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7 Habits of Highly Effective 20-Year-Olds

by / ⠀Entrepreneurship Health & Fitness Travel / June 30, 2014

Cesar Romero Under30Experiences

Good habits formed at youth make all the difference. – Aristotle

Our 20s is the most important and fun decade of our lives, where we begin to experience the world as young adults.  It’s also the time when we develop good (or bad) habits that will positively (or negatively) impact our future. This is the time where we are tasked with the challenge of figuring out what direction we want to take in life and what type of foundation we need to build in order to get there.

While our 20s are fun and exciting, the challenge of figuring out what path to take so early on in life can become overwhelming for a lot of young adults. It can become so overwhelming that a lot of us forget about the future and focus on living in the present.

While living in the present and being present are essential to enjoying life, it’s also important to think about the kind of experiences, growth, and contribution you want to get from the world and the kind of habits you need to develop to shape you into the person you want to become.

Nothing is scarier than reaching the end of your 20’s not knowing who you are or what you want. 

Creating a life that reflects who you are is everything and it starts with developing good habits that will build a strong foundation for a great future.

Warren Buffett, in his speech at The Nebraska Forum in 1999, mentions that the two most important things you can develop as a young adult to reach your full potential are: education and habits.  Education helps unlock your potential and habits are what keeps you reaching towards the next level. Mr. Buffett also suggests a simple test to help determine what kind of habits we want to develop and which ones to avoid. The test consists of thinking about the person you admire the most and the person you dislike the most and writing down a list of both qualities on a piece of paper that you can look at every day.  Emulate the person you admire and avoid the qualities of the person you dislike.

Young adulthood is all about developing habits that will take you closer to your own definition of success and the kind of person you want to become. The character we develop throughout our lives is a collection of our habits which are nothing more than the daily actions we take to build the change we want to see in our lives.

Popular and late author of the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People Dr. Stephen Covey said that the definition of success is deeply individual and urged people to consider how they would like to be remembered. “If you carefully consider what you want to be said of you in your own funeral,” he said, “you will find your own definition of success.”

What is your own definition of success and what steps do you need to take in order to take you there?

While the definition is entirely personal, the steps you need to take to get there are based on habits and patterns that every successful person has taken the time to develop and master.

Why are habits important?

A research paper published by Duke University researchers in 2006 found that more than 40% of the actions people performed each day weren’t actual decisions, but habits, which are nothing more than choices we make every day at some point, and then stop thinking about but continue doing. Habits start with choice followed by automation after a certain amount of time.

Here are seven of the most critical habits you can develop in your twenties to build a solid foundation for a bright future.

1. Intentionally Experiment

Society has a prescription for 20-somethings when it comes to figuring out what they want to do in life:  take AP classes, go to college, get high-paying job with competitive salary and benefits, climb the ladder, retire at 65. The only problem with this is that it doesn’t guarantee true happiness and fulfillment. Our 20s is a time to experiment, get to know more about ourselves, and figure out the kind of person we want to become. Adam Poswolsky, author of “The Quarter-Life Breakthrough”, mentions how it’s important to develop a breakthrough career mindset getting intentional about the kind of job opportunities young adults want to take on where every opportunity takes you closer to your true purpose and interests. The purpose of intentional experimentation is to find meaningful work by experimenting with a variety of opportunities helps.  These experiments help you know more about  yourself and find the right fit.

2. Be Grateful

As young adults, we want things and we want them now. A lot of this attitude can be to attributed to all the latest technological advances in the last 20 years where instant gratification can cloud our ability to being present and appreciate the small things. Gratitude is all about shifting your focus from what your life lacks to all the things you currently have. Gratitude makes people more resilient, improves health, and reduces stress. Dr. Robert Emmons, author of the book Thanks!: How The New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, shows that those who practice gratitude tend to be more creative, bounce back more quickly from adversity, have a stronger immune system, and have stronger social relationships than those who don’t practice gratitude. He further points out that “To say we feel grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great. It just means we are aware of our blessings.”

3. Ask Yourself Better Questions

I remember when I was in middle school I was afraid to ask questions because I didn’t want to look stupid in front of the entire class until one day my teacher explained to me that only by asking questions are we able to become knowledgeable. According to international life coach Tony Robbins, the things you can change start by having changing your reality and to change your reality, you need to change what you are focusing on. The best way to change what you are focusing on is to ask yourself better questions.

4. Love Your Body

Our body is the vehicle through which we carry on our life’s purpose and it’s critical to develop healthy habits early on in life. There are countless studies about the benefits of regular exercise and healthy eating but perhaps the most important benefit is that healthy habits are the #1 form of preventative medicine helping us live happier and with a better quality of life. You can’t be happy if you aren’t healthy.

5. Expand Your Body of Knowledge

Understand that knowledge and education expand way beyond the classroom and it’s a constant process of learning, applying, and experimenting. Read books, listen to podcasts, interview experts, watch videos, read magazines, etc. Brendon Burchard, New York Times bestselling author of The Charge, mentions that one of the things people do to get ahead in life is to figure out what they want to do for the rest of their lives, and commit to learning everything there is about that particular field. Knowledge is everywhere and is there for the taking.

6. Meditate

Emotions are part of our system of sensing and responding to the world. Without them, we’d be machines. Nevertheless, emotions can wreak havoc and spread pain throughout our lives. And that’s where meditation comes in. Meditation helps in noticing all different emotions and let them be for what they are. Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post, says that one of the best — and cheapest — ways to become healthier and happier is through mindfulness exercises like meditation. According to Mark Williams, a professor of clinical psychology at Oxford and co-author of Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World, meditation helps in increasing a sense of purpose and reducing feelings of isolation and depression.

7. Develop a Circle of Friends With Qualities You Admire

There’s a famous quote by Jim Rohn that goes: “You are the average of the five people you spend most time with”. When you surround yourself with people who are far ahead and more successful than you, you cannot help but feed off their success and grow as a person.

I’ve found that travel is one of the best ways to make new friends that help you expand your mind and perspective.

Check out this incredible recap of our latest Under30Experiences trip to Iceland:

What other habits do you think are critical to develop in your 20s to have incredible 40s?

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on Under30CEO.com, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.

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