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Planting Seeds: A Guide for Transitioning into the Real World and Making the Most of Your 20s

by May 31, 2024

If you’re a fresh graduate or you are just breaking into your 20s, then you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. Don’t worry. That’s normal.

What you have in this period of your life is a broad series of options, choices, and opportunities. 

So, let’s explore what “making the most of it” actually means and how you can use this time to plant the seeds for a great future.

The Core Pillars of Your 20s — Your Social Life

Most young people are looking for active social lives, romantic opportunities, and meaningful connections.

But when you leave school, maintaining a social life becomes less straightforward. 

You may not have the same access to classes or social events, so you have to continue cultivating relationships you’ve already built and make an effort to find new connections, too. 

Here are a few ways to cultivate what you already have:

  • Be the plan maker. Take the lead on making social plans. Make new rituals like going out to your favorite bar every Friday or having a board game night on Saturdays. If you can, make your place ideal for hosting events and get-togethers.
  • Call or contact the friends you made in school regularly, especially if they live far away. Plan trips together and give each other life updates.
  • Be the best friend you can be: Listen and be present when your friends need help. Give them your undivided attention and pick them up as they stumble through their 20s. Remind them that you’re in the fight together.
  • Encourage your friends to get involved in intramural sports or other activities you can do together regularly.

Here’s the best way to build NEW connections:

  • Talk to Strangers — Seriously. 

If you can overcome the discomfort of drumming up random conversations, you can start forming connections anywhere. 

This is an invaluable skill to develop in your 20s. It will boost your courage, your resilience toward rejection, (not everyone will be receptive to you, and that’s ok) and your off-the-cuff conversation skills. 

If you focus on authentic expression and lead with a genuine curiosity about the world and the people around you, then you’ll start forming real connections with people you meet.

You’ll be able to approach the attractive stranger at the coffee shop. You’ll be able to have more fun and meet more people at parties. And you’ll be a better communicator with people you already know.

You never know who you might meet and what doors could open for you if you commit to these bold moments. If you can make a habit of talking to strangers, then life will open up for you in profound ways.

So go to concerts, museums, bars, anywhere that piques your curiosity, and meet someone new.

Some young people commit to traveling full-time in their 20s. If you can support this financially, then it’s an option, but remember that just seeing life does not equal growth.

You must be participating in what you see, making memories, and forging connections, to make the most of your 20s (and the rest of life).

The Core Pillars of Your 20s — Your Work

Many young people, in their desire to live life to the fullest, lose themselves in constant partying.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to enjoy life, but delaying any meaningful responsibility or goals until you’re 30 will only make things more difficult in the future.

If you want to make the most of your 20s, you want to start planting seeds. Here’s how you do that…

  • Do things that challenge your limits (Like talking to strangers).
  • Find a craft that you can cultivate (writing, art, comedy, a trade), and make a consistent effort to improve upon it. Professor Cal Newport says that our passion for an activity increases as we improve, and passion by itself does not usually spur us to perform an activity. This implies that a passion is not something you “find” but something you build.
  • Further your education and go deeper into your chosen field.
  • Find a mentor or someone who can guide you down your chosen path and commit to what they teach you.
  • Continue to educate yourself through reading, courses, or personal research into topics that interest you
  • If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, you could develop marketable skills, such as copywriting, web development, photography, video editing, etc. 
  • Start prioritizing your health and fitness. You don’t need to become an elite athlete. You just need to be aware of how your lifestyle will affect you over time and how fueling your body properly will keep you physically and mentally well.

No matter what you decide to pursue, you’ll always be learning something. And the soft skill of being a dedicated student will carry over into any endeavor.

The earlier you construct the right habits — the habits that will appreciate into greater skills and opportunities over time — the sooner you can start reaping their rewards throughout your life. 

The Core Pillars of Your 20s — Your Finances

Whether you’re fully responsible for funding your life or you decide to stay home with your parents to save for a while, becoming financially literate is probably one of the best things a young person can do.

Even if you don’t earn much yet, making a list of your monthly expenditures and being aware of how your income compares to what you spend is a great first financial step if you know little about managing money.

Saving is something you’ve probably been told to do, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t have to calculate percentages of your paychecks or anything like that (unless you’d like to).

Instead, adopt the philosophy of living within your means, and then you’ll have savings.

If you’re disciplined with your money, then you’ll have money to spend on what you like. See how that works?

Here are some other bits of advice and things you can do to become financially literate:

  • Try to understand investing and how it leads to wealth generation as you get older.
  • Understand the significance of a credit score and how ruining it could bar you from things later in life.
  • You don’t have to become a day trader, but develop a general understanding of the stock market.
  • Make a budget for yourself and what you’re willing to spend in a given month.

Understand that money, while not the most important thing (it might be a close second), affords you options. It allows you to be more fully in control of your life and more capable of helping yourself and other people. Some even call it a source of energy.

The sooner you’ve prioritized your finances, the more vibrant your life can get.

Making the Most of The Real World

Here’s how you should understand the coming period in your life:

  • There is potential for tremendous growth. 
  • It’s the perfect time to completely redefine yourself.
  • You need to balance living vividly with living responsibly.
  • You’re going to screw up, but you’re also going to learn, and those experiences will come to build you.
  • Getting where you want to be is never straightforward.
  • You’re in control now. You get to decide what you do, what you want, and who you are. 
  • Taking any path is better than no path. Try things. Choose a route and commit to it. Sometimes, knowing what you shouldn’t do illuminates what you should do.
  • Dive in and participate.

Thriving in your 20s is all about being conscious. Be conscious of who you want to be, or at the very least, put effort into figuring that out. Plant the seeds now and watch them grow as time goes on.