12. Now is the time to dig deep into fiscal responsibility. It may not be the sexiest topic, but mastering it will make you feel capable like nothing else. If you use credit, do not do so when you cannot pay it off or can only pay the minimum fee each month. It is tempting, but, unless it’s an emergency, do not spend outside your means. Your goal is to build good credit – use your credit card, but show you are reliable by paying it off quickly.
Assess your financial status and plan for your future. If you can, invest in an RRSP for your retirement living. Once you are retired, the money in that account will be taxed in a much lower bracket than you were in while working. Get used to setting aside a certain percentage of your income, whether for retirement, short-term/long-term savings, real estate, travel, or emergencies.
11. Let’s talk about clothing. By 25, you should be ready to let go of your high school/college wear for good. Don’t see it as a loss but a potential gain – after all, you’re quite a different person than you were when you wore these things. Shouldn’t your clothing reflect that?
And to avoid stressing yourself financially (see # 12 where you learned to be a finance guru), keep two things in mind while shopping: 1) what sphere(s) of my life will this work in? and 2) is the quality/wearing potential worth the price? Odds are, your work will require some sort of specific clothing, likely business casual, so clothing in that sphere of your life should receive a larger portion of your budget.
As you consider each piece, try to go for those that will go with a lot of your existing wardrobe and can be used in a variety of contexts. This will help you limit the size of your wardrobe to keep it functional and manageable.
10. Technology is a thing. If you’re 25 right now, you will remember a childhood with little to know computer/internet access and an emphasis on the outdoors. This can make the rapid advances in technology seem jarring and difficult to keep up with, but here are a few pointers:
You will need Facebook. If you don’t like to use it, that’s fine, but a large amount of businesses use Facebook as their key web presence, and it will only be more difficult to work in or access those things without it.
As far as other social media platforms go, most are tailored to a specific function or audience. Twitter has pithy humour and celebrity news updates. Tumblr has social activism, gender politics, and all things creative. Snapchat is a new favourite for short video “stories.” Instagram is great for foodies, makeup artists, and amateur photographers.
There are some platforms you will prefer to others, but as a “young” person in the workforce, you should acquire at least a passing understanding of the most common ones, especially if you work for/with teens.
As far as your personal social media usage, it is practically impossible to unplug altogether. But it is important to make space for activities and experiences that are tech-free. There is a lot of gratification from seeing positive responses to your postings, but remember that you and everyone else have carefully cultivated the images that are being shared.
09. Nothing will develop you more in your 20s than relocating, even if it’s not a massive move. If you are nervous about this, remember what John Green says: “Leaving is so hard, until you do it – then it’s the easiest thing in the world.” A move necessitates a massive adaptation in most areas of your life, but it also gives a spectacular sense of freedom and possibility. It doesn’t mean you don’t have a great life/support system where you are, or that you’ll stay away forever – rather, it is your chance to grow and develop independent of the forces in your life that have thus far been constant. Isn’t that exciting?
08. If you grew up as a picky eater like me, I have news for you: food is delicious! And there are all sorts of things that taste good together! At 25, you should have some understanding of nutrition and realize that some things taste good, but others are good for you – and if you try more of the latter, they will slowly become the former. Trust me on this. You don’t need to be trendy with food or into all of the fads, but begin to assess your diet and try to create a balance of nutrients that will keep your body happy and healthy. In so doing, you will broaden your palate and feel comfortable experimenting with different combinations of foods.
07. Take time for yourself. A lot of us feel like we need to be “on” all the time, or that time spent alone is depressing and indicative of a lacking social life. But whether you’re introverted or not, time alone is essential to recharge. You can do things you sincerely enjoy that are not best shared with others. You can have time to think, imagine, plan, and create without interruption. This is not selfish. You will not be your best if all of your energy is focused outwards.
06. When you’re busy and experiencing a lot of new things, it can seem like a task to keep in touch with family. But it is immensely important to cultivate healthy family relationships as an adult – as a child, you’re together by default, but this must be actively maintained when you’re older.
Your parents can be invaluable sounding boards for major decisions in your life, and your siblings can be great companions as you get older. One of the biggest regrets people have is not spending time with their families when they had the chance, so start to make this a priority while you’re young.
05. Development as a young adult requires a challenging process: learning to take responsibility for your actions and words. This can be very difficult because it means taking a hard look at the things you do casually or without much thought. These can include gossiping, or taking shortcuts at work, or telling lots of little white lies because it’s easier. If, in the moment, you can’t imagine how you would explain what you’re doing or justify it to someone else, it’s probably not a good thing to do.
04. Like a lot of 20-somethings, you may be carrying a lot of negative body messages and hang-ups from your younger days. You might not realize it, but these pervade every moment you spend with yourself and others if you don’t actively dismiss them. Appreciate your body on a physiological and aesthetic level instead of wishing it were different, because energy put towards self-loathing is utterly wasted.
03. If it is in your power, advocate for others. You are likely in a position of some privilege compared to someone else, and you are missing an opportunity if you do not recognize the good you can do. This could take the form of a political or religious cause or it might be as simple as going to bat for a co-worker or friend who has fewer helpful connections than you do.
02. Acknowledge your strengths and don’t apologize for them. It is not arrogant to accept compliments for things that you have done well. As young people, we often feel like we need to downplay our achievements and efforts to be well-liked. While it is important not to step on toes, it is equally vital to learn to self-assess. Having an accurate gauge of what we can accomplish means knowing both our weaknesses and strengths intimately.
01. Don’t be silent. If you appreciate someone, tell them. If you have a suggestion or idea, discuss it with someone. If you can streamline or improve something, say so. Your input may be the difference between disaster and success, between stagnation and innovation. Your words could mean the difference between a lifelong friendship and an estranged silence. Your insights could impact a person, family, organization, government, or generation.
That is a lot of power, but the trick is, no one is going to make you speak up. In fact, a lot of people will actively discourage you in this and will make you feel small or insignificant. Don’t be fooled, and please, even if nothing else on this list resonates with you - don’t be silent.