1. Stay out of bad debt.
Some of you may have student debt. That is fine. Some of you may have purchased a home and have a mortgage. That is fine as well as they both are considered investments. But unfortunately more of you than I’d like to imagine have these plastic cards in your wallets that you fund your lifestyle with and this is bad. In addition, you may have recently started your corporate career with a steady income and decided to ditch your 10 year old car to buy a new shiny one to impress peers and the opposite sex but if your depreciating asset debt payment is keeping you handcuffed financially well then that was a mistake. A rule of thumb I like to use is never spend more than 10% of your gross monthly income on a car payment (including insurance). Another tip when going out, use cash only so that you do not overspend on cheap thrill entertainment.
2. Do not have out of wedlock child(ren).
Want to quit your day job and move to another country for a bit? I did. During my tumultuous 20s I put my things in storage (meaning my parents’ basement) and moved to Brazil to teach English for a year. There was another time that I moved states to cohabitate with a now ex-girlfriend. There were times when I went to work on Friday morning and did not return to my apartment until Sunday night.
Your 20s are a time to do what you want when you want and have endless possibilities of where your life may take you, but having a child when the time and situation is not right will put an end to all of those possibilities in a nano second. Trust me, I know, I am a new father and even with having a great wife as a mother, supportive family, and money in the bank, I see that it’s a very challenging part to play no matter what age. But having a child before your life takes off, makes it that much harder to do what you want, when you want. Even if you are married in your early 20s, I still stress not to have children until your mid to late 20s because I can tell you from first and secondhand experience that what you want at the beginning of your decade will surely be different by the end.
3. Maintain and grow your network.
Networking was always a filthy word about 10 years ago for me. I always imagined awkwardly communicating with weird strangers about boring small talk, having to watch every word that came out of my mouth where I more than not ended up appearing such as a stuttering baboon. As it was hard for me to learn, building a quality network might be the single most important thing you can do to build a successful career no matter what industry or job experience you may have. Read that again. College students might like to spend time building relationships with their professors, while that is all fine and good, it most likely will not land your next or any career.
As we move into a time where a good career cannot be had by namelessly applying online, your peers will most likely be the ones that connect you with who you need to talk to for hire. How else would I have moved from New Jersey to Florida to Rhode Island back to Florida with job opportunities lined up? How else was I rehired by the same manager 5 years after resigning? The answer is my network. So pick up the phone and call an old college friend or exmanager that lives in another state whom you haven’t spoken to in over a year.
4. Take chances.
Would I suggest you run a business in an industry you have zero experience in? Probably not. But I did. Maybe being a little too ambitious, I thought I could run a house painting business but had painted exactly zero houses previously. It was a disaster; my parents still make fun of it occasionally 12 years later. Although I physically worked harder than I ever would again for 8 months (and made no money), it taught me selling, managing people, and running a business is no easy task and that there is no substitute for preparation and hard work. Is there something you want to try to accomplish? Do your homework and start it worst case scenario is that you will learn a whole lot more about yourself than you ever would sitting in classroom or working a desk job.
5. Live healthy.
You want to go out with friends, drink alcohol, and then most likely eat unhealthy foods? Do it. You want to stay up with your significant other until 3 am on a work night? Fine. These things are okay in moderation but you need to make sure you are living an overall healthy lifestyle. This includes staying active however you’d enjoy. For those exhigh school athletes, this could mean joining an adult recreational sports league. These have been a ton of fun for me and a way to network as well. For the unathletic ones, possibly buy a bicycle, take yoga classes, or an idea is joining WAKA kickball (whom has leagues all over the country http://www.kickball.com). Finally, make sure you get your annual doctor check up and if there is something that isn’t right physically get it checked out immediately!
6. Don’t chase to have “it” figured out.
There was a time I thought I was going to be a real estate mogul. My bad luck has it that it turned out to be 2006 the very top of the market where as you may know real estate values came crashing shortly after, along with my monetary and time investment. Turns out I was not going to be Donald Trump. There was another time I was going to be an importer of coconut water. I currently am not the reason you see coconut water on store shelves. There was another time I thought I’d still be friends with certain people, be married by a certain time, live in a certain house, have a certain job. Nothing worked out like I thought it would happen. And that is fine. Because if it did, I’d be one heck of cocky, arrogant mate. Just let things play their course, keep learning, invest in yourself, network, and things will work out when they are destined to.