The things you do when you’re in your 20s’ will determine a good portion of the rest of your life. It’s true – there are lessons you must learn during your 20s’ that will prepare you to either succeed or fail later on.
I often hear people say that life is your greatest teacher. I couldn’t disagree more – Life is a lousy teacher because it’s always one step behind.
Yes, learning from one’s mistakes helps to avoid repeating those mistakes, but wouldn’t it be better if you had a guide that could help you tell right from wrong the first time?
I’m now well into my 30s and have learned some lessons the hard way. Here I present you with 15 important lessons I wish I had learned in my 20s.
15 Most Important Lessons You Must Learn Before Age 30
Whether you’re under or over 30, consider embracing these 15 important lessons.
1. Be Conscious of Who You Spend Time With
Jim Rohn used to say, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. The thing is, it’s exciting to hang out with peers, but a bad apple will spoil the bunch; so be careful who you spend time with.
It’s exciting to hang out with peers but if you want to fly high, start hanging out with eagles instead of with chicken.
This means that spending time with people who are behind you will lower your average while spending time with people who are more accomplished than you, will make you more successful.
It’s not just your friends, it works the same way with the partners you choose. Have you noticed that a couple who’ve been married for a while start looking and acting like one another?
For instance, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis found that a spouse’s personality influences career success, which leads to better promotions, making more money, and achieving a more fulfilling life.
2. You Can’t Please Everyone
Unfortunately, many adults spend way too much time trying to please everybody. Whether it is your friends, parents, siblings, or a partner, quit trying to please everyone.
I think it’s ok to from-time-to-time please people you like but being a people pleaser will cost you. I too, don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.
It’s human nature to try to belong or to want to get people to like you, at this, you will fail. Yes, it’s important to be respected and valued, but if someone does not like you, so be it.
The validation you seek has to come from inside; it’s futile to seek people’s approval, at the expense of your integrity and your happiness.
3. Read Good Books
If your body is a reflection of what you eat, your mind is a reflection of what you read. So, why should you read good books?
It’s simple, to be successful in life, you have to know hundreds of things the average person does not know, and the best way to learn is by reading books.
Do a google search and find out the most successful or the smartest people in the world. If you study them closely, you’ll find something they all have in common, the read a lot of books.
In five years, you will be the same person as you are today, except for the people you meet and the books you read.
Even if you don’t have time to read, make time; your success will depend on it.
4. Never Take Anything for Granted
All too often we don’t appreciate what we have until we lose it. That’s includes family, friends, money, and opportunities. The money you have today might not be there tomorrow.
When you’re young, you might get the sense that you have a lot of time to get things done. This is a hard lesson to learn and sometimes it takes a big failure to realize this.
Life can change in an instant, so appreciate what you have so you can start your 30s free of regret.
5. Start Saving and Investing
According to a survey conducted by GoBankingRates.com, 58%, or more than half of people have less than $1,000 saved.
This means most people are living payment to payment; so if you get in the habit of saving and investing money during your 20s, and you’ll be ahead of the game once the 30s come around.
For example, in my 20s I worked for a company that had an employer-matching saving plan. If I deposited up to 6% of my income, the company would match it dollar for dollar, so I was saving 12% of my income every year.
The money kept quietly growing, until about age 27 when I took the funds out and used the money for a down payment of my first home. Start saving now, and you’ll be glad that you did later on.
6. Make a Budget
The first step to taking control of your finances is to prepare a budget. Budgeting doesn’t need to be complex or difficult. You can make it extremely simple and begin to plan future financial goals.
In addition to planning for future financial goals, budgeting also allows you to understand where your money is going.
Robert Kiyosaki explains it well in his book “Rich dad, poor dad”. The rich invest their money in assets while the middle class and the poor invest their money in liabilities. Most people don’t even understand the difference.
Assets put money in your pockets such as investments in bonds, stocks, intellectual property, and other active investments. Liabilities, on the other hand, take money out of your pockets, such as credit cards, consumer loans, or car loans.
Whether you’re new or not to budgeting our budgeting binder will help you gain control over your finances, so you can save more money, and pay off debt.
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This 31+ page printable digital binder planner will help you take control of your finances, and set clear financial goals, so that you can get out of debt.
7. Bad Habits Lead to Failures
During your 20s, you’re under great temptation to acquire bad habits such as drinking, drugs, partying too much, lying, or being lazy.
You need to get rid of bad habits now or it will destroy your chances of achieving any type of success later on.
8. Learning Does Not Stop After High School or University
It’s no secret that the more you learn, the more you earn.
Learning is a lifelong pursuit. That stands true today more than ever. With the introduction of artificial intelligence into everyday life, there are millions of jobs that will be displaced within the next 10 years.
Stop learning today, and you will be left behind.
9. Don’t Be a Follower
You must resist keeping up with the joneses syndrome. Our 20s’ are particularly expensive because many people tend to make stupid mistakes during this period.
Don’t follow all fashion trends because that’s what’s hot on social media, or don’t buy that expensive car just because your friend bought one just like that one.
For those who become followers, besides wasting your time and money, you’ll be destroying your self-esteem as well. John F. Kennedy once said, “One man can make the difference, and every man should try”.
10. Build Your Brand
We are living in an era of online influencers and evolving into a society where everyone’s professional, personal, and sometimes even private profile is showcased online for everyone to view and judge YOU.
So, if you’re in your 20’s and post a picture online of you, hunting seals, you will always be “the seal hunter”; that’s going to affect your brand.
Your reputation is everything, and no matter what stage of your life you’re in, upholding your reputation will determine your chances of securing a successful career.
11. Determine to Solve a Problem
Have you ever wondered why some MBA or Ph.D. programs require their students to write a thesis paper? It’s because they are trying to create leaders that solve problems.
But you don’t need an MBA or a Ph.D. to do this. There are hundreds of problems in our society that need to be addressed. Find out something that bothers people the most, and focus your energy on finding a solution.
We should all aim to make the world a better place, and you do that by solving a problem other people have.
“If you can dream it, you can do it” – Walt Disney
12. Take Risks
How many you are playing save and comfortable? Listen up! The older you get, the less risk you’re able to take; this means if you’re in your 20s’ the time to start taking risks in now.
Some people think that the way to financial success is steady growth; keep earning a good salary every year and retire with a pension. But because of inflation, skyrocketing prices on everything from real estate, fuel, and even food, that model does no longer work.
It is taking small calculated risks that can propel you to success; however, unless you start taking risks, you’ll never realize your true potential.
13. Failure is Good
Failure is a better teacher than success. Think about it – The reason is that the knowledge you gain from a failure leaves a more lasting footprint that success does.
Failing is a necessary stepping stone in our path to success. The people that never fail are the people who never try anything new. The key is to gain those experiences early on in your life when you can afford them.
“Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure” Napoleon Hill.
14. Resiliency Will Save You
Sometimes not everything goes as planned. People lose their jobs, they get a bad job, a bad boss, or fail miserably at a project. Do not despair.
There is somewhere, someone who is younger and smarter than you trying to take your spot. It is with hard work and perseverance that you will reach new heights and challenge the status quo. Becoming a master at something requires endless repetition.
15. Failing to Prepare means Preparing to Fail
You can’t expect to win without proper preparation. So when you don’t prepare, you’re setting yourself up to fail.
Your actions today will reward you tomorrow.
Being in your twenties is fun, but the mistakes and the lessons you learn during this period will determine a good portion of the rest of your life.
Consider these important lessons you must learn before you’re 30 and you will increase your chances of success in your thirties and beyond.
Another important lesson everyone should learn no matter their age is how to negotiate a better salary.
Our Salary Negotiation Online Course is an interactive course where you will learn not just how to effectively ask for a better salary, but also, you’ll be able to practice the information you learn using our interactive salary negotiation modules.