Some people say that your 20s are the greatest years of your life. While some of us may beg to differ (student loans, job insecurity, quarter life crisis, anybody?!), it's definitely true that your 20s are an important age. As a teenager, you could probably get away with not caring about a lot of things and just living inside your own little protective bubble of video games and shopping malls, but now that you're in your 20s it's time to start considering all the various things listed below:
1. Understanding how to make the most out of your finances.
RRSPs, TFSAs, GICs... if you're fortunate enough to have some money saved up in the bank, don't just let it sit there, maaaaybe making 2% interest. It truly is in your best interest to consider talking to a financial advisor about how to take advantage of what savings you have - you've worked to earn your money, now make your money work for you!
2. Cooking a decent meal.
Look, I'm not a chef by any stretch of the imagination either, but if you're like most 20-somethings and hope to have people over at your place from time to time, you'll want to be able to offer them something other than frozen pizza and ramen noodles. Especially if you're trying to bring a date home... trust me. A little skill in the kitchen can go a long way. ;)
3. Giving a shit about politics.
It's no longer acceptable at your age to not know what's going on in the political sphere or not exercising your right to vote. Especially around election times, it's important to be aware of the political issues currently affecting our society today as well as various candidates' stances on these issues.
4. Staying consistent with a fitness routine.
There is possibly no greater investment you can make for your future than to invest in your health, seriously! It's time to stop kidding yourself with your 10-minute jogs once every other week and make a commitment, to yourself, that your body is important to you and deserves to reach its full potential. Give it a chance and you'll be genuinely amazed at what fitness feats your body can accomplish - the perky booty and sculpted waistline are just (admittedly, pretty sweet) added bonuses.
5. Hand in hand with #4 above - learning the basics of nutrition.
Okay, you might have started going to the gym, but realistically do you expect to see significant physical changes if you've conditioned yourself to feel the need to reward yourself after a workout with a late-night Mickey D's run? It's hard to have fitness in your life without proper nutrition as well. For starters, learn how to monitor your macros, make sure you're getting enough protein to repair/strengthen your muscles post-workout, and find out all the sneaky ways refined sugar is making its way into your current diet (hint: soda ain't doing you any favours).
6. Paying off your student debt.
Yeah, I'm not going to claim it's easy. We've all got different responsibilities to tend to in life and for some, focusing on quickly ridding themselves of student debt is easier than for others. However, if you're spending most of your paycheque on impulsive shopping purchases and boozy nights out like a first year whose OSAP just came thruuu, you may want to rethink your spending habits. It won't be a fun time when you're 30+ hoping to purchase a new car or your own place, but you've still got a loan repayment cloud from your undergraduate years still hanging over your head.
7. Expanding your social network.
Making friends with people who just so happened to be in the same university lecture as you is great, and believe me when I say you should try to put in the effort to maintain the strong bonds with friends you made in high school. Thing is, these are likely all people that have similar interests as you, are the same age as you, and perhaps even share a lot of the same past life experiences as you. Don't be afraid to jump out of your comfort zone and reach out to people that are different from you - as long as you're open-minded, you may find that expanding outside of your little high school bubble will be ultimately more enriching than if you had simply stayed in it.
8. Maintaining a professional appearance online.
It depends on what field of work you hope to get into, but for most industries it's generally safe to say that young professionals in today's world need to keep a critical eye on their online profiles if they're hoping to land (and keep) the job. If you're just not willing to take down your thirst trap pics or those ultra-cool shots of you blowing smoke with a joint in your hand, fine, but at least consider making your Instagram private and customizing the privacy settings on your Facebook account. It's for your own good, man. Trust me.
9. Being informed on current events.
This goes along with the politics thing mentioned earlier - I doubt you want to be at the next networking event or even just with a group of socially-aware friends and be that one person who literally has no clue about that current environmental crisis or latest gun control controversy everyone is talking about. It's so easy to stay up-to-date on the news in our day and age now with the Internet and social media, so what's your excuse, really?
10. Knowing when you need to say "No."
Think of it this way: knowing when to say "no" simply means you'll have enough time and energy to say "yes" when the right opportunities come along. Don't be a Yes-Man; I've done it and, frankly, it's exhausting.
11. Actually cleaning your toilet/bathtub before it gets totally grimy.
And your bedsheets... and towels! And your laundry, and floors... well, everything, just clean your everything. Your friends and family will thank you for it, and perhaps even be mildly impressed since you'll seem to have your shit together way more than a bunch of other people your age.
12. Building both professional and off-duty wardrobes you'll feel legitimately proud to be seen in.
Sooner or later, you're gonna have to ditch a bunch of the clothes in your closet - to be honest, are you even wearing half of what's in there? Find a reputable charity to donate the clothes you've outgrown both physically and mentally, and next time you go shopping for clothes, try to be intentional about your purchases. Would this shirt match the other pieces I have in my closet? Am I probably going to wear this dress once and then never again? Will I actually wear this to work or will it just end up collecting dust in the back of my closet? Instead of impulsive spending, allow yourself the time to create the right wardrobe for you, so that every time you get dressed in the morning you'll look and feel like the total bad ass you really are.
13. If you're fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel - DO IT.
Not everyone can be so lucky. However, if fate hands you an opportunity to see more of this world, it's worth taking fate up on its offer. Traveling fosters open-mindedness, friendships with fascinating people from all over the world, and a newfound appreciation for the place you call home. It will only get harder to get out there when you get older and tied down by bigger responsibilities like a solid career, a mortgage, and a family of your own.
14. Spending more intentional quality time with family members.
Scary thought: your parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts won't be around forever. Brings to mind a certain lyric from John Mayer's Stop This Train: "One generation's length away, from fighting life out on my own..." Don't be that person who makes time for their friends, their job and their significant other yet neglects fitting time with family into their busy schedule. It's important. You'll appreciate it infinitely more later, when you won't be able to have it anymore.
15. Taking responsibility and owning up to your mistakes when you f*ck up.
I'm sure we can all think of times we've screwed up as a kid or even as a teenager and people have decided to be nice and let it go. Well, it's time to stop relying on your inner-kid instinct to run away from your mistakes, or worse, letting other people take the blame for you. If you've screwed up at work, have the balls to admit it. Your coworkers and/or boss may be irritated at first, but will ultimately respect you more for having the humility and maturity to admit when you're wrong rather than you attempting to hide your mistakes and protect your ego.
16. Sticking to a skincare routine - it's never too late or too early to start!
This goes for both guys and girls - healthy, clear skin should be a priority for everyone. Since skin is your body's largest organ with the most surface area, it should come as no surprise that toxins that enter your body through poor diet choices (like excess sugar, or dairy if you're lactose intolerant) or through harmful products (like makeup) will force their way out of the body as well, and that's usually through the skin. Besides adjusting your diet, the best way to help your skin look and feel its best is by keeping up a consistent and effective skincare routine. I won't recommend a specific one since everyone's skin is a bit different, but it's definitely something worth looking into if you genuinely care about your health.
17. Cutting off relationships (romantic or otherwise) that have pretty much only been adding negativity to your life.
To quote a certain meme (I know, I know, go ahead and hate me now)... ain't nobody got time for that! Seriously though. Why are you still letting these people into your life when all they seem to do is bring you down? I know from personal experience that it's easier said than done to cut people off who may have been around for a long time and possibly had a great impact on your life at some point. I feel you, I do. However, if a relationship isn't serving you positively anymore, it may be about that time to look back on fond old memories as just that - memories, nothing more. Your 20s are a time for you to grow and become your best self, not be held back by anyone who isn't willing to support and encourage you along the way.
18. Investing time each week in a hobby/skill that brings you fulfillment.
Ours is a generation that never seems to have enough time - we put in extra hours at work, we stay up late after an 8-hour school day to catch up on readings and finish assignments, and by the end of it all we feel too burned out to entertain ourselves with little more than a mindless Netflix binge. But what if your free time could be just as productive as it was entertaining? Take that dance class once a week you've been thinking of joining. Learn how to play an instrument. Create your own website! Whatever hobby you choose, it's bound to leave you with a higher sense of fulfillment and happiness than 3 hours worth of Community reruns (although I'ma be real, Community is still the bomb. Donald Glover, if you ever read this, Troy Barnes was always my favourite. Also, we need your new album, like, yesterday. Thanks).
19. Getting enough sleep to be a productive, functional adult - because let's face it, you've got places to be and shit to get done.
Long gone should be the days where you're procrastinating through your evening only to stay up until 3 AM working on a paper or, let's face it, for no good reason at all. Your body needs sleep in order to perform properly, and it's time to stop fighting that simple fact. Get to bed at a reasonable time so you can get up the next morning ready to conquer your day and get shit done.
20. Seriously consider what your dreams and desires are for this life, because this is the time to start making them happen.
You can listen to what everyone else thinks you should be doing with your one life here on this earth - your parents want you to become a lawyer/doctor/insert-high-salary-career-title-here. Your girlfriend wants you to move to a new city with her so she can follow her own dreams there and still have you along for the ride. Your friends want you to dump said girlfriend and spend the summer backpacking across Europe with them. I'm gonna have to pull a Notebook moment here and ask: Stop thinking about what she wants, what they want, what your parents want. What do you want? The sooner you find the answer to that question and start actively working towards making it a reality, the closer you will be to discovering true happiness in life. Your 20s are as good a time as any to make shit happen so you can be where you want to be 10, 20, even 30 years from now.
Well, that's it! Think we missed anything? Comment below!
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