I’m not 30 yet, but these are things I’ve learnt so far and reminders when I deviate from my path. 10 things to do in the 20s. 20s is great — be it in a life time or 1920s, 2020s. I’m excited.
- Embrace pain and discomfort.
It’s easy and safe to be within your comfort zone all the time. Otherwise, we wouldn’t waste hours a day binge watching Netflix and eating some unhealthy chips. The reality is that life exists outside of your comfort zone. I always say that the gap between comfort zone and danger zone is learning zone.
To be in that learning zone, we have to be comfortable with discomfort and pain.
The older we get, the more we are likely to be comfortable in our ways. After all, the marginal propensity to want to deviate becomes less, relative to the time remaining on earth. When we are too young, we want to be open to experiences, pain and discomfort.
When we increase our tolerance for discomfort, the more comfortable we are when it comes to learning and growth. To be the person we want to be, we have to embrace and tolerate discomfort.
- Think in time.
Time passes so fast. Before you know it, a year is over. And suddenly, 10 years is over. I plan and think in time chunks. This gives me a sense of urgency when it comes to accomplishing the goals I want to achieve.
We over-estimate what we can do in a year, and under-estimate what we can do in ten.
Allowing myself to accept that this period in life is not permanent gives me the sense of urgency of time and energy allocation. So I am a step closer towards my goals every single day.
It’s easy to forget that. And focus on the fun. Ask early-20s Lisa. Just remember that this is a tiny fun phase in life. Don’t get carried away and forget the other things too.
- Figure out and fix issues now.
Everyone has issues. Everyone. That is not the end. Having awareness is the first step to figuring out what the solution could be.
When we’re younger and more malleable in our mindsets and principles, it’s best to figure out and fix issues right now. Instead of lying to ourselves and escaping the issues by burying ourselves in work, be real and honest. And then fix it.
For example, addiction, anger management, mental health issues, procrastination, confidence, etc.
There’s zero value in lying to ourselves. Be real and face the issues. Fix them.
- Think long term.
20s is not the peak. It is the start of the best years of the rest of your life. Think long-term in terms of long-term plans, long-term goals and habits to have in place. Aligned to points #2 and #3, it’s about fixing issues that can cause long-term detriments and then creating new ones for long-term success.
Hit the gym. Cook and eat healthy. Learn skillsets. Read books. Reflect.
- Actually start.
You know what the secret to anything is? It’s just to start. Now. Right now. No tomorrow. Today. Here.
I too, fall into the cloudy doubts of “am I good enough” and “maybe I will be better next year”. You know what? Yes, you will be better next year. At the same time, you are also good enough right now. Start everything you want to do now.
That “perfect day” where the stars align and you have everything at the right place and right time does not exist. If you want to be where you dream about, you have to start getting there now.
Compounded effort over a cumulation of time is mind-blowing.
You will never have the perfect day. You make the perfect day. And it starts now.
- Focus on efficiency.
My friends are always laughing at me for being obsessed with efficiency. I plan 5 years ahead, annually, quarterly, weekly and daily. I time all the activities I do (including typing this) and tabulate a spreadsheet of my time allocation. And I reflect every quarter to make sure that I am on my path and remove distractions.
Efficiency is also about time and energy management. Whilst I want to say yes to everything, I also want to choose the right yeses. It is also removing anything that is a distraction from efficiency — bad habits, negative influence or unnecessary people.
Think of Marie Kondo, but for life. Declutter time wasters and energy drainers.
When we get to focus all the energy on the right issues, we can triple the compounded #5.
- Work hard. Very hard.
Foundations are built when we are young. The first 20 years of life is about build life foundations like soft skills. The next rest of our lives is to focus on the wonderful things we build above these foundations.
And when we are young, we have more energy to have fun and explore. Work hard in all ways. Work hard, play hard, learn hard, level up, improve yourself. Go hard in everything done. Do them once and if you love them, do it again. If not, you’ve done them once well and that is good enough.
20-25: explore everything and go hard at everything.
25-30: access the previous experiences. Double down on the favourite things.
- Fail Fast. Make mistakes once.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Make mistakes. Learn from it. Make them just once.
Back to efficiency #6, failing is efficient. You figure out what does not work. Mistakes are good. You learn to stand up and restart again. However, they are inefficient because they do not directly get to you where you want to go.
So make mistakes. But make each one just once. Fail. And fail fast, restart and try again.
The best way is to reflect consistently and understand what habits are forming. Stop them before they become hard habits to kick. Structure life around failing fast and making the same mistakes just once.
- Be anti-fragile.
Be rejected and learn to deal with it. Have a strong mindset. Ignore doubts. Embrace criticisms. Speak to all sorts of people. Be fearless. Go out of your comfort zone and do something you’ve never done before.
Being anti-fragile is so important in becoming unbreakable and unstoppable as time goes by. The only person that can destroy you should be yourself. And the only person that can build you up is also only yourself.
- Time will expose or reveal you.
I love this quote so much, it’s in my annual reflection and plans. It is from my favourite book, Slight Edge. Time is ticking away every day. Life is built based on the moments now.
Be it a company you want to build, a relationship to nurture, a goal to achieve. Time exposes you or reveals you. That is the only variable that is fair to everyone, equally. Whatever you do now has a compounded effect (#5) on what it has in the future.
When I am tempted to make a bad decision, I remember the consequences of that. In addition, when in doubt or fear, double down on it. Because you never know what compounded time interest has starting that fearful thing now.
I’m very happy and grateful for where I am now. Present-Lisa is proud of past-Lisa. And may future-Lisa be proud of present-Lisa today, and the actions done.
Go out of your comfort zone. Build good habits. Start now.