Undoubtedly, your 20s are the most pivotal years of one’s life. Underneath the myriad of temptations and distractions are selection decisions that likely dictate your future. Those who are weak-willed or weak-minded get railroaded – but those who choose wisely thrive.
The question is, do you have what it takes to be a success? Or will you settle for mediocrity? The choice is entirely up to you. So many, and especially while in their early twenties, feel they have all the answers and the keys to life – and yet, are so easily entangled in the same pitfalls that have tripped up so many before them.
This is the time for you to stake a stand for your life and your destiny during these crucial years. A good way to think of it is that every decision you make is a test – so try to not mess things up. Here are the top 20 mistakes you don’t want to make in your 20s.
#20 Working for money while sacrificing your dreams
Being suckered by the lie of convenience – that is, doing something for what is in it for you. Chances are that the discounted price of convenience actually has a long-term cost that is much bigger than you can fathom. Invest your time working for something that has long-term returns. If there is not a skill set you can recognize and utilize for the rest of your life – maybe you need to find something else.
Forever keeps your eyes on the future and not for immediate compensation. What do you spend those weekly wages on anyways? It’s time to stop being so entitled and demanding that you deserve cash, prizes and vacations. You will soon wake up to the reality that once you’ve made all that money that it is never the money that brings true fulfillment or happiness. It’s the journey.
#19 Succumbing to the pressure that now is the time to meet your mate
While you see all of your friends doing it, resist the temptation to fall into the trap of a relationship. It might seem like the right thing to do, but your 20s are entirely too crucial for your own personal growth for you to be focusing on fulfilling the wishes of someone else. And besides, you are still trying to figure out who you really are. So get out, enjoy life and have fun!
#18 Confusing cockiness with confidence – trying to be the man rather than learning how to become one
A real man knows the definition of sacrifice and is willing to make them. If you aren’t willing to put in hard work, then don’t pretend like you do. Instead of being blinded by some GQ or Maxim article or wasting your mind away on porn, focus on your career. Avoid the things that become difficult to say “no” to. Live like every minute counts – spend each moment on who you want to be rather than just talking the talk. So sit down, assess how you spend your time and money – are you investing the resources you have wisely?
#17 Making surface-level friends instead of earning the trust of others
Making friends is always a good thing – you never know who you will meet. But get a hold on who is in your inner circle and who is not. And if you have not defined your “circles” you might want to consider doing so. Place those who are acquaintances in the appropriate bucket and then focus on the rest.
You don’t want to spend all of your time on those who are just at the surface level. Spend time investing in those you admire and respect. Earn their trust and become a trustworthy person. Better, if there is someone you admire who is “doing life well” try to see if they will mentor you so you can learn more of the “inside baseball” of what it means to be a man of trust. Chances are they will also help you identify the traits of those who are not to be trusted.
#16 Living with the attitude that you only live once, so why care?
Let’s face it – we live in very fast times. From the tap or swipe of a credit card to the gravity of an awkward tweet, we are definitely living in crazy times where any decision can mark you for life. Sure, we all are guilty of irrational decision-making in our 20s – so let’s try taking a glance at the bigger picture. The life of partying, using heavy drugs and being the poster child for YOLO will flat out leave you on your ass. So get focused and stay on track with what will benefit you and those around you long-term. And if you don’t know what that is, then you need to figure it out ASAP.
#15 Confusing your wants with your needs
Cheap thrills coupled with the expensive clothes should not be on the list of your needs. Setting the foundation for your businesses and team is way more important than updating your wardrobe and chasing the next orgasm. Determine the difference between what you want and what you actually need. Make a list if it helps you – keeping your priorities straight will help you stay on track.
#14 Forgetting the importance of family
Living for only yourself is the lowest form of living. Those who supported you before you could do anything for them, let alone yourself deserve to be taken care of. If you are not taking care of those who helped you, you are not doing things right. Family will always come first – don’t wait until much later in life to realize that and regret all the years lost.
#13 Refusing to take accountability for your actions – in other words, blaming everyone else
It is wise to hold yourself accountable for everything. You cannot look at everyone else for the problems. Be the change you want to see in the world. If you want to see an end to poverty, find those around you who don’t have much and give half of what you own. Don’t make demands on others (like governments) when you are not making the same demand on yourself. In the end, no one is forcing you to make the decisions you do – you are the ONLY one. Own up to it.
#12 Convincing yourself that you deserve down time
When was the last time you needed a vacation? Unless you are working 60+ hours per week each week for a long time, you don’t need a vacation. Save your money and work hard. You are not entitled to something just because you see it on TV or the Internet. If you need a reminder, take a look at some black-and-white photos from years past and get a glimpse of what work looked like back then – or the lack of it if you are looking at the 30s. Don’t get lazy.
#11 Remaining in jobs that don’t stretch you
A stale job is like an unhealthy relationship. The truth is that you are there because it is the safest and easiest thing you know. That’s ok for now, but not good in the long-term. A job or relationship that enables you to get comfortable should be avoided at all costs.
#10 Following the crowd instead of forging your own path
Following the crowd, whether it be in what you wear to how you live is not always the best place to be. You define success – not anyone else. Trends come and go – but you remain. If it were your last day to live and you knew it, would you think back and be grateful that you followed the crowd? Of course not. So why waste time doing that now? Look around you – the list of history makers were not crowd-followers. In fact, each of them was a little “off.” No one finds their path by simply following the footsteps of someone else. So pick up your head, decide your destination and spend the rest of your life getting there. Otherwise, you’ll spend your life following closely behind others and end up somewhere except you won’t know where that is or have any value for it later on.
#9 Not energizing those around you
Your primary responsibility is to be the best “You” you can be. In turn, you will inspire, encourage and drive those around you to succeed. Find the gold in others and champion them for their success. Competing with your neighbor might have it’s short-term thrills, but where will you be in 20 years? Think about those around you and how to plant and invest in their lives.
#8 Thinking you have learned and grown all you need to – that you have arrived
Sure – you have enough zeros at the end of your bank statement and stamps in your passport. Have you truly accomplished your dreams? A common mistake is thinking that once things are in your favor, you no longer have to put in time and work. But the truth is that what you are really building when you do these things are the character and perseverance to face the next challenge and encourage others to do the same.
#7 Thinking that someone will pay you back for the money you lent them
There will likely be someone who will need a helping hand. When you lend them money, don’t expect them to return it. If you think you will see the money again, you may be sorely mistaken.
#6 Investing in relationships with values that lack life-giving longevity
Consider your love life as an investment. The smarter the deals you execute, the more savvy an investor you become. Rather than blowing a wad of cash by showering your lover with cash and prizes for merely existing, make sure he or she will first demonstrate positive returns. Your love life should certainly have a solid return on investment.
#5 Keeping friends who take up your time without providing value in your life
The only folks you should be surrounding yourself with are those that challenge your ideas and motivate you to discover the next solution to your problems. You don’t want folks who will drag you down – but you don’t want the folks who won’t even jump in the hole with you during life’s lows. Be intentional with others who are intentional with you.
#4 Impulsive spending and not saving
If you have issues saving money, a new set of skills isn’t going to save you. Yes, absolutely cease from using credit cards and insist on cash if that helps – I think Dave Ramsey offers sage advice. But sometimes we need more than that. We need to ask ourselves, why are we spending? What am I feeling when I do that? Am I trying to comfort myself or placate anxiety? It’s very likely that there is a recurring pattern between your mental/emotional state and your spending. So, find out what’s happening with you, identify and address your triggers so you can turn off the impulsive spending and turn on long-term saving!
#3 Failing to wrap it before you tap it
If you don’t want to have children right now, then you better take responsibility for your actions and limit your excuses. The road to success is not paved with having responsibilities outside of a planned design. Figure out if the relationship has the ROI that works for you and make a commitment. Kids born into a stable environment also have so very many rewards that keep you learning and make you a better leader at work. Ensure the folks around you champion your decision to do this and celebrate your victories.
So consider the longer-term ramifications of your actions – is 15 minutes of the big O worth the rest of your life?
#2 Dating unstable people with lots of potential for codependent relationships
Face it – you will never be able to change someone. And if you are looking to save or rescue someone, you might want to do some soul searching before you get into the next relationship. Life is like a continuous relay race. You want to look for an equal teammate as well as be a teammate someone wants to join. Folks with mommy and daddy issues are not the way to go. Find out more about how to identify those people so you can avoid these pitfalls before it’s too late. Hint: What they watch on TV says a lot about a person.
#1 Forgetting that you reap what you sow
We all know that whatever goes around comes around and the only thing that can interrupt that is grace. Justice is getting what you deserve. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. Grace is getting what you don’t deserve. Do your very best to live a life you are proud of. Seek justice for those who are powerless and cannot seek it themselves. Extend mercy when your heart is moved with compassion – you are likely to need it yourself someday. Give grace always to those around you – sow abundantly in someone’s life as you never know what they are going through.