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Dont Waste Your 20

Dont Waste Your 20

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Published by Gaurav Ketkar
Inspirational write up meant for 20 year-olds
Inspirational write up meant for 20 year-olds

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Published by: Gaurav Ketkar on Jun 30, 2013
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Don‘t Waste Your Twenties — Part 1: Taking Advantage of the Unique Powers of the Twentysomething Brain

by Brett & Kate McKay February 4, 2013
At age 20: Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and cofounded Microsoft, and Sir Isaac Newton began developing a new branch of mathematics. At age 21: Thomas Alva Edison created his first invention, an electric vote recorder, Steve Jobs co-founded Apple Inc., and Alfred Tennyson published his first poetry. At age 22: Inventor Samuel Colt patented the Colt six-shooter revolver, and Cyrus Hall McCormick invented the McCormick reaper, which allowed one man to do the work of five At age 23: T. S. Eliot wrote ―The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,‖ John Keats penned ―Ode on a Grecian Urn,‖ and Truman Capote published his first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms. At age 24: Johannes Kepler defended the Copernican theory and described the structure of the solar system. At age 25: Orson Welles conscripted, directed, and starred in Citizen Kane, Charles Lindbergh became the first person to fly alone across the Atlantic, New York farmhand Joseph Smith founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, John Wesley began planting the seeds for Methodism at Oxford, and Alexander the Great became the King of Persia. At age 26: Albert Einstein published five major research papers in a German physics journal, fundamentally changing man‘s view of the universe and leading to such inventions as television and the atomic bomb, Benjamin Franklin published the first edition of Poor Richard’s Almanac, Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, and Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Italy.


aging male sperm is . While that explanation of why milestones have been delayed has truth to it. Rather. as our parents and grandparents did. or that ―the Man‖ shamed people into quickly becoming a grown-up instead of spending time being free. This Is Your Brain in Your Twenties The prevailing view these days is that people used to get started in life earlier simply because the economy allowed it. since these factors are no longer in effect. drift. Now we could delve into one aspect of biology as it concerns delayed adulthood – that of reproduction – as it isn‘t just affected by age for the ladies.‖ Things that were once markers of maturity in the past — finishing school. Thus. and. we‘ll explain why. and thus timeless — they apply just as much to the 1950s as to today. and cultural factors have postponed these steps for many until the latter part of the decade. there aren‘t a lot of guideposts on how a man should spend this new stage of life.‖ and because of its nascent nature. with the idea that you can get serious about stuff later — once you hit thirty. they‘re biological. having kids. having fun. and into one‘s thirties. In this two-part series. And despite how many might interpret this kind of ―precociousness. and exploring. A Disposable Decade? Maybe you‘ve heard it said. and adventure. economic. This has opened up an unprecedented period of time and development for young adults. there does in fact remain very compelling reasons for beginning to shape life‘s most important elements while still in your twenties – and they don‘t have anything to do with culture or economics. Instead of hitting these milestones in one‘s early or mid-twenties. ―thirty is the new twenty‖ is one of the biggest lies of our age.An impressive list of accomplishments to be sure. In the absence of such guidance. sociological. The twenties have been relabeled ―emerging adulthood‖ or ―extended adolescence. or even said it yourself: ―Thirty is the new twenty. there aren‘t any good reasons for making important and consequential decisions and commitments in your twenties anymore. the twenties have been branded as disposable — an inconsequential holding period between two decades of schooling and becoming a ―real‖ adult. getting hitched. but because of it. landing your first ―real‖ job.‖ I would argue that these men accomplished what they did not despitetheir age. the twenties have come to be seen as a time to dabble. In fact. But the idea that one‘s twenties are unimportant couldn‘t be farther from the truth. buying a house – are getting pushed back later in life.

your prefrontal cortex begins its final maturation and starts to act as a check to these new surging impulses. During adolescence. Today I want to center our discussion on something that transcends fatherhood.‖ . and pleasure. hunger. for as one neurobiologist put it. but we now know that its maturation isn‘t complete until around age 25. in which resides some of the more primitive parts of our brain. and the craving for reward.) This is why young adults often seem capable of great maturity at some times. (The New York Times has a neat interactive webpage showing your brain maturation from childhood to young adulthood. areas that are responsible for things like sleep. motivation. your prefrontal cortex is almost finished maturing. And that‘s the twentysomething brain. For this reason. but also from college. it is often referred to as the ―CEO‖ of the brain – the executive of the mind. that make us shake our heads and ask: ―What was I thinking?!‖ Now. emotions. It used to be thought that the prefrontal cortex finished developing during the teen years. experience everything.thought to be responsible for mutations that lead to things like autism and schizophrenia. and sometimes the other does.‖ but also one of ―enormous opportunity. This is why almost all of us can look back at episodes not only from high school. plan for the future. but not quite. take risks. and affects all the big life decisions you‘ll make – particularly as it concerns things like career and relationships. It helps you do things like process probability. your twenties are not simply a time of ―enormous risk. forge friendships. Located at the front of the brain is the prefrontal cortex. and become independent from your parents. both parts of the brain swing into action and interact as they move you towards adulthood. even faith. causing your teenage self to feel restless and increasing your desire to do big things. At the same time. The limbic system revs up your feelings of emotion. you‘re walking around and experiencing the world with an ―adolescent‖ brain. your personality is kind of uneven during this period. At the bottom-center sits the limbic system. and make good decisions and judgments. you might gather from all this that it‘s best to wait until your thirties to make big decisions after all — until your prefrontal cortex is fully formed and mature. and then do bone-headed things at other times – the impulsive and CEO parts of their brains are having a tug-of-war. sex. delay gratification. handle uncertainty and abstract goals. The human brain develops from bottom to top and from back to front. But this isn‘t the case. attempting to keep you from doing anything too stupid. Last to develop. What this means is that from approximately ages 15-25. and sometimes one wins. regulate emotions and impulses. But we‘ll cover that important topic another time. In your early twenties.

figure out life’s big questions. tomorrow. Twentysomething Brain Advantage #1: The passionate. and take chances in the search for success. Casey put it. but twentysomethings have a lot more leeway to make their own decisions and thus exercise their brains‘ special powers. and are beginning to grapple with the complexities of adulthood and make decisions that will influence your whole future. we‘ll delve into advantage numero dos. while at the same time the prefontal cortex begins to develop its capacity to check the impulses the former generates. Those able to successfully harness the unique energies of youth have. It may seem like a cruel twist of nature that at the same time you are feeling motivated to take risks and seek rewards. are experiencing a surge in emotion. that‘s how researchers long saw it – that the adolescent brain was ―broken‖ – recklessly and pointlessly impulsive. during adolescence the limbic system of the brain starts amping up your feelings of emotion and motivation. And again. (These brain advantages apply to teenagers too.‖ What kind of powers does the adolescent brain give you that you need as you venture into adulthood? There are three:    Fervent passion Fearlessness in the face of risk A keen and thoughtful curiosity about people and the world Deep Passion As we‘ve discussed. is the opportunity to take an active role in the development of the executive part of your brain in order to create a foundation for lasting success. the executive part of your brain isn‘t up to speed yet — as if you‘re driving a car with faulty brakes. And indeed. But more recent research has shown that the same qualities of the adolescent brain that can be liabilities. explore new turf. strike out on his own. the ―unbalanced‖ nature of the adolescent brain is ―exactly what you’d need to do the things you have to do then. obviously. figure out life‘s big questions. and make important commitments. from time immemorial.) In today‘s post we‘ll be focusing on the first advantage of the twentysomething brain. Second. They‘re at the crossroads of opportunity and independence. uninhibited motivation to fearlessly go after your passions.What are those enormous opportunities that your twentysomething brain offers you? There are two big ones – and they only come around once in a lifetime. gained an edge over their peers.J. First is the opportunity to passionately and uninhibitedly go after big goals. can also be distinct advantages – not accidents of nature at all. but purposeful evolutionary adaptions. and make important commitments. As neuroscientist B. the frontal lobes . That purpose is to get a young adult to venture from home.

up through your early twenties. emotional highs are high and lows are low. gut reaction. Adults will often shut down the idea of such risks as soon as they cross their minds. Neurobiologists aren‘t sure of the exact relationship between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex in the adolescent brain (and remember. adolescents actually overestimate some risks – those of the ―known variety. and spirituality. this is the brain from ages approx. and lights up the amygdala. creating an emotional. causes. Contrary to popular belief. particularly the amygdala. spiritual experiences are intense. measured response. people. But they underestimate ―unknown‖ risks – anything where the likelihood of winning and losing is ambiguous. Before that time. It can drive you to start movements. Fearlessness in the Face of Risk In addition to the intensity and emotion the amygdala brings to the equation. Stimuli from the world goes directly into the brain instead of being caught in the cortex sieve and dryly analyzed first. Indeed. take action. the reward centers of the brain are also highly sensitive during this time. . so that stimuli from the outside world mostly goes right through. Here you have the neurological reason behind the famously fervent passion of youth.‖ like the risk of getting pregnant or getting an STD. New experiences feel amazing. thrills give you more of a rush. This is why in your teen years. This drives you to take more chances. giving the brain the chance to come up with a rational. The intensity of the adolescent brain can make our teenage years and early twenties feel overly dramatic. and make commitments – steps which are then facilitated by the next twentysomething brain power. the prefrontal cortex is also known as the ―area of sober second thought. reacts more strongly to stimuli than it does in adults. 15-25). As the frontal cortex matures and strengthens. you experience things reallyintensely – relationships are intense. the limbic system. But I like to imagine the set-up in this (totally unscientific) analogy: The prefrontal cortex is like a sieve. In the adolescent brain the holes in the sieve are large. the amygdala produces a more emotional. While the frontal cortex generates a ―thinking‖ response. allowing you to feelthings deeply. beyond the fact that the latter becomes more strongly activated as it matures and begins to act as a greater and greater check to the former. the holes become increasingly small – the net catches and analyzes more and more of the stimuli before it hits the amygdala. but an adolescent will take time to really consider them. But this passion also allows twentysomethings to feel strongly about issues. gut-oriented reaction. Experiences are able to light up your emotional amygdala.‖ as it is the part of the brain that weighs the consequences of a choice.complete their maturation around the mid-twenties.

Making any big decision or commitment involves risk – will my business fail. when a reward is at stake. ―Sure. it can orbit there . twentysomethings have the passion and the courage to make big decisions. is she the one.‖ like seeking truth. A Keen and Thoughtful Curiosity About People and the World Now you may be thinking. are deeply rewarding to young adults. researchers say.‖ The sensitive reward centers of the adolescent brain not only motivate the process of gathering and pondering information. and even catalyzing a cultural or political movement. like choosing to engage in binge drinking or unsafe sex. it starts to talk you out of doing anything risky and is more inclined to maintain the status quo. they also facilitate the learning of new information.y. The twentysomething brain gives you the fearlessness to do so. But that‘s typically because of social pressure (the young adult brain is also more sensitive to the judgment of their peers). Researchers have actually found that in other.‖ And it‘s true that researchers have found that sometimes the reward-seeking adolescent brain does make more reckless decisions. but they‘ll probably make the wrong ones. But as the prefrontal cortex gathers strength.z?‖ Obviously. while the former can‘t get enough of delving into life‘s big questions. But. anyway) can find studying more pleasurable and satisfying than adults. as akin to traveling to space. which is why adolescents (when it comes to a subject they enjoy. landing your dream job. and gather more information before doing so. things that feel like drudgery to ―grownups. getting married. rational analysis is a great thing. Which means. fearlessness in the face of risk can also be absolutely necessary in getting you to go after your dreams and ideals. less peer-driven and ―heated‖ situations. Taking Advantage of the Tripartite Powers of the Twentysomething Brain I like to think of things like starting your own business. this penchant for risk-taking can have a down-side — there‘s a reason the mortality rate for adolescents is triple that of grade-school children. and will actually take longer to decide. but there are some things in life where you just have to push down your fear and take the plunge.Obviously. that there are scenarios where adolescents will potentially make better decisions than ―grownups. Paralysis by analysis sinks in. than adults. because they‘re naive and impulsive! Better to wait until you‘re older. Because of the sensitive reward system of the adolescent brain. will I be happy a thousand miles from home? And risk kicks the prefrontal cortex into high gear – ―What if this happens? What about x. Once your rocket leaves the earth‘s atmosphere. a young adultdesires to get something right. committing to a faith. All this makes sense: who spends more time willingly examining questions like what‘s the true religion and what‘s the best political philosophy – college students or their parents? The latter often cannot be bothered.

your brain‘s rocket‘s fuel is leaking out as you approach thirty. Musicians often produce some of their best songs early in their career – songs they wrote in their youth that were fueled by the emotional intensity of their adolescent brain. and of course some devoted listeners do stay passionate about music their whole lives through. Well. you‘re passionate and ready to learn. everybodymellows out. During your twenties. The time for lift off is now. to one degree or the other. while adults are the opposite. changes that will happen to you. These things are certainly factors in Adult Boring Disorder (ABD). this mellowing of one‘s intensity seems like a real loss. But to reach outer space in the first place. you need a huge. Plenty of people strive to maintain their curiosity and sense of adventure throughout their lifetime as well — so don‘t get me wrong — you‘re definitely not destined to become a totally lame-o adult.‖ You probably thought their steady lameness was a function of their actively deciding to ―settle. powerful force in the form of rocket thrusters in order to overcome the earth‘s strong gravitational pull. penetrating emotional reaction that it did in their adolescence (―You gotta hear this song!‖) so it doesn‘t hold their interest as much. Your parents‘ musical tastes ended in college (at least this is my personal theory on the matter) because music doesn‘t produce the same intense. But after the prefrontal cortex finishes maturing. Twenty-seven is right around the time the frontal cortex would finish . Twentysomethings are less daunted by unknown risks. and become more motivated and thoughtful by the prospect of reward. They don‘t seem to ponder deep things or be that passionate about anything.indefinitely. and your greater tolerance for risk pushes you to act on that passion and knowledge. Most adults are so ―boring‖ and risk-averse and don‘t experience life as intensely because the sensitivity of the reward centers in their brains have dulled and their mature prefrontal corti have put the lid on their emotional passions. Now it seems to me the frontal cortex/limbic system balance varies from individual to individual – artists and other sensitive types seem to maintain a little more of the emotional intensity of youth. Unfortunately. your twentysomething brain is that rocket thruster. In some ways. my parents are so boring. too.‖ or the result of the way their responsibilities had worn them down. They always stick to their routine and are still listening to the same music they did in college! I‘ll never end up like that. People have often wondered why so many talented musicians have died from suicide or drug overdose at age 27 (the so-called Forever 27 Club). Why Your Parents Are Such Squares Now you finally have an explanation to an observation you probably made growing up: ―Man. But it‘s also because of changes in their brains.

Just a personal theory of mine. fearlessness in the face of risk. in your thirties and beyond. you‘ll in fact experience it as a good feeling and positive change! You can actually feel it happening. you‘ll know your prefrontal cortex has finished maturing.and post-stages of the limbic-to-prefrontal-cortex shift in power are neither bad nor good. Then. venture out. Don‘t Waste Your 20s — Part 2: Train Your Brain for Lasting Success . You start to notice that you feel more stable. head a family. Is it possible the drop off in the intensity that once fueled their creativity and the emotion of their songwriting creates a deep despondency in artists? Maybe. When you feel this. you need confident steadiness to overcome your counterproductive impulses and mood swings. important moves and decisions. and the strong motivation to take risks. expand your movement. more steady. Conclusion Today‘s post highlighted some of the unique powers of the twentysomething brain — namely its propensity for deep passion. more secure. The trick is simply to take advantage of each power in the season it is given: The twenties are for launching. you need emotion and intensity to spur you to study and ponder life‘s big questions. But what kinds of things should you channel these powers towards? Tomorrow we‘ll discuss the second once-in-a-lifetime opportunity offered by the twentysomething brain — the chance to train the ―builder‖ to whom you will be handing over the reins once the launch of your ―start-up‖ is complete. and to build the things you launched in your twenties – to grow your business. each has powers suited to a different stage in life. and a keen curiosity about others and the world. while the thirties are for building what you launched. and make commitments. when you‘re making big. But here‘s the good news – not only will the completion of your brain development not make the vast majority of us suicidal. In your twenties. There will be a time around your midtwenties when you notice a change in yourself.maturing. You‘ll think about the drama in your life just a few years prior and wonder what you were thinking – you will feel like you‘ve changed a lot since then and would now handle things much differently than you did then. The pre.

it begins slowly pruning away the pathways not in use. Taking a risk to see what it‘s like to shotgun a beer won‘t get you any closer to your ideal future. 2013 In Part I of this two-part series we explored the first once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of the twentysomething brain: its propensity for deep passion. Then it organizes and prunes this abundance of neural pathways. forwardlooking ventures – ones that lead to greater learning experiences. and your thirties are for building. impulse-checking prefrontal cortex. getting rid of those not in use and strengthening and stabilizing those that are — much like an arborist prunes dead branches off a tree. and fearlessness in the face of risk. After age three. . and independence. you also need to train the guy who‘s eventually going to take your place. so that the human brain is 95% developed by age six. But how exactly does the prefrontal cortex mature? The majority of our brain development happens in two stages: overproduction and pruning. the rest of your life. | Synaptic Pruning in the Orchard of Your Brain Yesterday we talked about a hugely important process happening in your brain in your twenties that‘s crucial for young adults to understand: the simultaneous revving up of the intense. giving him the skills and abilities he‘ll need to steer the ship once you‘re gone. The quality of this training will greatly determine the future success of the endeavor. emotional. personal development. But these qualities are only advantages if they‘re used in the way they were designed: as the motivation to take intentional. and the maturation of the steady.e.‖ the prefrontal ―CEO‖ to which you‘ll be handing over the reins to your ―start-up‖ post-twenties. a keen curiosity about others and the world. at the same time that you‘re getting things going. Moving from your twenties to your thirties is indeed very much like launching a company that you know you‘re eventually going to leave. First.. rational. more than it could ever use — it overprepares for what‘s to come. If your twenties are for launching. Rather. i. It has long been known that this overproduction/pruning process occurs during an infant‘s first eighteen months of life. you should also be taking advantage of the second great opportunity of the twentysomething brain: the chance to take an active role in shaping the development of the executive part of your mind. risk-taking limbic system. then this is the opportunity to train your ―builder. at the same time you‘re launching your passions.by Brett & Kate McKay February 5. The brain ramps up production of cells to prepare the tot for learning an enormous amount of information about language and the world around him in a short period of time. the brain overproduces millions of synapses.

but also very much by experience. but rather on the abilities essential to navigating adulthood – rational thought. As Meg Jay. those we don‘t use just waste away through pruning. this is known as ‗survival of the busiest. Your brain does not prune its excess synapses in a willy-nilly fashion. the frontal lobe connections we use are preserved and quickened. reasoning. you need to ask yourself what role it is you‘re preparing to play. We become what we hear and see and do every day.‖ Basically. the brain‘s overproduction of synapses is not centered on things a baby needs to know like language and motor skills. author of The Defining Decade explains: ―In a use-it-or-lose-it fashion. what this means is that the education. In neuroscience. goal-setting. The development of your brain is not simply shaped by age. and planning. experiences. does rehearsing by having only casual hookups prepare you for that? If you‘re hoping to win the . What gets retained and what withers away is determined by what gets utilized and what is allowed to lie fallow. We don‘t become what we don‘t hear and see and do every day.What scientists have more recently discovered is that a second round of overproduction and synaptic pruning begins in adolescence and extends into a person‘s mid-twenties. This time. not everyone‘s corti will ―set‖ in the same way. If you‘re eventually hoping to nab the role of loving. But if that‘s the case. and relationships you choose to pursue in your twenties will determine the course of your brain‘s synaptic pruning process. impulse control.‖ Use It or Lose It So how exactly does synaptic pruning work? While the completion of the prefrontal cortex‘s maturation will happen for everyone. Jay Giedd puts it: ―If a teen [or twentysomething] is doing music or sports or academics. loyal husband. If they‘re lying on the couch or playing video games or watching MTV. This means you need to be intentional about tuning your prefrontal cortex for optimal performance in the decades to come! What training do you want give to your prefrontal CEO? What skills and abilities do you want to train your brain to deftly perform for the rest of your life? Some folks downplay the importance of the twenties by saying it‘s simply a dress rehearsal for what‘s to come. Synaptic pruning is the process through which the maturation of the prefontal cortex actually happens – the way in which you train your ―CEO.‘‖ Or as neuroscientist Dr. those are the cells and connections that will be hardwired. those are the cells and connections that are going to survive.

we simply ―continue with. Or think of it this way: up through your mid-twenties.part of independent business owner. your thoughts. But once the adolescent brain finishes developing and ―sets. Now don‘t get me wrong. This makes the period before the wiring job is complete a time of enormous opportunity. It‘s doable. will mean hacking a path through a field that has transformed from gentle grass into a dense. but difficult. learn new things. We can always change our habits and behaviors. This is why researchers have found that after age thirty.‖ changing our course becomes harder to do. what kind of practice are you getting for that role right now? Strike While the Iron Is Hot. the prefrontal cortex will run faster and more efficiently. it will want to take the path of least resistance – the trails you‘ve already made. and as Jay explains. ―Our personalities change more during the twentysomething years than at any time before or after. behaviors.‖ The reason there are thirtysomething men (and women) who are still head-scratchingly immature. Creating a new trail. or correct for. molding your behavior is like making trails through a grassy field. gray matter is pruned as neural pathways not in use ―atrophy. and become the man you want to be.‖ while those being utilized are consolidated and organized more efficiently.‖ making them hard to shake off in adulthood.‖ In our thirties. Once your brain is finished developing. addictions that begin in adolescence get wired into the brain as it ―sets. The plastic of the adolescent brain is more malleable. Throughout adolescence and into the mid-twenties. you lose in flexibility. while other say smallchanges are. you can – and must – take an active role in shaping how the wire is laid. As the graphic alludes to. brains are ―plastic‖ throughout our lives. the neural pathways that you‘ve already forged. and the Metal Is Pliable This final development of your brain is akin to getting a wiring upgrade – after it‘s completed. whether we‘re 20 or 60. and that‘s about the extent of the divide in viewpoints. What they all agree on is that the majority of who you are is crystallized by age thirty. post-twenties. while the plastic of the older brain is of a harder variety – it takes more kneading and heat to mold it. weedy jungle that requires a great deal more effort to plow through. feelings. While your brain is still flexible and malleable. the moves we made during our twentysomething years. Never again will it be so easy to shape yourself. is that they figured they could spend their twenties drifting and partying and then one day when they turned thirty things would magically come together for them and they‘d . There actually isn‘t much debate among experts on this point: some say almost no changes are possible after thirty. But what you gain in speed. and personality become relatively fixed and stable.

They are certainly not disposable. but for a lifetime of happiness and satisfaction. but you should also make room for a season of leading troubled teens on wilderness expeditions. and help you learn and grow. . but short window of time. But when their brains ―set‖ – the plastic hardened — the things that were going on in their lives at the time – waking up on someone else‘s floor and working at Starbucks – had been etched into their corti. They should not only let you see and try new things. Your twenties truly represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. but it‘s also an ideal time to get hitched. the pursuits you undertake. There‘s room in your twenties for a season working the ski lift at a resort. the relationships you form. and create a cognitive foundation that‘s prepared not simply for a few years of fun. It‘s a good time to date. but also broaden your horizons. This knowledge.‖ may mean well. strengthen and season your prefontal cortex. and discipline yourself. Stretching yourself now will solidify the best neural pathways. Seek experiences that both harness your passions and exercise and stretch the executive faculties of your mind. coupled with an understanding of the special powers of the twentysomething brain we discussed last time. Don’t Waste Your Twenties Understanding more about how the brain works shows that contrary to the idea that these years are disposable and inconsequential. outsized impact on who you become and how the rest of your life turns out. If you don‘t want to be the guy who‘s living like he‘s twenty-three at age forty-four (even when he himself is tired of that life and is ready for a different stage) sculpt your prefrontal cortex in your twenties by seeking out experiences and commitments that will exercise and challenge your ability to plan. impact your character. People who tell you: ―Don‘t worry. But what does that mean? Must you forego exploring and adventure in your twenties and settle down as soon as possible? Hardly. A confluence of factors creates a powerful. and the decisions you make during this decade can in fact have an enormous. but there also needs to be a place for a well-building mission to Africa. but are wrong — the twenties are not interchangeable with every other decade to come.be ready to shift into another gear. has hopefully convinced you that ―thirty is the new twenty‖ is indeed a bunch of baloney. and you owe it to yourself to make the very most of it. Your twenties are in fact the perfect time for adventure and exploration. You‘ve got all the time in the world. There‘s a place in your twenties for an aimless backpacking trip through Europe. but the experiences you choose should have an element of intentionality. set goals.

Studies have shown.‖ Identity capital includes resume entries like degrees and jobs and volunteer work. NY and engaged in rigorous and intensive independent study. launching does not mean finishing – it meansbeginning. but also our people skills. but put them on the path towards it: At age 20: Plato became a disciple of Socrates. saying it would be a waste of time. His adventure in the North would create the fodder for many of his most popular articles and books. and thus produce what is called ―identity capital. challenge you. the better. reading the classics for nine hours a day. At age 22: Charles Darwin signed on as the HMS Beagle‘s naturalist for a five-year voyage to South America and the Galapagos Islands. Jay writes. It‘s not that you must complete all your goals in your twenties. At age 26: ―Johnny Appleseed‖ brought apple seeds to the Ohio Valley. but rather creating a foundation that will allow you to build towards them for the rest of your life. The twenties are not about checking off all of your goals. the world. however indirectly. At age 25: Future mythologist Joseph Campbell rented a shack in Woodstock. that ―Twentysomethings who take the time to . experiences. But just as telling as that kind of list is one that shows the things twentysomething men were doing that didn‘t bring them immediate success. When I say the twenties are the perfect time for launching big things. and pursuits that align with your goals. he was literally planting seeds in his twenties. This relationship paved the way for Plato to develop new ways of thinking that would eventually become cornerstones of Western thought.Basically. the ability to be resilient in the face of setbacks. At age 21: Jack London set sail for the Klondike with the first rush of gold-seekers. At age 27: Kurt Vonnegut. towards your end goals. the more of your pursuits that point. As Jay puts it: ―There’s a big difference between having a life in your thirties and starting a life in your thirties. and an understanding of culture. I did so in order to showcase the vast. Although his father had told him not to go. Yes. and often overlooked potential of young men. the ability to solve problems under stress. Jr. While I started off the last post by listing some of the notable accomplishments made by men in their early twenties.”Starting your life and creating a solid foundation involves seeking education. the copious notes and observations Darwin made and the collection of specimens he gathered on the journey would lead him to develop his theory of evolution. quit his job at General Electric to become a full-time writer and Henry David Thoreau went off for two years to live alone in a cabin at Walden Pond. and human nature. for five years straight.

greater life satisfaction. it‘s just harder. and successful lives. Wait Brett! I’m Over Thirty and This Series Has Seriously Bummed Me Out! Is There No Hope for Me? I definitely noticed that were quite a few comments on the first post to the effect of: ―Well. stronger reasoning. There are plenty of examples from history of men who made their greatest contribution to society later in life (we plan to put together a list of these late bloomers one of these days as well as cover steps you can take to turn things around). But I don‘t want older folks to walk away from this feeling like there‘s no hope for them and they‘ll just have to settle for wherever they are in life. I also know several regular Joes who turned their lives around after 30 after spending their 20s drifting and now lead happy. the more you accumulate the ―richer‖ you become.explore and also have the nerve to make commitments along the way construct stronger identities. This series was designed to inspire guys in their twenties to gain an understanding of how much potential this decade of their life holds. a strong and wise captain can always turn the ship around. realistic expectations. and that it should be taken full advantage of. and make commitments – the unique but waning properties of the adolescent brain make it easier to do so than it will ever be again. No matter what your age. All qualities that will stand you in good stead no matter where life‘s journey takes you. I wish I had read this earlier in my life. Identity capital acts as the currency of careers and relationships. So to sum up: if you‘re a youngin‘. For the disciplined and the dedicated.‖ Cheer up ye thirty and fortysomethings (or ye spry. . don‘t wish for what could have been. and resistance to conformity. fulfilling. tech-savvy seventysomethings). Now it‘s too late for me. this is depressing. a clearer sense of self. but push forward with your might. And if you‘re a little longer in the tooth. I do truly believe that the twenties are the ideal time to make important decisions. perseverance. But doing big things and making changes post-twenties isn’t impossible. the gate to greatness is always open. better stress management. and the more and more doors you can open as you move into your thirties and the rest of your life. I beseech you to strike while the iron is hot and not let the opportunity of your twenties slip away. start big things.‖ These identities are associated with higher self-esteem.

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