The good old 20s.
Not the Gatsby 20s, your 20s.
The third decade in our lives is usually a thrilling roller coaster ride full of excitement, passion, and struggle.
Independence goes hand in hand with our first glimpses of adult responsibility, and commitments start to replace recklessness.
We become aware of the fact that our destiny now lies in our hands.
Through wins, lessons, and failures, our lives advance in a particular direction. As such, personal growth becomes a fundamental part of our 20s.
The best ways to further personal growth in your 20s
Character development is essential, and our 20s pave the way for the following decades.
On this basis, here are 12 ways to further personal growth in your 20s.
1. Identify your talents and weaknesses
Our 20s encompass many challenges. Identifying our talents and weaknesses might be one of the hardest.
Before entering college and later the job market, most people have a vague idea about their strengths and shortcomings.
What most people don’t have is experience. You might be talented in maths, but you have never used your maths in a business-related context.
Finding out whether you are simply good at numbers or truly adroit in stock market dealings will be one of the best ways to further personal growth in your 20s.
In this context, many people discover talents and strengths through experience.
Consequently, your 20s should be a decade during which you acquire talent-seeking experience. In other words, find out what your talents are.
Of course, in most fields, talent will not be enough. But the experience you gain during your 20s will have a substantial impact on whether you know about your talent. And once you do, you’ll have the mental drive to sustain an effort toward utilizing that talent and turning it into a career.
2. Understand the value of things, money, knowledge, and skills
Learning prioritization — as in directing your efforts concerning material possessions, money, knowledge, and skills toward the right areas — is one of the most effective ways to further personal growth in your 20s.
What does this mean in practice?
In short, our 20s often shape our minds when it comes to allocating our time and resources.
How much time do we spend pursuing material wealth? How much energy do we put into acquiring new skills? Do we prioritize large purchases like real estate, or do we seek new experiences abroad?
All of these questions usually crop up in our 20s, making them integral pathways to personal growth. Even if you can’t find an answer to all of them, delaying them is generally a bad idea.
Once you become older and more tied down, you might not be able to invest as much time and energy into mastering a new subject or learning a new trade.
3. Become fluent in at least one new language
In the 21st century, speaking multiple languages is becoming the norm.
Let’s take Europe as an example. According to a 2016 Eurostat survey, over 66% of working-age Europeans know at least one foreign language.
In the US, the number of native Spanish speakers who speak English as their second language is now well over 40 million, and the trend of multilingualism is here to stay.
That’s why learning a second language is one of the most useful ways to further personal growth in your 20s.
4. Learn how to be in a serious relationship
Millennials and their view of relationships are a tricky subject. In an era of dating apps and a general reluctance to commit, casual affairs are now almost more common than serious relationships.
There is, however, no denying that being in a serious relationship at least once in your 20s will benefit you on various levels.
Apart from fostering character development, a serious relationship will teach you reciprocity, unconditionality, and support.
Most of us don’t spend our lives with our first love. All of us, nonetheless, remember the first time we experienced a relationship. These fond memories usually help us internalize the lessons we learned during our first meaningful connection.
5. Understand the difference between happiness and satisfaction
In our teens, we seek happiness and fun. Wild party nights, campfires by the lake, and our first road trips often turn into “happy memories.”
In our 20s, on the other hand, we start to comprehend the difference between happiness and satisfaction. Happiness — as in spending beautiful moments with our teenage sweetheart — encompasses brief surges of joy.
Satisfaction is a prolonged state of being content with ourselves.
As we become more mature, we start to realize that youthful happiness is temporary. Well-earned satisfaction, on the contrary, can last for decades.
Genuine satisfaction is, therefore, a much more desirable state.
As Clive Barker once said: “Any fool can be happy.” In other words, forging your satisfaction through hard work, passion, and perseverance will be worth much more in the long run than short spells of happiness.
6. Become adept in failure
“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” — Winston Churchill
As most of us learn at some point in our lives, pain and failure are inevitable.
Our 20s are often full of struggles, obstacles, and trial-and-error experiences.
What counts is how we react. Instead of being afraid of failure, we ought to embrace it and be prepared for it when it strikes.
There are countless examples of failures leading to success in the long run. My favorite is Kobe Bryant.
One of the greatest basketball players in history, the late Kobe missed upwards of 14,000 shots in his career. According to official estimates, that’s over 1,000 more than the next biggest misser, John Havlicek.
So, next time you’re afraid of failing at something, remember that success is not a lack of failure. Success is simply a continuation after having failed many times.
7. Learn how to manage your finances
Akin to other organizational skills, learning how to manage your finances is an essential part of your 20s.
How do I budget? How do I file my tax declaration? And where should my savings go?
Once you have your salary, bills, and investments, you’ll need to answer these questions.
If you are completely new to personal finance, simple budgeting tools like the 50–30–20 spreadsheet are a great place to start.
Learning how to manage your money in your 20s is paramount for several reasons.
First, lifelong budgeting problems are often the result of excessive spending during the first ten working years. People get their first salaries and don’t know how to use them.
Secondly, budgeting, taxes, and personal finance are rarely part of academic curriculums. It’s just one of those things you’ll have to teach yourself or learn from somebody else.
Finally, debt reduction should not be a faraway concept but an instant priority. Don’t wait until the bank forces you to increase your monthly payments to hurtful levels.
8. Meet and interact with people who are not like you
Most of us have a social circle we interact with.
Our families, friends, and work colleagues are usually part of this group, but we shouldn’t omit the importance of broadening our horizons from time to time.
Personal growth is often the result of educational connections, and these can be formed by mingling with people who have a completely different background to your own.
In this context, I remember sitting next to a 100-year-old man on a train once. I had a lot of luggage, and the elderly passenger initiated a conversation on the topic.
“You must be moving house?”
I spent the rest of the one-hour train journey talking to the old but sturdy man who had fought in the Second World War and lived in ten different countries. I never saw the man again, but I fondly recall his life mantra:
“Eat two eggs every day and be thankful every morning.”
9. Get at least one corporate experience
Lots of business gurus and so-called mentors argue against entering the corporate hierarchy.
In truth, you won’t know what it’s like until you’ve tried it.
Working in a cubicle is not for everyone, but it all depends on the circumstances. For some people, it’s hell on earth. For others, it’s a blessing. It’s all a matter of priorities.
Consequently, identifying your priorities when it comes to work is among the best ways to further personal growth in your 20s.
The best thing about our third decade on this planet is that we are young.
As such, our greatest weapon is time. Even if you embark on several fruitless corporate journeys throughout your 20s, you’ll still be able to rethink your career before settling.
10. Try some form of entrepreneurship
“People never learn anything by being told, they have to find out for themselves.” — Paulo Coelho
Again, experience is the best teacher in life. What applies to the corporate world also counts in business. If you haven’t tried at least one entrepreneurial project in your 20s, there is a good chance you never will.
I am not saying that you can’t be an entrepreneur after you hit the dreaded 30s. At age 52, Ray Kroc bought shares in a then-unknown fast food joint founded by two brothers named McDonald.
A couple of decades later, the “Big M” was decorating streets all over the world, and Kroc became a genuine tycoon in his 70s. He died with a fortune of $600 million — that’s 1984 money.
Kroc’s story shows that it’s never too late to reinvent yourself in business.
Nevertheless, gaining valuable business experience in your 20 is a great way to grow as a person and to find out whether an entrepreneurial lifestyle suits you.
11. Try out solo traveling
Much like entrepreneurship and corporate experience, traveling by yourself is another recommendable undertaking in your 20s.
One of the best things about solo traveling is that you can kill several birds with one stone. By forcing yourself out of your comfort zone, you become a better planner, and you’ll improve your soft skills.
Better still, traveling will give you much more nuanced views as well as lots of opportunities to interact with people from different cultures.
If there’s one thing I learned from venturing to over 50 countries in my 20s, it’s that I’ve gained a lot more life wisdom from traveling than from college.
12. Build the foundation for your physical well-being
Finally, our 20s are a crucial period when it comes to building our fitness and health. During our physical peak, we need to establish routines that will ensure our health for years to come.
It’s undoubtedly possible to transform your body when you are 40.
However, most fit 50+ people built gym routines in their 20s.
Scientifically, it is much harder to start a physical well-being routine from scratch when you are older — without mentioning the mental struggle of becoming “gym-conscious” after you’ve spent over 30 years avoiding gyms like the plague.
In your 20s, you still have the time and energy to become a machine.
In other words, you can still become a well-oiled engine that will only need maintenance, not constant repairs in the future.
Aside from the physical benefits, creating a gym routine in your 20s also furthers your personal development by boosting your sense of discipline and your abilities to evaluate yourself.