Things To Do In Your 20s To Be Successful

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“In your twenties, you’re just a sketch of what you think you’re trying to be.”

~ Maxwell

Why are your 20s important?

Nowadays, it takes longer (than in the past) to gain a college degree and find the right career. As a result, many high school and college graduates are forced to live at home with their parents for years – and sometimes even decades. Yikes! Being dependent on your parents well into adulthood can make you feel like a…failure. It can also make you feel as if you are still waiting to start your life, as an adult.

Changes You Can Make In Your 20s To Achieve Future Success

The truth is, your 20s play an important role in the person you will eventually become. More specifically, this “pivotal decade” will help shape your life on many different levels. i.e. personally, emotionally, socially, spiritually, professionally, and even financially. There are several things to do in your 20s to be successful in later years, so getting a jumpstart on these things now will benefit you in the future.

Find success, not stress

Although this decade is supposed to be the time of one’s life (cough…cough… parties and independence), in reality, it is often wrought with stress – a lot of it. You want to be successful, but simply don’t know how. So, how can you make changes during your 20s that will set you up for future happiness and success? We’ll discuss things to do in your 20s to be successful for years to come.

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Actionable Steps

Here are 4 Things to do in your 20s to be Successful in Life:


Set realistic goals

Most young adults envision who they would like to be and what they would like their lives to look like in 5, 10, 15, and/or 20 years. The best way to accomplish these goals is to write them down in a notebook, journal, on Post-It notes, or even on your smartphone’s notepad. This can make achieving your personal, social, spiritual, financial, and/or career goals more real.
It’s a reminder of where you are heading in life. It’s also motivation. In other words, it gives you hope. So, jot down a few things you’d like to see happen in your life and set goals to make those things happen. But first, take some time to really think about who and where you’d like to be in the future (brainstorming), and write down detailed steps that will help you get there.
However, don’t be too lofty in your goals and expectations. For instance, don’t make a goal of being a superstar NFL football player by next season, if you’ve never played football or if you played football, but was benched most of the time. Now, I’m not saying it’s impossible to become a superstar NFL football player, because there is a chance your dream could come true, however, it’s most likely going to take more than one year to get there.
You’ll need to set multiple goals, from smallest and easiest to largest and most complicated, and develop steps for each goal – realistic steps that you can actually do. If you need help setting goals for future success, you are in luck, because there are several templates and online programs that help you achieve future success.


Stop comparing yourself to others

When you are young, it’s easy to compare your life, education, romantic status, popularity, career, appearance, and finances to one or more people. It’s also easy to use other people’s goals, dreams, and accomplishments, as a measuring tool of what your life should look like. Stop doing that! Why? Well, because it will prevent you from achieving future success.
In other words, most, if not all, of your time will go towards trying to “catch up” with those you feel are “better” or “more successful” than you. How can you achieve future success, if you devote little-to-no time on developing and achieving your goals, dreams, and accomplishments? You can’t.
So, stop focusing on what others do or have and start focusing on what you have, and what you plan to achieve in the future. How? Well, I suggest you take a few career aptitude assessments (tests) to help you determine what career field you’d most likely blossom in. These assessments can be found online and in some college career centers.
In addition, start paying more attention to yourself – i.e. physical and emotional health, personal and career goals, relationships, etc. What do you want? What do you need? Jot down all of the things you are thankful for. What are the good things in your life? What are some things you’d never want to change? And, where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 15, and/or 20 years? Spend time getting to know yourself and what you view as short-term and long-term “success.”
Note: A good way to get in-tune with what you want and need in life is to meditate, practice mindfulness, and/or do yoga. Another good way to keep your eye on the prize is to post positive affirmations and goals all around you, so you can always remember what you are striving for. Don’t adopt someone else’s destiny – make your own!


Stop being stuck in the past

The best way to use your 20s to plan for future success is to let go of the past. If you are constantly rehashing past experiences and traumas, you can’t move forward, which means you won’t experience future success. Do you want to be a person who is constantly looking behind or do you want to be a person who is constantly looking towards the future? The answer to this question will determine the likelihood of you achieving your goals and dreams.
If you are stuck in the past, you can’t move forward. This mentality keeps you repeating “I should have… I could have… I would have…” The thing is when this happens you don’t end up accomplishing anything. Some of the things people who are stuck in the past usually say are, “I should have gone to college.” “I should have saved my money for a rainy day.” “I should have put more effort into finding a job that was a better fit for me.”
How can you get out of this rut? By being pro-active and taking the initiative to follow your dreams. Make plans and follow through with them. And, be honest with yourself. Don’t make excuses and be accountable for your actions or lack thereof. Purchase a notebook and jot down all of the things you’ve always wanted to do (bucket list). For instance, if you’ve always wanted to go skydiving, put that on your list. If you’ve always wanted to start a business and go on “Shark Tank,” put that down too! Once you have 4 or 5 things you’ve always wanted to do, but were too scared to try – start researching how to make those dreams into a reality.
If you’re too afraid to do the things on your list by yourself, enlist a trusted friend to join in. The best time to take risks is while you are still in your 20s. Why? Because, taking risks during this timeframe can provide you with invaluable “life learning lessons” – lessons that will help mold you into the person you will eventually become.


Read the longer version

You can learn more about things to do in your 20s to be successful by reading the following articles: 8 Things to Do In Your 20s to Prepare Yourself For Success by Keep Inspiring, 20 Goals to Achieve Success in Your 20s by LifeHack, and It’s Graduation Season: Here are 5 things to do in your 20s if you want to be successful by CNBC.

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About the Author

Dr. R. Y. Langham

Dr. R. Y. Langham

Ph.D. in Family Psychology

Ree has a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy (M.M.F.T.) and a Ph.D. in Family Psychology. She spent over ten years counseling families, couples, individuals, and children on adjustment issues such as blended families, same-sex couples, dysfunctional family relationships, relationship issues, etc. Now she writes for famous health organizations and is a published author.
Full Bio | LinkedIn

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