Producer’s note: Someone on Quora asked: What are five questions that every young adult (20+) should ask him or herself? Here is one of the best answers that’s been pulled from the thread.
1. What Is My Unique Value Proposition?
This is the fancy, adult way of saying, “What can only I do?” In business, there is always a lot of talk about “value proposition.” What are you proposing and how much value will it bring?
A lot of 20 year olds (myself included) get caught up thinking about what they can be instead of what they already are. Look, I know I have the ability to become a lot of things. Just about any profession falling within my wheelhouse of skills I’m confident that if I put my time towards it I would achieve some level of success—most people would. But that’s not the challenge, nor will that “end” lead to fulfillment.
The real question is what can you offer that ONLY YOU can offer? What is your UNIQUE skill set? If your industry lined you up against 100 other capable candidates, what would be the thing that separates YOU?
What is your unique value proposition?
2 Am I Learning And Growing RIGHT NOW?
Your 20s are tough because you have no idea where you’re going and yet you are expected to know exactly where you’re going. Stop. Stop trying to figure it out. It’s useless and there is no correct answer—trust me. You’ll never know what you’re going to become, you’ll never know where you are headed, and the ONLY THING you can do is focus on RIGHT NOW.
Where problems arise is when we (as 20 year olds) get caught up in the fear of not knowing. It is a spiral effect and within a matter of hours we can convince ourselves that we are worthless, going nowhere, and entirely hopeless with no worthwhile future to look forward to.
The only question we need to ask ourselves is: Am I learning and Growing RIGHT NOW? You might not like what you do, you might be in a really tough position, you might be struggling in some way or another, but if you can answer that question with a YES—YES, I am learning and growing in some way right now—then trust that and stick with it. Don’t look for instant gratification and/or approval. Just try to determine whether you are still learning and growing.
If you are, no matter how tough it is, trust me you’re doing something right.
And if you aren’t learning and growing, no matter how comfortable or uncomfortable the situation, you need to get somewhere that will allow you to learn and grow right NOW.
3. Am I Taking Care Of Myself?
We might as well rename it to “The Invincible 20s Syndrome.” It’s quite common to look around and see your peers still living life as if nothing bad can possibly happen to them. But that’s because we are young and we have no concept of time.
The decisions you make in your 20s set up your 30s which lay the groundwork for your 40s which preface your 50s and so on. And aside from the more difficult challenge of cultivating good habits in your 30s than your 20s (do it now, while you’re still more willing), your body and mind are not invincible. Sleep, eat healthy, take care of your liver, stop smoking, etc. College is over.
4. What New Skills Am I Learning?
I try to learn a new skill every 3 months. It doesn’t matter how big or small. If 3 months goes by and I haven’t learned something new that I can DO, I’m ignoring a crucial part of my development as a person.
Again, there is tremendous value in doing this when you’re in your 20s. If you want proof, look at our parents. Look at the generation before us. How many times have you had to show your mom how to check her email on her iPhone? How many times has your dad called you asking how to log on to Skype? It’s harder to learn new skills when you’re older, so learn as much as you can now—and, if anything, learn the art of learning a new skill so that it’s not as much of a challenge when you’re 50.
5. In The Past Year, What Is The One Thing I Can Say I Am Truly Proud Of?
Your 20s move fast. Really, really fast. I feel like I’m living life at hyperspeed right now. And if I don’t stop and think about what I’m doing, I’ll miss it all together.
Make it a point to, each year, reflect on what you’ve made for yourself. If you’ve made something really cool, take a moment to appreciate it. If you’ve made nothing, make note of that and change it. Don’t let 10 years go by without doing something you’re really proud of.
Too many ambitious, hungry 20-somethings lose their own love for their own dreams by forgetting to challenge themselves to make or do something that THEY are really proud of. Not their parents, not their boss, not their friends—what are YOU proud of that YOU’VE done?
Stay true to this and you will have done more in your 20s than most people do in their entire lives.