I’ve always been a bit obsessed with the idea of not wasting time. Even as a kid, I had things to do. I wanted to get through school so I could get to the good stuff. Then I wanted to get through sleeping so I could get to morning again.
There’s too many interesting things, too much to learn to let the days slip by on things that don’t matter.
I’m in my 30s now, and I’ve figured out a few things worth giving my time to… and a few things that definitely shouldn’t get your precious minutes.
1. Don’t waste your time worrying about what other people think of you.
Easier said than done, I know. This is a lifelong struggle for most of us, because even the most stoic still secretly like to be admired and appreciated. We want to feel good about ourselves, and it’s easier to do that when we know other people feel good about us.
But you can’t make everybody happy. It’s not your job, and it’s not even within your power. Once you realize that other people’s happiness is up to them – not up to you – you also begin to realize that you can control your own happiness. That truth helps you let go of the need to please other people.
2. Quit trying to find your passion.
Yeah, the trendy thing is to live your passion, follow your passion, do work you love (passionately), and, in short, know a lot more about yourself than most twenty-somethings know. The truth is that it often takes a long time – sometimes years, sometimes decades – to develop a deep, abiding passion about some subject or area or person or life purpose.
In other words, if you don’t feel like you “have a passion” yet, don’t waste time trying to find it, or feel bad that you don’t have it. This is the time to learn, to get input, to explore, to discuss, to try and fail at a few dozen things. Do that for a few more years and you’ll have some good fodder to develop into a lifelong passion.
3. Cultivate a hobby.
Here’s a thing about life as a twentysomething: almost all the stable things in your life will change. You will experience change in your student status, your job(s), perhaps even your entire career direction, your relationships, your locale, your housing situation, and more. You are in the decade of new beginnings, which is great and all… But new beginnings come with a lot of change, a lot of upheaval, and a lot of adjustment.
This may sound silly, but in the midst of the big changes, it’s really important to have something that stays normal. Something that is unique to you, something you can cultivate into a routine, a ritual, a dependable part of your life that can flex with you through all those changes.
A hobby is just that sort of thing. You can take up kayaking or karate, scrapbooking or banjo playing, and that hobby will adjust with you through the changes of your life. It’s a small thing, but one small, steady thing can help you adjust to each new normal.
4. Let go of friendships that aren’t working.
Friends are, arguably, more important when you’re in your twenties than they ever have been before. You’re identifying your own life and role outside of your family, and friends play a big part in that.
But some friends will hurt you, not help you; we’re all in different places in life. The sooner you can see that letting go is, at times, the best decision you can make for everyone, the better off you will be.
5.Trust yourself more.
This is the one that will make the most difference in your life, right now, if you’ll do it. The truth is that you will make plenty of mistakes. Some will hurt. Some will change you. But all of them will teach you something. When you can begin to trust yourself enough to take the risks you need to take, you will still have to walk through mistakes. But you will get stronger through each one. You won’t waste time pretending to be something you are not. You won’t stuff down the little voice inside that knows what works for you and what doesn’t.
In short, you’ll still have plenty of changes to make stupid decisions, and deal with the consequences, but you won’t be wasting time on stupid decisions that are pointless and consequences that carry no benefit.
When you trust yourself and move forward, even if you mess up some in that process, you learn about yourself. You learn to listen better. You learn to take yourself seriously. You learn what you need to learn so you can do better next time.
That’s really what we’re all still learning.
Featured photo credit: Bev Goodwin via flickr.com