A little earlier this week I tweeted an article I found interesting. What has been even more interesting is the response to it. I have to say that I am a little bit proud of the Gen Y’s who called bullshit on this article.
The post was a list of the 20 mistakes you don’t want to make in your 20s. The article reads like a handbook for how to be a 30 something millionaire and nothing else matters until you get there. It feels cynical and just a little bitter.
So in response to this “whip to the soul” of an article here is my list of 10 mistakes you SHOULD make in your twenties ( because I only need to do half the work to respond to this ). How do I know? Because I’ve made them, and a lot more.
1. Work for somebody else. Working for your dreams and not just for the money is important. Never put your dreams aside, but understand the value of experience and paying your dues. You have power but your awesomeness should always be tempered by the knowledge that there are people out there with a wealth of experience to add. Soak it up, and use it. Working for somebody else and making them rich, is a great motivator when you decide you can do it better and strike out on your own. The bonus is you will be taking their skills with you.
2. Work for the money. Sometimes jobs just plain suck, but if you want to be a world famous photographer then cameras cost money. Funding your dreams takes a little more than positive thinking, it also requires positive action.
3. Fall in love. Falling in love is never a mistake but it deserves a mention. Love is one of the things that make the air worth breathing. Don’t underestimate the value of having a partner to build a life with. Having two incomes can be the edge you need to get ahead a little. Even if it’s not a long term relationship the life lessons you learn will be invaluable. Broken hearts teach us about what we want ,and what we are worth, and that has benefits in both our business and personal life.
4. Buy what you want, not always what you need. There is no faster way to discover what is really important than to fill our lives with things we want but don’t need. Gen Y is great at buying stuff, but does the soulless consumerism of the current age really make you happy? It’s one thing to take advice from a self proclaimed Guru but actually living the experience is far more likely to change your behaviour. Filling your life with meaningless objects after a break up and then coming to the epiphany that you are still unhappy is a personal story that will change the way you think in a far more enduring way than any quote from a self help book.
5. Take too many holidays. You deserve holidays, especially overseas, especially on beaches, especially featuring nudity. Life experience comes in all shapes and sizes and at all ages. The experiences you have in your twenties will be different to those you have in your fifties. Seeing the world and understanding the diversity of it is incredibly valuable, as it provides us with perspective on our own lives. Travel and experience will help you when you decide to strike out on your own. Being in a foreign country, learning to communicate, accepting other cultures, supporting yourself and taking on new opportunities are all qualities that will prove invaluable.
6. Stick with jobs that don’t teach you anything. If you think that you’re in a job where you’re not learning anything then you are missing the point. What you learn depends on your attitude. Open your eyes take notice and watch whats going on around you. Even when flipping burgers there is plenty going on. How does your manager, manage his team? How does the HR guy resolve conflicts? How is the Stock in the store room managed? Watch, learn, pay attention. Every experience is valuable. A job you consider menial while you build on reaching your dream is much better than no job at all.
7. Follow the crowd. Crowds are good especially in business. If you are going to be a success you can’t create a product and expect people to buy it just because you’re awesome. Why learn lessons other people have already learnt for you? Pay attention to what others are doing and how they are doing it. Build your success on the shoulders of others and then when the time is right add your own voice. You can still be an individual and take notice of how others are being successful at the same time.
8. Think that every move you make is a test. If you are going to put this kind of pressure on yourself then you are going to learn one of life’s best lessons very quickly, It’s okay to fuck up. The key is how you respond to the fuck ups. Are you going to crawl into bed and never get out or are you going to learn from it and keep going. We learn more from our defeats than our victories because when we fail we ask “why?”. Sticking with our dreams in the face of failure is where true success lies.
9. Surround yourself with bad friends. Having bad friends now will help you make better friends in the future. Learning quickly what makes a bad friend and moving them on, and what makes a good friend and how to keep them will help you later in life. Bad friends teach us to value true and good relationships. They teach us to be loyal and kind to our true friends. They teach us about the kinds of qualities we value in ourselves and others and about the kinds of people we truly want to surround ourselves with.
10. Have a good time. Because you will never be in your twenties again. Make lots of friends, have great nights out, party hard and laugh a lot. Make connections, build relationships and fill your life with stories and finally remember the best advice I can think of about money.
Money brings you opportunity and choice not happiness. Alway work towards being financially independent, but remember it is the means not the ends.