Your early twenties are often known as the best, and worst times of your life where you transfer from a teen to an adult. It’s periods of your life like these where some advice from people who have been there can really help.
A Quora thread titled “Do you have any advice for my early 20s life?” asked experienced people to share their experiences and advice they have for someone in their early twenties. Over 100 qualified people responded with differing, and extremely valuable advice.
Below is most interesting and noteworthy advice from the Quora thread:
From James, A Martial Arts Professor with over 35 years experience:
- “Focus on failing. And learning. If you’re not failing at least once per day, you’re not trying hard enough.”
- “Minimize your expenses. The key to financial independence is not how much you earn, but how much you get to keep. Invest a percentage of every paycheck into a Vanguard ETF.”
- “Work on something bigger than you. Find a cause or some way to serve. You will become a better person by helping others.”
From Shahin, an Executive from South Africa:
- “Time: MOST of the things you think are important now, will be irrelevant later in life. You will have regrets and all of them will stem from time wasted. Cherish every minute they never come back. Pursue what makes you happy but not at the expense of others, end relationships, and pursuits that are toxic or meaningless.”
- “Purchases: if it makes you poorer don’t buy it. If it makes you richer then do it. You don’t want to be 55 heading into retirement and wonder why you didn’t spend your money better. It’s amazing how others get richer over your poor choices in managing your money. Don’t worry about not having the latest iPhone or sports car. Trust me you will sleep much better.”
- “Women: you will know she is the one when you find yourself wanting to be a better man for her and vice versa. Always treat a woman with respect and be a gentleman. No matter what other guys are doing or whether they seem successful. Treat her like the lady you may want to marry from day one. Even if you don’t end up marrying her.”
- “Business: be straight about your dealings and guard your self so that others are straight with you. Make sure you have a contract. Don’t lose friends and family over business. If a deal seems too good to be true it’s a scam or illegal. Stay away from quick money.”
From Doug, a former Brewmaster:
- “Pay yourself first. This seems simple, but actually takes a lot of willpower. Every paycheck, take a small bit and put it away in a savings account. Whether it is $20, $50, $100- just take that money right when you get it and put it away where you won’t spend it. This is coupled by not spending it (at least on everyday things)- sure, dip into it for a trip you want to take, or a down payment on something, but so long as you constantly pay yourself first, you will always be building something. If you get so inclined, start to invest it.”
- “Learn adult-skills early. This includes things like understanding credit, various insurance, how a mortgage works, filing taxes, etc. Once you know these things they become less intense/scary (and you realize that these things thrive off of willful ignorance). I wish I could go back and when first able, take out a credit card to use solely to purchase school books- then pay it off over the course of the semester. By the time I graduated college I would have built up some good credit (no one tells you that no credit is not good credit).”
- “Read. The temptation of TV is great- but Netflix, for all its greatness, isn’t your friend. With TV in the past you had the artificial constraints of programming (at some point whatever you were interested in watching ends and is followed by something you weren’t interested in watching)- Netflix removes that, and with it your built in check on it as a time-suck. But books are different. You will NEVER get up from reading and be angry with yourself for spending your time that way. Mix it up with what you read, and you will never stop learning. Also be generous/share books- my method is to write my name on the inside cover and the date I read the book, then find someone you think would enjoy it and pass it along. You never know how far a book might make it.”
From Chris, Who graduated college 50 years ago:
- “Always be ready to say:“I guess I just don’t know”
“I don’t understand”
“I don’t care”.”
- “You can’t please everybody, so you got to please yourself.”
- “When you stop learning, you start dying.”
From Anonymous, who’s been through just about everything but is in his/her early 30’s:
- Have deep, good friendships. As you grow older, you will see that, people judge too quickly. That makes it harder to make friends. It will take a hell lot of time and energy to find good friends after you are 30. Friendships give you a well-rooted support system, networking in your career, people to share and care… as you grow older you will realize that perhaps it is more important to have loving people than it is given credit for. Sadly they don’t teach it anywhere.. how to make friends. So it is upon you to find your tribe. Choose wisely.
- Start saving – There is nothing like enough love, enough time or enough money. The earlier you start, the better you are off. I don’t mean, be stingy or don’t party or don’t travel to save. I am saying be smart. Start having a side business to generate an income, however small. You are living in the best times ever. You have internet, you have energy, you have ideas, I can’t believe you still can’t earn money.
- Have a creative hobby – be it writing or dancing or playing an instrument or whatever… Practice it. Don’t lose it after you are 25. I have seen many friends who simply didn’t care about their gift. They are only 30 now and are already boring.
From Jeff, an entrepreneur and teacher:
- Surround yourself with quality people who uplift you. Avoid people who are energy drains.
- Clean up your act. Drinking, smoking weed, drugs – these things hold you back, and make it hard to do #1.
- Experience the world. Get out into nature, see beautiful things. Travel – especially to other countries, and do it with a mind to learn from other cultures, not to judge them.
- Work. If you can’t find work you like, then like the work you find. If you put your heart and soul into it, whatever it is, you may well advance but in any case you’ll enjoy it a lot more and people will notice.
- Listen. You might learn something. Stop trying to sound like you know it all, that gets you nowhere and blocks you from learning (and annoys people). Be curious and ask questions.
- Acknowledge others. Compliment people, look for the good in them, build them up. You are not less if they are more. Help them become their best selves. Don’t gossip.
- Do the right thing. Be ethical, be honest, be trustworthy, be moral, and above all be kind. If something feels off, it is, so don’t do it – it pays off in the long run, in more ways than you can ever know. Ask yourself, what would an honest, kind, ethical person do? Then be that person, it feels good.
- Value your reputation. It’s your most valuable asset. Jobs, money, relationships, cars, stuff — these all can come and go. But your reputation sticks with you your entire life. You may not think you have one – but you do. And it either opens doors or closes them.
I hope that this advice is really something that you can take to heart. For more, ask your parents. As some of these responses state – your parents are the most valuable connection. They are the only people who really, really care about you, and only want the best for you.
There are at least 50 other valuable responses from a wide range of people, which I urge you to read. Just scrolling through the thread showed me patterns in the advice and some other interesting insights. Many, if not all state that you need a strong financial foundation if you really want to enjoy life. That is why I write this blog – to teach you to make money, and emable you to do things that you love. I encourage you to read the rest here: https://www.quora.com/Do-you-have-any-advice-for-my-early-20s-life