Photo by Ruby-Rose

Your twenties are for discovering yourself for maybe the first time. We are thrust into a post-grad world of internships, jobs, paying back student loans or maybe even unemployment. We are moving, maybe to a new city, or maybe back home. Perhaps for the first time we have the freedom to figure out who we are and what we want and what need. If we embrace, cherish and utilize this season wisely, we can really set ourselves up to live the fullest, most successful life.

01 | Say NO
We often want to yes to that job or opportunity, to that one extra coffee date at the end of a long week or to that credit card company with the low interest rate card. But learning to say no personally and professionally (and financially) now can help us shape the life we are dreaming of in the future. Your twenties are the perfect time to learn how to set boundaries with your job, your loved ones and maybe even for yourself. Saying no to something that only semi-interests you leaves you more room to say yes to something you do love or need to say yes to. Saying no helps us refine our interests and helps us discern what really matters. It ultimately leads to a fuller and more satisfying yes.

02 | Change Your Mind
As we shed the layers of our old selves and set out to discover new parts, we have to give ourselves the freedom to change our minds. Freedom to quit the things we no longer love or are no longer passionate about.  Quitting is only bad if we quit for the wrong reasons. We should quit confidently, wisely and gracefully. Learn all we can where we are, give it all we’ve got and let it go knowing that if it’s not meant for us, we get to move on. In this day of personal branding this can feel uncomfortable. How will others respond to our shift? They may judge. We can feel like a traitor when we give up being the nonprofit guru for the corporate attorney job or the next up and coming jewelry designer to be a stay at home mom. People may judge, our supporters may not love our new brand, and we may change our minds only to change them again. But these potential outcomes are not a good enough reason to stay somewhere that is no longer serving its purpose. Be brave enough to shift, pivot or leap. Now is the time.

03 | Try Something New
As tempting as it is to think you know exactly what you’re good at or what you love, there’s a chance there is more in you yet to be discovered. The only way to uncover new talents, interests or skills is to try. Take that hand lettering class, volunteer to be the philanthropy chair or submit that article to that online blog you love. You have nothing to lose. You could discover you’re a wonderful sales person or you have a knack for holiday crafts. Fear will tell you that failure is inevitable. Embarrassment is sure to follow. But chances are the risk will be worth the discovery. The options are unlimited and the possibilities are endless. Don’t let the fear of failure keep you from pursuing something new. Even if you aren’t good at it or don’t end up enjoying it, it is quite possible that you will simply learn something about yourself in the process. That, in and of itself, is worth the try.

04 | Ditch The Need For Approval
Some of you brave souls have done this already. You’ve written, spoken, created and accomplished without needing someone to pat you on the back or hand you an award. This is invaluable. (Disclaimer: Seeking counsel, advice and mentorship is not the same as approval.) But the need or desire for affirmation, likes, followers to feel successful or someone to say “go” before you do, is a slippery slope. You must walk in your truth confidently and boldly. Approval is fleeting and the lack of it doesn’t define you anyways. Your talents, skills and dreams are valid and worthy of pursuit regardless of who is or isn’t in your corner. Even if you have to go alone, go.

05 | Define Your Own Success
To let someone else define success for you deprives you of the control necessary to manage your goals and career. Your happiness is directly tied to what matters most to you personally rather than a blanket term, job title or relationship status. Reaching for a bar someone else has set often ends up being unfulfilling, unrewarding and draining. Goals are deeply personal to us and giving someone else the authority to determine when we have reached them is the recipe for unhappiness. When you’ve defined your own goals and determined what success means to you, you can know clearly and with certainty when you have reached them. This life is yours to live. Living by someone else’s definition of success can lead to decisions that become detours, choices that become long term and ultimately, settling. Ask for advice, learn all that you can and set your goals. Change them along the way if you need to, but make sure they are yours to begin with.

Shauna Niequist wrote in her book Bittersweet “Don’t get stuck. Move, travel, take a class, take a risk. Walk away, try something new. There is a season for wildness and a season for settledness, and this is neither. This season is about becoming. Don’t lose yourself at happy hour, but don’t lose yourself on the corporate ladder either.”

Discover and rediscover. Invent and reinvent. Push and pursue. Evolve, develop, change. Make the most of this ten years. It is the foundation of so many years to come.

At Conscious, we are inspired by stories that cause us to think differently and think big-picture and so we set out to tell stories with the help of leaders and influencers within the social good community. You can read more stories like this when you join as a member.