30 of the Most Difficult Things to Learn for People in their Early 20s


30 of the Most Difficult Things to Learn for People in their Early 20s


#1 Don’t Bother Comparing Yourself to Others

This only leads to heartbreak, anger, and disappointment. There may be moments where it’s appropriate to compete with others, but life is not one of them. There are too many people in this world to compete with one another. First, overcome your need to compete with the rest of the world and learn to appreciate others. The only person you need to compare yourself with is your past self.  


# 2 Don’t Worry About Getting a Big Salary in Your Youth

First learn to execute tasks with skill, excellence, and grace. Too may people give up precious time with their family and friends in the pursuit of wealth. If you’re a new business owner, don’t confuse revenue with profit. When you see money come into your business, don’t pay yourself a huge slice from it. Always invest back into your business and spend your time building your craft and skills.


#3 The Company Does Not Love You

A company has no heart and you are replaceable. Keep your parachute handy in case the company decides to let you go and always know the basic skills of survival on your own. Whether you know how to build your own business or make money online, always take the time to learn how to live independently in case you’re forced to use those skills one day.  


#4 Ultimately, Privacy is a Myth

God sees everything. The cloud records everything. NSA files everything. So, live transparently and don’t waste useless energy hiding your failures. Everyone makes mistakes and are afraid of being criticized by other people for it. This prevents them from making future choices that will let them grow. But ignore the fear of others seeing your failures and keep moving forward.


#5 Quickly stop doing things Quickly

Trade impatience for calm, confidence, and precision. When you take your time accomplishing a goal, you lower the percentage of making any major mistakes in your work. If you try to acquire wealth overnight, you’ll only set yourself up for failure.


#6 Most Disappointments Arise from Unmet Expectations

Avoid giving yourself impossible goals to achieve in a short time framed. Whether it’s becoming wealthy or completing your project, set realistic expectations for yourself, based on your strengths, then strive to exceed them.


#7 Find a Passion

Never assume you don’t have a hobby or passion. Simply explore what you may be interested in and give it a go for 30 days. Pick a hobby and own it whether it’s photography, juggling or writing. Focus on building your 10K hours of perfect practice in early and change your life.


#8 Never Withhold an Apology When It’s Merited

Don’t allow pride to get in the way of fixing conflicts. People build too many enemies because they’re too prideful to admit their mistakes. Deliver it quickly, sincerely, and personally before resentment festers.


#9 Get your Work Done First so You Can Play Without Guilt

We live in an age where people seek pleasure before pain. Although it’s wise to live in the moment and enjoy it, don’t use all your time in a non-productive manner. Life is about building your skills and improving yourself on a daily basis. Make work enjoyable so you won’t feel the burden of escaping your pleasures. Find ways to make your pleasures work for you. 


#10 Consistency is the Key

It doesn’t matter how much time you spend on your new habit at the beginning but you have to do it every day until it becomes automatic. Once it becomes automatic you can spend more and more time on that habit.  To determine how long do you want to spend on habit or how small do you want to start just listen to your feelings. You also need a trigger for that habit. For instance, you can decide that you will spend time on your new habit right after you wake up, or after you take a shower, or just after you go back home after work. It is that specific trigger that will allow that habit to become automatic.


#11 It Truly Matters What You Think About

People are what they constantly think about. If they see the worst in life, they face the worst in life. If they see the positives in life, they receive the joys that’s available for them. Think well by reading good books, building good, loving relationships, having good conversation, and imitating great people.


#12 Love Hurts, But not as Much as Not Loving

We all get hurt after someone breaks our hearts. But rather than hiding from the rest of the world and believing you’re not worthy of love, open yourself up to more people. Human relationships are one of the greatest investments to create in life and by shielding your heart from the rest of the world, you prevent yourself from sharing a piece of yourself with someone.


#13 If You Want to Develop Your Passion and Gift, Stop Worrying about the Things you do Poorly

No one starts off great at anything. It takes time and practice to reach the master status of any subject. To become great at anything, you have to put daily practice into it. Great writers spend every day writing thousands of words. Athletes spend hours daily practicing the sports they put their hearts into. Musicians spend years playing the instrument of their choice on a daily basis. 


#14 The friendships you Nurture Will Have a Greater Effect on your Life than Where you Work or What You Earn

Despite what major accomplishments people acquire in life, what they want most is to be accepted for who they are. It’s not the amount of money someone makes, rather it’s the type of relationships people form throughout their life.


#15 There will Always Be Better People

There are always going to be people who are smarter, better looking, more sociable, and just all around “better” than you. In fact, you’ll learn there are LOTS of people who fit that description. To be happy, then, you have to learn to accept yourself and your shortcomings.


#16 Avoid fights. Seriously

Avoid them like a plague: nobody wins in a fight, even if you walk away unscathed. But when a fight picks you, leave everything on the mat and give it your all. Hold nothing back.


#17 Why Don’t I Have What She/He Has

Be happy that you have internet access and a computer or phone that enables you to read this. Realize that you are quite blessed with what you have. Questions like these are futile. Utilize the best of everything that you have without complaining. Being jealous of a friend who has a rich dad won’t make you any richer. Most of the entrepreneurs who made it big started from scratch. If they were complaining like you and me, they would have never been successful.


#18 Adult Life is About Learning to Live with Ambiguity

Remember when you thought you’d have it all sorted out by 20, 30, or even older than that? No. Whether it be your career, your relationships or your beliefs, you will always question whether you are making the right choices and will have to deal with regret. But don’t be afraid of making decisions or mistakes. We learn as we grow and life is about understanding your success and failures.


#19 Reward Yourself After Completing Something

Don’t take life so seriously. It’s important to celebrate. So after every completion, treat yourself. Eventually you’ll come to associate the dopamine rush you get from celebrating with the feeling of having completed the task which will encourage you to do it over and over again. Habits take time to create so be sure to reward yourself handsomely. For example, I treat myself to a Netflix binge after every article I write. Or burger after a gym session.


#20 Why Am I Not Smart Enough?

It’s a common thing to spot people smarter than us or to compare our intelligence to someone else. Getting upset over the fact that we have to work harder than them to score equal to them on tests is useless and depressing. It won’t lead you anywhere. Working harder and smarter is the only solution for any situation you get yourself into.


#21 Protect Your Joy

Nothing is easier to lose by over-thinking, over analyzing, and second-guessing. On the other hand, always consider the long-term consequences of your choices. Stupid decisions made in the moment can rob you of years of joy and happiness.


#22 Set Up Behavioral Triggers

The tactic of creating a strong linkage between a specific situation and a reactionary action is great for habit implementation. Overtime, practicing these “if this happens, then I will…” moments can cause them to become automatic, which is great for building habits. This is known as Triggers. Triggers work best when you preplan them into your patterns when you know you are most likely to fall off.


#23 Let your moral code show you the way

What we commit ourselves to and believe in is what set our paths. Without boundaries, you set yourself up for the unknown and possibly into danger. So what is your moral code and why is it important? It’s a combination of how you were raised, your cultural values, your religion, your spiritual practice, what you believe to be just, and some personal rules you’ve created for yourself along the way. It is important to always keep it top of mind because it can help you identify which habits are most important to your personal growth. For example, if you highly value your spiritual practice, you will want to devote time early in the day to prayer or meditation because that is one of your top priorities.


#24 Do your deep work EARLY in the day

It is the work your brain does that is mainly focused on analytical thinking and that that requires the most concentration. For example, deep work can be reading, writing, coding, analyzing, critical thinking, or problem solving. Many scientists say that the brain’s peak performance happens 2-4 hours after we wake up. If, for example, you wake up at 6, your peak times are between 8 and 10 a.m. You can extend this time to the rest of the morning to maximize your peak time. Doing your deep work early in the day allows your brain to focus fully on the problem at hand, with fewer distractions, less inputs from your environment, and with a lot of energy that you’ve gained from a restful night.


#25 Don’t waste your time!

How can you focus if you believe you’ll be spending hours studying with no end in sight? Try a different approach to your work. When you’re ready to begin, use a timer to divide up your time into manageable increments that will allow your brain to focus in a more targeted and effective way.


#26 Challenge yourself to learn

If you’re growing as a person, you’ll feel a sense of pride and achievement. You can do this by reading a book, learning from others online, reading articles on new subjects, learning a new language with a free app like Duolingo or spending time with a mentor to learn from their experiences.


#27 Remember to Smile

Did you know smiling can make you healthier? Smiling has been associated with reduced stress, lower blood pressure and mood enhancing hormone levels. A Penn State University study also discovered that when people smile, they are perceived by others to appear more like-able, courteous and competent. Plus, as an added bonus, you can brighten someone’s day.


#28 Turn off all distractions

Sometimes it’s hard to focus on what we are reading because our attention moves to little things we notice around us. Distractions can easily make you slip from the work you are focusing on. Multitasking is a great example: you’re reading email and constantly checking your Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat or Twitter feed. But did you know that multitasking can lower your IQ by 10 points? When you turn off what’s distracting you, you have a better chance to actually do what’s important to you.


#29 Give your brain time to be calm and to rest

So much information to absorb, so many details to remember, and all those tough deadlines to adhere to. Studying is hard! You can help your brain with meditation, napping, and getting enough sleep. To give your brain a chance to rest and absorb the material you’ve covered earlier in the day, opt for a power nap in the afternoon, for about 30 minutes. 


#30 Remain Proactive As Much As Possible

When time has passed, NOTHING can be done to get time back. Therefore, time is a non-renewable resource and productive people operate from this understanding. EVERYONE has 24 hours in a day so this means the highly productive are the most effective with their time because they produce more in the same amount of time as everyone else. Proactive people ELIMINATE unnecessary tasks and interruptions, and time-wasting activities during working hours.


For more articles similar to this, check out: 

The Secret Habits of Wealthy People

3 Bad Habits You Should Avoid In Your Early 20s

The 10 Habits of Highly Productive People


About Author

Besides being random and dealing with ADHD from time to time, Michael Gregory II is the CEO of the Self Development Workshop. He’s traveled to over a dozen countries, counselled a variety of people, and continues furthering his knowledge in self-development, depression, and mastering your happiness. On his lazy days, he enjoy watching people, reading in Starbucks, and speaking to random strangers. (Yeah, he’s weird.)

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