Nov 082015 1 Response

Five Mistakes Twenty-somethings Make

Twenty-somethings are some of my favorite people. Many of them have grown-up and matured so that they ask serious questions and are open to deep conversations. While their parents might be worried about them, as their friend, I can stand back and watch how they attack life.

Many people are pessimistic about the next generation. I’m not. Some of the most motivated, intelligent, and gifted people I know are in their 20s and are set to do great things in life. (See: 10 Reasons Life is Better in Your Late 30s)

But the 20s bring some unique threats. While no one can navigate these years perfectly, there are some common mistakes which anyone can avoid.

Here are five common mistakes by twenty-somethings:

1. Fail to take charge of their lives. One of the most important transitions a person should make in their late teens is going from receiving life to directing it. As a kid, we are passive. Others determine everything that happens to us. But as we mature, we begin to take greater control of our own lives. We dictate our schedule, make our decisions, and determine what we want in life. (See: You Are Preventing You)

When someone fails to make this transition, they continue to receive life in their 20s. In so doing, they miss opportunities, become frustrated with their circumstances, and are disillusioned about their future. While we don’t choose everything in our lives, we do get to choose many things. The faster we realize the influence we play over our own lives, the better we will be.

2. Don’t start saving (or giving) money. It feels impossible to save money when you have very little money. Yet it’s the discipline more than the actual money which matters, even though the money will add up. Show me someone who learns to save (and give) money in their 20s and I’ll show you someone that likely will not struggle with finances later in life. (See: Money Can Make You Happy)

Sadly, many people believe they will save more money when they have more money. Of course, this rarely happens. Saving continues to be pushed off until tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes. From the earliest of days, we need to live by wise financial principles. Saving and giving are two key principles.

3. Don’t seek out and listen to smart people. The most overlooked resource at the disposal of many twenty-somethings are the number of people who would happily help them…if they asked. While parents and grandparents might force their opinions on their children, non-family members will respect the person-hood of the twenty-something and not give unrequested advice. But they need the advice.

I recommend every person in their 20s find five people who are older than them and regularly ask those people for advice. For 15 years, I have five guys that I call “the Big Five” who help me with life. Older, wiser people who love to assist others. Their advice can prevent mistakes, give encouragement, and bring up issues which no person could see on their own.

4. Move in with boyfriend/girlfriend. Living together before marriage greatly hinders lasting relationships. I’m not fully sure why, but nearly every study confirms the idea. While living together makes perfect sense to twenty-somethings–why not try it before you buy it–the action has the reverse effect of what they expect. (See: Pastoral Advice for Single Women)

If a person desires a meaningful, life-long relationship, they have to begin making decisions toward that desire. Choosing the right people to involve yourself with, setting the proper emotional and physical boundaries, and making wise relationship choices will not guarantee a great marriage, but it will make it far more likely.

5. Believe their problems are unique. Maybe it’s because they haven’t lived long enough or maybe it’s just human nature, but many people in their twenties believe their issues are unique. They don’t realize how common a struggle might be or how many people have a similar fear. They fail to see that successful people didn’t have everything handed to them and that life is full of struggle. (See: When You Feel What No One Else Has Ever Felt)

The danger of thinking your problems are unique is that they quickly become excuses. Someone writes the false story that they can’t succeed because of some issue within their lives. When they see their issues as similar to the struggles of others, they can be motivated to fix them.

My twenties were some of my favorite years. They weren’t the best, but they were very good. Life can be tremendous fun between the ages of 20 and 29. But the fun shouldn’t be the main focus of this decade. It should be a byproduct which comes as one is determined at building the life they want.

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