Four things that will see you nail your 20s

October 25, 2016
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There are a lot of things you’re “supposed” to do in your 20s. If you take the traditional approach, you’re supposed to get a degree, start a career and most importantly, move the fuck out and stop mooching off your parents.

But as the economy and the very nature of paid work continue to shift under our feet, many of us will struggle to meet these expectations. It’s a totally new ball game and the old benchmarks are quickly becoming archaic.

So rather than a business suit or finely tailored home loan, I propose adopting the following as the ultimate accessories for your 20s. With any luck, they’ll set you up for an awesome decade.

Curiosity

We all know that one person who thinks they’re the second coming of Einstein. Whether they’re clogging up your feed with posts about quantum physics or giving impromptu viticulture lectures at parties, these kids are more concerned with memorising factoids than gaining any sort of understanding.

But even normies like us are pressured to look like we know what the fuck we’re about. And so it becomes easy to fall into the trap of trying to appear “educated” or “polished". But you know what polished means? Finished. And the last thing you want your mind to be is finished.

All the most knowledgeable people on Earth got that way by first acknowledging one simple fact: that they knew shit about shit. Only by recognising our own ignorance do we leave room to grow. Maintain the student mindset; accept that you’re just a little guy in a big world after all and never stop learning.

Relaxation

Relaxing and procrastinating are entirely different things. It took me a long, long time to figure that one out and to be honest, I still catch myself doing one when I should be doing the other. But I cannot stress how important this distinction is; it drastically changes how effective you can be at just about anything.

To illustrate, endlessly scrolling through Facebook when you’re supposed to be working isn’t relaxing. It’s procrastinating, and it just makes you more stressed.

On the other hand, setting aside time just for you – whether it’s to read or swim or alphabetise your collection of Pokémon figurines – is relaxation.

When you first launch your career, you’ll probably feel the need to do everything at once. While all that energy will definitely come in handy, a big risk of the always-on lifestyle is burning out and crashing hard. Learn to relax regularly and deeply and you’ll have gained a significant edge on your colleagues.

A cultivated network

When you hear the word “networking”, you might picture business cards, slicked back hair and Michael Douglas. But I’m not talking about generating sales or convincing strangers to invest in your Mary Kay pyramid scheme. I’m talking about your support network – your friends, family and mentors.

As you get older, your time and energy will steadily wane, and you simply can’t afford to spend those things on people who take them for granted. Learn to recognise the folks who add joy and value to your life.

Make time for your loved ones. Do your friends favours. Be friendly with your tutors and stay in touch with them. Cut the toxic people.

Many of us find it hard to cut people out. That’s understandable; the process is neither pleasant nor always easy. It takes sound judgement and a good deal of backbone. But remember, your personal network is like a garden; just like a real garden, it will sometimes require pruning.

Risk-taking

As hockey legend Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take”. That might sound like motivational poster bullshit, but it’s more poignant than it first appears, especially in your 20s. I, for one, shudder to think of all the opportunities I missed out on, simply because I was too afraid of rejection to even apply.

If you’re interested in a job, apply for it. If you want to write for a magazine, pitch to them. If you want to change your course, log the fuck on to your student portal; I’ll do the paperwork for you myself. Whether or not you get that job or that magazine commission, whether you succeed greatly or fail miserably, you’ll learn something. You’ll learn about the industry, you’ll learn about yourself, you’ll learn how to do better next time.

And sooner or later, all that learning will transmute into feed-shattering success.

Joel Svensson

Business major, journalism minor and freelance writer, Joel pretends to be clever at La Trobe University in Melbourne.

Feature image: Giphy

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