You might think that you have plenty of time to get your life together because you’re in your twenties. However, the skills that you develop in your twenties not only impact your entire career but also your personal trajectory. Yes, you have time to recover from mistakes, but why waste the most important decade of your life making unnecessary errors?
Here are five important life skills to build on throughout your twenties:
1. Saving Your Pennies
Do you think that you have time to save for retirement later in life? You may, but the earlier you start planning for retirement, the smoother your life will be later. Let’s say that you begin saving $1,000 per year at age 22. If you stop saving that money at age 30, but you don’t touch the money, you’ll amass more than you will if you start saving at age 30 and end at 65.
If your employer offers a 401k or other retirement savings account, take advantage of it. Changes in the tax code allow you to sock away more without incurring a penalty now than ever before. You may not feel like you have much money now, but over the years, you’ll watch your interest multiply.
2. Preparing for the Unexpected
If you’re self-employed but wait until you become sick or injured to buy insurance, you’ll pay a lot more. At that point, you may even find that you can’t afford coverage at all. Disability insurance companies can attach riders that restrict particular benefits for pre-existing conditions. This restriction means you can’t obtain coverage for the very conditions that are most likely to render you unable to work.
Develop a curiosity about your insurance options, and spend time researching them as you shift away from your parents’ plan. Buy life, health and disability insurance to cover yourself before something goes wrong. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you don’t have to worry about insurance because you’re “healthy.” No matter how strong you are, you can’t defeat a new viral strain or take on two tons of speeding steel without needing an insurance plan.
3. Caring for Your Health
You’re young, so you might think that you’re immortal. But think about the worst flu you’ve ever had. Reflect on how lousy you felt. How much did you actually do while you were sick? Now imagine feeling that way all the time and struggling to accomplish basic tasks. If you lose your health, accomplishing anything proves to be a challenge akin to rolling a boulder up Mount Everest.
Take time to work out, even if you don’t need to lose weight. Experts recommend engaging in 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise weekly. That equates to 30 minutes per day most days of the week. Remember to stretch and use your muscles, too – it all counts!
Prep healthy meals on your days off that you can grab-and-go most days of the work week. It’s OK to occasionally cave into the siren song of the drive-thru, but don’t grab McDonald’s every day.
4. Finding Your Tribe
The people you hang out with influence every part of your life. If your friends are all party animals who rave until 5 am you may not follow suit, but the lifestyle may still tempt you. And even if your friends are “Instagram junkies,” you don’t need to spend your entire life on social media. Social media connections can run deep, but more often, they create unnecessary drama.
Instead, find healthy ways to get involved in your community to meet a new tribe. It doesn’t matter if you’ve recently moved or just want to expand your circle to include more positive people. When you surround yourself with uplifters, your life will improve.
5. Managing Your Emotions and Behaviors
Your emotional intelligence determines as much your ultimate success as your talent and IQ does. If you don’t feel like you need for therapy or you don’t have health insurance to cover therapy appointments, try practicing mindfulness meditation. Why? Mindfulness meditation awakens you to negative thought patterns, which empowers you to overcome them.
Take a few minutes daily to sit in mindfulness meditation. Observe your thoughts without judging them. Does each idea have validity? How can you reframe your negative thought patterns to be more positive? With mindfulness, you can turn “I’m a failure” into “I know what not to do next time.”
These five life skills are crucial to your overall success and well-being throughout your life, so start practicing them now in your twenties. If you haven’t started in on these goals by now, there’s no time to waste! Start building a healthier future now with these important life skills.