Thought Catalog

A Cheat Sheet For Winning At Life In Your 20s

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I’ve always had close friends who are significantly older than me. One awesome advantage to this is they generally treat me to lunch when we go out. (There is such a thing as a free lunch! In your face, Milton Friedman. Okay, obviously the lunch isn’t technically free but it’s free for me and that’s what counts.) Anyway, the other great advantage is I get a lot of tips and tidbits of good advice about how to enjoy my twenties and be independent and all that good stuff. Honestly, I feel like I’ve been in my twenties a really long time even though I’m not even at the half way point yet. But when you move across the world at seventeen by yourself, you grow up really fast. So, I’ve taken it upon myself to curate a cheat sheet for how to win at life. Of course, I am still working on almost all of these.

1. Education

  • Your undergraduate degree is only as relevant as you want it to be. If it gets you the job of your dream — great! If not, show how your entire college experience makes you valuable in the “real world.”
  • If you know you want an advanced degree, get it done early. It gets harder as you get older.
  • If you can work for a company that will pay for your advanced degree, do it. It’s a small price to pay.
  • Institutions are not the only place where you learn. If you can teach yourself a valuable skill through reading and practicing on your own time, do it.

2. Career

  • Even the shittiest job has something to teach you. Learn it.
  • Decide your “why” for working. If you want to make a lot of money, be willing to potentially sacrifice time, effort, and personal satisfaction. If you want to be happy in your chosen field, be willing to sacrifice money. The two, however, needn’t be mutually exclusive.
  • Have a side hustle. We live in uncertain times and if you can be in charge of how much you make in one stream of income, you will be better off.
  • Never ever stop networking.
  • Don’t be afraid to try something you never thought you’d do.
  • Know more than your resume.
  • Never burn bridges no matter how awful your boss and coworkers are.
  • Don’t become your career.

3. Love – Family and Friends

  • Your family probably still knows you the best and are still likely the people who will have your back when shit hits the fan. Appreciate them.
  • Realize that your parents really do want what is best for you. Given that they probably have vast years of life experience on you, they’re advice is worth at the very least, taking into consideration.
  • Your family will disagree with some of your choices. Accept it.
  • Your friend group will shrink. Live with it.
  • Don’t be afraid to break-up with bad friends.
  • Never become the sucky friend who is in a relationship and forgets about their friendships.
  • Be intentional about the people you want in your life.
  • Be the friend you would want to have.

4. Love – Romance

  • Be in love and happy with who you are, first and foremost.
  • You may have feelings for someone but if you know they are bad for you, take to your heels.
  • Stop believing that someone is going to change for you.
  • Before you move for love, make sure you’ll be happy with where you move to too.
  • Enjoy the times you’re single. You might not always get to be selfish.
  • Whether you’re single or in a relationship, realize that it is a choice. If you want to make a different choice, recognize the sacrifices that will inevitably need to be made.
  • Your heart will likely be broken by someone. No matter who, when, why, and how, never ever let someone else make you bitter.
  • Be willing to take the risk of getting rejected for the reward of falling in love.
  • Try some form of online dating at least once.
  • Ask someone out the old-fashioned way at least once, whether you’re a guy or girl.

5. Life & Miscellaneous

  • If you want something, promise yourself that you’ll at least try no matter how unworthy or unprepared you think you are.
  • Actually learn from your mistakes. If you see a pattern — stop, find the source, make a change.
  • Ask for help when you need it. Even from mum and dad. There is no shame in needing help.
  • Put yourself in uncomfortable situations, on purpose.
  • Don’t take advantage of the people who help you by becoming complacent and irresponsible.
  • Pay your bills on time.
  • Be nice to your landlord, your credit card company, customer service, etc. They can be understanding if things get tough.
  • Attempt to budget. Keep attempting.
  • Save what you can. Even if it’s $5 a week. Do it.
  • Whenever you can, travel. Even if it’s within your borders.
  • Sales are good. Free is still better and nothing to be ashamed of.
  • Don’t compare yourself to your peers.
  • Recognize that no one expects you to have it all figured out. But don’t be a hot mess ALL the time either.
  • Have fun or when you hit 30, you’ll wish you had fun.
  • Work hard. Play maybe as hard, but not harder. Sleep.
  • For every current big, awful, problem (see: problem that is not that big in the grand scheme of life), remember the last big, awful problem that you had, and that you came through it.
  • Be grateful for at least one thing every day.
  • Always believe that whatever is meant to be, will happen.
  • Yeah, so have fun with this. I said it was a cheat sheet, I didn’t say it’d be a short one! TC mark
image – Josep Ma. Rosell

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