Why do people spend so much time telling you a list of books to read in your twenties or a list of places to go in your twenties? Those are actually ways only to escape your twenties. Escaping by doing that stuff just sets you up for a disaster in your thirties.
Here are things to do in your twenties to make your thirties fun.
1. Build a career that enables you to work from home.
The best way to get control of your life is working from home, because once you’re home, then things start to shift in favor of you instead of your company.
But there are relatively few types of jobs that translate to a career from home. Survey the types of careers that are typical of at‑home workers and set yourself up for one of them.
Almost every person who is working from home either works very hard in their twenties to build their own business or they worked hard in their twenties to specialize so that it was too costly for the company to replace them. So when they ask, it is easier to let them work from home.
2. Women, freeze your embryos.
I’m actually a fan of approaching your biological clock head-on instead of procrastinating by freezing your eggs. That seems like you’re just putting off the inevitable realities of having a family. Nothing changes when the eggs are frozen except that you build a bigger career that you must scale back when you do have kids.
But sometimes really bad things happen to us, like your whole family burns up in a fire and you have to go to six years of therapy, and you can’t start dating until you’re thirty-one. So for cases like this, or less extreme, it’s good to just have your embryos saved.
What you didn’t know is that you can kind of buy yourself some time if you’ve been lifting weights really hard-core the whole time in your twenties. Muscle just sort of lingers on so you can do mostly lame workouts in your thirties if you lifted weights in your twenties. This plan allows you a lot more flexibility. It allows you to have years when you don’t work out because you’re trying to rearrange your life, and it makes all transitions easier to know that your body isn’t falling apart when you’re doing them.
4. Go visit your siblings.
It’s really not that fun to stay in touch with your siblings in your twenties because everybody uses that time to separate from their parents and build their own identity. And this is the time when people are in the most denial that they are like their parents and will marry someone like their parents. So a way to stay in denial as long as possible is to avoid siblings, because siblings can always tell when you’re acting like your parents.
The problem is that a fascinating study from Harvard reveals that the only indicator of who will be happy and who won’t later in life is who remains close to their siblings. So you might think that what’s really going to make you happy is to be hot enough to get into exclusive clubs, but that doesn’t last. Your siblings are what lasts. So go visit them when you have time off.
5. Don’t stress about relocation.
It’s overwhelming to think you’re twenty-two and you can live anywhere. Unfortunately, it’s not actually true. It’s true that you can live anywhere, but it’s not true that you’re going to want to live just anywhere.
After you have kids you’re going to want to live where your family is because this is what happens: Nobody really cares about your kids. In fact, nobody even likes other people’s kids. They like their own kids. The exception to this is family. Family loves other family.
We love our nieces and nephews and grandkids similarly to our own kids, so you’re going to want to be near family. You’re going to relocate to family when you realize none of your friends actually care about your kids. You’ll know because they’re not inviting you for holidays anymore—they’re going to see family on holidays because they want someone to dote on their kids.
6. Your twenties are not practice time. It’s your life.
So don’t worry about relocation. It’s playing in the world of false choices. Meg Jay has a great Ted Talk about how people in their twenties spend too much time making dead-end decisions that they pretend don’t count. Instead, focus on using a systematic way to try new jobs and new relationships to figure where you fit. And don’t worry that things don’t feel right in your twenties because everything happens so fast. You know how people always say to you, “Oh, my gosh, you’ve grown up so fast.” Well, time speeds up as you get older, and you’re not going to believe how fast your twenties are over.
So much of what people in their 20s focus on is how they look to the world right now. It’s why Facebook rules the day, and street photographer James Maher named his photo (up top) The Pose of a Generation. But all that Facebook-induced, short-term thinking leads to depression. Take your life seriously enough to be able to share difficulties and failures.
And remember that the best decisions you can make are ones that will last into your thirties. That way, you know you are doing things in your twenties that will matter.