Your 20s is your peak; the prime time to figure out what the next step in your life will be. You have to hustle between finishing your higher education and jump-starting your career. There’s a lot of pressure coming from your family, your peers, and most importantly, the pressure you put on yourself to become the absolute best.
Yet, it’s so easy to get lost in all the desires to be instantly successful and recognized. But in an era where everyone is trying to achieve the same thing, instant gratification is not the way to make it in the long term. I know it’s tempting to appear to be #blessed by donning Cartier bracelets worth your entire college tuition fees. Maybe you long to buy yourself a Range Rover and customize it with extravagant decors, but let’s be real, normal people don’t really live like that.
As a 20-something fresh graduate, I know how difficult and scary it is to start this chapter in our lives. I was overwhelmed by anxiety and so ridiculously afraid of making mistakes. On the other hand, my yearning to emulate the Kardashians and the Jenners, like many millennials these days, sidetracked me. It made me focus on the wrong reasons as to why I strive to be successful. Sure, being well-known for your successes and have the riches as proof can be great. Be that as it may, if you’re not happy and content when you go to bed at night, you need to retrace your steps.
Based on the advice given by entrepreneur and marketing expert, Gary Vaynerchuk here, this article is for you, my fellow, struggling, 20 year olds who’s trying to make it in this harsh, superficial, digitally-driven world.
1. Explore your options
Being cautious can have its advantages but you can utilize your youth to explore different paths. Flirt with different ideas and reach outside your comfort zone. If you don’t consider all the options that you want to do, the thought of ‘what if’ can be crippling. It will prevent you from reaching your highest potential. There are so many young adults in their early 20s that are unhappy with where their life is going due to pressure from parents and family members.
Don’t punish yourself by doing something you know you won’t enjoy doing for 10+ years. Take your time to find something that you do love and are passionate about. If you want to explore the world before settling down, go for it. Or if you want to start your own startup company, just do it. Pursue what you want to do and ignore what others have to say.
2. Never look at others’ successes
Do not ever compare yourself with others. You might see other millennials hit important milestones early in their 20s but always remember that everyone is doing what they’re supposed to do at their own paces. Of course, through social media, it’s easier to highlight one’s material achievements. However, those Instagram posts from ‘rich kids’ are just shallow portrayals of superfluous successes.
When you compare your successes to others, this can deter your motivation and you may have a hard time bouncing back from the rut. The jealousy and envy is toxic. Every second you spend on thinking about what somebody else has achieved is taking away the time you can use to create something out of yourself. Channel that energy to motivate yourself to do better and beat your previous accomplishments. We are our greatest competitions after all.
3. Prepare to make sacrifices
Be willing to sacrifice weekend hangouts or pub crawls with your besties. The time for entertainment can be used to better yourself, your career, and your life as a whole. The time spent chilling with friends every afternoon is likely to be reduced to just a weekend brunch or a quick dinner. Get ready to spend those free times by doing work to meet deadlines.
With that being said, since it’s your 20s after all, life can often be forgiving. The sacrifices you make don’t have to be drastic; it can be small yet impactful. Know how to balance out your responsibilities with your leisure time. The quick dinners and weekend brunches with friends might seem short, but as long as you keep thinking of these times as a reward after all the work you did, then you’re good to go.
4. Set a realistic goal
You want to be a millionaire by the time you’re 25? Good luck because you’ll be needing all of it. All those people on Forbes’ 30 under 30 list have been working their asses off before they were even legal. Some became millionaires because of pure luck or their fortunes were served on a silver platter.
Rather than focusing your energy to become extremely rich, steer your attention towards enriching your life instead. Like said before, your 20s is your prime. It’s the perfect time to explore and experience new things. But it doesn’t mean you can let go of all responsibilities and ignore the consequences. It’s okay to dream big, but when exploring those paths, set a realistic and beneficial goal that you can actually see yourself achieving.
5. Enjoy the grind
At the end of the day, whatever you’re doing to achieve success should be enjoyable. Embrace the journey of getting there; no matter where ‘there’ is. Even if you have to flip burgers at a fast food joint to make ends meet or cater demanding clients, you must find joy in the smallest thing to avoid discouragement and resentment.
The journey is always more essential than the destination. On your way up, you can learn critical skills and knowledge that you can use in the long run. Getting to the top instantaneously can leave you empty as it allows you to do less enriching work. Knowing that you’ve put in 110% into everything is enough to fill you with joy and keep you motivated.
6. Love your battle scars
Recognize all your failures and welcome it with a positive mindset. All our mistakes and failures will open new doors that can lead to something greater. Never ever be too hard on yourself if you get rejected from that prestigious master’s program or if you’ve been turned down from the perfect job position. Never be afraid of failure because you know that you gave it your all.
These minor setbacks could propel you further in your career. “The universe will unfold as it should.” Keep this mantra close through thick and thin. It can reassure you that no matter what obstacles you’re facing, it can lead to greater and better things, and all your failures will make you who you are today.
7. Slow & steady wins the race
Your 20s is the moment to practice your patience. Slowly work your way up your career ladder or save money for that big solo trip you’ve always dreamed of. Know that nothing can be achieved overnight. You must dedicate time and effort, sometimes for years, before you can see results. You may see a lot of hares out there who have achieved great things early on in their 20s but fret not, with constant hard work and dedication, tortoises always reach the finish line no matter how long it takes.
8. Reflect from time to time
When push comes to shove, always come back to yourself and reflect. Always ask yourself who are you doing all this for? What does success mean to you? The answer should always benefit you and yourself alone and not for any other reasons. To obtain happiness is, of course, the ultimate reason why you should do anything. Other reasons like to make your parents proud or to pay off those student loans can also help to drive you forward.
If you sense that I’m beginning to lose grasp on why you should live a productive life, look for motivation elsewhere. I often read the prose Desiderata by Max Ehrmann that teaches you how to live, not just your 20s, but your entire life, positively and happily. Regular reflections can keep you grounded and in check with your ideals.
9. Don’t beat yourself up
Whatever your goals may be and whatever your idea of success is, be gentle with yourself. Don’t beat yourself up and don’t hold yourself accountable for arbitrary fantasies. Bear in mind that everyone’s journey is different. No matter what your goal is and no matter how you’re going to achieve that, be sure to savor this time. There will be less room in your 30s and 40s to make mistakes and redeem yourself.
There’s a reason why there are so many articles out there calling your 20s the worst, hardest period yet your most important decade. This decade is forgiving; it forgives all your failures and the wrong choices made. All in all, whatever you decide to do with your 20s, strive to make the most of it by keeping true to your goals and your principles.