I recently celebrated my birthday. I took sometime to think about the things I am glad I did so far and other things that I am yet to do. Here is a list of what I believe everyone in their 20’s should do. If you are no longer in your 20’s, it’s not too late:
1- Write Down Your Life Goals.
A study was conducted by Gail Matthews at Dominican University that concluded that those who wrote down their goals accomplished significantly more than those who did not. Another study was conducted by Mark McCormack at Harvard Business School that concluded that those who write down their goals make as much as ten times in earnings than those that don’t.
2- Go Camping With Friends.
One of the most memorable experiences you can have is going camping. Being unplugged and enjoying the simple things in life is refreshing to the body, soul, and spirit. Camping is one of the best teamwork activities you can do with friends. Taking time away from the distractions of social media, work, and the demands of life to participate in activities like setting up camp, exploring nature, eating together and hanging out around the fire will be some of the best bonding and most memorable experiences you will have.
3- Forgive And Let Go.
This is probably the most important thing you can do. When you meet older people, you will notice that they are usually either the sweetest and happiest people you will meet or they are mean and bitter. I believe a lot of it has to do with whether they held grudges as they grew older or not. Think of those you have been hurt by and make a choice to forgive them, even if they are not sorry. Don’t let their wrongdoings become a burden of bitterness that you carry for the rest of your life. Open the doors for reconciliation if any of them are open to meet and reconcile. Remember, reconciling doesn’t mean regaining of trust, it simply means acknowledging the person and choosing to let go of the past. If there are old lovers that still have pieces of your heart, choose to let go of them so that your heart isn’t occupied with the wrong people. You may also want to consider removing them from social media and not letting yourself dwell over thoughts of being with them.
4- Live Alone.
Being an extrovert, I never thought I would enjoy living alone, but doing so has dramatically helped me grow. Living alone helps you learn to be content. The “need” to constantly be around people is often an excuse to escape personal pain or examine life’s hard questions. Living on my own taught me to do a better job of keeping my space clean and organized, not to impress someone, but for my own sake. It helped me find out who my real friends were. The ones who go out of their way to intentionally spend time with me are the friends I want to intentionally invest in. All of these qualities can help prepare you to become a better person for your future spouse.
5- Write Down A List Of The Qualities You Want In Your Future Spouse.
Before you find yourself in love with the wrong person, take time to figure out the qualities you need in your future spouse and write down as a point of reference. Be open to modify them as you grow and learn more about yourself and what you are looking for.
6- Read The Entire Bible.
Whether you consider yourself a Christian or not, the Bible is the most read book in history. It’s only a smart move to read the most influential book ever written. It is crucial to shape your perspective on the Bible based on your personal reading and observation, not on what your college professors, the media, or your parents have told you. Entire civilizations and many of today’s laws and the U.S. Constitution have been founded on the teachings of the Bible. Reading the Bible will expand your understanding of why countries, politics, and the arts exist as they are. Here is a list of reading plans that can make it easier to track.
7- Go To A Large Conference Or A Concert.
Whether it’s a Coldplay concert or a church conference, you should go to a gathering with over 10,000. Why? Just as camping has the power to show you how small you are in the sight of nature, large gatherings can show you how small you are in sight of humanity. Additionally, there is something about this experience that gets you out of your bubble and inspires you for greatness. It gives you a wider perspective; whether you are passionate about music, education or politics, being around so many people in an electric environment stirs up the passion to influence the world around you. While going to a sports game in a stadium can help, I suggest that you go to an event where art that touches the heart on an intimate level is in action. There is something so powerful about being surrounded by scores of people sharing in mutual inspiration, whether it’s a song by your favorite artist or an inspiring talk by your favorite speaker.
8- Travel To Another Country Alone (Canada and Mexico Don’t Count).
One of the most memorable events in my life was when I went to 5 countries in Europe. Alone. Traveling alone has forced me to meet new people when I stayed in hostels with strangers (rather than get secluded hotel rooms with friends). In addition, traveling alone gave my mind a chance to think intensely and my heart a space to feel deeply without being distracted. The reason I don’t encourage Canada or Mexico is because these nations are highly influenced by the American culture, and there is a greater chance of encountering other Americans. These two factors will inhibit you from having a full cultural experience. If you can go to the non-touristic places and surround yourself with an authentic cultural experience in Mexico or Canada, by all means, it counts. If you are a girl, make sure you feel comfortable or consider taking a friend or two. Keep in mind that the goal is to meet new people and experience a new culture rather than hang out with your friends in an all-American resort.
9- Gift Your Parents With Something Big.
Your parents have spent 18+ years of their lives sacrificing their time, money, and energy to serve you. If you are a millennial, they may still be financially supporting you. Think of something BIG, save up some money and do it for them. Whether it’s buying them a car instead of the old one they have, booking them a cruise vacation, taking them on a surprise trip to Hawaii, or paying off whatever is left on their mortgage, you should strategically plan on doing something that will be life changing for them. Of course, you may not be able to afford any of those but if you plan ahead and give yourself a year to save up for it, you can definitely do something big and exciting. Do your best not to cut corners or end up giving them something that they would be doing anyway! If you find it impossible to do something big in your 20’s, do the best you can rather than wait for your 30’s. if it means saving $1000 in a year or two to have them go on a decent vacation, do it so that it becomes a habit now and then you can do something bigger in your 30’s.
10- Move Away From Your Hometown (Even If It’s Just For Few Months).
One of the most fruitful things you can do for yourself is to get away from where you have lived most of your life. Even if you love it and want to spend the rest of your life there, moving away will help you gain a better perspective and evaluate the pros and cons of your hometown. Personally, it helped me get out of my comfort zone and be intentional about exploring new places and meeting new people. It made me more grateful for the things I appreciated about home. If you know for sure that where you live now is where you want to continue to grow, consider at least doing an internship, or working at a job 3+ months someplace where you have always wanted to live.
11- Invest In Something.
One of the biggest mistakes you may be making is not considering long-term investment. Make sure to take time and learn about investment options. While saving money in your account can be good and “safe,” investing can really pay off long-term. Whether it’s buying your first home and building equity, saving up for a second home that can produce passive income, or learning about stocks and investing money in the Stock Market, take the time to develop a strategy. If you don’t find a good opportunity or you are just not comfortable with it, get aggressive about paying your debt while you can. Paying off debt becomes a lot harder when you have a family or unexpected medical bills.
12- Give At Least 5 Years Of Your Life To Pursue Something You Are Passionate About.
This is one of the most common sentences I get from friends who started a career in their early 20’s; “I wish I pursued my passion like you are before jumping into my current career. Now I can’t really do that and I wonder what it would have looked like if I would have pursued my passion in _________________”. Make sure to give yourself time to explore what you really, really want to do even if it does not make sense. The best-case scenario is that you will find a way for your passion to be your primary source of income and be successful in something you love. The worst-case scenario is that you spent a few years getting valuable experience and, when it’s all said and done, you can start a career without the looming regret of, “what if I would have taken the risk and went after my passion?”
Train yourself to invest in people and experiences, not in material things. Seriously. When I see people unable to afford to travel because they spent all of their money on their dream car, I feel bad for them. I met a guy once that would always try to avoid traveling and going places to keep the mileage on his car low. How sad is it that someone in their 20’s would miss amazing opportunities for the sake of having a nice car? Hold off investing your money in the better gadget, car, etc. and invest that time and money in the things that you will always remember when you are older: people and experiences.
What else would you add to the list? Comment Below!
– Johnny Youssef