Building success in your 20s
Updated: Dec 5, 2019
If you don't feel an overwhelming pressure to succeed during your 20s, are you really living up to your full potential?
The 20s are a high-anxiety time for many people. We've narrowly reached the exodus of our childhood and suddenly, we find ourselves being tossed by the universe into the next stage of life. In a decade's time, we are expected to lay the groundwork for the rest of our lives. "Graduate from a respectable college. Establish a career. Buy a home. Start a family." We're all very familiar with the pressures laid upon us. As if these perimeters, set forth by society, weren't constricting enough, many of us find ourselves rendering our own internal timeline. Whether we do so knowingly or subconsciously and perhaps, even against our will, it's a heaviness of which most of us are familiar. While dreams and goals differ person to person, the reality of how crucial our 20s are in laying the foundation for the future we hope for, is recognized by all of us. The perimeter of those pressures may differ, but the resulting anxiety transcends all cultures, careers, and callings.
If you are reading this in hopes of receiving a comforting affirmation that "the anxiety you're feeling will soon go away" or how "life is too short to already be subjecting yourself to the demands of adult living," I am afraid I have to tell you that you have clicked your way into the wrong blog. I'm sure, with the right keywords, a little Googling will lead you straight down a cosy little rabbit hole of techniques to avoid the unwanted responsibilities of life (i.e. turn your back on the corporate world, travel endlessly, live off-grid, etc.) Unfortunately, for such uninhibited dreamers, this blog is a bit more... realistic.
At the risk of sounding presumptuous, I will assume that since you are continuing read through these words that you, like myself, are more of a say, pragmatic dreamer. A dreamer? Yes, always. But, a dreamer who has come to terms with the fact that achieving the life you envision for your 40s, 50s and beyond, means doing the work right now that is required to make that happen. Making the sacrifices now to enjoy the rewards later.
Some would like to claim we're all just "entitled millennials who have been spoon-fed their entire lives and aren't ready to grow up." But, I must say, that what I've observed among my peers is something very different. I see a generation of people who have grown up hearing that if they fall one step behind they'll never measure up.
"Go to college. Don't go into debt. Volunteer and work full time. Build your resume and build your credit, but don't get a credit card. Save your money. Buy a house. Climb your career ladder as fast as you can, but don't forget to stop and start a family" - all before you're 30... and the list goes on. By the time your 20s near their end, a vivid picture of what the rest of your life might look like has been painted and hung in the gallery of your identity -- for you and everyone around you to look at and to criticize.
Crucial truth: FEELING ANXIOUS DURING YOUR 20s is normal. In fact, I dare say that if someone in their 20s feels no pressure at all to succeed, then they are not living up to their full potential.
Let me say that again... IF SOMEONE IN THEIR 20s FEELS NO PRESSURE AT ALL TO SUCCEED, THEN THEY ARE NOT LIVING UP TO THEIR FULL POTENTIAL!
In other words, if you feel overwhelmed and anxious that you might be falling behind... the mere fact that you care to know where you stand actually means that you are ON TRACK. It's just like when I first became a mom and I was told by many veteran mamas that "the very act of worrying if you're a good mom probably means you are a good mom." The fact is, someone who doesn't possess a growth mindset will never even take the time to consider how they're measuring up.
So, yes, anxiety will ebb and flow throughout your 20s. But if you focus on doing what you can right now, and doing it well, when the next stage of life presents itself - you will have laid a strong foundation of success in which to build your life on!
The Levels of Development Theory
More info about the Levels of Development theory discussed in the video above: