Twenty things you must stop doing in your 20s.
Idea #2 – Stop being a “When’er”
A boy is born.
He turns four years old and cannot wait for kindergarten.
It isn’t what he expected, so he says “when I get to big school”.
The boy is now eight and still struggling to fit in.
“When I get to Highschool,” he says.
Something is still missing. The boy sees relationships form, yet he doesn’t have anyone. “When I get a girlfriend”.
“When I get my marks,” he says, followed by “When I get into university”.
The boy still feels like something is missing.
“When I get my degree” turns into “When I get my master’s.”
“When I move out of home.”
“When I get a job”, “When I get married”, “When I get a car.’
The boy is no longer a boy. He is a father.
“When I get this raise, I will spend more time with the kids”.
Suddenly the boy is no longer a father; he is an old man.
An old man with little time left.
Now unable to say “when”.
The old man looks back over his shoulder to see the life he missed out on before his very eyes.
Welcome to twenty things you must stop doing in your twenties.
This is idea number two.
Stop being a “When’er”
This idea is so fundamentally crucial to enjoying your twenties.
Yet I see so many people suffering, to the point where they never allow themselves to enjoy life.
So let’s break down this idea, shall we?
Long term happiness is something very few people can achieve nowadays.
But where does happiness exist?
Too many young people are caught up living in the future.
The future is what gives us hope and excitement about our lives, but there feels like a monumental push for kids to grow up fast.
I never remember focusing on enjoying school.
It was always what came after.
You go to primary school to get into high school.
You go to high school to get into university.
You go to university to get a job.
You get a low-level position to chase the higher-level position.
It goes on and on.
So you can see the way modern society is structured.
We are conditioned to chase the future.
As a result, time slips away from us, and we never seem satisfied.
I will let you in on a little secret.
The only place to find happiness is in the present because that’s the only place it truly exists.
Chances are, you will never be satisfied when you finally get to where you want to be.
There is a scientific word for this phenomenon called the hedonic treadmill.
Just like that new car feeling wore off.
Just like that exciting new job that now bores you.
Like your brand new phone, you protected with your life, yet now you throw it across the room.
You won’t be satisfied and happy when you achieve these “when” goals you have set.
As humans, we naturally want to keep chasing.
How you spend your days is how you spend your life.
Many people justify their unhappiness now, viewing it as a necessary sacrifice for their future happiness.
And that is a very dangerous mindset to have.
Don’t get me wrong, setting goals and planning for the future is important.
But how you live your days is how you live your life.
The journey is more important than the destination.
Learn to love the journey, love the process.
Don’t get stuck thinking about how great your dream life will be while also being disappointed with your current life.
You have to realise your dream life is your current life; it’s just in progress.
Many people get so hung up on where they’d rather be they forget to make the most of where they are.
If you always want more in life, you will most likely never get satisfied, and you will never avoid the treadmill.
Trying to find happiness by what could or might happen in the future is a process of dissociation.
Practice arriving into today by taking one day at a time.
And doing the most with what you have in front of you currently.
The Wright Brothers vs Langley
Many years ago, two young brothers had a dream.
They didn’t have any formal education or any fundraising.
What they did have was an enormous appetite for curiosity.
The brothers had set a goal of becoming the first humans to fly.
However, they were also incredibly curious.
The idea of flight fascinated them. For years, the boys studied books on the anatomy of birds and animal locomotion.
These investigations would eventually lead the brothers to develop their innovative three-axis control system, which mimicked the torsional movement of bird wings.
The Wright brothers were less focused on the result, and more focused on the journey, driven by curiosity and passion.
They managed to achieve flight for less than $1000 ($28,000 in today’s money).
At the same time that the Wrights were designing and testing their successful flying machine, Samuel Langley, a university professor, was also developing his.
Langley spent $70,000 (about $2 million today) on his “aerodrome,” funded mainly by a grant from the U.S. War Department. Langley’s aerodrome plunged into the Potomac River while attempting to take off on its maiden flight.
Despite all the advantages, Langly was far too focused on the outcome.
He didn’t focus on the journey to get there and, due to his funding, most likely had restrictions and pressure placed on him.
In reality, it is often during the journey that we find the answers.
This idea, focusing on the outcome (or “when) is heightened with social media and the world of comparison.
It helps explain why earning a $75k annual salary is excellent compared to making minimum wage.
But compared to your friend earning $250k, it’s not so satisfying.
You were happy with $75k until you found out your friend earns $250k.
Most of social media is people sharing their outcomes.
Very rarely do people post about their journey and the struggles they are facing to get there.
Just like the tip of the iceberg sticking out of the water, we cannot see all the hard work it took to get there.
No wonder we are all so fixated on “When”.
We talk about life like it hasn’t quite arrived yet, just survive highschool, just go to uni, just get a job, just fall in love, just eat less food, just breathe.
Life is knocking at the door with fresh flowers.
I know so many of you are hinging on when you finish high school, but promise me when I say this as soon as you finish, it is going to be when you finish uni, when you complete your masters, when you move out of home, then when you get a job, when you get a raise, when you get married, when when when when when.
How you spend your days is how you spend your life –
So often, we watch the sand at the bottom of the timer that has already passed.
Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present. – Master Oogway
It is said that life flashes before your eyes just before you die; that is true… and it’s called life.
And be careful not to blink, or you might just miss it.
Stay Young, Stay Driven
Challenge #2 - Start a Gratitude Journal
Your challenge this week is simple…
How do we stop living in the when and start being grateful for the present?
Well on episode 57 of my podcast I interviewed a happiness expert and he spoke about starting a gratitude journal.
So here is your challenge.
Every night before you go to be answer these three questions in a journal.
1. What is one small thing I am grateful for today that I may have missed because I wasn’t looking for it?
2. Who is someone I am grateful for today and WHY?
3. What is something about myself that I am grateful for today and WHY?
If you need some help you can download the questions below.
Although I have ordered this list, each idea is unique and meaningful as a stand-alone concept.
Although this first idea is crucial, that doesn’t mean it is an essential idea. I would argue the final statement of this series is potentially the most important one on this list.
So what is the first idea you should stop doing in your twenties? I can hear you asking.