a whirlwind happening inside our minds.

                                            Appointments, notifications, tasks, phone calls, errands, cash flow, staffing issues, networking, marketing all can clutter up our timeline. The sheer volume of things we feel we should do creates procrastination, stopping us from pursuing the projects and people that matter.

                                            Many of us feel we have to do everything within our business.

                                            Rather than simplifying things and doing less, we do more. We work longer, which creates a lack of energy and focus. Because of this, we lose clarity on our biggest opportunities. If you feel this way, take some well-deserved time off.

                                            Look at where you’re spending your time. How much of your time is being spent moving your ideas forward?

                                            In the next 90 days, if you could delegate or outsource more daily tasks and spend more time focusing on where you add the biggest value, what difference would it make?

                                            Calm the whirlwind by slowing down and doing less.

                                            Focus on areas that you add the biggest amount of value. By doing this, your energy levels will increase, your confidence will grow and you will have more success.

                                            9. Take More Time off

                                            This may seem counterintuitive, but taking more time off to recharge and refocus can pay huge dividends.

                                            If you are constantly fighting fires and caught up in the myriad of different activities that you have to do each day, then how can you move your business forward?

                                            You may be being pulled in difference directions without any focused time on your biggest projects. If that’s the case, then it’s almost impossible to gain any real momentum in moving your business forward and hitting your goals.

                                            The best way to get off that treadmill is to take more creative time out of the business.

                                            Could you realistically take one day off per month to work on your business? If you could, what would you do with this time?

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                                            Just imagine no distractions, only focused time on the strategic development and growth of your business.

                                            Every day off per month could have a different focus: New product innovation; Thinking about your biggest clients; Improving operations.

                                            Add to this a quarterly review to check in with your goals progress, and this could have a dramatic effect on where you spend your valuable time.

                                            10. Celebrate Wins

                                            Sometimes you just want to get through the day, right?

                                            You have so much to do. There are so many things on your task list that you just complete what you can and then start another day. But what would happen if, at the end of each day, you took some time out to look at what you’ve accomplished?

                                            Celebrating success keeps you motivated and helps you become more self-assured. It is not just another day. It’s a day that included things that should be celebrated.

                                            If you’re struggling to feel motivated, try celebrating a couple of wins each day.

                                            Celebrating success combined with the gratitude you have for achieving those wins will boost your confidence and inspire you for the next day.

                                            11. Give Yourself More Space

                                            When was the last time you gave yourself time to think?

                                            Within the hustle and bustle, it can be difficult to give yourself a little bit of space and time to just think[3].

                                            Imagine giving yourself just an hour a day to just let your mind wander or think about a specific thing.

                                            If you think about it, we can all free up an hour a day for something without really losing any efficiency or really impacting our business.

                                            In fact, that hour could be transformational for your business and life.

                                            A new idea for a product could form, or an idea for adding value to your existing clients could materialize. Perhaps you could do a check in to your ideal future and your goals. You could decide that you want to take your business in a new direction.

                                            Try this: Just sit alone for an hour with a notebook and let it be your creative thinking time. See what happens.

                                            Final Thoughts

                                            Ultimately, being self-assured happens when you have a clear direction.

                                            This, coupled with having clear goals and working in your unique skill-set, gives you the biggest opportunity to be more productive and get more of the right things done.

                                            The old mantra that “less is more” is right on the money. By giving yourself more time to work on your goals, you will inevitably increase your confidence; at this point, your ideal future can be anything you want it to be.

                                            More on How to Be Self-Assured

                                            Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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