The 20s are a unique period in anyone’s life…It is a time when you still have so much ahead of you, yet you’ve got the hindsight (and experience) of your childhood and your teens – a critically formative time. What you do in this next decade taps into who you’re discovering yourself to be, while at the same time laying the groundwork for the rest of your life and your future self.
Here is how to make most of your 20s, according to Caitlin DaSilva – a lifestyle content creator navigating this period and living in Toronto.
This interview has been condensed for brevity.
Pro-Tip 1: Get a handle on your finances
“I know this is something that is a big transition for so many in their twenties. You go from high school to university and then you’re thrown from university into the real world. And that can come with a lot of stress. Once you are in a position where you’re responsible for figuring it out, you’re fully adulting, have to make a living and you have bills and expenses,” says Da Silva. Her first tip is to really understand where your money is going; “Get in the habit of regularly checking your spending, because so many of us these days spend without cash…most of us are using our credit cards or debit cards and now even our phones.” She cautions against spending mindlessly and suggests doing the following:
- Check your spending (your credit card bills or bank accounts) regularly (daily, weekly, monthly, annually)
- Create a budget so that you are spending intentionally; know how much is coming in and how much you plan to save and to spend
- Think long-term financial goals, as well as short-term
- Find a budgeting system that works for you
“I either do it by paper in my bullet journal or I’m actually a big Excel fan, so I’ll make my own spreadsheet and use that,” says Da Silva.
Pro-Tip 2: Get into goal-setting
“A lot of us talk about goal-setting, and it’s great to have personal, life and career goals but how do you go about making those goals; how do you know what you really want to do?” Da Silva asks. “This is a common question in your twenties because there are so many possibilities in front of you.” For this, one of Da Silva’s favourite tools to help her determine what she wants in her life is a vision board.
Vision boards are basically, “the process of looking at inspirational words or images that just really speak to your soul,” says Da Silva, adding that it’s a fun, stress-free way to ask yourself those “big life questions.”
- Create a vision board, either using the old-school approach of clipping newspapers and magazines or you can use Pinterest, Google Images or Instagram
- Compile this inspirational content into a central location – somewhere you look often (for Da Silva, it’s near her mirror)
- Take note of any recurring patterns and themes
“So, for example, if you have a lot of travel photos, maybe that is something that you want to strive to include in your daily life – maybe that would even impact the career that you choose,” adds Da Silva.
Pro-Tip 3: Make daily self-care a habit
“A really simple, but powerful thing is to just make daily self-care a habit,” says Da Silva. She says that self-care is often depicted as a candle-lit room, with cucumbers on our faces, but that it can be anything and everything that restores you and feels good. “It can be hanging out with people that you love, watching your favourite movie, watching squirrels as you take a walk – it can be the simplest thing; it could be having a coffee.”
- Find a pocket of time regularly to fill your cup with something you find restorative and calming
“You actually serve people better and serve others better when your cup is full.” For her personally, that also comes down to practicing gratitude. Every day, Da Silva dedicates some time to thinking about three things she feels grateful for.
Pro-Tip 4: Let go of extrinsic timelines
It can be tempting to measure your success by external benchmarks…Finish school. Move out. Get engaged. Get married. Baby. You get the idea. But Da Silva cautions against anchoring your self-worth to such extrinsic, impersonal timelines. “Especially in your twenties, when you’ve got people in your life that are in school and then some people are not in school, some people are living at home, some people are living in their own place. Some people are getting married, some people are single – it’s easy to get into a comparison game,” she says. With this timeline pressure, you can feel like you need to be at certain stages in your life at certain points. “It’s something I have to remind myself is just not true,” she says, adding, “We are all unique human beings, with our own passions and our own personalities, which is going to lead to us navigating life at different paces. No one is better or worse than the other.”
- Trust the timing of your own life.
“It’s something that can bring you a lot of peace; just stay focused on what you’re doing and don’t let the noise of what others are doing influence how you think you’re doing in life.”
Pro-Tip 5: Invest in your friendship circle
Invest in your friendships. “Whenever we talk about relationships, we tend to talk about romantic relationships. But in my life, my friendships have been so powerful; friends are the people who are there to support you, to hear you out, to be your cheerleader, and for you to do the same for them,” says Da Silva. Making sure that your friendships are a priority and keeping those relationships strong and developing them is time well-spent, she stresses, because there are going to be times in life when you are down and need the extra support.
- Tend all your relationships, and especially your friendship circle
“It’s beautiful when you can find people that you feel are 100 per cent on your team who you love and respect, because life is hard, right?” And that’s advice you can take to your 20s and beyond.