Being a post-college age 20-something in the year 2015 can be exhausting. Not only are you learning new things every second of every day, but there is a lot of pressure on you to quit acting like a teenager and get your life together. It’s easy to feel like everyone else has a sense of where they are going in life while you can’t seem to figure out how to take your first steps into true adulthood. Take deep breaths and relax, because we have come up with the 9 most important things you should be doing right now to make the most out of your twenties and start figuring out how to navigate towards your thirties with more peace of mind.
Learn How To Manage Your Money
Weekly outings with your girlfriends and binge shopping at sample sales can drain your bank account pretty quickly. Not only will this keep you living pay check to pay check for much longer than you’d like, but it also prevents you from building up a savings account or beefing up your 401K.
You may be wondering why a savings account and 401k are so important when you’ve just started working. In order to retire at a reasonable age and handle any potential financial emergencies (car repairs, home/apartment repairs, etc.), you need to make sure that you are putting a little bit of money aside from every paycheck to save for your future. Not only will your older self thank you, but watching those little contributions pile up into one large account balance will help prevent any money-related stresses from entering your life. It will also prevent you from having embarrassing conversations with employers and your future spouse about your low credit score and bad credit. Save yourself the hassle and learn to manage your money properly from the start!
Learn From Your Elders
When is the last time you called your grandmother? Not to wish her a happy holiday or thank her for the birthday check, but actually see how she is doing? Don’t be embarrassed if you haven’t done this recently, because chances are most of us haven’t.
While our parents and grandparents are a great source of love, advice, and birthday checks, they are full of stories and wisdom that can be pretty beneficial during your 20’s. It can be hard to remember that at one point, your elders were 20-somethings, too. You’ll create a stronger bond with family and friends by listening to their stories and learning from their mistakes, and maybe uncover some cool family secrets along the way.
Write Down Your 5-Year Plan
Where do you want to be in 5 years? It’s hard to think any amount of distance into the future while you are still trying to get your life under control in the present, but not impossible. The key is to take baby steps.
Whether it’s in a journal, Word document, or Tumblr entry, writing down the goals that you want to accomplish can help you to navigate through the rough parts of your 20’s, like dating and job hunting. Just start off with simple questions. What does the path to your dream career look like? When do you want to move out of your mom’s house? What are goals that you want to accomplish before the end of the year? How about the end of next year?
Do you need to follow your answers strictly? Of course not, but knowing what goals you want to accomplish and what new goals you would like to set for yourself can help to keep you from feeling lost and like you are not sure what to do with your life.
Be Mindful On Social Media
Every single thing that you do on social media, even if your account is on private, can come back to haunt you on a job interview. Every. Single. Thing. This means that you need to take a beat before uploading that picture of you and your friends having a raging good time over Memorial Day weekend.
Think of yourself as a brand. You only want content going up on your social media pages that will positively represent who you are; things that you wouldn’t be embarrassed about if a future employer brought them up in conversation. It will be hard to climb the corporate ladder if you have an unflattering photo popping up every time someone searches your name on Google. Think before you post.
Be Kind To Your Body
In your 20’s it can be easy to think you’re invincible and going to be young forever. Poor diet, lack of exercise, sun bathing, smoking, and drinking alcohol are all things that will eventually catch up to you.
A common mistake that 20-somethings make is not establishing healthy habits until they’ve already done damage. Most damage caused by lifestyle choices and the sun doesn’t show up immediately, even though it’s lurking below the surface. While we are supporters of the natural aging beauty trend, it is important to take care of your skin and body early on to prep for fifty more years of healthy, graceful aging. Simple choices like wearing sunscreen and a hat, exercising regularly, curbing alcohol consumption, quitting/avoiding smoking, and eating a healthy diet can keep you stay vibrant, youthful, and healthy as you venture into your 30’s and beyond.
Don’t Fall Into The FOMO Trap
You know that feeling you get when you’re scrolling through all your friends’ Snapchat stories from their fun weekend without you? That’s FOMO a.k.a the fear of missing out. It’s a common feeling among 20-somethings thanks to social media, where you can follow our friends and favorite celebrities every second of every day through their lives that seem way more fun than your own.
This is going to be hard to believe, but social media is not always a reflection of real life. Everyone uses filters, everyone takes multiple selfies to find the perfect one, and everyone takes extra photos of the fun parts of their life while omitting their binge watching of Netflix.
How can you counter-act a case of serious FOMO? First, remind yourself that social media is not real life, and there is more to life than a flawless selfie. Second, take some time every night to detox from social media. Even if it is only for an hour or so, focus on other things, like catching up with friends or reading a book. Your soul will thank you!
Travel As Often As You Can
There is no better time to see the world than while you are trying to figure out your place in it. Experiencing new cultures, trying new things, and meeting new people are all some of the most fun parts of being in your 20’s, and there are endless places to explore.
If international travel is not in your budget, there are travel sites and coupon sites, like Groupon and Living Social, which offer cheap rates and all-inclusive deals around the country and around the world. Not sure if you can handle traveling abroad? Look into exploring local hotspots, neighboring states, or a cross-country road trip to help ease yourself into the idea of becoming a world traveler.
Take Big Steps Towards Your Dream Career
Besides just sending out applications and updating your LinkedIn page, there are plenty of things that you can do to launch yourself towards your dream job. Look into resume workshops, cover letter workshops, and any field-specific classes that you can take in your spare time, either in person or online, to make sure that your application sparkles and that you are adding new experiences to your skillset.
A simple Google search can lead you to a treasure trove of websites dedicated to helping job-searchers keep their resumes and portfolios looking sharp. If you are interested in classes for a more targeted field, make sure to type your chosen field into the search engine to see what kinds of websites come up. We live in a technology driven world, so there are bound to be websites available for every possible dream career you could ever have.
Stop And Smell The Roses, Because YOLO!
For those of you who are super dedicated to working on your career and traveling and making the most of your 20’s, more power to you, but don’t forget to enjoy the little moments. Chances are, this may be the only time in your life where you will be able to live with very little financial responsibility and familial obligations, so make sure to enjoy splurging on that pair of shoes every now and then, weekly dates with your girlfriends, and solo time on your couch with your favorite show. This is the time where you are only responsible for you, so don’t worry about the small stuff, cut out the haters, and enjoy living in the present. Being a 20-something is a once in a lifetime opportunity!