photo by gregpc / flickr

Hacking your twenties

A simple list of advice for the average twenty-something

It’s not always easy to take others’ advice to heart. Everyone makes mistakes and learns from them in their own way. Of course, you have to learn your own lessons, but these suggestions are intended to make you a little more aware of yourself and your surroundings. Here’s my attempt —sharing the highs and low’s of a post-college, training-wheels free adulthood.

The five most important things you can do

  1. Take care of yourself. You don’t have to train for a marathon. You just need to find something that you enjoy and that you can stick to so you don’t feel like shit. It’s amazing what going for a run in the middle of the day can do to your frame of mind. You feel better and think clearer. Plus, it forces you to second-guess your eating habits, you probably won’t want that McDonald’s Quarter Pounder if you spent your lunch break on the treadmill.
  2. Treasure your relationships. It’s too easy to get caught up in all of your own cares and thoughts. Doing things for others (friends, family, coworkers, significant others) is more important than you sometimes even realize. The other night, my wife came home with a bottle of sauce from my favorite taco spot in the city. It made my night. You can make others lives better through small gestures. There is this snowball effect of everyone you know being a little bit happier.
  3. Work towards a goal. I like to think of it as “having a motor”. You spend a significant portion of your day at whatever you make a living doing. Motivate yourself to be good at and take pride in your work (whatever that is, it does not have to be a 9-5). Always measure and be working towards your next accomplishment. Otherwise, it’s too easy to look back and not have made any progress. Always set goals for yourself and see where you stand. If you’re feeling stagnant that means it is time to switch it up. Don’t be afraid to make a change.
  4. Get an emergency savings fund. Lots of people live paycheck to paycheck. Forcing yourself to build up six months worth of living expenses gives you a great safety net if you get canned or you decide to push yourself in a new direction. I have found using services like Mint are too mindless, they are more of a “set it and forget it” habit. You Need A Budget or just manually writing everything down works a lot better because it forces you to document every transaction yourself and be more mindful of your cash. I also recommend Smarty Pig to automatically deposit money into a savings account and stick to a goal.
  5. Don’t let yourself waste time. Sometimes I chase the dog around the house. Or come home and watch SportsCenter for an hour. Or I’ll end up on Sean “Diddy” Combs’ Wikipedia page trying to find out what year It’s All About the Benjamins came out. That stuff is fine — we’re all curious weirdos who gravitate towards anything the brain deems interesting. But make sure what your gravitating towards is really something you enjoy. Don’t go on autopilot.
You’ll be fine. You’re 25. Feeling unsure and lost is part of your path. Don’t avoid it. See what those feelings are showing you and use it. Take a breath. You’ll be okay. Even if you don’t feel okay all the time. — Louie CK