Useful things to improve your 20s.

I’m not one for writing long-winded self-help posts about hustle, be awesome, conquer the world and similar. Whilst it sounds and reads quite well, it’s often a pile of bullshit and doesn’t really help you all that much.

But there are some useful and hopefully relatable things that I’ve figured out that I wanted to share. So here’s a few that I’ve put together. (For the record — I’m not always great at following my own advice)

Put your phone down.

In meetings, in conversations and as much as you can in life. Your phone is a really insidious device. Notifications are super addictive. And it degrades your ability to think long and hard about something for a long period of time.

So put the phone down. There’s a couple of practical ways to do this:

  • Charge it less. I find when I’m going out and have little charge, I’ll save that phone battery for the Uber ride home.
  • Put it down in conversation. Whilst you may think people don’t notice you checking your messages under the table in a group of five, they do. And they think you’re a rude prick.
  • Pick a day where you don’t use it. Mine is Sunday, at a holiday place. If I’m not using the phone for a day a week, I quickly learn the world doesn’t end in a notification.

Read. More.

This one’s pretty easy. Read a lot more. Most people feel they’re well read, when really, you’re just consuming a shitload of Facebook clickbait. First, that’s terrible for the mind. Second, you are gradually conditioned to think about things and issues in a far “shallower” way.

Basically every brilliant thinker and entrepreneur reads a lot. It gives a wider frame of reference, and makes you smarter. Fiction helps you empathise with people as well.

Again, some practical ways to do this:

  • Read fun fiction. It helps you build your brain muscles to read longer, denser stuff. I generally read something fun (like Harry Dresden) against something dense (like Steve Coll’s excellent book on ExxonMobil). A friend of mine Lou Peacock gave me this advice a few weeks ago and it completely solved my difficulty reading Coll’s book.
  • Buy a Kindle. Probably the best thing you can get. Whilst it’s not as good as a paperback, it’s easier to carry around and cheaper to get books.

Don’t cut friends off so easily

You change. Your friends change. And often with that change comes a bit of tension and conflict, especially as things aren’t what they once were. The dirty little secret to all of this is simple: recognise that sometimes things you do will piss your friends off, they will piss you off, and you just have to be the bigger person.

This happens particularly as you change, try new things or your lifestyle evolves. It’ll often clash with the values that others have. The result? You’ll quickly forget what you love about each other, and only see what you hate. It’s a bad combo — believe me.

Some things that have helped:

  • Space. If you’re pissed at someone, you’re often simmering and passive aggressive. Give it some time.
  • Don’t be rash. The number of times I’ve deleted someone on Facebook because I’m angry and being a moron is staggering and embarrassing.
  • Be non-judgemental. People have a reason for being pissed at you, even if it isn’t always fair. You have a reason for being pissed at them. Try and reason from their position even if it’s a pain. It’ll often lessen your anger.

Meet people.

Most business and social fun is to be had meeting people. Keep a wide network of people who aren’t in your immediate social set. You’ll find people who knows lots of similar people like themselves. People who mix between ten or twelve different social sets/business sets tend to have a much better sense for the world and things.

Practical ways to meet people:

  • Actually talk to people at bars and nightclubs. Easy way to do this is to ask someone for a cigarette or complain about the music. The rest will flow. I’ve met one of my best private equity contacts at a nightclub in Sydney at 2:30am.
  • Always tip the bartender. Or the bouncer (not common to do in Australia. My advice is do it with a Red Bull instead of a fiver).
  • Call people. Regularly. If you meet someone and speak to them twice a week, you’re probably speaking to them more than 90% of their “close mates”.

Spend time alone.

This is a hard but practical one. Most of my early 20s were rarely spent alone. I think that’s actually a confidence thing. Spending time in your own company can be awesome, confronting and change your perspective/allow you to work through your own thoughts.

Get a hobby that isn’t video games or drinking.

This last one was a doozy for me in my early 20s. You’ve always got a social function or group of friends to go and see. Or video games just seem so awesome and fun that night.

For me, 24 was when I started actually getting my own hobbies. Doing things like fish, ride bikes, some hiking and making meme pages. All of which have kept my brain far more active and creative than every night at the pub.

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Hopefully that’s a little helpful. Hey, good luck, and if you liked this article don’t follow me. I probably will get back to my regular programming of digital trends.