Your 20s are an important part of life. For many it is the decade where you lay the foundation for your life.
This list isn’t about accomplishments or reaching certain milestones like buying a home or getting a promotion, but rather the things you can do for yourself to create a better life.
I believe healthy habits and traits early on in life will greatly benefit you as you age and progress in life.
These things can also be applied to ANY age, so don’t feel bad if you haven’t quite nailed these things down yet.
Let’s dive in:
Learn to love yourself
Many people go a lifetime without loving themselves.
It can take awhile to develop self-love, but it’s worth it. It’s also ideal to go into a relationship loving yourself first.
When you love yourself you know your values, you have standards for your life, you’re comfortable with who you are inside and out.
Oftentimes people put their self-worth in someone else’s hands. That can lead to serious heartbreak and self-esteem issues.
You can develop love for yourself by doing things that make you proud, being yourself, accepting and appreciating your appearance and personality, and by constantly evolving as an individual.
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Start a side hustle
Side hustles are amazing.
Not only can you make extra cash, but you can work on a passion of yours or fill your time with something more meaningful.
Having multiple sources of income is beneficial whether you want to pay off debt, save more money, or supplement your income.
It’s also really fun to have something of your own to work on and share with the world.
You never know how far it can go!
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Make your own decisions
From a young age we are told what not to do and what to do.
Of course that’s understandable as a child who is still developing and learning, but now that you’re an adult you have control.
Even as a teenager or young adult, many people are still easily influenced by friends, family or society.
It’s important to ask yourself: Are my opinions even my own? Is the path I’m taking the one I really want to go down? Did I do this for myself or someone else?
If you can reach a point of confidence (see point one) to make your own decisions in life, you’ll actually do things that make your life better.
Raise your standards/know your values
Before, you may have tolerated being treated a certain way or even your own excuses, but again you are in control.
When you raise your standards it doesn’t make you a bad person.
It just means that you want to align your life with what you truly want. You want to go from, “I should do/have that,” to “I must do/have that.”
These standards could apply in:
-your romantic relationship (you have certain deal breakers and needs)
-your career (how you’re treated, your salary)
-your actions (reducing procrastination, working on goals)
-your finances (never missing payments, paying off debt)
-your health (maintaining your weight, what you allow into your body)
You can raise your standards by understanding your values and knowing who you want to identify as.
Once you’re clear on that, everything else falls into place.
When big things come up in life, you’ll know exactly what decision to make.
Hold yourself accountable
Depending on other people for anything isn’t sustainable. YOU are your own responsibility.
If you want to achieve anything for yourself, you have to hold yourself accountable.
It’s easy to get things done when you have deadlines set by other people (your boss, your teacher, your parents), but what about managing all other areas of your life?
You are the own manager of your health, your finances, your personal goals, etc.
It’s easy to blame other people or circumstances for any problems in your life, and sure sometimes the blame may be valid, but usually it falls back on you.
You can design your dream life.
There are no secrets here. It’s just a matter of owning up to your results in life and doing what it takes to change them.
Put in the effort, develop the discipline and show up for yourself.
Be OK with alone time
Getting comfortable with solitude can be challenging.
Some people love it, others despise it. However, alone time can be powerful.
And true alone time doesn’t mean scrolling through Instagram or binge watching Netflix. You may be alone physically, but you won’t gain the benefit of processing your thoughts.
You know? The one’s you’re trying to drown out.
If you give yourself space to listen to your own mind, you can truly grow as a person and start to understand who you are.
You don’t have to be afraid of your thoughts. Journal about them or just observe them without judgement.
You can get to a point where your thoughts become interesting and you can question or challenge them.
Taking a walk, meditating, journaling, sitting there, taking a shower, etc. are all the times I get my best ideas.
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Manage your time
Time management is such an amazing habit. Time is literally our most valuable asset.
I think people don’t realize how little of it we actually have, especially considering we don’t even know when our last breath is.
Assuming you’ll live to 100, you’ve probably already lived about one quarter of your life.
An additional quarter of your life will be spent sleeping.
And if you work a 40 hour/week job, another 12-15 years of your life are spent at work.
So you have about one quarter of your life to do what you want with it, considering you’ll be healthy at an old age.
But this is where time management comes in in the first place.
Instead of wasting it on reality TV, complaining, social media, etc., you could be investing those hours into building a better life.
You can start a career that you actually love and enjoy going to.
Or you can even create a life where you get to travel frequently and experience new things.
You can exercise and cook healthy foods that give you a better quality of life.
You don’t want to look back on your choices with regret. Of course the important thing is being happy with however you choose to live.
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Learn how to cook
Cooking a healthy, tasty meal is underrated.
Many of us have access to a wide variety of delicious foods. It’s healthier and more affordable to cook your meals from home. And if you can learn how to cook, it will taste better too.
Packaged meals and to-go foods may be easier, but they’re loaded with strange, unhealthy ingredients and heavy price tags.
You can start with some basics and then move on to recipes. Eventually you’ll be able to throw foods/spices together and make a delicious meal.
Cooking doesn’t even take long, especially the more you practice.
Personally, I meal prep my meals every Sunday and this saves me a ton of time and money.
Nothing beats a good home cooked meal.
Write down your goals
It’s fun to imagine or envision what you want in life, but be sure to write those things down too.
A study done by Dr. Gail Matthews at Dominican University found that people with written goals were 42% more likely to achieve them.
However, it’s not just about writing them out. You still have to actively take steps to reach your goals.
But if you write down your goal in a place that you see it often, you’ll be reminded of it and more likely to work toward it.
Also, when you write them down you’re encoding them into your brain. Feeling an emotion with your goals is also helpful for making them a memory.
You will be more likely to be motivated and able to focus.
If you’re interested in taking your goals seriously, check out my course:
Create effective systems
Going off the last section, goals are obviously very important in determining your direction in life.
However, the systems you create are even more valuable.
Those systems include habits and regular action steps that get you closer to achieving your goals.
You can drastically improve your habits and evolve as a person if you put the right systems in place.
Read my post, Focus on Creating Systems Rather Than Setting Goals, to dive deeper into this.
I’m sure you knew this was coming!
Making a habit of exercise while young will do you good long-term.
Not only will working out help to boost your mood, keep you in shape, and give you higher energy levels while you are in your 20s, it will prevent disease as you age.
It’s a lot easier to maintain your shape and strength as you age vs. trying to lose weight or get healthier later in life.
There is just no reason NOT to exercise.
You’ll increase your confidence, you’ll be more productive, you’ll sleep better, and so much more.
It’s easily the best keystone habit to start.
RELATED POST: How to Make Exercise a Habit
Stop making excuses
If you’re making excuses in your 20s, you’re going to make way more as you get older.
Not having time, feeling lazy or tired, not having enough money, blah blah.
The truth is you have enough time. You have more energy now than you will in 20 years. And you’ve got to spend and save wisely, your money will grow.
You’re holding yourself back and you’re going to create unhealthy habits that you’ll carry through life.
Learn to recognize when you are making excuses and get over them. Your future will thank you.
Just like with exercise, your nutrition is important in building a strong, enduring body.
The constant junk food and excess caffeine and alcohol may not affect your body now, but it will. Just because you don’t see anything happening externally, that doesn’t mean you’re not causing damage internally.
Again, by allowing yourself to devour processed foods, binge drinking, and other unhealthy foods, you’re more likely to create poor eating habits throughout your life.
This can lead to obesity, diabetes, and even addictions.
Obviously it’s OK to eat junk food in moderation, but aim to eat clean food majority of the time.
RELATED POST: How to Start a Healthy Diet
Stop comparing yourself to others
As a twenty-something you probably do or have felt behind in life. This is mostly due to comparison.
It’s easy to think your peers are living the good life, maybe they are, maybe they aren’t, but either way it isn’t useful to you.
There will always be someone better than you and you will always be better than someone, but what does that matter?
Focus on yourself.
RELATED POST: What to Do When You’re Feeling Behind in Life
Whatever topic you are seeking, there is a book about it.
I love books because we can have the knowledge and experience of amazing people right at our fingertips.
You can learn from billionaires, CEOs, athletes, monks, doctors, and everyone in between. The information can literally change your life.
Reading is also good for your brain, it reduces stress, improves your vocabulary and is honestly just fun.
It’s a great hobby/habit to start in your 20s and beyond.
Work on your mindset
Your mindset may be the very thing that holds you back in life. That may be a fixed mindset, a negative mindset, believing you’re a victim, thinking you’re stuck in life, etc.
Your brain may be constantly searching for the negative and will constantly focus on the things that could go wrong. If that’s the mindset you have your brain will find evidence to support that.
“Where focus goes, energy flows.”
Creating a growth mindset where you talk to yourself kindly and believe in yourself will get you a lot further.
It takes time and effort, but getting that down in your 20s will continue to pay off in your lifetime.
The idea is not to force positivity all the time, but rather to understand why you are thinking certain things.
When thoughts come up, observe them and question them.
Are they true?
How do they make me feel?
From there you can practice new thoughts and feelings, ultimately changing the results you have.
Loads of debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and being unprepared financially have become normal in Western culture. A normal that I do not want to be a part of.
Speaking for myself, I have been working since 16 and I couldn’t tell you where all of that money went.
Fortunately, I have since learned so much about finances from paying off debt to investing.
A comfortable financial situation will remove a huge burden in life.
Many of us have debt and struggle to save/invest while we pay it off. But it doesn’t help when you’re going out to eat everyday, buying the latest phone, and upgrading your closet every month.
Time is on your side in your 20s, so pay off your debt and start investing.
How often do you pause and reflect on the happenings in your life?
How do you feel about your career? Your relationship? Your own habits? Your achievements?
If you don’t regularly evaluate how things are in your life, this is how you end up not knowing what happened to your life at 70 years old.
You could be living someone else’s dream or not progressing without even noticing.
Your life isn’t over and you aren’t stuck. You can change your direction.
We all have so much potential.
We can get better physically, mentally, financially, and in all areas of life.
It’s amazing how much we can change and improve in a short amount of time, so imagine a lifetime.
Don’t give up on your dreams, don’t give up yourself. Keep pushing.
Think of your future self
Get into the habit of asking yourself, “Does this support the life I’m trying to create?”
What you decide to do right now, directly affects your future. Even if it doesn’t seem like it, it does.
If you spend your money foolishly, you’ll create poor habits and have less money later.
If you waste time on unimportant things you lose that time to be productive or spending it with people you care about.
If you eat bad foods and don’t exercise, you’ll see the consequences.
Things may be alright today, but what kind of future do you want?
I know that in 10+ I want to be healthy and energized, I want to be financially independent, I want to be a full-time entrepreneur.
This is why I always think of my future self. If I feel resistance to work on my personal projects I ask myself, “Who do I want to be and what would that person do?”
If I don’t want to workout I think of how I will feel after I workout vs. if I don’t.
Once you gain clarity on WHO you want to be and what you want in life, this tip becomes a game changer.
So far, my early twenties were the most challenging.
After 25 is when things started getting better in my life, but this is also because I’ve become so deliberate about my actions and future.
Enjoy your youth, but also make the most of this time and make wise decisions.