Today was the day. The big 3-0. Damn was that fast. Honestly, I can’t quite decide how I feel about it. Caitlin has made the same comment more than once, “Age is a privilege denied to many” and while it’s true, it’s still a bit of a bummer. In my mind, I still picture myself as a better looking (cough, cough), less broke, and more knowledge version of my 22 year old self. While in some ways this is true, I am definitely not 18 or 21, or whatever mental age you still picture being.
30 is a good time to take a step back and do some thinking. Evaluate where you are, where you want to be, and how you got there. I think it’s an ideal moment to look back at your decisions and see what worked and what didn’t. Why did you make that decision? How did you end up down this fork? If you want to avoid those mistakes or repeat those wins, you need to understand how you made those decisions.
This is also the point at which I think a lot of my peers have their quarter-life crisis. You can’t pretend you are still in the “figuring it out” stage. That shit’s not cute anymore. You’re in the “get things done” phase, whatever that happens to mean to you. Maybe it’s time to get serious about your career, relationship, or business. Maybe it means it’s time to have kids. I have no idea where exactly you are. Regardless of the goal it’s a moment to get a bit more serious.
The trick is to enjoy life. Don’t wish away your days, waiting for better ones ahead. -Marjorie Pay Hinckley
What I’ve Learned
Our most important commodity is time
Your 20’s go by REALLY REALLY FAST. I can’t believe I’ve now been out of college longer than I was in it. I had my 10 Year Reunion this year. Where did the time go?
Don’t waste them. Don’t sit around thinking you have all the time in the world. Every day that you slip by is one that you aren’t going to get back.
I’m Not Invincible
In your teens and 20’s you feel like you will be young forever. Nothing can touch you and you can’t be hurt. That feeling (combined with a lot of hormones) is part of why we can be so stupid in that era.
In my 20’s I realized that’s not the case. Jaw surgery, Sinus Surgery and a few injuries that happen when you play sports long enough, remind me how important it is to take care of myself.
A big part of living a better life is keeping yourself in tip top shape. That means eating right, sleeping enough and exercising. The longer you burn yourself on both ends of the candle the more long-term damage you are going to do. Start taking care of yourself early. Your future self will thank you.
Family Becomes More Important
Often times a big part of being a teen and 20-something in America is holding your parents in a bit of disdain. You think you know everything and want to spend as much time with your friends as possible. Stupid or not, it’s probably the most common bit of rebellion practiced here.
At some point in your mid to late 20’s that trend reverses and you realize how important family is. Even though we live WAY too far away from our family, we’ve started making a lot more effort to fly home for the things that matter and participate as much as possible. Just this year we spent more than I would like going home for a cousin’s wedding and my grandparents 60th wedding anniversary. You need to be there for those moments because your family won’t be there forever.
Quality Friendships are Crucial
Being cool is stupid. Having close friends that you can rely on, talk, laugh and cry with are what matters. Cultivate those relationships. Let the superficial crap go to the sideline.
You’ve Got to Find Your Path
You don’t necessarily need to jump hard into a career path. It’s ok to travel, find yourself, try different careers. The key is that you need to do it with focus. Don’t just flit from thing to thing on a whim. Understand that if you are going to try a lot of things you still need a level of focus and purpose.
One of the most important things you can do to make sure your 20’s get you where you want to go is goal setting. Be ruthless in your goal setting and pursue them relentlessly. This is the decade that builds the adult foundation you will be stuck with for the next 60 years.
We’ve discussed this ad nauseam but I’ll just say this, compounding in your teens and twenties is so much more powerful than later in life. Time is on your side.
They’ll happen. Try to minimize them. But I think my key lesson is the bulk of my regrets of the past decade were about things I DIDN’T DO and only a rarely about what I DID do. I think that’s a key insight.
Things I Did Right
- Never took a student loan
- Worked hard in college
- Studied abroad twice (if you can, do it)
- Did quality internships
- Started a solid career
- Saved early and often
- Focused on my health (eat well, exercise)
- Found a significant other I care about
Things I Did Wrong
- Didn’t optimize my major (should have been an engineer)
- Didn’t take a gap year
- Didn’t take more time between companies
- Bought an expensive car
- Not starting my side hustle 5 years earlier
Time’s precious. Don’t waste it. How are you treating those 20’s (or how did you treat them)? Cheers to another decade of better health, more wealth, good times, and bigger laughs.
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