What I'd Have Done Differently In My Twenties

Last modified: Thursday, Jul 23, 2020

I turned 30 this year in the middle of lockdown. I celebrated by making homemade burgers and watching The Last Samurai for the 1000th time probably.

It wasn't what I wanted to do, but it was probably a fitting end to a decade that for me was punctuated by the same low energy living.

Many people fear the idea of looking back on regrets - to be honest I'm not sure that it's such a bad thing.

Similarly to shame, regret is a great teaching tool that helps us navigate how to act in the future.

It's fine to have regrets. It's healthy.

I do have regrets, and I accept them precisely because they helped me become who I am today.

I also think that if you're not uncomfortable then you probably aren't growing... If you never look back and think about what could have been done better then we're just not cut from the same cloth.

So it's been a few months now and it's given me some time to reflect on how I feel about turning 30, and also how I felt about my 20s in general.

Thing #1

My twenties started out pretty bad. I ended up getting kicked out after quitting my job.

I came from a single parent household, and growing up we always had money problems. This meant when I got a job I was expected to keep it, plus I was expected to surrender around 70% of my earnings to the household.

As it later turned out those earnings had been used to supplement a spending problem.

So when I could no longer contribute the same amount, I was kicked out.

I had very little of my belongings to take with me, and that included paperwork I needed.

The result was the unemployment scheme kicked me off for a minimum of 6 months.

So I was homeless with no income at all... Nothing.

I ended up taking on crippling loans so that I could get in to a flat and I had to make money pretty quickly after that.

What I'd Have Done Differently

I would have moved out when I was still working.

It's scary when you have no support from family, especially if they are the reason you're moving out.

You do not want to leave your well-being in the hands of abusers of any kind.

Plus, looking back I could have afforded to move out...

I was paying more towards my household than I was for the flat I later moved into.

This would have avoided all the problems that came later.

FYI; I don't regret taking the loans as I simply did what I had to do to survive.

Thing #2

I would have taken my health much more seriously.

One side-effect of taking on crazy loans was that my focus had shifted from thrive to survive. I also started smoking again.

The catch-22 is that eventually it becomes much harder to survive when your health starts to suffer.

I gained around 60lbs in the course of my twenties, and my physical health suffered as a result.

My mental health also suffered A LOT.

These two things just have a habit of compounding one another.

What I Would Have Done Differently

I'd never have skipped a meal just because I felt like I couldn't take the time.

I'd have gone for walks every day.

I'd have made myself the priority.

Most of all, I would have got therapy sooner.

Since I got therapy and got on medication I have managed to quit smoking, lose over 20lbs, and start exercising every day.

Thing #3

I would have taken less risks and worked less.

Taking risks is important, especially in your twenties while you have less responsibility.

The thing is that your risks aren't obliged to pay off.

When you're always in the process of working on an idea that might pay off later you have to lose some things.

You tend to spend money you wouldn't otherwise, you also tend to stay home a lot working.

The mantra becomes delayed gratification, and trust me, from experience I am no fan of 'hustle culture'... Work hard, but work smart.

What I Would Have Done Differently

I don't regret taking risks, and I also don't regret working hard for a better future.

You need to have some balance though.

Going from risk-risk-risk is how you end up 30 without having done a lot of fun things in your life outside of work.

I wish that I had travelled more for example.

If I had managed my risk more I would have been able to do that easily.

Thing #4

Simple. I would have spent more time coding.

It's how I entered the larger industry that I'm in, and it's the thing that I continue to love the most.

Unfortunately it wasn't always what was guaranteed to keep a roof over my head. So for years I tended to gravitate towards what made the most dollar dollar bills.

What I Would Have Done Differently

I would have taken a job as a junior developer or something similar when I was still in my early-20s.

It can be easy to think that you're taking a step back when you go from self-employed to employed.

It's not always the case though and it was my own ego that got in the way.

Thing #5

Random one here. I would not have got pets.

Let me set the record straight though, I am most definitely an animal person.

My pets become part of my family and I couldn't imagine life without them.

That being said they can hold you back and become little furry anchors that stop you from doing things easily.

What I Would Have Done Differently

If you are reading this in your twenties and you don't already have pets...

Things can change quickly in the first adult decade of your life.

You are probably still developing the blueprint for the rest of your life.

In my case I would have waited until I was in my late twenties or even into my 30s to get pets.

If I had waited I could well be living in a different country right now. Which can't be understated since one of the biggest sources of unhappiness in my life in recent years has been living in England.

Thing #6

This is the last thing, this one is probably the most important of them all.

I would have been more proactive.

Running a business and coming through some of the bad situations I've had to deal with can give you the illusion that you're being proactive.

The reality is that I wasn't always as proactive as I could have been...

In many ways I was still waiting for certain things in life to 'just happen' and that isn't how life works.

I could say that all of the little things I didn't include in this blog post, and most of the ones I did could have been remedied if I had been more proactive.

What I Would Have Done Differently

As I have already said, one thing that made a big change for me in life was getting therapy and medication.

In that same timeframe I have since started to question myself in new ways.

"Am I doing all I can to make this happen?"

It's the most powerful question I've been asking myself for the last 2 years.

This helps stop yourself being a passive 'passenger' in your own life.

That's the one thing I don't want in my 30s.



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