Your 20s can make you or break you. It contains some of the most exciting years of your life. You are just starting out your career, and you’re either building debt or building an empire. And although this decade can feel like you’re independent and consequence-free, how you spend your life in your 20s will have a huge impact on your life. What you do in this decade matters and may just determine your best shot at success and happiness.
In your 20s, you can experiment with so many things, party all night, go out on dates, travel the globe, and basically be a free bird. And although it’s not bad to enjoy being at the prime of your youth or working for your retirement, there are actually many things that you can do to make the most of your 20s.
Smart lifestyle changes you should be making in your 20s
Below are 20 of the top smart moves you need to make in your 20s that will pay off for the rest of your life.
#1 Travel. Invest in memories and experiences. This is the ideal time because you are young, able, and you have no family obligations. Use your time to meet different people and immerse yourself in different cultures.
#2 Don’t obsess over money. It is understandable to want to live comfortably later on in life, but don’t make your 20s so much about money that the decade passes you by. If you want to take risks or go after things that you are passionate about, then this is the best time. Think of money as a result of your hard work and not as your goal, and you can breathe easy enough to go out there and live a little.
#3 Think of one golden rule: save. Although you should not let money be your sole motivator, this doesn’t mean you should throw financial sensibility out the window. You can party, travel, and shop if you want, but be sure to set aside some extra cash *at least 10% of your income* for your rainy day fund. [Read: The lazy twentysomething’s guide to saving money]
#4 Be active. Despite your busy lifestyle, it helps to be active because of two things: you have something else to do other than race after work deadlines, and you are preventing your body from developing heart problems, obesity, diabetes, and other diseases. By squeezing some exercise into your schedule, you have a reason to wake up early and say “no” to that late night party invite every once in a while. [Read: The 8 reasons you can’t seem to shed those pounds!]
#5 Take care of your teeth. You may not notice it, but reality is, you’re stuck with the same teeth for the rest of your life. It’s not a house that you can skip maintenance on because you can move out anytime—your teeth are yours, and they’re not going anywhere. So even if it costs a lot of money and you think you don’t need it, take care of your teeth now while you can before repairing years of neglect becomes more expensive.
#6 Protect your skin. So your face is supple, you have no wrinkles, and you still have that healthy glow of youth. But you can’t seriously believe it will stay that way forever. Unless the fountain of youth has been discovered, you have to protect your skin. Don’t sleep with makeup on, and more importantly, wear sunscreen.
#7 Develop healthy eating habits. Make conscious beverage decisions that will lessen the negative effects alcoholic drinks bring to your body. Alcohol is, after all, a toxin. So drink wisely and in moderation, and always rehydrate to avoid a raging hangover. As for food, you know that junk food will only bring even more toxins into your body. Tone down your processed food intake, and try to include healthier, more natural food options into your diet.
#8 Lessen your tech ties. Twentysomethings are known to be highly dependent on their gadgets. If you’re one of those people, learn to put your phone down and make real people-to-people connections.
#9 Set your standards. When you’re young, flirty, and carefree, it can be easy to fall victim to the charms of partners who end up doing nothing for you. Learn from the dating mistakes of your past, and never settle for partners who will only hold you back from living a full life. [Read: Why does dating get harder when you reach your 20s?]
#10 Forgive yourself and others. You will make mistakes, and you may learn this the hard way. Accept the fact that there are things you can’t control, such as rejection or heartbreak. Don’t let this embitter you, and instead, learn from this and grow.
#11 Don’t waste your time on drama. You’re all grown up, and you know what you want, so you shouldn’t settle for anything less than what you think you deserve. Cut off people and situations that drain you of your energy. Your time and energy are better off spent on productivity and growth than drama and misery. [Read: How to recognize selfish people and stop them from hurting you]
#12 Build courage and face your fears. You are young, and you are in the best shape that you can be. The world is your oyster. So if you are ever going to try something daring, now is the best time.
#13 Be less busy and more productive. In other words, learn to manage your time before you run around like a headless chicken. Don’t spread yourself too thin over things that are unnecessary, but instead, keep your laser focus on being effective and get more done in half the time. [Read: 11 simple ways to make each day more meaningful]
#14 Set goals and learn to prioritize. You’re just starting out in your career, so you may think that your responsibilities are still ahead of you. Nope. You should set your goals as early as now, and from here on, take small steps in achieving them.
#15 Learn and learn and learn. Whether it’s baking classes or management lessons, take some time to learn new skills. Before you even think about starting a family and having your hands full, start a hobby or try something new.
#16 Invest in self-awareness and self-knowledge. This is the best time to find yourself and to know what you want and what makes you happy. Learn new things about yourself every day and seize every opportunity to grow. [Read: How to be cultured in an age obsessed with social media]
#17 Stop comparing yourself to others. Who cares if your friend has bought a new house or your colleague already got a promotion? You can’t measure yourself against others, or else you’re never going to appreciate yourself and what you have. Be proud of who you are, and create your own story.
#18 Know what is right from wrong. You’re not a child anymore, so put away childish habits. While it’s okay to make mistakes, take responsibility for your actions. Learn to apologize for what you have done, and learn how you can make amends for actions that have caused others pain, and that includes the environment!
#19 Appreciate true friends. Through the course of your life, you will come across different kinds of people. Some will be genuine, while some will try to use you. Don’t waste time on people who will bring you down in the end. Appreciate the people who are there for you, and value their friendship. [Read: 10 pro tips to help you thrive in your twenties]
#20 Slow down. You may be busy juggling your career, getting started living your independent life, sorting out your messy dating life, and simply enjoying being a twentysomething—but don’t forget to just stop, take a deep breath, and slow down. Success and happiness aren’t races to be won. You have to live your life at your own pace.
Your 20s can be the most exciting decade of your life. During this time, you’ll meet new people, learn new things about yourself, and really open your eyes to the wonders *and pitfalls* of the adult world. You only have 10 years to be a carefree, energetic twentysomething, so shouldn’t you make these 10 eye-opening years count?