If you’re like most people, your 20s are a pretty chaotic time. You probably feel as though you’re doing well just to survive them, let alone having to learn a few life lessons along the way. In fact, although you may not realize it at the time, you really are learning a lot and growing as a person. A decade that started with your first tentative steps into adulthood ends, for most people, with full independence. You might have settled down, started a family and be on a fast career track or you might still be wondering what to do with the rest of your life. Whatever the case, you’ll set the stage for a more comfortable time in your 30s with the lessons below. What if your 20s are just a distant memory? The lessons below are valuable reminders at any time.
Stay Out of Debt
When you’re not making much money and watching everyone around you buy nicer items and take better vacations than you can afford, it can be awfully tempting to whip out the plastic. The problem is that you quickly can find yourself paying for that temptation for years and even decades to go. A better policy in your 20s is to start working your way out of debt. For example, if you took out student loans, you may be able to change your relationship with them by refinancing. You only need a few minutes to find out whether you can take years off the term of your loans and reduce your monthly payments with a lower interest rate.
Failure is Normal
This may fly in the face of all your instincts, but the truth is that multiple failures are entirely normal on the path to success. The trick is to take the sting and the stigma out of them. Success means taking risks. Not all of those risks will pay off, and that’s okay. Get used to hearing “no” because you often have to get through a lot of them before you hear a “yes.” Once you realize that trying and failing is not an indictment of you as a person, you’ll be open to more ambitious leaps and unusual solutions.
While you’re patting yourself on the back for understanding that the road to success is littered with failures, try not to get ahead of yourself. When you try something and you fail, analyze what happened. What could you change next time to get different results? Talk to those who have gone before you, learning from their experience.
Making decisions can be scary in your 20s because you may feel that the wrong one sets you on an inexorable path. The truth is, very few decisions are irreversible, and this is the best time to make mistakes. If you’ve found yourself on the wrong career path, in the wrong major at school or in the wrong relationship, there’s plenty of time to shift course. Don’t be afraid to make big decisions or to reverse them, keeping in mind that most people go through multiple career changes over the course of a lifetime.