The past two weeks, I have blogged about the rite of passage for today's twenty something woman (part one and part two). Below are ten brief tips to keep in mind during this time of transformation or really any stage of life as we are all consistently presented with unique challenges and changes:
1. Be present. This is a tough one because we spend so much time in our twenties obsessing about what we will be and who we will be with. Take the time to just be. Living mentally in the future constantly only creates anxiety. Yes, set goals and consider your future while committing to action steps that are attainable and realistic. And then just accept where you are. Trying to figure it all out is fruitless and robs you of the present moment.
2. Stop comparing. Don't look at everyone else around you to determine your worth. There will always be someone more successful, richer, prettier, wittier, thinner, and so on. Who cares what your friends are doing? Focus on what you want and be grateful for what you already have. Find individuals who inspire you rather than people you attempt to measure up to. We are all on different paths, carve your own.
3. Stop caring about what other people think. Other people's opinion of you or your choices is just that - an opinion, not the truth. It's your life so get in the habit now of living it on your terms. Don't let your fear of someone else's reaction stand in the way of your dreams. Be kind, but be you. And most importantly, don't personalize things. Often people give us feedback that is a bit rough around the edges. You can still hear the feedback if it is relevant, truthful or helpful without getting hurt.
4. Tune in. We all have intuition; we just do not always know how to access it or want to listen to it. Pay attention to your gut feelings. The more you listen to your intuition, the louder and more accessible it will become. And you can't hear your inner voice when you are only listening to the voices of others.
5. Don't wait for permission, approval or validation. Many of today's twenty-somethings grew up with over-involved parents who guided their path and patted them on the back along the way. Now it's time to be your own head cheerleader.
6. Make choices. Today's twenty-something has an upscale problem: an abundance of choices which often leads to making no choice at all. If decision making is a weak skill, find ways to build your decision making muscle. Resist the urge to call your friends and parents when faced with a decision. Make little choices each day on your own, without consulting anyone else (unless of course your choice directly affects another or others).
7. Make mistakes. Perceived failure is often how we learn the most. I have learned more from my mistakes/failures than any of my accomplishments. Mistakes are often the catalyst to accomplishments. Playing it safe only keeps you comfortable and it is only when we are forced to push beyond our safety zone that we discover our potential.
8. Do things alone. Young people often like to travel in packs or yearn for a permanent "plus one." Learn to be your own companion first. Be single for an extended period of time. Go to a movie alone. Go to dinner alone. Or best yet, travel alone. Be open to discovery.
9. Build your tribe. All of us need a tribe that extends beyond our family and consists of both peers and elders. Cultivate your personal and professional relationships by networking, seeking out mentors, and calling upon the wisdom of older generations. Ask questions to the people who have "been there, done that" and listen carefully to their answers. And ask for help or support when you need it. Yes, independence is important but needs to be balanced by interdependence and connection. And by connection I mean live, face-to-face interaction. Facebook will not nourish your soul.
10. Be of service. Don't just be part of a tribe, contribute. Many people comment that self-reflection and introspection is or feels selfish. Well it is if that is all you do. As you are in this phase of life when you are learning more about who you are and what you want, make the time to give to others. Not only will it get you out of your own head, but when we step into the attitude of service, we uncover amazing and untapped qualities. It is in the act of giving that we receive the most.
And if I were to give one overarching tip it would be to enjoy the learning process that is part of any transformation. And life is a series of transformation. Change is inevitable. Careers, relationships, money, houses, good times and bad times will come and go. But we have the choice in how we respond to all of those things. As Victor Frankl says in Man's Search for Meaning, "Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom." And when you are free, you can fly.