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Secrets to Achieving Your Goals in Your 20s

Being an active rather than passive participant in your own life is key to achieving your goals in your 20s.

By Lauren SkopkowskiPublished 6 years ago 7 min read

Once you've been freed from the shackles of America's rote memorization-centric education system, you can finally live a real life and discover the person you've always been on your way to becoming. Peel away your anxieties and bloom! You can find your passion, accomplish short term goals, and even start saving for the future. Unfortunately, many of the people around you and society at large may pressure you to conform to a prefabricated design for life. Don't do it! Here's how to step back and take control of you by achieving your goals in your 20s.

Don't go to college right away.

If there's anything that's going to keep you from achieving your goals in your 20s, it's student loans. Education used to be affordable, but then the government started guaranteeing bigger loans, colleges started raising tuitions, and banks were more than happy to play ball.

Unfortunately, "real life" for too many is working right after graduation to pay off degrees. They never even get to start saving. And if they got their degrees before they actually knew who they were they may be doomed to working jobs they hate with barely any money to enjoy their free time.

So take a breath. Think about what you want to do. Go to community college and experiment, get an internship or apprenticeship, get vocational training, or maybe don't worry right away about a career. "Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration," was invented by a factory floor manager to get assembly line workers to be more productive.

Keep your dreams; don't sell your soul! But also double check your dreams because those life goals are the wishes of a child and maybe it's best not to have an eight-year-old dictating your life just because it's a narrative convention.

Live at home.

Unless your family dynamic is toxic, just keep living at home and save money and spare yourself from demoralizing employment. That makes achieving your goals in your 20s much easier! The "American Dream" of owning your own house was feasible when the G.I. Bill provided primarily white American men with a free education, and working at a car plant was enough. That's just not the case anymore. And, yes, of course racism affected who benefited from the G.I. Bill.

Drop your addictions.

A lot of people fall into the trap of drinking too much, doing too many drugs, eating poorly, and having too much sex in their 20s. That's not to say that there's anything wrong with drinking, drugs, food, or sex; there's not. What I'm trying get you to ask yourself is if you're doing these things because you're uncomfortable with who you are or if you're doing them because that's just the milieu that you're in.

Nothing gets in the way of achieving your goals in your 20s like addictions. They complicate your life with hospital visits, ruined relationships, jail sentences, and having to keep starting over and over and over again. That's why it's important to check in with yourself and examine how you generally feel and how well you're able to achieve emotional intimacy with others.

What drives many to addiction is a desire to escape how they feel about themselves and others. That's how come so many songs about heroin are about how hard it is to tell the difference between love and heroin. People often also self-medicate to deal with the symptoms of an undiagnosed mental illness, and your early 20s is when those things start to first make themselves known.

Learn to sit with your feelings.

Much of human civilization is the result of the different ways people attempt to mitigate their own anxieties. Be ahead of the curve and learn to sit with your feelings. This is paramount to achieving your goals in your 20s because a lot of the things that you want to do will entail confronting your self-doubts.

You may be afraid that you're not doing what you should be doing by taking a moment to figure out what you actually want to do. That's an expression of the very anxiety that drives many to make rash, regrettable decisions.

Sit. It's okay to feel anxious. Pay attention to the content of your anxieties and trace the history of where your particular concerns come from. What you'll find is that you inherited your anxieties unconsciously as you grew into the person you are when you sit.

You are under no obligation to make those concerns your own; you only think you are because so many other anxious people in society re-enforce those worries. Plus, it feels a particular way to experience anxiety. Learn to identify and label that feeling (labeling minimizes the severity of emotions). Learn how to put your feelings into words so you can tell the difference between your fears and your passions. Remember: fear is the mind-killer.

Go for it!

Make a list of your life goals and go for it. It could be college, traveling, the arts, whatever. The key to achieving your goals in your 20s is to just do it.

Forget about the perfect moment. Perfectionism is a defense mechanism. It keeps people from starting and provides a false sense of control when an absence of perfection is used as an ad-hoc rationalization for failure.

Don't worry about failing; failing is how we learn and grow! And don't worry about being the best either. At some point the differences between the best versions of something become meaningless and you actually waste time trying to make the best decision. That's known as Fredkin's Paradox.

The spectre of perfection looms over all our endeavors. But it only has power over you so long as you give that power up.

Make friends.

You can always make friends, but your 20s are an especially important time to make friends because your 20s come before the rest of your life. In particular, your 20s come as you put into motion who you're going to be, making them a defining decade.

So, let yourself be open to meeting new people. Who you meet will open doorways for you in the future in ways that you may not even be able to foresee. They may even be key to achieving your goals in your 20s. In general, networking is a big part of success and support networks are a big part of survival.

Create art!

Art: it's a way to explore our feelings, connect with others, and relieve stress. A lot of people's goals entail being creative as if being creative is not a need in and of itself. It is. What makes something a need is that it's indispensable to maintaining a baseline of health, and art certainly meets that criteria.

Unfortunately, not everyone has creative outlets. Your 20s are a perfect time to learn what forms of creative expression can be yours. Do you like to paint, tell jokes, write poems? Try 'em out and see what sticks!

This is also a way for you to figure out what a real goal of yours is rather than a way to develop a side of yourself that's been neglected as a result of our myopic, money-centric culture.

Go traveling.

Go to as many places as you want to see in your 20s so that you don't have the desire to travel hanging over your head the rest of your life. It's much easier to see America and the world than you may think. If you were going to start saving it'd likely go toward traveling anyway, so you might as well travel when it costs less money to do so.

Hostels, couch surfing, camping, etc; they're all easier to do when you're an unattached twenty-year-old. Wanderlust may be temporary or a lifetime pursuit. Either way, get crackin'!

Stay active.

Chances of achieving your goals in your 20s will require being healthy and even fit. And since you're serious about getting things done you want as few opportunities for setbacks as possible, and being unfit is definitely a potential setback.

You don't want to be one of those unfit twenty-year-olds who can't run to catch the train because they get winded after one block. You also don't want to be so unfit that sitting for extended periods of time or reaching for something on the top shelf is going to ruin your back.

The habits you set for yourself in your 20s can last a lifetime. And while you can always develop new habits later, starting early is better because these habits will become foundational to the person that you will be. You also want to be healthy for as long as possible to stave off debilitating illnesses for as long as possible.

Get woke!

In general, be curious and take time to learn about the world around you. That way you'll grow in unexpected ways. In particular, pay attention to the conversations that dominate the modern zeitgeist. The present moment is very much about dismantling oppressive power structures, amplifying the voices of previously marginalized groups, and integrating the disenfranchised into mainstream society so that they may live authentic lives on their own terms.

Find out what people are talking about when they talk about heteronormativity, being cisgendered, intersectional analyses, systemic racism, implicit bias, the patriarchy, etc. Achieving your goals in your 20s means interacting with many different types of people whose experiences are not uniform. Instead, each person has been shaped by the specifics of their own identity (spoiler alert: that's an intersectional analyses).

Don't let ignorance get in the way of getting what you want. We do everything we do together, so you want as little friction between yourself and others as possible. Be worthy of whatever privilege you have.


About the Creator

Lauren Skopkowski

I’ve read so many self-help books I took the Hippocratic Oath. Creativity guru and SJW.

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