Get the Most out of your Twenties

Max Tomlinson helps you to focus on ways to maximise your new-found energy to look and feel fabulous. We start this series in your 20’s.

The twenties are an age when people develop a sense of who they are and what they want.  But that can create anxiety.  The answer is to take time to develop clear, achievable aims…

Congratulations. You have made some changes to your diet, joined a gym, had an amazing new haircut, bought the perfect trainers and had a look at some of the ideas on how to detox your soul. I would be surprised if you did not, at your age, have more than enough energy to go around. The only real excuse for being tired is the fact that New Year was a huge party and you are still in recovery.

In your twenties, time is a luxury, stretching ahead of you with plenty of unexplored potential. You have time to plan, dream and waste hours contemplating the future. It is a time for fun and developing a sense of who you are and what you want.

This process can be exciting, but it can also be fraught with angst. Get this time of your life right and the future opens up easily to accommodate your vision.Your twenties are such a gift. You are young enough to explore and change, but not yet old enough to be set in your ways, or be permanently damaged by life. Grasp this time and make the most of each waking hour.

The things you do and think at this age go a long way to setting the template for the type of person you will be in the future. Make the most of your energy by engaging fully in the process of living in your twenties.

Relationships

Top of the agenda has to be relationships. Finding the right partner can be both a pleasure and a source of utter heartache. If you are lucky enough to come from a close-knit family – and if your parents are good role models – it is much easier because you will have a good idea of what makes a healthy relationship. Conversely, building a relationship out of a need to get away from your family and present circumstances is doomed to failure.

Common wisdom shows that we take our pain and dysfunction with us into relationships. If your parents abuse each other emotionally, the danger is that you might enter into your own abusive relationship, unless you take steps to change.

This is heavy stuff to contemplate, but very important. It might just save you heartache on the relationship front. Take a close look at what your parents – whether they are still together or not – have taught you about relating. They are your first and most important teachers. Take the good bits, but leave the bad aspects behind as you go on to form your own healthy relationships.

It can’t all be serious, though. You do need to have fun and a laugh and experiment. Just keep in mind that, at this age, you are very vulnerable and the damage that stems from a particularly bad relationship can, and will, haunt you for ages. Above all, decide to be physically safe. Emotional pain can be healed, whereas infection and physical damage can scar you for life.

This decade is about experimenting and finding out who you are. Ask yourself what it is that you would like in a future partner. Words such as companionship and commitment might not be as important as fun, sexy and understanding. It pays to remember that this is not a race. It is OK to be single; it is OK to be alone and not lonely.

Allow yourself the time to grow, realising that you might well make mistakes and spend time with the wrong person. That is fine as long as no one is irreparably hurt. Build friendships and increase your circle of like-minded people. It makes sense to allow a personal, closer relationship to grow out of friendship.

Work and career

Work and career loom large as areas into which you can put your new-found energy. You can change careers relatively easily at this age if you are not happy in your work environment. Your financial and social commitments should not be such that a move might bankrupt you or leave you destitute. The time for a big mortgage that can tie you to your job lies ahead, if at all. Time to ask some work-related questions. Are you happy at work? Is this the right industry or field for you? Are you working with people you like and respect? Can you see a career path with opportunities to create a bright future? Do you dread going to work every day? Do you feel the need to study and develop your skills? Can you see yourself staying in this field or industry for the next 10 years?

I am sure these questions have triggered thoughts. Jot them down so that you can spend some time thinking about your answers. Now might be a good time to work on some specific career-related goals. Having a goal saves you months – even years – of floundering around without a clear sense of direction. The most successful business people are often those who have set goals and who review them regularly. Take a few minutes to do this exercise.

Fun and relaxation

What a perfect time to start designing your lifestyle to suit you. This might sound a bit contrived, but imagine planning to keep your life fun and doing what you want. Why not enjoy your leisure time and interests? Why should you ever be bored?

Drinking and partying can be a huge source of pleasure and relaxation at this time in your life, but both are ultimately deeply unsatisfying and can be very counterproductive to personal growth. Developing a broad range of interests keeps you sharp and interesting, especially to the opposite sex.

Use your energy to explore your hobbies and interests. Don’t give up sports and exercise; you will regret losing your youthful fitness later on. Aim to stay fit and healthy, not just now, but into your later life. No one wants to be old and decrepit.

Don’t be too strict with yourself either. A clever way of making sure you are not taking life too seriously and in danger of being old before your time is to list six things that give you pleasure. Keep this list as a reminder of what you need to do regularly to keep yourself in touch with your life and feelings. There is nothing quite like a secret “pleasure list”.

SET A CAREER GOAL

Start by writing down a goal. Take your time and come up with something you truly want to achieve. If you have never considered this question, it could be something like: “I will retire at 45 with financial freedom.” The next step is to clarify this goal by asking further questions. How real is this? Why do I want this? When do I want this by? Where will I be? Do I need to be more specific? What will help me achieve my goal? What will hold me back? If you need to redefine your goal in light of the answers to these questions, now is the time. Note down your finalised goal. It is a great launch pad to eventual success.

Identifying a goal clearly helps you to begin to realise it. You will start to develop the skills and personal attributes that you need to achieve it. You might even start to see opportunities that you had not noticed before in the form of acquaintances or friends who could help you achieve your stated goal.

Setting a goal or goals does not relate only to work and career. You can set personal goals to guide you through just about any aspect of your life.

Using the framework set out above, you could gain clarity and insights into love, family, friendships, travel, health and emotional wellbeing.