Here's how you can maximize your 20s
For anyone that recently graduated college, read this article. If you know anyone in their 20s, share this article with them.
A few months ago, I completed my studies at university. As a present for graduating, my parents gave me the book The Defining Decade by Meg Jay.
I read this book in 4 days. The book was packed with applicable advice that I've never heard anywhere else. With everything I've learned from the book, I feel confident that I can maximize my 20s and be able to create a better life for myself.
In this article, I will be providing advice that I've learned from the book that can be applicable to your life.
The first thing people in their 20s should chase is identity capital. This is a term that Meg Jay coined in her book. Identity capital, in the words of Meg Jay, are a collection of personal asset. Some forms of identity capital are things we put on our resumes like degrees, job experience, test scores, etc. Other forms of identity capital are our communication style, our identity, problem solving skills, and even our looks.
By having more identity capital, we are able to access better opportunities and create better lives for ourselves. In the process, we become happier and more fulfilled.
When navigating the 20s world, people should focus more on having a wider collection of acquaintances and friends instead of looking for their own tribe. Many times, we will be receiving recommendation letters and other forms of support from the weaker connections we have than from the people that have strong connection to. From my experiences in college, I was able to gain opportunities on housing and know more about the things happening in various industries from the people that I "sorta" know than from the people that I'm best friends with.
And if you're feeling down for not having a tight knit of friends, as long as you have more "weaker connections", you're in a better spot than the peers that are attached to their urban tribe.
Something that many in their 20s will stumble upon is the overwhelming feeling that they have many paths to choose from. Whether you're graduating and looking for a job to step into or you're choosing a city to live in, the high number of options can cause you to be indecisive. You'll end up choosing not to make a decision and stay at the place in life you're currently at than risk choosing a path and loose all the other options in the process. As someone who was once in that position, I had to realize that I had to choose the path that was best accessible to me. Time was running out and my goal was to keep moving than having to ensure that every move I made was perfect.
Finally, don't obsess over looking perfect on the internet. In my college days, I met people that were putting a lot of attention on their LinkedIn pages to show that they're fit for their dream career. And we all know a couple people that put a lot of work in ensuring that their social media profile conveys the idea that they're living the dream life. When it comes to LinkedIn, be honest with who you are. Put some effort in your LinkedIn profile, but don't treat it like Instagram where it's the digital billboard that conveys how perfect your life is going.
As for Instagram and other social media profiles, it's not worth obsessing over how to make your digital billboard perfect. It's better to do the things that you love and make you happy than do the things that add stress and make you uncomfortable only for you to take a photo or a video of it and post it on the internet.
Love and Dating Advice
As someone who has never been in a relationship, I've gained many insights on love and dating from reading Meg Jay's book. Here are a couple insights that I want to share with you.
First and foremost, your 20s is the time to take dating seriously. This is the time where your body is at its peak. While the studies show that more people are remaining single in their 20s, you don't want to enter 30 and panic over the fact that you haven't met someone that you'd want to spend the rest of your life with.
By taking dating seriously, you reduce the risk of building baggage from previous relationships. There are many people out there who choose not to take dating seriously and have many casual relationships, only to build baggage from those relationships and become toxic and unfit for the person that they truly want to be with for the rest of their life. Also, you don't want to risk being known as the ex of your soulmate's cousin or best friend, that would ruin your reputation.
When choosing someone you want to spend the rest of your life with, remember that you're not only spending the rest of your life with them. You're also going to be spending the rest of your life with their family too. Marriage is when two families come together and become a bigger family. The person you like might be awesome, but if their family members are mean and unsupportive of your relationship, it's better to breakup with that person and find a person who has a family that supports your relationship. In a way, dating is like choosing your family and marriage is like making that family an official part of your family.
These days, many couples are choosing to live together while they're dating. According to Meg Jay, this is a mistake. When you cohabitate with the person you're dating, you increase the cost of leaving. I understand if you're choosing to live with the person you're dating with to reduce your housing costs, but if you want to leave that person because you're unhappy being with them, leaving them becomes harder. A breakup would mean having to see your housing costs surge and because of this, many would rather stay with their partner than endure the financial pains that come with a breakup. By choosing to not live with the person you're dating, you reduce the costs of a breakup and it will be easier for you to move on from bad relationships and get into better ones.
Also, don't date down. Some of us have built insecurities from grade school and because of this, we would choose to date people that we find less appealing as a way to remain secure in a relationship. According to Meg Jay, this is something we shouldn't do because this opens us to people who, at the end of the day, will still not appreciate the opportunity of being with us. The stories that we tell ourselves when we're younger are different than our current story. Many of us had glow ups and have better looks today than back in high school. Our new experiences make us more interesting today than back in high school. Even if we might not have had the best grades in high school or college, at least we're thriving in our careers. You are worthy of a better person.
Finally, when looking for someone to settle with, make sure that they're similar to you in terms of personality and values. Having the same religion and being in the same political party isn't enough to make a relationship work. There are many relationships that end because people were opposites. The idea that "opposites attract" has never been a trait found in successful relationships. Analyze your date's personality and make sure that both of your personalities are compatible. This is the best way to avoid dating the wrong person.
Firstly, be forward thinking. The 20s are your defining decade. When having to deal with decisions, think of the long term impact of them. If they will benefit you in the long run, go for it. If not, then don't consider it despite how irresistible the short term benefits are.
Secondly, remain calm. Many of the things you'll experience in your 20s will look like events that will create negative paradigm shifts in your life, but as you get older, you find those events to be less impactful than you realize. Because of this, you'll look back on those memories with humor than the panic you felt at the moment.
Thirdly, adopt a growth mindset. See every setback as an opportunity for learning and for building resilience. This mindset will help you endure the toughest years of your career and it will help you thrive as well.
Fourth and finally, pay attention to your health. Understand that your fertility is at its peak in your 20s and it plunges in your 30s onward. Also, make sure that the small health issues you have today get dealt with. You don't want to enter your 30s with those issues becoming bigger.
In the words of Meg Jay, "30 is not the new 20." Your 20s aren't an extension of teenhood. One must maximize their 20s in order to create the foundation for a better life for the foreseeable future.
It is true that you can change your life at anytime, but the best time to change your life is in your 20s. It is true that you can have a child at any point in your life (before the 40s obviously), but it's better to take advantage of your body's fertility in your 20s than have to take numerous fertility treatments that have a low chance of success in your 30s.
I hope you've gained many new perspectives on how you should approach your 20s. While you're working to maximize your 20s, don't forget to have fun along the journey. Without fun, the journey becomes unbearable.
About the author
My views on markets, investment strategies, perspectives on events, etc. usually differ from the mainstream consensus.
*All views expressed in my articles are my own and should be considered opinionated