20 Manageable Things 20-Somethings Can Do In 2016 To Be Successful

Twenty20 / Leo Hidalgo
Flickr / Leo Hidalgo

You have no idea how old you are. Yes, you know the number of years you’ve been alive, but your true age is equal to the amount of years you have left.

If you’re 26 and you’re going to die next week, you’re older than an 80 year old person who has a couple of years left to live.

People sit on two sides of the fence when it comes to us twenty somethings. Some say it’s a time for exploration. Others say it’s a time to get serious about your career path going forward.

I say it’s time to get serious about your path going forward regardless of how old you are. I just happen to be in my twenties.


Read as many books as you can. Learn about subjects that interest you. Learn about the skills you need to excel in your career. Learn about the people who have come before you. Learn from other people’s mistakes. The ability to learn is more important than IQ or natural ability. Some of the world’s most successful people aren’t the most gifted. They’re learning machines.

Take Risks

Your twenties is the best time to take risks because you don’t have a ton of responsibility. You probably don’t have multiple children and a mortgage to worry about (even if you do, this still applies). Youth gives you the energy to bounce back from failure. It’s okay to crash and burn a couple of times in your twenties.


You’re not going to have your life figured out in your twenties. You’re still figuring out what you like. It’s important to find an area you want to pursue, but finding the exact niche you want to be in takes time. Don’t be fixated on having your dream job by the age of 25. Bounce around. Intern at 10 different companies. Each time you try something new you come closer to the path you’re meant for.

Find a Mentor

Find someone who is already successful and what you’re trying to do. Your goal should be to find someone ten times more successful than you are to learn from. Mentors shorten your learning curve and help you avoid potential pitfalls.

Start A Business

If you have the entrepreneurial bug, your twenties are a great time to start a business. Starting and running a business gives you valuable experience and skills. Even if you go bankrupt, you’ll have plenty of time to recover. This coincides with taking risks. The younger you start, the more chances you have to succeed.

Start Saving

You know you need to save. Yes, saving is tough. But it’s only going to get harder as you get older. Nobody thinks 50 years into the future, but if you don’t save you’re going to end up short on money when it’s time to retire. You can even receive a tax credit for opening up a retirement account. That’s right, the government will give you money for saving money. Saving isn’t sexy, but it’s necessary.

Stay In Shape

This is another cliched piece of advice, but here’s the thing about cliches – their true! Your metabolism will experience a steep drop off in a decade, so you better be prepared now.

Make A Plan For Your Future

Sit down with a piece of paper and actually write your plan out. Start with your ultimate goals far off in the future and work backwards. What do you want to achieve far in the future? What about 10 years from now? What about 5 Years from now? In a year? This Month? This week? Today? Right now?  People who plan have better outcomes than people who don’t. Of course everything in your life won’t go as planned, but if you have a plan you’ll be headed in the right direction.

Don’t Listen To Your Parents

Don’t take career advice from your parents. They love you, care about you, and want you to be safe. So they’re going to advise you to pick the most boring, safe, and risk free career possible. Maybe some of you have the type of parents who steer you towards big dreams, but frankly most of you don’t. They mean well, but their vision for your future is their vision, not yours.

Don’t Go To Grad School

Career expert Penelope trunk thinks going to grad school is a waste of time. The time you spend in grad school could be better spent gaining actual experience. There’s also evidence mounting that credentials don’t carry the weight they used to. Degrees are dying. You’re going to need more than a piece of paper to be successful in today’s economy. What you learn in school doesn’t translate well in the real world. Many graduates can attest to that. You will learn more about what it takes to be successful being in the field.

Become An Idea Machine

According to James Altucher, ideas are now the most valuable currency. To strengthen your “idea muscle,” write down ten ideas per day. How many good ideas do you need to have to become successful? One. If you write down ten ideas per day that’s 3,650 ideas per year. Using simple math and the law of averages, you’re bound to hit on something worthwhile.

Find The Right Partner

No, this doesn’t mean you have to put pressure on yourself to be in a relationship. But it does mean that you can be more intentional about the people you date. Being with the right partner makes you more ambitious and productive. Having someone in your corner who supports you will allow you to thrive.

Work While Everyone Else is Partying

You’ll be miles ahead of your peers. I’ve had more than my fair share of boozed out nights on the town, but if I could go back I would spend that time working on my dream. Partying is fun, but it doesn’t help you become more successful. It also makes you less productive the next day. If you still want to party more than you want to be successful, you’re not ready for success.

Conquer Your Fear Of Failure

You will remain stuck until you do. Accept your fear is real, embrace it, and move forward in spite of it. Life can be summed up in two emotions — fear and love. They’re the two biggest subjects we grapple with on a daily basis. Conquer your fear of what other people think of you. Conquer your fear of being vulnerable. Fear is the only thing holding you back from your wildest dreams.

Think For Yourself

If none of my advice works for you — don’t take it! In the book Zero to One, Peter Thiel says, “the most contrarian thing of all is not to oppose the crowd but to think for yourself.” Challenge your deep seated beliefs. Your twenties is a time of unlearning everything you’ve been taught and beginning your real education. There’s no manual for being successful. Listen to advice from others and only take away what’s relevant to you.

Stop Trying to Be Cool

You’re SO worried about what your friends think. But your friends and peers are all as insecure about themselves as you. There are few feelings better than not caring what others think about you. As long as you remain shackled by the opinions of others, you won’t work and live to your highest potential.

Learn How To Sell

Everybody needs sales skills. If you want to run a business you need to know how to sell. If you want to share creative work with the world, you need to learn how to get people’s attention. If you want to land a great job, you need to be able to sell yourself. Take a sales course. Read sales books. There aren’t many skills you can have that are more important than selling.

Be Wise With Your Time

Spend a little less time on social media. Spend a little less time “Netflix and Chilling.” Spend a lot more time improving yourself, growing as a person, and becoming better. It seems like you have a lifetime to get your s*** together, but you have no idea how long you’ll be around. A friend of mine from college died last week. He was a smart, funny, talented person who had the world ahead of him, but his time was cut short. You should be serious about how you spend your time regardless of your age.

Be Okay With Sucking At Stuff

It will take you ten years to become an expert. It will take you five years to have enough skills to make serious money in your industry. It takes time to become skilled. I started writing a year ago. I wrote about 100 posts in 2015. I cringe when I look at my first posts. I’ll probably cringe looking at this post a year from now. Most people don’t succeed because they aren’t willing to fight through the period of incompetence. Use your twenties to refine the skills you’ll use for the rest of your life.

Take Action

This is your year to take your twenties and your life seriously. You’re destined for something great. You were put here for a reason — You just have to find out what that reason is.
I wrote a book about finding your life’s purpose and overcoming your fear of failure. It will be released on amazon for FREE from January 10th-12th. If you’re interested in grabbing a free copy, click here. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

About the author

Ayodeji Awosika

Author at ayotheauthor.com | Writing coach at www.ayothewriter.com

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