8 Things Twenty-Somethings Should Know About Future Planning

Reaching your 20 years’ checkpoint is a huge deal. It’s crucial. It is the time where it’s possible to celebrate your life and choose to walk down the paths that will mould you. This chapter of your life will determine the way you’d live your upcoming decades.

The truth is: not many people give enough emphasis on the importance of the so-called ‘defining decade’. That’s because not many people walked into their twenties knowing what they’d want for themselves. In many ways, people take their youth for granted.

Chances are that if you are fresh in your 20s, or somewhere within that age range, it isn’t too late. Your life hasn’t yet begun. Your past; regrets and failures hold no merit. Take lessons from your story in all its wonder, and let the next chapter continue.

You’re bold, young, and worthy of ambitions. If you’ve got yourself dreaming big, remember that there are no bad ideas; there are only bad executions. So, here are eight things you should know before planning to play the long game.

1. Answer the question of meaning

An all-time favourite question of any interviewer, is regarding the question of one’s passions. “What does it mean to you?”, they ask.

They ask that for a particularly good reason, too. You’ve thought about this question before. Perhaps countless times in many different ways. It is a basic instinct to desire for self-purpose. But what potential employers really want to see is your level of maturity, which is determinant by the sort of answer you give them. Many of us just fall into the human error of sleeping on it, and never properly getting back to it.

It can be mentally taxing. Nobody likes to dig deep.

However, by figuring out that false paradox for yourself, not only will you come to terms with what you’ll be committing yourself to for the remaining days of your life, but you may also find enlightenment with a change of a more positive outlook on life. It’s that awareness that everything you do is purposeful, and nothing about your life will be in vain.

It’s a motivational drive unlike any other. For all you know, your strongest capabilities may not always coincide with your true interests. Somehow you’ve got to find the marriage between “being good at it” and “being good with it”.

Enjoy the journey of growing up, but make sure your destination is all the more exciting to look forward to.

2. Have it all written down

It’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed amid the planning phases. Not all ideas are feasible, and you hate to admit it when they are thought of. Unfortunately, taking calculated risks is part of the whole damn job description.

And so, it helps to clear your mind by having it all written down. Sometimes, the best way to reinforce creativity is with other forms of creativity. Have it done for the sake of putting all your cards on the table.

Being able to see things from a clearer, viewable angle, you may find that not all things are as daunting as they appear. You won’t feel so anxious once you’ve channeled all the excess data storage from your mind onto a sheet of paper.

Furthermore, having things written down may keep you to stay on task. It always helps to have a physical reminder of what it is that you’re working towards.

3. Make clear, specific goals

It will do you no favours to be vague in planning. The downside to playing the long game of any kind is that there are no true, reliable measures to assist you on your progress. You’ve got to prepare them for yourself.

Have a written list of all the things you hope to achieve, and the dates of when you intend to have them completed. You’re essentially setting a finish line to your marathon.

The real reason as to why specification will be needed, with every ounce of detail, is so that you will take on an objective approach in your endeavours. It brings about a huge difference when you change “I want to be richer next year” to “I want to earn $60K by next December’s payroll.”

If you can think of it and have a timeline constructed, guiding you to get it, then you know for sure what you’re aiming for is possible. You can’t afford to sleep on it, either. Complacence can generally be detrimental to long-term plans.

4. Anticipate competition

Nobody likes to compare themselves with anyone else. We all would like to think that we are our own biggest enemies. We’re all unique, we say.

Well, welcome to the adult life! We’re all adequate in our own behaviours, yet we are also expendable in our careers. Being your true self isn’t the same thing as being your best self.

With some readjustment of perspectives, rivalries and competitions can be a good thing. Aside from getting an added on ego boost and sharpening of analytical thinking, let your inner competitor resort you to thinking outside the box. Creativity and strategy goes a long way before you could see any sort of impact.

In the job market, you’ll have a gist of what to expect, especially in regards to what your field demands of you. When you’ve had a history with healthy rivalries, the anxiety and insecurities that accompany with it won’t feel so alien to you.

The keyword is ‘healthy’. To compete obsessively would mean to deteriorate one’s focus and self-restraint. The alternative to a friendly competition in the long run is to find yourself showcasing symptoms of high-functioning depression.

5. Follow the 3 to 5-year rule

When it comes to long-term planning, it’s best to break it down. To plan ahead for an entire decade is a fool’s errand. No one has foresight of that capacity.

Three to five years is not an awful lot of time, but a lot can be done within them. Follow the timeframe of your own choosing, make a list of what you hope to achieve, and where precisely would you see yourself along the progresses you’ve made at the end of it.

This same rule may very well apply to our present problems, too. Whenever you find yourself with something that is eating you up from the inside, ask yourself: “Is this something that will continue to bother me three (or five) years from now?”

There is a solution to every problem. Some of them just take longer time than others. When you come to accept that, the worries of ‘what-ifs’ become irrelevant. It also goes without saying that a future fear should require you to do whatever within reason and your capabilities to prevent it from ever happening.

6. Validation is not a prerequisite

The planning phase for anything requires a lot of things. Seeking for others’ approval isn’t one of them.

Not everyone has your best interests in mind; parents will always have an issue with ambition, and friends can get caught up with their own lives and futures, too. Most importantly, no one is going to tell you that this is actually the part in life whereby you will have complete say in what you do.

You are living your twenties, which means you aren’t the child you once were. Parents are obsolete as far as handing out advices go.

Bear in mind that not everyone will be supportive of your decisions. That doesn’t change the fact that you still have to take charge of your own life regardless. You’ll face doubters, underminers, and possibly a handful of rejections. They are but one of the many a**holes you’ll encounter in life. And they will be vocal about it.

In your point of view, you’ve done your research, listed the pros and cons, and above all, you’ve thought about your future more than what anyone else has. You know what your plans demand of you. Other people just don’t get to see that.

7. Refrain from future planning at nighttimes

Night is a time for rest; physically and mentally.

The last thing you’d want is to be kept awake, alone with your thoughts. That’s typically how anxiety sinks in.

Future planning can be exhausting. The whole thing is derived from a baseless foundation to begin with. We are all prone to falling victim to uncertainty.

It is human nature to want a thing, and to also want it now. Ultimately, as there is a time and place for you to seize your goals, there is also a time and place for planning for it. Nighttime just happens to be the worst possible moment for that.

8. No more half measures

A lot of us find solace in turning to the future for answers, especially in regards to the question of meaning.

The whole idea of planning for the future is to see the sum of every thing that you intend to place on the bargaining table. In many ways, you’ll be bartering with how fit you are to live the life you think you deserve. Individual and situational factors notwithstanding.

This will be your finest chance to be more intentional in life. Your plans will be your contract with your ambitions, so be prepared to hold on to your end of the deal.

Every step and every choice has got to be decisive. While life is bountiful with second chances, you’ll only get to live out your twenties just this once. Your 30s and 40s are completely different phases altogether, each with their own sets of goals and tribulations. Your 20s is the perfect opportunity for you to be more intentional with life.


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