As another milestone birthday approaches, I look back on the 20s years that have passed and the 20s years yet to come. And I am grinning! The 20s, filled with frustration and heartache as you start spreading those wings and flying. The 20s, filled with adventure, discovery, personal growth, and excitement. You try things you’ve never tried, learn things you’ve never known, and be someone that you never would have guessed you’d be.
Wherever you are in your 20s, this article is for you–21 powerful pieces of advice for your 20s from a twenty-something–to encourage you to keep going strong. 🙂
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Life in Your 20s
At two decades in, who would’ve thought that life would be this messy? I certainly didn’t. I figured by 20, I would have smoothed out all of the bumps in the road. Surely, it would be smooth sailing from here, right?
Not exactly. Life in your 20s is anything but smooth sailing, but I don’t say that with a tone of discouragement.
Because without the turbulent waters, there is no personal growth. And without the bumps and bruises, there is no strength nor confidence for whatever life throws at you next.
Turning 20 advice
When you’re turning 20, celebrate. Enjoy the milestone of two decades of life! Don’t be discouraged by the fact that you’re getting older (dear, you are still pretty young). You’re also maturing and readying yourself for whatever God has planned for you later in life. At the same time, your twenties will be distinctly different from the teen years.
The big 2-0 is a huge crossroads in your life where you finish the transition from child to adult.
Though the piece of paper and you license may say “adult” at 18, you’ll be a “baby adult,” as my sister likes to say, for a while.
Whether you stay close to home or go big and fly far away, it’s totally normal to ache for home and rely on your parents from time-to-time. The truth is, you will never stop being your parents’ kid. So, don’t feel ashamed to ask for help and direction when you need it; that’s what they are there for.
Taking Moments to Reflect on Turning 20
As you turn 20 and reflect back on years passed, also look to the future in expectation and anticipation. While you may not know what this next decade holds for you, you do know that God will direct your steps. He is preparing you for something that only YOU can do, once you’ve grown and changed into the person he’s created you to be. That’s always something to rejoice over!
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)
If you’ve already flipped a couple of chapters passed turning the big 2-0, you may need pieces of advice for being in your 20s, too.
Advice for Being in your 20s
First, manage your expectations about being a twenty-something year old. Because if I’m honest, I’ve never felt more uncomfortable in my life than I have felt in my 20s.
Perhaps, if you’re a 30s-something or 40s-something or 50s-something reading this, you’ve experienced other trying times in your life. However, the discomfort I feel in my 20s is more poignant because it’s the greatest discomfort I’ve felt this far.
Perhaps, you’re also in your 20s and thinking that puberty was far, far worse. That might have been the case for you, but for me, my 20s stick out as the greatest source of discomfort.
What makes being a Twenty-Something Year Old so uncomfortable?
At the root, life in your 20s is a time of transformation, where you face an abundance of change and have a lot of influences (positive and negative) vying for your attention. Meanwhile, you’re still trying to figure out who you are, because when you were in your parents’ house or in college, you weren’t quite the same person.
Now you’re at the full mercy of your own choices, and you fear a mistake will ruin your life for the next 50 years. At work, you question whether you’ve come to the right company, and the grass always looks greener at the company where your friend and LinkedIn connections work. Likewise, you compete with all the social media pictures and posts, trying to keep up a façade of having everything together, when that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Sound familiar? If so, then you and I share the same story of an uncomfortable decade where we are trying to emerge stronger, but feeling weaker by the minute.
Finding North – Advice for a Twenty Something
But that’s only one side of the coin. That’s the worst of it–the change, the confusion, and the pain of personal growth and learning in your 20s. But along the way, there is also joy as you become the person God created you to be, full of his love and confident in his faithfulness.
“The Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”Jeremiah 31:3
You see, experience is the best teacher. And everything we experience being in our 20s, whether uncomfortable or comfortable, will reveal to us God’s character–his faithfulness and his love to us. Though we may not see the fruits of our labor, we can hold on to the promise that we do not labor in vain.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”Romans 8:28
Advice for Your 20s from a Twenty Something Year Old
With the biggest pieces of advice for your 20s behind us, I’m dedicating the rest of this advice to every woman in their twenties.
May you be bold and courageous in the face of fear, strong in the power of the Holy Spirit, and above all, gracious to yourself.
None of us are perfect, so we’re all going to make mistakes. But how will you respond to your mistakes? That’s what will set you and your 20s apart.
8 Pieces of Advice for Personal Growth in Your 20s
Personal growth is a huge part of being in your 20s! It is one of the fruitful results of the discomfort and “growing pains” that come with being in your 20s.
- Allow yourself to learn instead of shying away from challenges.
- Don’t beat yourself up about not having all of the answers. You’re in your 20s! If you had all of the answers, then you’d have to pay a lot more money for college.
- Understand that personal growth may not take hold immediately. It may be weeks, months, or years before you can look back and see how much you’ve grown.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. We each have our own strengths and weaknesses, our times of harvest and times of famine.
- Find a way to keep hold of and protect your memories. Whether it’s writing in a journal every week or taking pictures and videos every time you’re with friends, find ways to keep pieces of each moment.
- Though you are considered young by the world’s standard, you have something to offer—time, resources, knowledge, a listening ear, kindness. Make serving others for the kingdom of God part of your lifestyle.
- Learn how to manage your money wisely. Live within your means, and don’t rack up unnecessary consumer debt. Budget, save, spend, invest, and give wisely.
- Even though you’re growing, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask God to place people in your life who can support and encourage you. We weren’t meant to journey through life alone.
14 Adulting Skills to Learn in Your 20s
Under personal growth, I put the art of handling adulthood and adulting. There are some adulting skills that you’ll want to learn in your 20s, in case you didn’t pick them up in high school or while living at home.
- Adulting Skills Checklist:
- How to do your own laundry
- How to meal plan, make a grocery list, and go grocery shopping
- How to cook for yourself and cover all of the important food groups
- How to prepare a budget based on your income and manage your money (save, spend, give, invest)
- How to check your bills for accuracy and handle disputes before paying them
- How to file your own taxes using your own W-2
- Understanding what credit scores are and how to build up yours
- Understanding the horror and blessing of compounded interest on loans and investments
- Understanding how insurance works and how to decide the best type of coverage
- Establishing a system for keeping track of important dates and appointments
- How to book your doctor and dentist appointments (as well as knowing how frequently to book those appointment and how much of the cost your insurance covers)
- How to prepare for and find an apartment or place to live
- How to clean your apartment and how often things need to be cleaned
- How to dress appropriately for the many different facets of business attire (formal business, semi formal, business casual, smart casual, smart business, etc.)
10 Pieces of Advice for How to Live your 20s to the Fullest
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. If it won’t matter in a couple of years, then don’t spend more than 5 minutes thinking about it.
- Make it a point to be trying new things. Discover what you like and what you don’t like, and discover it as if you didn’t know that about yourself before.
- Don’t be afraid to say no. Time is a precious resource, so don’t beat yourself up if you have to say no to something to make room for something else you really enjoy or someone you really care about.
- Get decent amounts of sleep. You are no good when you’re tired or cranky from lack of sleep. Stop pulling the all-nighters, and rest so you can have a clear mind for the day to come.
- Get up at a reasonable hour! Sleeping in every now and then is a blessing, but sleeping all of the days away is another thing. Use those daylight hours to the fullest.
- You’re a wonderful person, but you’re not wonder woman. With your lack of invincibility, comes a body, mind, and soul that needs care.
- Establish healthy habits of eating and exercise, and maintain a healthy body image, too.
- Continue to stretch your mind. Read. Draw. Create. Imagine. Your brain is a muscle, too.
- Make it a priority to grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ. Spiritual nourishment will carry you further than any other type. Jesus wants to be Lord of your life, and He will give you life abundantly. (John 10:10)
- Take Time for Yourself – Me Time is so important!
How do you make the best of your 20s?
To make the best of your 20s, you will want to do a reflection of questions and journal prompts to help you create some personal goals for the future. Each year (and each morning!) is a clean slate for you to steer your life in another direction.
Don’t dwell on your mistakes. Learn from them and keep going.
If your 20s aren’t exactly as you imagined them, don’t fret. Everyone feels that way. Let go of your expectations so you can fully embrace this stage of life. The unrealistic expectations and the high standards we place on ourselves taint the blessings that God has lavished on us.
10 Pieces of Advice for Things to Do in Your 20s to be Successful
As we move into our 20s, we also move into the young professional lifestyle where the question of success comes up frequently. Success can mean many different things, depending on who you’re talking to and where you are in the world. So while everyone’s definition is different, here are some general pieces of advice to help you be successful in your 20s.
- Network, network, network. You never know where your next opportunity will come from. While “who you know” is somewhat important, what’s far more important is “who knows you.”
- Pursue opportunities for professional development. Attend training classes and presentations, ask questions, and soak up all the information you can.
- Approach each job, challenge, task, and project as an opportunity to learn. You’ll face a lot of tough work situations through out your careers, but don’t throw in the towel! Use these strategies for how not to give up.
- Ask thorough questions in your job interview. Before you join a company or move companies, make sure you fully understand what you’re signing up for. Study the job description closely, ask clarifying questions in the interview, especially about the day-to-day tasks, responsibilities, and opportunities for growth.
- Embrace change. Those who resist change are fighting the inevitable. It’s better to be ahead of the curve and learning the new ways of working so your skills stay relevant in the workplace.
- Manage your expectations. As a young professional, you’re starting at the bottom of the ladder. Don’t expect to have a corner office on day one. You may feel like you’re doing a lot of grunt work and repetitive tasks. Over time, that will lessen, but it will take time. Instead, focus on learning, pursuing personal development opportunities, sharpening your skills, and working hard. With a strong work ethic, you’ll stand out to your supervisor and be able to take on more sooner.
- The grass always looks greener on the other side, but that doesn’t mean it is. When you’re dissatisfied with work, take a pause before jumping ship and fleeing to the next company. Ask yourself honestly: what about the job frustrates you? Seek actions to remediate those issues before giving up hope. Above all, make sure the next job won’t put you in the same position.
- Admit your mistakes and take responsibility for your actions. Strong integrity is a character trait that is becoming more and more rare. By owning your mistakes and making an effort to correct them, you will stand out for your integrity.
- Don’t avoid challenges and discomfort at your job. Instead, seek out opportunities to be challenged, as that is how you will grow more skills and valuable experience.
- Don’t go to graduate school unless you know what you want to do. Graduate school is expensive in money and time. It’s not for going to “discover” what you want to do, but to grow in a discipline that you’ve already determined your next career step.
Want more advice for young professionals? Check out Valuable Career Advice for Young Professionals.
What should you accomplish in your 20s?
Young careers move at different paces and in different paths. No two people will find the same path to the same position. Nor can we count on a comparison to give us accurate depiction of “how much we should accomplish” in our 20s.
Instead of measuring accomplishments, focus on your professional growth.
Are you learning in your current position? Are you being challenged at work? How have your skills grown? What soft skills, such as professionalism, communication, and presentation skills, have you gained?
As twenty-somethings, young professionals should strive to learn the types of work they do or do not enjoy. Unearth a passion or two and learn the soft skills that will serve you for the rest of your career. Gain the confidence to voice your opinion and explain your thought process.
These intangibles are far more important than a list of accomplishments and fancy titles.
20 Things to do in your 20s Bucket List
In addition to the advice for your 20s mentioned above, I want to encourage you to think outside of the box in enjoying life in your 20s. For example, here is a bucket list of 20 fun things to do in your 20s.
- Go to the opera.
- Listen to an orchestra play a symphony live.
- Watch a ballet live.
- Get your passport and travel out of the country.
- Have a marathon of your favorite childhood movies.
- Run or walk a 5k with friends.
- Try a sport you’ve never done before (like skiing, for me).
- Take a vacation by booking the cheapest ticket out of your hometown and figure out what to do when you get there.
- Take lessons for a musical instrument, art, dance, or sport that you’ve always been curious about.
- Recreate your favorite recipes and meals from childhood.
- Explore the city you live in like a tourist. Visit all the noteworthy places you’ve never been to as a local.
- See places you’ve never dreamed of seeing and explore at least two continents. Travel!
- Do an escape room with a group of friends or family and make it out within the allotted time.
- Visit a national park nearby and go hiking.
- Zipline through the mountains or forest.
- Attend your high school reunion.
- Plan a tropical vacation and a wintry vacation.
- Do a road trip with a group of friends or relatives.
- Be brave and host Thanksgiving dinner!
- Decorate your own place for Christmas, and host a holiday party.
Check out this fun bucket list from UncommonGoods!
What should I have done by 25?
Life throws a lot of curveballs our way. The only thing we can be sure of is the unexpected. For that reason, it’s hard to say what anyone should have done by 25. However, I can offer this encouragement.
By 25, you should have established healthy habits, a good work-life balance, and laid the groundwork for the future, by managing your money and time well. For the first half-decade, focus on getting established as an adult and taking on the “adulting” responsibilities with confidence. Learn how to manage stress and lean on God for strength, so you can make the best of your 20s.
3 Last Pieces of Advice from a Twenty Something
Before I wrap up my pieces of advice for your 20s, I want to leave you with some parting words from my heart. As a twenty-something, I must admit that sometimes I wish it were easier to take my own advice.
But thankfully, I serve a God of second chances.
So I will extend the second chance to myself and remind myself of these three pieces of advice. For my next year of 20-something, I’m hoping to hold these advices near to my heart.
What should you do when you are in your 20s?
When you’re in your 20s, you should make sure that you are living life and doing the things that you enjoy. It’s so easy to get caught up in what we think we should be doing or keeping up appearances of what we think an adult should be doing.
But being in your 20s is likely the first time in your life where you’re not tied down by school or the loom of final exams. You have the freedom to go places, explore, try new things, and do the things you enjoy (after work hours, of course).
There may be a time in your life where you have to sacrifice those things for a little while as you focus on other aspects of your life–a career, a family need, an illness, or your own business. Take advantage of the moments you have now, and as you do that, focus on the will of the Lord.
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”Ephesians 5:15 – 16
What do you regret about your 20s?
What I regret most about my 20s is not doing what I mentioned above–living life to the fullest. Time is a gift, and we misuse and abuse it all of the time. We live under the illusion that time is an endless resource, or at least, since we are in our 20s, that we have plenty of time left.
Instead, I wish I had viewed time as the precious resource that it is. With only a handful of twenty birthdays left, I know that my biggest regret about my 20s will be not spending time with the people I love.
Making memories matter more than getting the highest paycheck, the most praise, or the highest number of likes on a social media platform.
Because once your 20s have passed you by and you look back on them, it won’t be those things that you remember. It’s how you spent your time and who you spent it on that you’ll remember.
What advice would you give your 20 year old self?
Be patient with yourself. Twenty-somethings like me are always in a rush to get somewhere. For some reason, I have been wired to always be focused on getting to the “next thing.” Not knowing what the “next thing” is has been somehow more frustrating than the delay of getting to the “next thing.”
If I could go back to being 20, I would give myself these pieces of advice.
Don’t rush to get to the full-fledged adulting part. The full-time job wears on you, and while having constant paycheck is nice, spending them on bills is not-so-much. Embrace each year of your 20s. Stop worrying about the next step—you’ll spend plenty of time there and God knows exactly where you need to be now. Trust Him to direct your path, and stop trying to get ahead of him. He’s in no rush, anyway. 🙂
What piece of advice would you give to someone turning 20?
Leave me a comment below!
Don’t miss this! More posts in the Living & Adulting Category:
- Personal Goals Every Woman in Her 20s should Consider for 2021 (+Free Printable)
- Weekly Goal Ideas to Help Focus Your Life (+Free Printable)
- How to Handle Adulting with Flair and Faith
- Self Care Ideas and the Importance of Me Time
- Ultimate Apartment Hunting Checklist
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