You’re 24 and freaking out. On the one hand, you’re still so young and most of your adult life is before you, pristine and for the taking. On the other, you’re nearly 25. Avoid the impending quarter life crisis by helping yourself prepare. It is possible to feel like an adult at 24, and set yourself up for great success in your life and career. Lay down this good foundation now—while you still have a chance.
Here are 11 skills every 24-year-old should master on the start of a long career path.
1. Sell Yourself
Even if you aren’t working in sales and never want to! So much of business success boils down to sales of one kind or another. Remember that you will have to present yourself as an asset and hot commodity many times in your career; what is anything but another sales pitch? Once you realize where (and how often) sales come into play, you can work that to your advantage and start to really pull ahead of the pack.
2. Expand Your Horizons
Your comfort zone is only going to hold you back—in life and work. Spread your wings a little into your personal danger zone. Eat something you would never think to try. Travel to a place you wouldn’t ordinarily choose for vacation. Get experience in a job or neighborhood that doesn’t match your upbringing. Broaden your horizons. Try new things. Start risky ventures. Take on a challenging project. This is the time for all this learning. You’ll get a better perspective on the world, the people in it, and yourself.
3. Get a Party Trick
Figure out one thing that you are good at—or would like to be. And don’t just get good at it. Get really good at it. If it’s your job, so much the better. But if it’s a hobby, you never know; that could turn into a back-up plan someday.
4. Make Networking Matter
It’s not just a matter of how many contacts you have, but how many of those contacts would be willing to go to bat for you. Don’t just meet people, prove your value to them. That way you’ll have a network of advocates, not just a network of profile links on social media.
5. Learn Coding
Even if you don’t see yourself as a computer person. Coding has become as common as reading and writing as far as skills go in the new economy. Learn it while you’re young and thank yourself later.
6. Fall in Love
There’s no right time in life for love. In fact, it’s better to experience true love and real relationships early. It will save you lots of heartache and loneliness in the future. Even if you don’t want to settle down young… a bit of real love is worth a go.
There’s a reason for the recent spike in meditation and wellness and mindfulness apps. In our mad age of constantly being wired in to each other and the market, etc., it’s important to learn how to soothe and center yourself. Building a meditation practice young can really make a substantial difference in the rest of your life. Plus, some experts suggest that 20 minutes of meditation is almost as good as a full 2 hours of sleep.
See the world. Create a passion for getting to know new and foreign places. Experience the world with compassion and excitement. Think how lucky you are, how you can help. What you can see and do.
9. Invest your Leisure Time
Instead of that one extra episode of Scandal, try spending the time you have on your own development. Take a seminar, volunteer, learn a dance, read a book, exercise. Spend a good portion of your free time on personal improvement and development. You’ll thank you later.
10. Quit Worrying
Worrying changes nothing. Concentrate on finding solutions to problems when solutions are possible. And try to let go of the rest. Do your part, and do it well, then try to be Zen about outcomes you cannot control. Take care of yourself. Feed your body and your brain. This is much more productive than clamming up and freaking out.
11. Save Your Cash
Seriously. Start saving money. That one extra trendy outfit or night out at the club will not be worth it in the long run, when that money could be put to better use. Remember that compound interest can make you a millionaire in twenty years. Put away a small, but consistent amount of money every month. And never touch it. You’re welcome.