Hate is a strong word, so I will say that I wasn’t a fan of my 20s. I struggled to understand who I was and what I wasn’t. I remember being in bed one day, unable to get up. It took a long motivational call from my cousin before I could get out of my room. Let’s put it this way: there is no amount of money that I would take to go back (I’m serious).
As I look back, I remember finding those years hard because I wanted to be somewhere that I wasn’t. I was refusing to be patient and didn’t understand that the universe was working for me (in its strange way). I wanted to bypass this journey of growth and just fast forward to doing / helping / creating / giving. I now understand that the ability to give is a product of struggle: the more you’ve gone through, the more you want to help others succeed…and the less you’re afraid of trying and starting over.
Although I wasn’t a fan of what I went through or it wasn’t exactly what I wanted (we’re still more blessed/privileged more than most people), I understand it’s what I needed. And to be honest, I am proud of how I handled it. I did everything. I did so I could learn about who I was. It was much easier to sit in my room, but it would mean that I would let fear win, and let my ambition suffer. I didn’t want to quit before trying, so I made sure that the phrase “I tried” became the foundation for my future. So, I just did. I said yes (even if it was last minute). I said yes to as many things as I could.
Here’s what I did: I traveled from one side of the world to the next (B.C. to New Zealand), I worked hard at my job which came with a few promotions and lasting friendships, I lived in other countries, picked up a language, got into relationships (and out of them), I volunteered for TEDx & the Pan Am Games, ran my first 10K, finished Tough Mudder, bungee jumped, built a school with my hands, walked the Camino, learned a ton, lived alone, visited the UN….and a bunch more things.
I’m not listing the above to boast or so you can think highly of me. I want you to realize that, with a push from God & my family, I created those experiences for myself. I didn’t wait or ask for permission, and there’s nothing unique about me, so why can’t you do the same? As I’ve started coaching my clients they tell me they’re stuck and don’t know how to move forward. So stop reading this article, and write your list. What are you proud of accomplishing? Reflecting on how far you’ve come is an important part of building the future you want.
So, if you’re done writing that list, here’s what I learned from my 20s:
1. Do Something.
“If we define risk as ‘the likelihood of an irreversible negative outcome’, then inaction is the greatest risk of all” – Tim Ferriss
Everybody has the ability to create and do incredible things, but when you’re stuck, doing nothing will only allow you to sink further. You don’t have to know what to do, you just have to start somewhere. Taking action will create ideas and incite more action. At the very least, you learn about yourself. I took an Indian Cooking Class when I was 25…I promise you, I am the farthest thing away from a chef, but I loved it and learned about new spices that I still use when I cook now (and I’ve made some delicious meals for friends…but I’m biased).
Thoughts like: ‘I have no interests’, or ‘I don’t know what to do’, or ‘I don’t have time’, or ‘I have no money’ are excuses. If you want to do something, you’ll find a way. You need to think deeply about what excites you and how you can get closer to your life’s purpose.
2. Collect experiences.
“Fill your life with experiences. Not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.” – Anonymous
There is nothing wrong with owning things, but that should not be your life goal. It’s the quickest way to lose yourself. Think of the last time you had a memorable conversation with someone, or think of a person you look up to. Did they impress you because of their shiny shoes or car? To this day, everything important to me (mostly books and memorabilia) can be packed in one suitcase. If I had to move countries, I can do it now.
Studies have shown that after a certain income level ($75K USD), having more wealth, does not give you happiness. You probably know someone in your circles who is unhappy, even though they have a lot. So, if you can still be unhappy after having everything you want, then where’s the risk in experiencing everything you need?
If there is a place you’ve dreamed of visiting, find a way to go there this year. If there’s someone you want to get to know, ask them for coffee. If there’s a job you want, find a way to reach the CEO. You’ll remember these journeys and experiences. They’ll create your story and they’ll fuel you when you’re stuck again in your life. Best part though: you’ll help someone else get unstuck one day.
3. Start trusting yourself.
“Ask yourself what you love. Without fear of consequences, without force or shame or guilt. What motivates you to be kind, to take care of your body, your spirit, others, the Earth? Trust the longing, trust the love that can be translated into action without the threat of punishment. Trust that you will not destroy what matters most. Give yourself that much.” – Geneen Roth
I wish someone would’ve told me this when I was younger. That not only is it okay to want more, but that I can do it, even if it seems far away. And that if I didn’t know how, I would trust myself enough to figure it out.
I received a message on LinkedIn from a friend and someone I used to work with. He followed my posts and saw that I’m changing careers again. He said:
“I’m always so curious about these things because it always lingers in my mind of “what if I take that leap”. It’s scary.”
He’s right. It is scary. There’s no manual or guide on how to trust yourself. If you have a feeling in you that’s lingering, listen to it. It’s your potential trying to get you to trust yourself (I know this sounds weird, but it’s true, trust me…haha.) I moved to Barcelona to continue my education, without ever having visited Spain. I had no idea if I would like it, but I had never met anybody that hated it, so it couldn’t be that bad…right? Well, it turned out to be the best decision of my life. I knew it was the right thing to do, so I trusted my instincts and left.
I’ll leave you with this: as with anything we do in the world, gratitude is the foundation of everything. It is the best way to build the life that you want. If you’re thankful when you have a little, you’ll never have to worry about getting more.
“It’s a funny thing about life, once you begin to take note of the things you are grateful for, you begin to lose sight of the things you lack.” – Germany Kent
So be thankful for where you are, and be bold with where you want to be.