People in their 20s are often uncertain about their future -- here are 21 tips to help you through.
People often say they’d do anything to be 20 again. But they often say this after having already journeyed through life for a while, and they forget that living through this stage of life with its many changes and uncertainties isn’t always easy when you don’t have the perspective you do today. It’s not always easy to live through the challenges that arise in one’s 20s, while staying focused on what is best for you.
Author Abby Wilner calls this the “quarterlife crisis” – that crucial and often challenging period of life when many young people start college or get their first adult job, and wrestle with managing money and trying to figure out their love life.
What can help you avoid becoming distracted or discouraged so you actually enjoy this stage in life to the fullest?
1. Develop a relationship with yourself
If you don’t invest some time and energy to looking within and getting to know yourself, you will likely become prey to your own limitations and end up accepting things that are not really good for you, and even limit your ability to develop your full potential. The better you know and develop yourself, the more you can give and the happier you will be.
2. Learn to love yourself first
Having healthy relationships with others requires that you first accept, respect, and love yourself. You can only be a loving person and be affectionate toward others by caring for your own mental, emotional, and spiritual needs with love.
3. Take control of your life
Don’t expect to be rescued, for the right job to come, or for a spouse to save you. No one can live your life for you – and you will have to make your own decisions. The biggest obstacle we face in life is ourselves, and we can develop self-mastery by growing in a confidence that comes from within us.
4. Do not be afraid to go through moments of loneliness
Spend some time enjoying moments of solitude to better understand what you want and to prepare yourself, so that when that special person arrives, he or she will find you whole and capable of fully loving. Never change or crack under pressure simply in order to fit in with others. Sometimes the best thing you can do to honor your values and beliefs is to embrace solitude and accept being single or alone.
5. Learn to recognize your shortcomings
There are no perfect people, and expecting self-perfection is not only somewhat unrealistic, but might lower your self-esteem. Accept your faults, love your peculiarities, and embrace yourself. Not everything is changeable, but we can learn to love ourselves with everything we are.
6. Bet on yourself and your talents
Know that you don’t have to work forever in a field that you don’t like. You have more options than you think, more talents than you imagine, and if you’re passionate about something, you’ll surely find the tools you need to succeed.
7. Do not accept a job simply because it’s work
Not every opportunity is a good opportunity. Oftentimes, when beginning a career or receiving a job offer, you end up accepting the first option available. Don’t be afraid to assert yourself. Ask yourself questions and visualize what your life will look like if you undertake this specific activity. Choosing well will save you time and allow you to make a better decision.
8. Plan, but don’t spend all your time worrying
It’s good to plan for the future and to direct all small tasks towards a greater goal. But make sure you enjoy the journey and are happy most of the time. And don’t be afraid to admit that you were wrong about the career of your dreams. Allow for new inspirations to surface. Avoid the trap of wasting much time and energy worrying about things that were not as bad as you thought, and were actually paving the way for better things for you.
9. Start now to save money for the future
When you are 20 years old, it feels as though retirement is very far away, but it’s a good idea to incorporate the habit of saving into your life early on. As the years go by, financial pressures mount and the money saved during those early years, even what seemed to be little, could make a big difference.
10. Invest in less fashionable but higher quality items
Avoid spending too much money on frivolous things. Trendy clothes go out of style or are soon no longer useful, and end up being given away. So each year, buy fewer items, but of a better quality, and you will likely keep them forever. You don’t really need as much as you think you do. Less is more.
11. Be humble
Leave arrogance aside and learn to listen to others. Accept when someone corrects you and points out something you actually are not so proud of – if you are so blessed to have that happen! You will come to see this as a decisive step that will allow you to make progress in your life. When people try to help you, even if it hurts, let them do it.
12. Ask for help when you need it
Don’t be afraid to ask when you don’t know something and to ask for help when you need it. If you identify traumas from your past, face them and find a listening ear in someone who can provide the emotional and mental support you need.
13. Guard your mind to enjoy lifelong health
Exercise your mind to make positive connections and to curb negativity – which you’re likely already exposed to. Train your brain to think positively. Try giving three compliments a day to the people around you.
14. Make eating well and getting enough rest a priority
Sometimes we don’t realize this until it’s a bit late and our bodies start to suffer from the wear and tear, or when our schedules become overloaded. If you rest well, you can function at full capacity and be the best version of yourself every day. As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
15. Nurture the bonds of friendship
It’s not uncommon to find ourselves spending less time with the people we had shared so much time with before. Don’t forget your friends. We can always make new friends, but it does happen that people start to develop routines and begin to establish themselves in a new group of people, but find it more difficult to open up. Good friends will make you grow and help you in times of crisis. Be a good friend.
16. Learn to choose with whom you relate
The people with whom you surround yourself directly affect you – be it positively or negatively. Let go of toxic relationships. Good friends will strengthen you, but bad ones will get you nowhere. A colleague, a teacher, a priest, or someone else whom you know to be wise and to share your values can be a good mentor for you. Seek one!
17. Stop over-thinking things and give them a try
Don’t be afraid to try new things. You won’t always be totally sure or feel 100 percent prepared, but decide to overcome fear and take risks in new areas. Push yourself to exercise courage and to work on difficult things. If there is a challenge you wish to face, a goal you want to reach, or a mountain you wish to climb, don’t leave it for later.
18. Be clear and precise when it comes to your dreams
If you don’t know what you want, you will easily experience a real disconnect between what you do and what you really want. Articulating your dreams can help you make them more real and get you closer to their realization. Do you have a list of things to do? Keep track of your tasks and goals. This can help you stay focused and find meaning in your day.
19. Wait for a potential spouse who has a truly good heart
Know your standards and don’t deviate from them. Don’t get distracted by good looks or luxurious possessions. Concentrate rather on whether a potential spouse is well-mannered, on how committed they are to being and doing good, and on how you are treated.
20. Limit social media consumption
If you try to compare your real life with the false standards pushed across the internet and social media platforms, you will easily lose sight of your own goals in favor of trying to measure up and impress others. Staying real in the real world is crucial.
21. Know your vices so well that you cannot be fooled by them
People use vices and bad habits to distract themselves from responsibility. Some are quite obvious, such as smoking, excessive television consumption, addiction to video games, etc. Others are a little more subtle. Be aware of them and try to rid yourself of bad habits that make you waste valuable time.
Since you are here…
…we’d like to have one more word with you. We are excited to report that Aleteia’s readership is growing at a rapid rate, world-wide! Our team proves its mission every day by providing high-quality content that informs and inspires a Christian life. But quality journalism has a cost and it’s more than ads can cover. We want our articles to be accessible to everyone, free of charge, but we need your help. To continue our efforts to nourish and inspire our Catholic family, your support is invaluable. Become an Aleteia Patron today for as little as $3 a month. May we count on you?