I know I’ve titled this blog post 20 Ways To Make The Most Of Your Twenties, but what I probably should have called it is 20 Things I’m Trying To Do To Make The Most Of My Twenties (it just didn’t have the same ring to it).
The list in this blog post isn’t prescriptive or even a list of the things that have worked for me – I honestly don’t exactly know how to make the most of my twenties (plus I’m still only 26!). But I thought it might be helpful to share how I’m trying to make the most of my twenties. So here we are!
It might be the case that your twenties haven’t shaped up the way you’d hoped they would. Or you’re scared you’ll waste or misuse the years that lay ahead of you.
My hope here is only that I inspire you to think about how you’re going to make the most of your twenties, by sharing how I’m trying to do exactly the same thing (and just so you know, you can also follow my personal growth journey on my daily vlog .
Blog posts like these are great for inspiration but completely useless if you don’t end up applying them! So my recommendation is simple. After reading this blog post, pick one of the things I mention in this list and begin to apply it to your life.
Don’t feel you have to figure out the ‘best’ thing to work on or the perfect place to start. Just choose something (anything!) and apply it. I don’t want you to procrastinate on making the most of your twenties!
Ok, now that’s out of the way, here’s what I’m working on to make the most of my twenties:
1. INVEST IN YOURSELF
Investing in myself has become one of my biggest priorities. Over the last year I’ve hired a business coach, enrolled in an amazing personal development training program and worked with a personal trainer (as well as other things like buying healthy food, paying for a gym membership and buying lots of books). All of these things cost money. And until recently I’d been hesitant to invest money in my health, mindset and personal growth (even though that sounds like such an amazing, intelligent thing to do).
I think my hesitation was due to a mix of a few things, which I’ve only been able to see with the benefit of hindsight.
One of those things was fear – fear I’d invest my money and it wouldn’t work and fear of wasted time and wasted effort. Basically, I was scared that I’d try my best but it wouldn’t be good enough. I was also scared of judgement – of being seen to be putting a lot of effort into my life and it not working. That might sound silly, but I know so many of you know how real these fears can feel!
Another one of those things was that I greatly underestimated how powerful it is to have dedicated people (and resources) to help me work towards my goals – and figure out what the hell they even are! It’s not that I couldn’t have figured out a lot of it by myself but that having people there to guide me accelerated EVERYTHING. Also, because I was paying money for their help, I was much more committed and dedicated than when I was working solo. And that made a huge difference too!
We live in a society that questions money spent on personal growth and improvement but doesn’t bat an eyelid if we were to spend that same money on junk we’ll never even use. So I know I’m not the only one that’s been scared to invest in myself and underestimated how powerful it is, but I’m SO glad that I gave it a chance!
2. DON’T DO THINGS (OR DELAY DOING THINGS) OUT OF FEAR
I’ve read enough self-help books to know that I shouldn’t do things (or avoid doing things) out of fear – fear of rejection, fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of change, fear of judgement (which are just a few of my faves). But it’s one thing to know it and another thing to actually do it, so this is something I’m still very much in the process of learning!
I wanted to quit my full-time job for blogging a LONG time before I actually did. And the reason I waited so long was because I was completely and utterly terrified (you can read the full story here if you’d like). I was so scared to do it that I didn’t even let quitting my job be a real option – I kept my blog small so I had an excuse not to do it. Funny the way the mind works – I wanted it so bad and I was the one stopping myself from doing it!
This year, I’ve finally started to do things from a place of courage. Which doesn’t mean the fears have gone away. They’re still all there, I can assure you! I’ve just learned to ignore them. I’ve learned to feel the fear and do it anyway. And the amount of personal growth and satisfaction that has come from doing that has been incredible.
I’m still working on stopping all fear-based decision making (and still have quite a long way to go) but I definitely feel like I’m taking steps forward. And I know for sure that this will help me make the most of my twenties!
3. STOP FEELING GUILTY DURING DOWNTIME
Something I’m really working on at the moment is carving out downtime and relaxation, and actually enjoying it!
I’m the kind of person that LOVES to feel productive (which mainly comes from self-doubt, by the way – the reason I want to be productive is because I think that by doing more and achieving more I’ll feel like I’m worth more) so I’ve always struggled to truly enjoy downtime.
But it’s not like I didn’t ever have it! I got it in the form of procrastination (which is NOT energising at all). And I also did have proper downtime, but I’d spend the whole thing telling myself that I should be doing something more productive (which is also draining AF).
When my favourite thing to do in my spare time became a ‘job’, I knew that the only way to stay sane would be to actively carve out downtime – especially since I’m working from home and it’s so easy to work at anytime of the day (and there’s always something I want to do). I’ve decided that, for me, Friday is my rest day. No blogging whatsoever, even if there’s something urgent that I need to do and I have absolutely no plans and I’m bored out of my brains!
And so far, this has been working incredibly well. Not only does it force me to be more productive during the week (because I know that I’m not going to be able to do anything on Friday). In my mind, it is not an option to do any blogging on Friday whatsoever, so I’m not constantly telling myself that I should be working on something. Which means I actually get to rest and recover. Which means I’m much more productive when I’m working the following week, because I’ve actually given my brain a break!
This might all sound really obvious to some. It was obvious to me too – I just never actually did it (except for the summer a few years ago when I went to the beach every weekend). Still a work in progress but it’s helping me keep my sanity and reach my goals too!
4. SAY NO TO THE THINGS YOU DON’T LOVE SO YOU CAN SAY YES TO THE THINGS YOU DO
One thing I’ve been practicing is saying no to things I don’t want to do so I can say yes to the things I do. As a chronic people pleaser, I’ve been notoriously bad at this in the past – always trying to put everyone else’s needs ahead of my own (so nobody would judge or disapprove of me).
I’m learning that saying no to others doesn’t make me a bad person, especially when it’s coming from a place of self-love and self-care. At the end of the day, I’m going to have more to give to other people when I’m taking care of myself. But besides that, it’s important to look after myself – even if no one else benefits!
Something that’s really helped me to say no (when saying yes would come from a place of fear and obligation) is reminding myself of the opportunity cost. I often find that when I say yes to other people I forget that it could mean saying no to something that’s important to me. So I try my best to ask myself: ‘if I say yes to this, what does that mean I’m saying no to?’
And part of learning to say no is being willing to disappoint people. After a lifetime of people pleasing, I’ve helped people to create an expectation that I will put their needs and requests ahead of my own. So in making myself a priority (finally!) it means I’m going to sometimes disappoint these people. And I’m starting to make peace with that.
5. LIVE IN THE MOMENT
I know that the present is all there ever is, so I’d better learn to enjoy it, but it’s so hard! I often find myself either living in the past or living in the future – analysing events that already gone or worrying about things that may (but probably won’t) come.
Though there has been one thing I’ve started doing recently that has helped though. Whenever I go for a walk outside, either in the streets around my house (I live in the suburbs) or when I’m in the city, I try to make an effort to really look at everything. If there’s a house, I try to find the front door. I look at all the features, the colours. And I was AMAZED when I started doing this. I’d walked past certain houses dozens if not hundreds of times and yet never really seen them.
Doing this whenever I remembered helped to train me to look at what was actually around me and be more in the moment. And this skill started to seep into the other areas of my life.
The other thing I try to do (but often fail at!) is not filming everything for snapchat or insta stories because I don’t want to see my whole life through the screen of my iPhone. I never film fireworks or concerts (plus they never look good, I’ll never re-watch them and no one else wants to see those videos anyway!). But there are other moments that probably would make good footage that I don’t try to capture so I can actually live it.
6. BE GRATEFUL FOR THE THINGS YOU HAVE SO YOU WILL BE GRATEFUL FOR THE THINGS YOU GET
It’s great to look forward to things and to be future-focused in your twenties. But I’m doing my best to remind myself not to fall into the trap (that I’ve fallen into many times before!) of thinking that my life will be better when I finally achieve my goals.
I constantly try to remind myself that, when I achieve all the things I’m working so hard towards towards, I probably won’t feel that different to the way I feel today. And that’s not meant to sound depressing! Actually, it’s quite the opposite. Feeling amazing about my life is available to me today. And if I don’t learn how to love my life today, I likely won’t love it in the future either – even if I get everything I want. Here’s why:
If you’re anything like me, by the time you achieve a goal, you’ve already got your sights set on the next one. So when you actually achieve it, it doesn’t even feel that good because you’ve mentally moved on! That means that relying on the achievement of a future goal will only lead me to constant dissatisfaction unless I know how to appreciate it what I have, because there will always be something that I want in the future!
So why bother working so hard towards our goals if we can feel amazing without achieving them? Because I want to grow. Because I want to be challenged. Because I want to be creative.
One way I practice this is by coming up with three good things about every single day, even if it wasn’t the best (I share exactly what I do here). Another way I practice this is by making time each day to work on my mindset – since this is what’s going to help me feel better about the life I have today. And another way is to actually celebrate achieving my goals when it happens. Groundbreaking, I know. But I’m still not amazing at it!
If this all sounds very weird to you, I definitely recommend listening to this podcast episode from The Life Coach School podcast – this is where I really learned this from and it’s been having a huge impact on my life!
7. DON’T GET CAUGHT UP IN BUSYWORK
I mentioned before that I’m the kind of person that wants to feel productive all the time. But it’s easy to get productivity confused with busywork. I used to spend a lot of time blogging and a lot of time studying (I finished my law degree and finance degree in 2015) thinking that I was being productive. But I wasn’t.
I was usually either procrastinating (but sitting at my desk while doing it, so I didn’t feel as bad). Or I was doing busywork – re-editing a blog post that was already good enough, fussing over formatting that nobody would notice, making my uni notes pretty instead of learning them and making perfect plans for all the things I was never going to actually do.
I did busywork because I was scared of failure and the judgement that would come with it. I focused on the unimportant so I wouldn’t have time for the things that would truly make a difference. Which meant that if I didn’t succeed, the sting wouldn’t be as bad because I’d know I hadn’t tried my hardest. I failed on purpose so I didn’t gather any more evidence that my best wasn’t good enough. But continued to feel dissatisfied with my life because I wasn’t doing anything to make progress (self-sabotage is a horrible place to be, as you might know).
Now I focus on meaningful output, I hit publish as soon as something’s good enough (instead of waiting for it to be perfect) and I’m learning to be ok with letting things go that won’t truly make a difference. But it takes practice. And practice makes progress.
8. BE WILLING TO FEEL REALLY, REALLY, REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE
Growth comes from discomfort, which is a reality I’ve always found myself wanting to avoid. But when I have leaned into discomfort (i.e. felt the fear and done it anyway, which I talked about earlier) I’ve felt my whole world expand beyond belief.
Every life-changing experience and important friendship I’ve ever had has come from doing things I’d rather not do: talk to people I don’t already know, go places I haven’t already been, meet people I haven’t already met (I’m an introvert, can you tell haha), experience things I haven’t already experienced.
I’ve learned that every time I even try to put my little toe outside of my comfort zone, my brain completely freaks out and will try to convince me to stay in the world I already know.
Which means I’ve learned that my brain freaking out isn’t a sign I shouldn’t do something (unless it’s accompanied by a gut feeling that I shouldn’t) and that it’s not helpful to wait for the freakout to stop – because it won’t! So the only way to create life-changing moments and important friendships is to be willing to feel really, really uncomfortable.
9. GO PLACES WHERE YOU DON’T KNOW ANYONE ELSE
This follows on from the last one, but I wanted to make it it’s own thing because I feel like it’s so important! I’m not the kind of person that always needs a friend by my side to do things – I’ll happily try a new fitness class (and then join up) by myself, I have no issues eating alone in public (even without my iPhone) and I’ll go to a party where I barely know anyone (though I really do have to force myself with that one haha). And I really feel as though this has seriously helped me make the most of my twenties!
10. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE LIFE YOU HAVE SO YOU CAN GET THE LIFE YOU WANT
It’s incredibly easy to blame the government, the job market, the internet, technology, my parents and my teachers for the life I’m living today. I have no doubt that I could always find someone to blame for the actions I do and don’t take and the experiences I do and don’t have. And it would feel so good too, because if I’m pointing the finger at everyone else it means it’s not pointing at me!
The only issue is that, while it feels good, it means I can’t change anything. By believing that everyone (but me) has created me life, I’m also believing that everyone (but me) can change it.
I’m not perfect and I’m definitely still guilty of playing the victim every now and again (ok, probably more often than every now and again). But I’ve been working so hard to take responsibility for my life – for the actions I do and don’t take and the experiences I do and don’t have.
Also I just want to note here that it doesn’t matter whose ‘fault’ it is or whether someone really did do something that had a negative impact on my life (though this is almost always up to my own interpretation). As long as I’m blaming, I’m keeping myself stuck. Taking responsibility isn’t about taking blame. It’s about taking control. And I feel like that just has to be part of making the most of my twenties!
11. TURN YOUR SHOULDS INTO MUSTS
This is an idea I heard from Tony Robbins and it’s made such a HUGE difference! Basically the idea is that, if you want to do something, you need to turn it from something you should do into something you must do. Sometimes things turn from should to must pretty easily – there’s a life-threatening diagnosis or a rock-bottom moment that gives us clarity we need to elevate our goal to being non-negotiable. But more often than not, things don’t change from should to must until we decide to change them!
Earlier in my twenties, this is something I really struggled with! There were lots of things I wanted to do and hoped I’d do and felt I should do but I never made them a must do (like healthy eating, waking up early, exercise – to name just a few). And because I made them negotiable, they rarely happened!
In the last year I’ve done a lot of work on making the things I want to do a must (and getting a lot better at it too!). I made my weekly blog post a must. I made working out 5 times per week a must. I made filming my daily vlog series a must. And they always happen (99% of the time, I’m still human haha). And I did this by changing my self-talk, the types of questions I ask myself and also using determined language around that subject. To find out more about this, watch the video that I watched here.
12. KNOW WHEN TO WORK AND WHEN TO HAVE FUN (BOTH ARE IMPORTANT!)
I’m not a big believer in work-life balance. I feel like (a) making it so binary doesn’t really help and (b) there are better questions to ask – like how we can achieve satisfaction in both our work and in our personal lives, rather than how to ‘balance’ them.
Anyway, work and fun (slash doing the things we love doing) are both important to me. We all have our different preferences and I will have different preferences to you (btw working 5 days a week was created for commercial convenience, not because that’s what will always work best) but making time for both is something I really want to do.
I’ve started to realise that to do this, I need to actually plan for both – rather than planning for the work and hoping the fun will happen in between. Still definitely working on this (like everything in this list haha) but I feel like I’m getting better at it and it’ll help me make the most of my twenties!
13. START BEFORE YOU FEEL READY
I feel like ‘start before you feel ready’ is one of those pieces of advice I heard all the time and LOVED the idea of, but never actually wanted to do! What I wanted to do was come up with the perfect plan so I was guaranteed to succeed and wait for the perfect time so, again, I was guaranteed to succeed. Little did I know this tendency to procrastinate (wait until I had the perfect plan and it was the perfect time) was actually fear of failure, which was actually fear of judgement and shame.
But this year I’ve started to live this, by quitting my full-time job for blogging before I felt ready. I’m so damn proud of myself for doing that and hope there will be many more examples to come!
14. SUPPORT PEOPLE THAT ARE FOLLOWING THEIR DREAMS, ALWAYS
If you’ve ever had someone be unsupportive of your dreams, you’ll have probably realised that it’s not a great experience – even if they were ‘right’. I always do my very best to keep my judgements about other people’s dreams to myself (or not have them at all). Like any other person, I want to protect those around me from pain. But that’s not my job. And me being unsupportive isn’t going to serve anyone but myself (and is likely me just justifying the limitations I’ve created for myself). If they succeed, amazing! And if they don’t, they’ll grow. Me being supportive will help them with both.
15. DON’T RELY ON MOTIVATION
I could talk on this topic for days, so I’ll try not to go overboard. But the moment I realised I couldn’t rely on motivation, and it was a waste of time even trying, was a truly life-changing moment for me. I spent years trying to figure out how to stay motivated. YEARS! In fact, I spent basically my whole teenage and adult life until my a couple of years ago trying find the answer – only to realise I’d been searching in the wrong place!
Motivation feels amazing. And when I have it, I do my best to keep it. But instead of focusing my time and energy on keeping my motivation topped up (and feeling helpless to my actions when it’s not), I focus my time and energy on strengthening integrity, self-discipline and willpower (which are all the same thing in my book). I focus my time and energy on making plans and following through with them, regardless of whether I feel like it when the time comes to do it. And it’s made ALL the difference for me (which is why I even made an online course about how I do it). If you want to know a little more about my process, definitely read this blog post!
16. SEEK OUT INSPIRATION
Seeking out inspirations is something I feel like we all do quite naturally, but I still wanted to include this because it’s been SO incredibly important for making the most of my twenties!
This takes a different form for everyone and thanks to the internet, we have so many to choose from! My favourite way to find inspiration is by listening to podcast interviews (god I love podcasts!) of incredible women and men who have followed their dreams despite the fear and self-doubt and impracticality and naysers and setbacks and obstacles.
Hearing how other people have dealt with the emotional rollercoaster of figuring out what to do with their life (whether they’re in my industry or not) has kept me inspired when I’ve found myself feeling disheartened and have been faced with near crippling self-doubt. I share my favourite podcasts in this blog post if you’re interested in seeing who I listen to!
17. FOLLOW YOUR INTUITION
Following your intuition is a three step process: hearing it, trusting it and acting upon it. I find it fairly easy to hear my intuition. What’s harder is trusting it and acting upon it, especially when what my intuition is saying seems impractical, improbable, daring and challenging to justify to others. But I’m getting SO much better at it!
My intuition won’t always be ‘right’, but that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that I’m developing my own wisdom. And I’m living my life, courageously, for me.
18. BE WILLING TO FAIL
Fear of failure isn’t really fear of failure, it’s fear of the shame. Fear of shame (which is what perfectionism really is) is a fear that has stopped me from pursuing many incredible learning experiences in life to date. So I’ve spent a lot of time and energy over the last year working to move myself from a fixed mindset (believing that my success is based on my innate abilities and therefore that every failure is a reflection of my basic abilities and who I am as a person) to a growth mindset (believing that my success is based on hard work, learning, training and therefore that every failure is only a reflection that I need to learn more).
I’ve done this by creating effort-based goals (to move my focus away from results and onto the process and changing my self-talk and expectations around new experiences (as well as what I make them mean about me as a person). If you’re not sure whether you have a fixed or growth mindset, you can take this quiz I found online. And if you’re interested in learning more about how to truly embrace failure as a learning experience (instead of trying to avoid failure by only doing things you’re good at) I highly recommend watching this talk by Dr Carol Dweck and reading her book Mindset.
19. BE VULNERABLE
Besides my final point, I think being willing to be vulnerable (even though it’s so goddamn hard!) is one of the things that’s had the most profound impact on my life. If you’re already familiar with Brene Brown’s work and TED Talk about the power of vulnerability (if not, please leave this blog post immediately and watch it), you know that vulnerability is what creates truly meaningful connection. Being vulnerable and open about the thoughts and experiences I feel ashamed of having is what has helped me face (and remove) many of the limiting beliefs that were holding me back, forge true friendships and connect with you.
Letting my walls down is INCREDIBLY hard because shame is such a strong emotion and one I work incredibly hard to avoid (without realising it)! But it gets a tiny bit easier every time I do it. Every time I see that sharing what’s really going takes a burden off my shoulders, helps others realise they’re not alone and lets me move forward. Being vulnerable creates true human connection and true human growth, and what’s my twenties all about if not that?!
20. KNOW IT’S ALL PART OF IT
All of the messiness and uncertainty and confusion and stumbling around that I’ve talked about in this blog post is all part of making the most of my twenties. This isn’t something I’m trying to avoid, but to embrace. Because this is what life’s all about!
I don’t need to be there already. I don’t need to have figured it all out. I’m not behind. Nothing’s gone wrong. In fact, everything has gone so wonderfully right – I am here, I am learning, I am living, I am loving.
P.S. If you’d like to follow me as I keep trying to figure out how to make the most of my twenties – you can watch my daily vlog series 365 Days of Personal Growth here!
This post first appeared on smarttwenties blog