By Tra’Keiyah Carter, Editorial Intern
You spend most of your adolescence being groomed for the next level of education, and once you finish high school, you are expected to make a seemingly colossal life changing decision. Selecting a college, determining a major, obtaining and maintaining above average grades, landing a job in your desired industry to flourish in until retirement. Or so you hope. It seems that at the mere age of 18, you step knee deep into adulthood, when all you’ve really perfected was school.
While there is no go-to handbook on how to live your life, there are many ways to lighten the load for the future. With so many high expectations, once you do finally finish college, your 20s seem to be one decade-long stint in the waiting room of life. I may not know what to do, but I have an idea of what NOT to do. Here are 20 DON’T DO’s in your 20s that should make the ride less bumpy, and prepare you for a peaceful ride in your 30s:
1) Do NOT neglect saving money
When you don’t have much of it, putting a little money aside every month is hard. But if you can put away some pennies, even just a little bit, your later self will likely thank you big time. This will be great for random emergencies, gifts to you or a loved one, or even paying off debt at some point.
2) Do NOT listen to everyone
While most people have good intentions, many people do not. Some people find joy in placing their insecurities onto you and can potentially stunt your development by planting seeds of doubt in your garden of growth.
3) Do NOT take the short cut
As we’ve all heard before, the beauty is in the journey. People will spend much of their time short-changing you; don’t short yourself. There will always be an easy way, but you have time.
4) Do NOT Y.O.L.O. your way into your 30s
We are often guilty of irrational decision-making in our 20s. Fast people and fast times lead to over-extending yourself. A decade of YOLO will leave you in a sea of regrets later. Enjoy your life but try living for both today and tomorrow.
5) Do NOT make your wants your needs
Setting up the foundation for your business and team is far more important than updating your wardrobe and chasing the crowd. Distinguish between what you want and what you actually need. Make time for both if you can, but your wants should take the backburner for a moment.
6) Do NOT forget family
We don’t get to choose them but you would hate to lose them. There will be a time when friends cannot fill the void made fit for family. Never lose sight of their significance.
7) Do NOT blame everyone else
Hold yourself accountable. Instead of making more problems, create more solutions. Whatever it is that is bothering you, it is no one else’s fault but your own. Figure it out. You have nothing in the world but yourself so take responsibility.
8) Do NOT stick to a job that isn’t for you
A bad job is the equivalent to an unhealthy relationship. Safety is not always best, and nothing great ever comes from comfort zones. The last thing you’d want to do is spend more time than necessary somewhere you should’ve never been in the first place.
9) Do NOT follow the crowd
While it is okay to be aware of the trends, trends change. So do not follow them all. It is easy to lose yourself while trying to adjust to your surroundings all the time. You will find more success in creating a line, rather than falling into one.
10) Do NOT fail to influence those around you
It is important to never be the smartest one in the room but this doesn’t mean you must leave others behind. You must also try to inspire, encourage and drive those around you to succeed. There is greatness in all of us and you can pull it out.
11) Do NOT stop learning
The less you work, the fewer opportunities you will have to celebrate achievements. The world is always changing and there is always something you do not know. Don’t be left behind because you believed education stopped when school did.
12) Do NOT hang on to friends “just because”
It is your duty to inspire your friends, but not to enable them. Childhood friends are sometimes best only in childhood. However, not everyone wants to grow. If you do want to grow, some weeds must be pulled. Surround yourself with people who challenge and motivate you.
13) Do NOT be afraid to be the new person
There are people in places you aspire to be in. Find out their story. See how you can learn from them. Make connections with people that will potentially change your old ways of thinking and make you better.
14) Do NOT forget to be intentional about family planning
If children are in the future, be diligent about protecting yourself in the present. It is fine to have fun but be safe until you are ready.
15) Do NOT ignore your body
We may be able to eat pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner today. But tomorrow the calories will stick around. Once your metabolism slows down, trying to break those unhealthy habits is going to be painful. Millennials love the gym and being vegan for social media, but seriously, practice better habits. Adulting is hard enough.
16) Do NOT stay in a relationship just because
Every one brings something valuable to the table, even if the relationship fails. Take what you need and go. You will regret staying far more than you will regret leaving. Starting over is a part of life, love can be found again. You’re young. Don’t be scared to break up with someone because you’re scared of being alone.
17) Do NOT become a homebody
In our 20s, most us are not committed to much of anything. While trying to build a brand, and prosper in your industry, now is the time to also travel the world before responsibilities come crashing down. This is where saving will come in handy.
18) Do NOT turn down professional development
You will regret what you did not do far more than you regret what you’ve done. Your dreams work better when you chase them. Don’t get a job to come home with no energy for the life you are working for. Ask for promotions, test your abilities, and gain more beneficial skills. For now, try working for the future and not just compensation.
19) Do NOT burn bridges
You never know who you will need on your journey. While every relationship may not be worth holding on to forever, some are great to refer to. There may be friends that you part from, or jobs you may quit but always leave on good terms.
20) Do NOT label yourself
There will be many boxes and categories to place yourself in, but your 20s are not for comfort. They are for testing limits, embracing change, and evolving. Do not label yourself just yet, you may not know who you are right now, and that is okay.