30 Pieces of Advice for my 20s

Random Observation/Comment #790: Enjoy the magical period of “roughing it” and “hustling” with a strong metabolism and stamina.

Why this list?

We have so much expectation for our younger selves. Hindsight is 20-20. 2020 was also a terrible year. If I were to go back, I probably wouldn’t change a thing (besides buy more BTC). The journey was more important than the destination. Enjoy it while it lasts and don’t be afraid to start over.

  1. Take the opportunity to travel – It costs money, but it’s well worth it. It’s different traveling when you don’t have kids. Hostels. The groups of people finding themselves. If you have the freedom, use the off season tickets and take a lot of public transportation while eating street food.
  2. Expand your culture and food palette – Nothing beats a local cuisine and a taste of tradition. I learned so much from absorbing new experiences and listening to people.
  3. Don’t get too stressed about getting an extra degree – I struggled with the choice of pursuing a PhD, but I eventually realized most PhD students are not very happy. They seem so stressed and tired of the same subject with the look at a few experiments to yield a paper that might already be published before yours. TBH, it’d be cool to be a doctorate, but I rather have a head start understanding corporate bullshit.
  4. Learn how to make friends and keep in touch with them – Relationships are hard to form and maintain. Making it a habit is really a big part of caring. If I read something, I more often then not think of someone in my life that would also care. That makes me share it with them and ask them how they’re doing. That’s pretty much it. One person a day, 30 people in 30 days and 12 conversations a year. If you get more than that from me then we gel. If less, then I still care about you, but you haven’t told me anything recent to relate to my world
  5. Try not to have kids until you’ve worked out two of these things: life long partner, career trajectory, financial savings of up to 6 months, or self care regimen – You’re never really ready and the clock keeps ticking. There’s a clear shift of focus when you have kids. Goodbye free time. Hello weekend birthday parties at Urban Air.
  6. Put your everything into what you’re passionate about – Even though I don’t make money writing, I’m still writing for the love of being curious and being heard (by a few). It doesn’t matter if I’m screaming into the void. It feels good. Writers write.
  7. Move abroad for a few years – Get out of your comfort zone and make irrational decisions (while still staying safe). I really think people outside of the US live differently and think about the world in a more chillax type of way. There’s still a rat race, but everywhere else doesn’t compare salaries or political leanings.
  8. Live somewhere else following a nomadic lifestyle if you can – In a similar vein to the “living abroad”, a true nomad finds their home with themselves and the confidence they can adapt to their surroundings. If you can enjoy yourself working remotely from anywhere in the world, then do it. Live out of a van. Do Airbnbs for 2 months at a time. Live out of a suitcase and purge your possessions. It’s incredibly liberating.
  9. Take care of your body – Be careful what you put into it. Garbage in = Garbage out. I would cut down on alcohol and drugs (not because they’re not good, but because you want them to be special). I still only moderately partake because it makes the special occasions more special.
  10. Build a routine for yourself for self care and exercise – Health is wealth. It’s easier to maintain than it is to lose weight or correct bad habits. Start early with having a routine around exercising regularly and eating healthy. More fruits and vegetables. Aim for consistency.
  11. Learn how to cook a few dishes – We all can’t be a self-taught culinary master, but at least be able to serve 2 or 3 dishes for each meal type. Let’s say 2 breakfast (omelet, pancakes), 3 lunches (grilled cheese, salad, tacos), 2 appetizers (stuffed mushrooms, garlic bread), 3 dinner dishes (medium rare and basted steak, pork chops, crispy breaded chicken tenders), 3 sides (brussels sprouts, roasted potatoes, roasted carrots), 1 soup (potato leak or chicken noodle), and 1 dessert (cookies). I can’t tell if I’ve listed too many dishes to learn.
  12. Keep a physical or digital journal – As a goldfish, I tend to write down everything. Happiness jars, Keep notes, physical drawing journals, calendar notes, and random lists of 30 are fairly standard. Every time I write it, I relive the moment and cement it in my brain.
  13. Budget your funds – Learn to live on less and save more. I don’t believe we should die a millionaire and pass it to our next generation. Teach your children to make a living and die poor. I do think you should escape the debt cycle and have the freedom to do what you want. You can do this by having a very simple life with splurges of experience or you keep working.
  14. Start your corporate matched Roth IRA and 401k as early as possible – Even though the nest egg seems like a scam to tax the current generation to benefit the previous, it is a pretty great tax benefit and controlled mechanism to taper your spending.
  15. Write your own 30 under 30 and genuinely pursue it – My 30 under 30 is pretty well structured. It outlines well my short and long term goals in ways that I can look back and smile on the principles. It wasn’t easy to accomplish and I feel I can keep evolving it through my 40s and 50s. I had a previous post that was all about making systems instead of goals through 30 Personal Systems. I still believe you should have systems, but wouldn’t it also be badass to say you’ve mastered a passion? Goals are nice because they’re measurable.
  16. Take your own career path – Careers are not cookie cutter. Take a risk by changing companies or looking for transferable skills to different industries. The world is changing and don’t forget to be nimble.
  17. Learn to summarize your career path with a compelling narrative – Write out the key results, interesting projects, and personal stories. These will help with interviews later on, but your life after growing up is so much about how you view yourself. No one facts check you. Carry yourself with a humble confidence with real interest in yourself.
  18. Live with different roommates in different locations – We had the most fun in Harlem living in a 2 bedroom with 6 people living together. It was a madhouse and definitely filled with roaches, but the most freedom we’ve experienced.
  19. Learn to be a good roommate – Hygiene and good habits make you a better partner for your future self. Increase your date-ability share price by learning to just be clean and easy to live with. If you’re 30 with a decent job, good hygiene, and a limited number of crazy exes, then you’re a catch.
  20. Be a good friend to good friends and keep track of career mentors – It takes work to maintain relationships. Be there for people and ask for help when you need it. I’ve also kept track of the coworkers and bosses that would become by peers and mentors. You don’t need to talk to them everyday, but catch up with them every 6 months. Share some articles. Be interested in their life events. The post-30s gets lonely.
  21. Create a system that helps you remember the moment – This might not be taking a photo or video of everything and then posting it on social media. It could be just being present and remembering with all your senses. I promise you these are the memories we cherish.
  22. Curiosity is key – In research or general understanding of the pieces around you; be sure to ask questions and keep digging. I can’t tell you how much useless, but enjoyable times I’ve spent going down a Wikipedia hole of learning. Learning is fun.
  23. Wear sunscreen and lotion – I was a grown man with ashy legs when my wife introduced me to consistent skincare routines. It’s a necessity with the thinner atmosphere in Denver.
  24. Carve out time to do creative things – I personally try to create as much as I consume. The keep notes constantly have to be pruned and I love just sketching random drawings related to my day. Creativity can come out in many different ways.
  25. Challenge yourself to do hard things – Doing hard things is hard. Have you ever solved a super hard sudoku and hit a bunch of dead ends with conflicts? Have you worked on a programming problem and found some failed test cases? Gah. Bugs. I think the exertion and uncomfortable nature of learning is key to excellence. You push through the sweat and jump over the wall to reach the next hurdle.
  26. Take care of your teeth – Not only is it expensive, but chewing and eating is never the same if you have fake teeth.
  27. Don’t drink and drive – More importantly, just drive carefully. So many car accidents lead to tragedies and I’m honestly scared. Let’s get robots involved already.
  28. For financial freedom, think about the $30,000 and not the $30 – The big decisions are the ones around educational debt, housing, transportation, career base pay, and location. Budget is the mean B word. I’m honestly okay spending my money effectively than showing off.
  29. Be proactive about planning your future – It only takes a few things to change the whole narrative. I can’t even express how different my life was 5 years ago.
  30. Hang out with people that are good influences – I don’t think you become the 5 people you hang out with most, but there are definitely habits and rituals that can make you work together towards something. The best times I’ve had with friends crafted plans and revealed looming thoughts.

~See Lemons Miss Their 20s