Your 20s can seem like one long, emotional roller coaster ride full of bad decisions and general uncertainty. However, the choices you make in this decade may very well impact the rest of your life.
The well-known American Psychologist Sheldon Kopp once said: "The unlived life isn't worth examining."
You will probably come across many 20-somethings today who feel that their 20s are for having fun, experimenting and contemplating what they might do in their 30s. This approach, however, can lead to serious lifelong consequences. If you're in your 20s, here are 4 intelligent moves you can make today to dominate life:
1. Start Taking Care of Yourself Now
Taking good care of your mind and body starts in your teens and 20s, not when you're pushing past 30, married with kids and bogged with responsibilities. Taking good care of yourself physically as well as mentally can have very rewarding effects which can prevail a lifetime.
I spoke with Justin Wells CEO, Westwind Recovery (operating recovery houses in Hollywood) told me, "People in their 20's tend to believe that their 20's are their last chance to party, let loose and abandon responsibility. Oftentimes, decisions to go out with a bang have led to irreparable life wreckage for many 20-somethings about to turn 30. Don't believe the lie. People in their 30's and beyond can and do have fun. If fact, life seems to keep getting better as we age and begin to experience things from a more mature perspective."
What this means is that you do not waste your life and blame circumstances. Instead you should hold the rein and take decisions that make your future. It is important to be well aware of your priorities, and they should first include your wellbeing.
Engage in healthy eating habits and some form of exercise, and stay away from too much partying and drinking. Have certain days of the week marked as "gym days", round up your fellow gym buddies and burn some calories. Go for a hike every now and then. Instead of being hungover all day, establish a set routine; go to bed early and rise early.
Build a strong foundation in your 20s in terms of discipline, health and fitness, and it will benefit you well into even your 40s and 50s.
2. Learn to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
It's generally easier to find peace, closure and security while living life within the confines of your comfort zone. However, you might be missing out on a lot of opportunities life has to offer by not veering off course every now and then. Do you think tech pioneers like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs planned to drop out of college? No, they got out of their comfort zones (because they probably felt that a conventional college education would do them no good), and worked hard day and night to deliver us some of the ground-breaking products that exist today. Now, I'm certainly not saying that you ditch college, something which your parents must have worked very hard to put you through.
Instead, learn to change your plans on the go, as and when required. For example, if you're planning to have a movie night out on Saturday, and know that there is a seminar within the vicinity that applies to your academic major, it wouldn't hurt to break your plans to attend that seminar. You might come across new opportunities such as broadening your horizons or meeting people who share the same academic interests.
3. Mistakes "Happen" - Forgive Yourself AND Others
You have to understand that it is okay to make mistakes. We all make them. But, some mistakes are more costly than others. For example, if you do not save money for your college funds, you will most probably have regrets for the rest of your life. But is it wise to live your life regretfully? No. What you need to do is stand up and correct mistakes. If all you do is waste your precious years regretting decisions you took in your 20s, you will never be able to move ahead. Lost your love? Find another. Failed exams? Try harder next time. Couldn't make it past the screening process? Apply for another position. There are always ways out. You need to stay positive and find solutions.
In your 20s, you'll be dealing with a lot of rejections and disappointments; most of those disappointments and let-downs might be courtesy of people you're close to. Accept the fact that mistakes are common human nature, they happen, and you should lift the burden off your shoulders by forgiving yourself and others.
4. Playing Video Games Can Spark Creativity
If you're not already into the good, clean fun we call "gaming", you should be, even if it's in small doses. Games of all kinds have been known to ignite our inner intellect, and by "leveling up" in these games or getting accustomed to the gradual learning curve that some present, you're actually setting yourself up to do better in life. According to a study by IBM, playing games help you polish your skills and bring out the leader in you. Video games also polish other skills including problem solving skills and can also make you patient.
Gaining mastery over the controls of a particular game, be it a first-person shooter, a driving simulator or a strategy game where your decisions significantly affect the successes or failures of the characters, can really light up the brain's reward centers and massively improve hand-to-eye coordination. Guess what? This kind of mental activity subconsciously pushes us to work harder towards our life goals.
Your 20s are the glorious years of your life. And the decisions you take around this time will build your future. So make sure to be careful so that you can live the rest of your life happily.