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8 things you don’t have to do in your 20s

Written by Peter Jones

Most twentysomethings are constantly surrounded by the perfection presented on social media. Everyone seems to have the wildest nights out, the sweetest vacations, a beautiful family, and the most fulfilling job. It’s enough to make anyone feel lacking. But online life is not the same as real life—it paints a sanitized picture of the messiness of the twentysomething experience.

Afraid that if you don’t have it “all figured out” yet? Don’t be. Here are a bunch of things you don’t even need to worry about until much later in your life and your career.

1. Travel the world

Sure, you’re supposed to have started your own successful company and figured out how to work remotely while traveling the world, all within 5 years of graduation. But travel costs money—and lots of it. Jetsetting off to Europe isn’t something most people in their 20s can do. If your buddies are able to, they’re very lucky. It’s completely normal if you need to spend all you make on, you know, rent and food. If travel is a priority for you, you’ll make it happen one day. Don’t worry that you’re not there yet.

2. Find your dream job

Nobody really wants anything but their dream job, but most of us have to start somewhere—and that somewhere is usually the bottom rung of the ladder. If you’re still not where you want to end up, don’t fret. You still have most of your career ahead of you. And keep in mind that things will likely change once you have more world experience: what was once your dream career might not still be your dream career next year.

3. Draft a long-term plan

It’s helpful to always have a few thoughts as to your 5-, 10-, and 25-year plans. But please don’t set these in stone or feel that if you deviate from your track, you’re doomed to fail. You don’t have to have your career laid out or know where you’re going to settle down and buy a house in a good school district. There is plenty of time for that.

4. Start your own business

We all hear so much chatter about entrepreneurship and striking out on your own in the new economy, but it’s okay if you don’t have a plan yet—or even if you would rather not be your own boss. If the thought appeals to you, keep weighing it in your mind, but don’t worry that you don’t yet have the answer.

5. Figure out your future work/life balance

As long as you’re taking care of yourself and have a reasonable work/life balance now, then it’s okay if you’re not sure how that will end up looking once you settle down and have kids and a family and move to your forever home and, yes, maybe, travel the world. You’ll figure that out when you get there.

6. Determine your true passion

You’ve really only just started out. Your 20s should be a time of exploration! If you’re still figuring out what you really want to be when you grow up—as long as you’re thinking about it seriously—then it’s fine not to have the answers yet.

7. Save a huge amount for retirement

Of course, you should have a handle on your current budget, paying for your necessities, and socking at least a little bit away in savings. But don’t worry if your entire future and financial security isn’t mapped out perfectly. These things take time, and so much can change in the next five to ten years. Relax and focus on making smart financial decisions now so you’ll be in a good place for the future.

8. Establish the perfect life

There’s still time to learn how to cook gourmet dinners and buy a vacation home in the Hamptons. There’s still time to take up new hobbies and start a family. Keep dreaming about what you want the most and go after it. But don’t worry that you don’t have it all yet. You’re still very young!

About the author

Peter Jones