I’m, without a doubt, a 27 year old man. This may sound reasonably old to some and perhaps kind of young to a few, but take it how you want, it’s just what it is. Right now. Next June I’ll be 28, and two years after that I’ll be 30. Then I’ll really be old. Or…well…no longer in my 20s. Luckily for me I’m still steeped in this precious fountain of youth that is the twenty-something years. I’m making more money after college than I would have made otherwise, I work for a great company, and I’ve gained an excellent base of skillsets and knowledge that has been and will be the foundation of my personal brand. However, there are still some things I haven’t accomplished yet and there are even some things I would have done differently if given the chance. So here are some of the tools I’ve used to advance myself over the course of my 20s.
1. Know What You Want
To be honest, deep down in your soul you already know who you are and what you really want from life. The reason you may doubt this may be due to an unconscious desire to conform to the expectations and rationalities of those around you or society at large. So with fear in the driver seat people occasionally make choices that are easier to garner acceptance from peers. Over time that fear proves hazardous to personal happiness, success, and motivation. Once we know exactly what we want from life, in the now or in the future, we can make the right choices and decisions to secure our desires.
I know I want to create a personal legacy to leave behind to my entire family. That’s why I focus on that, and not trying to be the best in my field. Like Honest Abe said “Whatever you do, be a good one”. Simple as that. I ain’t really here to impress every human on earth with my success, I’m here to build a foundation of heritage and pride for future generations to come. That’s what evolutionary science and anthropology have taught me to value.
2. Keep Your Vision Tunneled
In life and growth progression is a step-by-step process. You must complete the steps required to get yourself into the position you want for yourself. In mastery, for example, there are no shortcuts. It takes great energy and discipline to achieve a level of mastery where over the course of your life you have dedicated a minimum of 10,000 hours of concentrated effort towards progressing yourself in an area of work. When Charles Darwin worked on the HMS Beagle the level of focus and dedication he put into his work is what earned him a great reputation among naturalists at the time. Additionally, Darwin was dissuaded by his father when the initial offer came to him from a college professor colleague. It was his uncle who encouraged young Charles to go on the voyage and as we now know that made all the difference. But focusing on goals takes a certain level of maturity and wisdom as well.
When I envision what I want for myself in the future and I consider the past and the mistakes I’ve made that I don’t want to repeat over and over I think of my life in relation to the world at large with how I can improve the world. I think of the vastness of the future of this planet in a profoundly deep and meaningful way influencing the decisions I make in my life right now that will culminate into what I hope to be significant contributions in the future. Because I understand the value of a human life, as low as it might be right now, is as valuable as you create it to be. So in compliance with my deepest understanding of the world sometimes you must keep your vision tunneled. But also keep in mind that tunnel vision is not always the right vision to have as careers and lives take natural twists and turns.
3. Embrace the New and Unknown
In order to grow spiritually as an individual you must be willing to embrace the new and unknown aspects of the world in an appropriate way. This means no “fear of the unknown” as some may still have in this day and age (werid, I know). When you embrace new challenges you grow in confidence, experience, and so many other ways. New challenges and experiences are how you level up in the game of life. They are the ways in which human innovation is cultivated. The unique challenges of my life are what allow me to become who I am today; as different and unique as that may be. The newness of living and working in a different part of the country, making friends with different accents who attended the same university as me, the work of adapting to new surroundings, cultures, and mindsets are all priceless things to experience in a lifetime. Sort of like priceless challenges. It’s because of this experience I can confidently travel to another part of the world and be as functional as I would here in the Philadelphia tri-state area. Fortunately for me this list of new embracings can go on and on. Go out and test yourself.
4. Knowledge of People
Being naive in your 20s is nothing to be ashamed of, although it should not be a desirable trait. Being naive can create endless problems between you and the people around you when someone has a specific need and needs you to satisfy said need. It is vital to get an understanding of the world and the people who inhabit it if you want to win in your 20s. Because people are a very important part of planet earth in this little stretch of geologic time we sometimes refer to as “The Anthropocene”. In the anthropocene humans are running things all across the planet. Humans are the super species that has managed to journey into space and change the world on such a fundamental level it can make your eyes roll back in awe.
People can provide resources and other important things that we all need, but people can also be evil and quite dangerous. People at NASA and India’s Space Agency (Indian Space Research Organization or ISRO) are the kind of people with resources and winning strategies to help ensure good things for humanity such as space travel. While bad people such as those belonging to extremist hate groups are the ones who will kill and bring destruction to human life for the sake of the age old fear of the other. People are different, with different narratives and values that we must accept, not necessarily understand, in order to have any lasting success in our 20s.
5. You Need Passion
When you’re as passionate as I am about science and life in general it’s not hard to win. Losing is also not very detrimental because you know what you love and know what’s important so your passion enhances your drive in the right direction, making it easier for you to allocate time and energy to the things most important to you. This time and energy devoted to your life’s work is partially driven by passion. Passion is part of the reason you get out of bed and go through the pain of working to create something that wasn’t completely there. An example of someone working in passion could be a farmer who is passionate about taking care of himself and his family so he works hard and endures struggles out of love. Love for his family. That kind of love is often underappreciated, but it is very important to our species nonetheless. My passion for life and having this amazing opportunity to be alive amongst billions of others is what drives me to live a life I’m proud of, not just one I have to endure. My passion for science leads me to thoughts and questions about the world that many people might not have. It’s the reason I revisit scientific concepts I’ve taught myself as well as been taught everyday on a regular basis. My passion sometimes drives me crazy.
6. Be Faithful
Blind optimism may not always be a great remedy for the obstacles that life can present, but winning certainly involves a designated amount of unshakable faith in yourself and your mission. Your faith is what keeps you going, surviving through the tests. Faith in what will be then becomes a powerful tool bringing things to reality that were once just hopes and dreams. Faith is what allowed people to survive in the wilderness of foreign islands and parts of Alaska that are so romantically unforgiving. Famous reality survivalists Bear Grylls and Les Stroud always talk about how important it is to have faith when it comes to survival.
Another great example of how faith can keep us going is in the history of hip-hop. Hip Hop music, as some might begrudgingly refer to it due to an understanding of where the term comes from, is an example of how faith in something better can create that very thing you desire. Hip-hop is a story of coming from the ghetto and creating something from nothing and turning into a culture that has woven itself into the fabric of American society. It took faith and the ability to see what wasn’t there to create the culture.
7. Experience Failure
If you’re not experiencing failure in your twenties then you’re eventually gonna fail by default. Failure is an important part of success because it forces us to change and grow for the good of the mission. When we experience failure it molds us into better, more efficient versions of ourselves ready to handle the obstacles that come next. So make sure you fail in this time frame (not on purpose of course) so that you can learn and grow from it.
Thanks for reading and I hope you appreciate what I have to say. Please feel free to leave a comment or subscribe if you like how I think and stay tuned for more literary fire.