19 Ways To Invest In Yourself Throughout Your 20s
Your 20s are one of the most jam-packed periods of your life. You’re figuring out who you are and perhaps more importantly, who you want to be. There are upsides, like learning something new every day and meeting incredible people, but also downsides like self doubt and confusion, or when it feels like you’re never doing enough and time is flying by. All of these conflicting experiences and feelings are normal, but coming out the other side of your 20s in a pretty good place is made easier with a little direction. These 19 things are a great place to start.
Here are the ways you can invest in yourself, your career, and your relationships on the regular.
1 / 19
Read more and often
There have been many studies done into the benefits of picking up a good book and allowing yourself the time and space to read it. Reading regularly makes you a better communicator, makes your brain literally grow, makes you more empathetic and fuels your imagination. Another upside is the unwinding effect picking up a paperback evokes; when you switch off from technology, good things start to happen, so while you’re in your 20s get into the habit of flipping the pages of a great book to offset some of your social media scrollage. Need some inspo? Here are some books that successful people read and love.
2 / 19
Start to love yourself
We know, we know – easy to say but one of the hardest things to accomplish: self love. It’s not something that just happens one day, but rather the result of a series of small choices we make. The sooner you begin to make these choices, the sooner they’ll become second nature. Where to begin? The seven psychological steps to self love are a good place. These instructions speak to being easier on yourself, putting needs above wants, and ensuring that we’re acting in our own best interests on not others. We also compiled our own list of ways you can love yourself as much as you love Beyonce with a bunch of helpful everyday tips from curating your Instagram feed to keeping a list of the compliments people give you.
3 / 19
Feed your good friendships
Good friends are hard to come by and as you get further into your life, your circumstantial friends (those made at school or work or from a sports team, for example) will start to dwindle leaving the solid long-lasting mates remaining. But sometimes you will also have to actively choose to distance yourself from those who don’t have your best interests at heart. Be discerning.
Take the time and energy to feed the relationships that inspire, stimulate and support you, because they’re investments in your happiness. Call your best friend, reach out to a lost one you miss, attend that birthday party when you’re tired. Do it! The rewards far outweight the groundwork. And if you want to make some new friends but are awkward about it, read this.
4 / 19
Build your networks
We’ve all heard about the importance of networking when it comes to professional development, but networks are just another way of talking about your wider community. After all, a community supports and empowers you – but through your own involvement within it. The more you put in the more you’ll get out, and some connecting you make can open up opportunities you never even thought possible. And this doesn’t just mean in your work industry either, taking the time to get to know your neighbours or learn your barista’s name will enrich your life.
5 / 19
Yep, you need to budget
Financial stress can be rife in your 20s as your leave home, get your first full-time job and find your feet. Know this: once you start earning a regular wage, you need to make a budget! Does it all seem too hard? It’s really not. This is how you budget.
6 / 19
Find a form of exercise you enjoy
7 / 19
Get super good at Super
There are so many hints and tricks that require little effort in the now, but produce amazing financial results in the long run. First step? Consolidate your super accounts and find any lost funds – it sounds annoying but it is surprisingly easy. Future you will be very happy you did.
8 / 19
Between credit cards, bank loans and overdrafts it’s not too tricky to find yourself in debt. While it can be daunting to acknowledge, the sooner you have a plan the sooner you’ll be debt-free (seriously, ask Zoe Davis), so start by figuring out just how much you owe, and adding it to your budgeting. Here’s a guide on how to get that debt down to zero.
9 / 19
Do not be one of those millennials who cannot cook a single dish other than spaghetti bolognese! Cooking feels good and so does feeding your loved ones, not to mention cooking your own food usually means fresher, more nutritionally-dense food. Plus, you get the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when you sit down to eat. With the amount of access we have to information about nutrition, amazing recipes, and cooking shows, there’s no excuses! Why don’t we start with some delicious lunch ideas or these 10 healthy, fool-proof recipes you should definitely know?
10 / 19
Feel like learning Japanese? Keen on sailing? Want to learn how to video edit? It doesn’t matter what it is, learning something new keeps your brain sharp, your skills relevant and wide-ranging, and you at the top of your game. Upskilling means you could literally create the job you want or be considered a far more desirable candidate for the dream job you’re after. Besides have you ever heard someone say “man, I really regret learning French?” No, of course you haven’t because learning is cool.
11 / 19
Attend a conference
Yes they can seem a little bit scary or overly academic, but here’s a secret: most people there will be just as nervous as you! Find a conference related to your professional industry and give it a go, you wont regret it. Still studying? There are a number of academic conferences open to uni students, ask your course convenor for recommendations.
12 / 19
Take up a hobby
Make sure you’re making time for things outside of your professional or academic world. Why not take up gardening? Or improv? Or photography? Making time for your creative outlet will be precisely the way to introduce more productivity, happiness and overall balance into your life. They’re good for your soul.
13 / 19
Talk to your parents
The older you get the more you know (all those mistakes will count towards experience, at least), so make sure you’re tapping into your parents’ wisdom. For many of us, as we get older, we make less time for our mums and dads, but don’t succumb to the stereotype. Getting to know your parents as actual people means you can tap into some excellent advice. You’re not an angsty teen anymore trying to hide your life for them, so reach out and see what happens.
14 / 19
Talk to your grandparents
Grandparents are the best, and if you’re lucky enough to still have yours around then you should definitely spend more time with them. Their stories are usually hilarious, their advice priceless. Ask them about life before your mum or dad, and get to know a different side to them now that you’re an adult. Grandparents have been around long enough to know its a waste of time to sweat the small stuff, so they’re great at giving you perspective.
15 / 19
Get to the doctor regularly
Check ups, pap smears, breast or prostate exams. Do it. Oh and don’t forget the dentist, either. You wont regret it, ever.
16 / 19
Find a mentor
Finding someone to guide you through the rough terrains of your career is invaluable, not just for work but in life as well. Utilise their knowledge and experience and ensure you maintain an honest relationship with them that goes both ways. Don’t have a mentor yet? Here’s some help on how to find one.
17 / 19
Find your go-to endorphin booster
Mine are puppy photos. You know, the one thing you know will always put a smile on your face? Find yours, and your days will be filled with less frustration and dread and a lot more smiles and laughter. Maybe that’s going for a run, having a bath, watching your favourite TV show, calling a certain friend for a laugh – the point is this activity will de-stress you easily. Here are seven ways to boost your mood in minutes, just in case you don’t already have a bonafide happy place.
18 / 19
Travel or live overseas
You don’t need to tell Aussies twice! The fastest way to get a reality check, inspiration, a cultural education and a crash course in everything from making new friends to currency conversion, is by travelling or living abroad. It offers a special type of education that enriches you and makes you ‘worldly’ – also known as ‘a better person’. Even if you can only save up enough coin to travel or move once in your 20s (but you should be able to save well with these tips and these, too) this one is a non-negotiable.
19 / 19
Work out how you see yourself
Professionally, personally and from a personal brand perspective – who are you? This decade is when you’ll really be figuring out what values you stand for, what matters to you, what you want to be known for, what you don’t want to be associated with and how you want to behave as a human. Knowing this will also help you decide what goals to focus on each year. Psychologist Melissa Kirk put is perfectly, “we aren’t our mental health diagnosis, our jobs, our roles, or actions we’ve taken or not taken. We’re so much more than that.” Humans are infinitely complex, and you’ll never stop changing, that’s why it’s incredibly important to take the time to reflect, and be so strong in your foundations no one else can ever dictate who you are.
[h/t: The Financial Diet]
Esther is a freelance writer, editor, publicist, content maker and dog patter. She has written for Interview Magazine, New York Press, The Village Voice, Rolling Stone, and local titles Broadsheet, Beat and Tone Deaf. Please tag her in photos of dogs @esthersaurus