It has been over a year since I turned 20. Leaving my mom’s house and settling down abroad has challenged me in ways that I could never have imagined. Your 20’s are equivalent to becoming “a grown up” but this is not an overnight process; it is rather a long journey. Throughout this last year, two readings have really helped me figure things out and better understand my doubts and in this post I want to share what I found to be most relevant on them.
The first reading, is a blog entry by Mark Manson titled “What I learnt in my 20’s” ; interestingly, this article was published the same day I turned 20. I remember sitting on my couch and reading it over and over again. You can find the full article at: www.markmanson.net/surviving-my-20s#.vunqsz:EhEZ ; but these are my take outs from the reading:
1. Fail early and often: Time is your best asset because it grants you the opportunity to take risks and make big mistakes. Chances are this is the period of your life when you have the least to lose. Utilize it by taking risks and making unpredictable decisions, like moving to a new city, changing industries or backpacking around the world. Because you are not held back by the financial responsibilities that come with later adulthood nor a rigid family structure, use this flexibility to your advantage.
2. No one knows what the hell they're doing and it’s fine. Contrary to what society teaches you, it’s fine to work only to your best guess. Take this time to explore and discover what you truly like. Use your early twenties to find your passions because it will never be easier to try new things.
3. The world doesn't care about you. And it’s fine. No one puts it better than David Foster when he says: "You'll stop worrying what others think about you when you realize how seldom they do”.
4. The sum of the little things matters much more than the big things. Overnight success only happens in movies. Big things are only accomplished as a result of thousands of little things that must happen silently over long periods of time. Consistency is the key to mastery and no one says it better than Malcom Gladwell as he explains the 10,000 hours rule - you need at least 10,000 hours of practice to start becoming good at something-.
5. Your parents are people too. And chances are that growing up you will realize that they might have screwed up sometimes. Perhaps the first duty of adulthood is the acknowledgment, acceptance and forgiveness of one’s parent’s flaws. Take advantage of their time on earth and become friends with them.
The second reading is a book by Meg Jay titled "The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them". It is an easy quick reading that I highly recommend to anyone in his or her early twenties. The book is divided between three main sections: work, love and the brain and the body. Also, it includes tons of advice on how to approach your twenties since most of the events that will determine your life are most likely to happen during this decade. Live life with a perspective and always remember why you are doing what you are doing. When things fall appart, calm yourself down and realize that at the end your options are limited to no more than 5 or 6. Take negativity away from life, stop complaining and always think what you would do if you don’t win the lottery and not vice versa.
" Adults don't merge. They're made."
1. Identity Capital is your collection of personal assets - investments that you make on yourself. It is divided between those that go on the resume (languages, computer skills...) – your hard assets - and those that don't (public speaking, social skills...) – your soft assets. Claim your interest and talents and work from early on to develop both your hard and soft assets. Invest in yourself for what you might want to do next.
2. Put your foot early in the work place because 2/3 of salary growth takes place during the first decade. Also, twenty somethings that don't feel anxious and incompetent at work are usually overconfident or/and underemployed.
3. Weak Ties are those people that you hardly know, but they are the ones who can have a larger impact on your life. Don't be afraid to reach out to weak ties or even unknowns. The Franklin Effect - named after Benjamin Franklin - states that if weak ties do you a favor, they inevitably start to like you.
“Traveling in a third-world country is the closest thing there is to being married and raising kids. You have glorious hikes and perfect days on the beach. You go on adventures you would never try, or enjoy, alone. But you also can't get away from each other. Everything is unfamiliar. Money is tight or you get robbed. Someone gets sick or sunburned. You get bored. It is harder than you expected, but you are glad you didn't just sit home.”
1. Do not settle until 25.
2. Picking your family. Your family needs to work in the here and now and in the there and then, because getting divorced is a lot worse. Make coherent decisions and ensure that you travel across a third world country with your future partner before settling down.
3. "People love those who are like themselves”. I strongly recommend that you read “Influence” by Robert Cialdini because it provides a clear understanding of the laws of attraction.
The Brain and the Body
"Life can only be understood backwards but it must be lived forward."
1. The frontal Lobe of the brain is responsible for reason and judgment. It is the part of the brain that regulates emotional impulses and where rational thoughts are balanced. This region matures through the early 20’s. You should aim to control your emotions and handle bad days on your own.
2. The twenties are the time to acquire technical and sophisticated skills needed in many careers today because you'll never be able to learn knew things so quickly ever again. Devote this time to learn technical skills.
3. You become what you do and hear everyday. It is time to get busy, to explore out of your comfort zone because this is the period of your life that will most shape your personality and the person you’ll become.