life lessons

Important Lessons I Wish I Knew in My 20’s

A cousin’s visiting me this week and we haven’t seen each other for many years. When I found out about this visit, I got really excited.

Just the thought of spending time with family again made me really happy. I’ve lived away from home, the Philippines, for so many years. It would be great to see somebody who I grew up with.

Then, I found out that my cousin is in fact only 21 years old. To be honest, this made me feel really old. I can’t really say we grew up together if she was just a toddler when I was already in my 20’s!

The difference in our age was something that I never really thought about. While I’ve always been one of the older ones among cousins, we still spent a lot of time together whenever I visited home.

Finding out about this age gap reminded me about my own life when I was in my 20’s. Oh, how I wish I knew then the things that I know now. I might have done a few things differently. Here are some of the important lessons I wish I knew in my 20’s:

1. Explore your passions and try to find your North Star early on.

Sometimes you just have to try a few different things before finding what you’re meant to do. Go ahead and explore. But instead of just going with the flow, don’t forget to keep yourself in check. Think about your search for your North Star.

You can read more about some of the lessons that I’ve learned as I try to find my own North Star here.

2. Keep the progress of your career in check at all times.

Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and change jobs or career direction if you’re no longer growing or feeling challenged in your current work.

This is exactly the opposite of what I‘ve been advised when I was younger. I have always been taught that there is great value in staying in the same job for many years as this exemplifies commitment and loyalty. And apparently it looks better in your CV.

But do not let your growth suffer because you fear being seen as uncommitted or disloyal. It is much better to move on and continue to be excited and interested in your work. It is not fair for you or your employer/co-workers if you continue to stay in your job and yet, you are not able to perform at your fullest potential.

3. Seek out people who are already doing what you’re planning to pursue and learn from their experiences.

Make sure that your decisions, whether it’s relating to your career or life in general, are not solely based on ideals.

For example, if you want to be a doctor, it would be worth finding out from practicing doctors the ups and downs of the profession and what the day-to-day life of a doctor is really like.

4. Learn and master personal finance.

Learn how to handle your money, make it grow, and make every dollar work for you. You’ll be able to reach financial independence sooner, if this is one of your goals.

The information is all out there for the taking. There are many books and web/blog sites dedicated to personal finance. My favorites are reading blogs such as Financial Samurai and listening to podcasts like Listen Money Matters.

Learning the basic principles of personal finance by reading and hearing other people’s experiences on how they were able to manage their finances is really enriching.

5. It’s ok to say “No”.

You do not have to say “Yes” all the time, to every invitation, favor and request from others. Be true to yourself. If you don’t want to do something, just say “No”.

This article from Tiny Buddha on How to Stop Saying Yes When You Want to Say No by Chantalle Blikman summarizes it all.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask… for anything.

Similar to saying “No”, there is something scary about asking for what you want, whether big or small. Nobody wants to be rejected.

Unfortunately most people are not mind readers and to be honest, I haven’t met one yet. So if you want something, you’ve got to speak up and say it.

What are the important lessons that you wish you knew in your 20’s or when you were younger? Do you regret not knowing these now?


life lessons

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