Here is a simple truth most young people only get to realize at older age: nobody has it all figured out, not your parents or spiritual leader. Most people even in their 40s and 60s are still struggling to figure out who they are and why they are here. Even if you feel you have it all figured out today, you will still look back from tomorrow and shake your head at how dumb some of your convictions were; that’s just life. We continue to make progress as we grow.
But you can avoid some unnecessary mistakes and dumb decisions many young people make in their 20s by imbibing some important life lessons. In this article, you will learn 7 life lessons that will make you 10 years ahead of your age mates in wisdom and smartness.
1. Learn to save and invest Money
You do not have to buy a house in your 20s, but you do need to learn to handle money responsibly. I developed important money skill from attending a boarding school. My parents were living 1,000 miles away, and there was no means of communication. So I was forced to learn to manage my pocket money throughout the term. I felt like I was being maltreated at the time, but that has turned out to be one of my most rewarding skills; I can adapt quickly with little as well as with plenty. I’m not afraid of going broke while trying to build long term income. Saving and investing now appears to come naturally for me.
What I want you to understand from this is that, your experiences growing up can make a lot of difference later in your life. Studies have shown that the most successful people started early dealing with money. In the book, Rich Dad Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki, speaking on the power of compound interest, advised young people to start early to save and invest. Even if you lose your money, you will gain experience that someone who started in their 30s wouldn’t have. And you’ll still have a lot of time to try again. The 20s is a perfect time to learn how to earn, keep and invest money. The lessons you will learn from this experience will serve you for a lifetime. And it could be worth more than what you learned in school.
2. Learn to accept and be Patient with yourself
Many decades ago, it was rare to find people in their early 20s making global success. We had the likes of Michael Jackson, but not many of them. Today, we have rampant examples of people in their 20s making headline in entertainment, tech, fashion and other industries. If you start comparing yourself with these people, you will feel like you are not doing well enough. Every moment you spend thinking about someone else robs you of the time you could have used to make a little progress in your own life. Social media does not represent the real world. What you see is the extremely filtered version of people’s life and opinion. Constantly looking over glamorous, photoshopped-pictures on Instagram will only make you feel you are not good enough. Getting your life in order is more important than obsessing over a celebrity or trend. You are not in competition with anyone. The only person you are competing against is yourself.
Note that there is a fine line between accepting yourself and being a narcissist. The former reminds you that you are important in the scheme of life, whereas the latter says you are more important than everyone else. It takes a lot of wisdom to understand that the world does not revolve around you. Accept yourself without the filters. Learn to forgive yourself when you fall short. Make the effort to develop yourself outside your comfort zone, knowing that even if you make a fool of yourself, you will forgive yourself and try again.
3. Choose experience over arrogance
There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Confidence is built from experience whereas arrogance is built from ignorance. The more you know the more you realize you don’t know. If you really think about it, the only thing of value we get from life is our experiences. We are all a product of our experience through life. When you meet someone for the first time, you get to know them from the experiences they share from their life. You won’t have much value to offer to people you meet if you don’t have experiences to share from.
It’s easy to put up an arrogant stance, when you have zero clue how things works. The danger in this is that such people take their arrogance and inexperience way into adulthood. They become grownups that are full of themselves without substance to back their false confidence. The wise thing to do in your 20s is to be open-minded and curious to learn what you don’t know. Ask questions, listen and learn from others.
4. Do not settle for a Bird in hand
Everyone expects you to know what you want to do with your life when you grow up. Once you are out of school, your parents expect that your career has already been set up. They will question your seriousness with life if you second guess the path you have chosen. They will want you to continue with a job you do not like because it pays you.
But it’s Ok to not know what you want to do with your life in your 20s. This is a good time to explore and try different things. Don’t be afraid to keep trying out things until you find something you connect with. When people settle too early in life, they tend to fall into a rut that they cannot get out of. You might have to try a few jobs you do not like and it might be hard for a while, but do not settle. Do not spend your life doing something that doesn’t interest you.
5. Choose your friends wisely
A lot of successful businesses where built by friends who met in school. While other people were having fun with their friends, this people were brainstorming on how to take on the world. People have different reasons for keeping friends. But if you are wise, friendship is not about having people to have fun with. Friends are there to lift each other up and to make life’s journey more interesting and adventurous.
There is more to friendship than just having fun. Learn to keep friends you can have healthy and progressive discussions with. Life in itself is a tough journey. You don’t want to go through it with people that pull your back. But rather with people that pull you up. Also remember the law of reciprocity. Iron sharpens iron. So while you are looking for people who will pull you up, also be there to pull someone up.
6. Feed Your Mind
Books are not just what you read to pass exams. They are tools to challenge your thinking and arouse your curiosity about different aspects of life and the world. Books are great avenues to acquire knowledge and stimulate your mental process. If you develop the habit of reading early in life, you will be many years ahead of your peers.
Today, you don’t have to go to the bookstore to find books you want to read. You can easily download books, podcasts and audiobooks on your mobile device. You can watch interesting and educative videos on YouTube. Don’t waste all your spare time watching TV or on social media. Spend quality time feeding your mind. If there is a topic you wish to know more about, grab a book about it and read. Or search on YouTube and watch videos. Many young people today are creating innovative products, building successful careers and businesses just from the knowledge they gained from studying on their own. So stay feeding your mind.
7. Don’t be afraid of being weird
You may not exactly conform to the values or lack of values your friends professes. You may have an unusual love for books, or animals. Don’t hide who you are just to fit in with a group of people. Most of the highly successful people today were considered weird while they were growing up. There weirdness turned out to be their greatest asset.
As a young person in your 20s, there is a constant battle between thinking you have life all figured out and figuring you have so much to learn. You are caught between trying to figure out your future and conforming to peer pressure. There is the fear of how your future will turn out and the liberty of having a lot of time in your hand. The future you worry about will come. So slow down; and live in the present. But make decisions with the future in mind.