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20 Things Highly Successful People Do In Their 20s

20 Things Highly Successful People Do In Their 20s
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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 July 21, 2021

                                          The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

                                          The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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                                          No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

                                          Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

                                          Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

                                          A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

                                          Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

                                          In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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                                          From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

                                          A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

                                          For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

                                          This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

                                          The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

                                          That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

                                          Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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                                          The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

                                          Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

                                          But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

                                          The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

                                          The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

                                          A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

                                          For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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                                          But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

                                          If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

                                          For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

                                          These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

                                          For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

                                          How to Make a Reminder Works for You

                                          Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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                                          Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

                                          Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

                                          My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

                                          Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

                                          I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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                                          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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                                          Reference

                                          [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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