How many times have you found yourself saying, “I wish I knew then what I know now”? How many times have you heard people say “youth is wasted on the young”? As human beings, we have a bad habit of not appreciating the moments as they’re happening. There was a point in time when people would experience a mid-life crisis, but more frequently each day we hear young people talking about a quarter-life crisis. Inc states that “75% of 25 to 33-year-olds have experienced a quarter-life crisis, defined as a period of insecurity and doubt that many people in their mid-20s to early 30s go through surrounding their career, relationships, and finances”. More people are finding themselves not knowing what to do with their lives and falling into a cycle, going through the motions without gaining any valuable, real-life experiences.
You can look at pictures of the grand canyon, watch a video of a concert, and you may get an idea of what that experience may be, but you can never actually obtain that feeling of discovery that will be with you for the rest of your life. You never actually know the value of a situation until you have lived it.
Although some people fall deep into the 9 to 5 cycle, more millennials are making more of their time compared to other generations, this is especially true for people in their 20’s or in the “defining decade”. Your 20’s are a time to pivot, learn about life, and generate as many memories and experiences as possible.
If you’re reading this, now is the time to stop making excuses. Stop telling yourself that you will do it tomorrow, you will book the trip next year, you’re too tired to go out. Your time for discovery and exploration will one day come to an end, the last thing you want is to experience a “quarter-life crisis”.
Here’s how to make the most of your 20’s
1. Start Saying Yes
It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to achieve a personal goal or simply leave the house, there is always a reason to say “no” to something. This pattern of thinking can be a killer of your social life, and maybe, your best years.
As we get older and start to develop more habits, we develop comfort zones and the more embedded in the comfort zones we become, change seem scarier, leaving us prisoners of our own creations.
A simple way of getting around this is to just start saying “yes” more. Although this sounds like an overly simplified solution to what may be a big problem, there’s a method to it. Start saying yes to small things, crawl before you walk. Saying yes to things is like exercise, you have to start developing your “yes muscle.” It could be something like meeting for coffee with a friend, or a drink after hours with coworkers. Taking these steps will lead to more social comfort and give you the confidence you need to start saying yes to other things, leading to more discovery, new experiences, and happiness.
It’s impossible to say “yes” to everything which is why you want to start with things that mean something to you, like maintaining relationships with old friends. Prioritize but at the same time still be spontaneous.
2. Travel (Doesn’t Matter Where)
It would be ignorant to just tell you to travel without acknowledging the financial obstacles that come with it. What people don’t realize is that you don’t have to go all the way to Thailand in order to have traveled, there are numerous local destinations that can be visited on a budget. In Ontario, the number of hiking trails, lakes, camping sites, and cottages is nearly endless. We live in a place that is covered in natural, scenic beauty that can satisfy great travel experiences whether you’re single or in a relationship.
By traveling and unplugging ourselves from everyday life, we’re able to make the most of the world around us and take in life for all it’s worth. Travelling allows you to break the routine, leaving you with a standout moment to be experienced getting further away from a quarter-life crisis.
3. Make A List
It’s important to know what you want to do before you start making the most out of your 20’s. The best way to do this is simply by making a list. This doesn’t have to be a bucket list of extreme activities like skydiving or bungee jumping but just new things you’ve never done before. Once again, start small and take it from there.
On your list include things like trying a new drink during a night out, go to a new restaurant with your friends or partner instead of the same old spot.
Making lists will give you insight into knowing what little changes you want to start making in your life. Having something as simple as a list of things you want to experience will make a point of what experiences you may value over others. Seeing your ideas written down will keep you on track and act as a personal little reminder for you to not fall back into the loop of old habits that were keeping you from going out and gaining new experiences.
4. Set Goals
When setting personal goals, people think that they have to structure an elaborate game plan that will forever change their lives. Every New Years Eve people claim it’s going to be their year; the year they lose weight or the year they quit smoking, but far too often never follow through with their plans. As good as it is to set yourself to a high standard, we often put too much pressure on ourselves and fizzle out at the first sign of difficulty.
If you want to start feeling healthy, pick up small exercises like going for daily walks. By making a series of minor changes we are able to move on to slightly more achievable goals, creating more happiness with ourselves.
When we progress in our lives we start to view the world from a more positive perspective. We develop our own sense of hope that makes us want to experience more. The incentive that will be gained from this is a more fulfilling life, you will be more confident in pursuing different challenges, whether it is making a career change, traveling somewhere new, getting out of a toxic relationship, or just feeling better about who you are.
5. Take Risks
If there is ever a time to roll the dice, it’s in your 20’s. A problem most people have is that they develop a sense of comfort in their 20’s. They usually have a career, steady paycheck, and feel that this must be the path to follow. Remember, the path that led you to your situation in your 20’s is a result of a series of decisions that were made in your late teens. It’s crucial to properly assess your situation and understand that it’s okay if you want to make a change.
Everybody has a story and not everybody is fortunate enough to be able to drop everything and take a risk or make a huge change. It’s important to understand that if those decisions are to be made, it’s easier to do in your 20’s in a relationship vs in your thirties and possibly even married.
Fear of failure can be crippling. It can trap you in a lifetime of mediocrity, keeping you from truly experiencing who you may be as a person. What’s even worse than failure is the fear of the dreaded “what if”. Nobody wants to be staring at their dreams at the end of their life thinking about what could have been.
6. Stop Comparing Yourself
Your 20’s are an odd time in your life. Some of your friends have gone on to incredible careers and some of your friends have not changed since high school. Some are starting families and others are traveling the world.
A lot of people make the mistake of comparing what they’re doing to the lives of others. It’s easy to do this in a time when people broadcast only the best parts of their lives onto social media. We see what others are doing and feel inadequate about ourselves. This mentality will stop you from being grateful for what you already have and make you downright miserable. If we can’t appreciate what we already have, we simply can’t make the most of our lives. Unfortunately, some people figure this out too late and before they know it they’ve spent their best years envying what others have.
Be the best version of yourself and remember that it’s okay if you haven’t accomplished certain goals by certain times, but you’re doing your best. Life is a marathon, not a race. Don’t take yourself too seriously because it will work out when it’s supposed to work out.
7. Be Honest With Yourself
Being honest with yourself may be the most important aspect of this list. Doing this will truly allow you to make the most of your 20’s and your life thereafter. By being honest with yourself, you eliminate the chance of falling into an unwanted cycle, a bad career choice, or a bad relationship.
Accepting who you are and what you want allows you to be open to the necessary changes you need in your life. You eliminate the resistance that the environment around you creates through time. In fact, approximately 30% of the total workforce will now change jobs every 12 months. If you want to drop out of your business program and study culinary skills then do it.
Don’t just choose the most comfortable route because it’s convenient, this will only hurt you in the long-run. Choose your path based on fulfillment, not comfort, or money, these elements are only temporary solutions. Comfort, for some, can be a killer of spirits, for others, it may be the perfect route.
Your 20’s are a time of change and growth and making the most of them can be a lot easier than people may think. Happiness and fulfillment are a work in progress, practicing better habits in small steps make a much bigger difference down the road. Accepting the fact that things will go wrong but you will learn from them is the most important part of all of this. It’s all about making small changes that lead to big differences all while challenging yourself to be a better version of yourself every day.