The following is a guest post written by Molly Barnes at Digital Nomad Life
Do you have a novel rattling around in your head that you’re planning to write someday – like decades from now when you retire? Would love to be a writer, but you’re afraid to commit to it because of the uncertain income? Stop being afraid and start taking risks.
Young adulthood is a time to explore who you are and what you want out of life. Some people go into college with a definitive plan and everything works out, but others need a little more trial and error to find the right path. Regardless of the road traveled, your 20s and 30s are the best times for self-discovery, experimentation, and, of course, taking risks before the pressures of a family or a mortgage take over. These are the six risks you should consider as you traverse the first decades of adulthood.
Maybe you love writing or imagine yourself as the next great pop star. Perhaps you were a solid college athlete with a chance to go pro, or you want to pursue and expand your artistic talents. Chasing these kinds of dreams is often seen as unwise to older adults, so if you’re going to give your passions a shot, an ideal time to do it is when you’re young and still exploring career and life paths.
If you want to continue to play with your band, do it. If you have a strong idea for the next great American novel, put pen to paper. There’s time for stability later.
It’s also important to note that you don’t have to surrender a promising career in pursuit of a dream. Plenty of people delve into their passions around the schedule of a full-time job, so if you’d rather put your talents to the test without quitting your day job, that’s fine, too.
Nothing teaches you more about yourself than relocating to a new city. The skills that come with learning new areas, understanding new cultures, adapting to new living and work situations, making new friends, and finding new hobbies and activities can be extremely formative, guiding the development process and helping you learn what matters most. It can certainly be scary, especially if you don’t know anyone or don’t have a job lined up when you make the move, but the chance to try something new is exhilarating and informative.
Many people are attached to where they grew up, particularly those with close family ties and a large friend circle. However, breaking out of your shell is something worth doing. The world is a big place and it goes far beyond the streets outside your front door, from major metropolises like New York City to farther-flung cities with expanding job opportunities, like Seattle.
And remember: Moving isn’t permanent. If you decide you aren’t happy after a sincere effort in a new town, or you want to start a family closer to your support system, you can always move back.
Everyone has fears, no matter how major or minor. Maybe you’re afraid of heights, public speaking, deep water, or changing your career path — or maybe you’re just afraid of putting yourself out there among people. Regardless, young adulthood is a time to face your fears and test your mental strength.
There are plenty of ways to accomplish fighting your fears, and how you go about it will depend on what scares you most. If you’re afraid of heights, consider enrolling in a ziplining course or skydiving lessons. If deep water frightens you, learn how to SCUBA dive. If you’re not comfortable talking in front of groups, join Toastmasters or another public-speaking club. When you overcome what you fear, you can learn how to mentally prepare yourself to tackle other challenging moments in life.
Most young adults are in good physical condition, whether from playing sports in high school or college or from simply keeping up with fitness, without the aches and pains that come with middle age. As such, your 20s and 30s are the perfect time to see what you’re physically capable of.
If you love running, consider working toward a half-marathon or a marathon. If your interests are divided, a triathlon may be a worthwhile goal. Those who simply want to enjoy movement can try dance, yoga, swimming — even a club sport can fulfill a desire to learn new skills and see what you can handle. A healthy body isn’t guaranteed forever, so it’s important to make the most of it while you can.
The world is a big place. During your 20s and 30s, while you’re young and not tied down (or before you land your first career job) is the best time to see it. In your youth, things like staying in hostels, backpacking, couch surfing, and traveling light can be fun and exciting, making it easy to travel on a budget. As you get older, these opportunities become rarer, particularly if your standards in accommodations (and the accompanying expenses) rise.
Committing a lot of money to an around-the-world trip can be a challenge, especially if you’re still finding your financial footing, but trips don’t have to be expensive. If saving isn’t your forte, consider increasing your tax withholdings to gain a larger refund. This essentially creates an automatic savings account, keeping your money safe until you’re ready to splurge. If you want to take a really long trip, there are even ways to rent out your home or apartment while you hit the road, keeping rent payments from standing in the way of your journeys.
The early years of your career are often the formative ones, setting the tone for the future of your career path. That’s why it’s important to invest in the opportunities you’ll need to get ahead, like making time to attend conferences, industry trade shows, fairs and festivals, or any other chance to rub shoulders with others in your field.
By taking advantage of networking opportunities, not only can you learn a great deal from others who are more established in your field, but you can boost your own visibility among them, potentially garnering advice, contacts, and help. Making solid connections now can help you get ahead later, so do what’s necessary to put your name front and center.
If you’re still not sure what you want in life or haven’t managed to break into a career field that resonates with you, that’s okay. There are plenty of non-specific young professionals groups that allow for networking, building connections, and exploring different industries. The most important part is to be ready to step up, advocate for yourself, and invest in your most valuable asset: you.
Your 20s and 30s are among the most fun and formative years of your life — and they go by quickly. In order to make the most of your youth and live life with no regrets, take the kinds of risks that won’t be available when you’re older. From traveling the world to facing your fears, there are plenty of ways to make young adulthood all it can be.