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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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                                          Published on January 16, 2019

                                          How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

                                          How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

                                          We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

                                          You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

                                          You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

                                          That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

                                          Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

                                          1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

                                          Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

                                          We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

                                          To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

                                          At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

                                          The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

                                          2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

                                          Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

                                          The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

                                          In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

                                          It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

                                          It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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                                          So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

                                          • Are you a great strategist?
                                          • Are you an effective planner?
                                          • Is Project Management your strength?
                                          • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
                                          • Are you the ideas person?
                                          • Is Implementation your strength?

                                          Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

                                          3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

                                          One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

                                          Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

                                          Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

                                          Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

                                          4. Take Time for Planning

                                          “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

                                          One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

                                          You can take the time to think about:

                                          • What’s the purpose of the project?
                                          • How Important is it?
                                          • When does it need to be delivered by?
                                          • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
                                          • What are the KPIs?
                                          • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
                                          • Who is working on this project?
                                          • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
                                          • What tolerances can I add in?
                                          • What are the review stages?
                                          • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

                                          Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

                                          5. Focus on Priorities

                                          Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

                                          Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

                                          One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

                                          1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
                                          2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
                                          3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
                                          4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

                                          James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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                                            The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

                                            If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

                                            If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

                                            6. Take Time Out

                                            To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

                                            If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

                                            Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

                                            In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

                                            Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

                                            7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

                                            Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

                                            I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

                                            Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

                                            If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

                                            8. Stop Multitasking

                                            Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

                                            So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

                                            When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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                                            If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

                                            9. Work in Blocks of Time

                                            To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

                                            I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

                                            Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

                                            Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

                                            Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

                                            Then take another 10-minute break.

                                            Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

                                            By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

                                            10. Get Rid of Distractions

                                            Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

                                            “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

                                            Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

                                            If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

                                            11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

                                            You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

                                            Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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                                            Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

                                            12. Take a Time Audit

                                            Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

                                            Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

                                            You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

                                            Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

                                            Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

                                            At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

                                            If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

                                            13. Protect Your Confidence

                                            It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

                                            When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

                                            Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

                                            When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

                                            Final Words

                                            A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

                                            The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

                                            If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

                                            Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

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