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Three Things I Would Change About My 20s, If I Went Back Today

Monday December 2, 2019

Lately I’ve been asked a few times what I would change if I went back in time to my 20s. (Why not 30s or teens? I think this is because people really start to feel like they have social freedom and a sort of performance question on their hands, in their 20s. It’s an exciting and unnerving decade for many.)

Here are three things I would change if I could go back to my 20s today:

Social Wisdom and Inner Wisdom Sometimes Diverge

In my 20s, my actions demonstrated that I thought achievement meant a socially-formulated happiness. I judged my goals by their impact, which meant that they were socially-calibrated.

While I would never have said, “hey, money is really what it’s about,” a lot of my actions were informed by a pursuit of a high-earning career, for example.

Going back to that time, I think I would ask more questions like, “how would someone with your beliefs about success act on a day like today? What would they do right now?”

Oh and also, “what would be fun and interesting today?” I have learned that “fun” is underrated and really poorly explored during in the average person’s mid- to late-20s.

Health is You, in Your Totality

In my 20s, I thought good health started with exercise. Feeling unhealthy? Get outdoors! Hit the gym! Get in an hour of cardio, or go lift.

Nowadays I’m more likely to say that health is about weird stuff like: Balance, pacing, design, and reflection. I take a broader view of health.

I’m also much more healthy now than I was then.

I took a really hard approach to exercise in my 20s, but I also emerged from my 20s with a continuing battle against mental health issues on my hands. I had to admit that the exercise alone was not doing as much as I wanted it to. Even if it was something like a martial art including a lot of movement combined with meditation and life philosophy, things were, on balance, not really feeling great.

Overcoming this huge mental health burden while doing simple exercises like walking and hiking taught me a lot about my internal health, my whole-body-system health.

So, in my 20s you could have told me “if you’re depressed, get more exercise” and I might have replied that this was obvious. Upon reflection in my late 30s, however, I learned that this kind of thinking even contributed to depression symptoms I had previously experienced. I didn’t have the right tools to look beyond these health-knowledge-maxims and exercise-knowledge-maxims and into my own subjective condition.

A Do-it-now Performance Bias is Not an Introvert’s Best Friend

In my 20s, I thought that I needed to do all of this sensory stuff, and do it really well. Oh, and I thought I needed to do it now, in order to stay ahead of the curve. Designing, building, performing, coding, writing, and so on.

Success, it seemed, was wrapped in a tortilla of getting things done in the sensory realm. This created an energy-draining vortex of huge proportions as I raided my best personal resources in search of a way to accomplish the day’s list of tasks.

On top of that—sadly—even when I accomplished all those tasks I was left with a huge emotional weight. Who was I working for? What was I really trying to prove? And was this the best way to live a life?

These days, my tortilla is designed in the intuitive realm and then it’s kept up there for reexamination. I have learned that I need to continually return to the big picture, even when I would have previously thought the rest of the job was nothing but details to get right. If I’m procrastinating a project, it usually turns out that there’s a big-picture issue, not a little-picture one. And many times those are much easier to attack for us intuitives.

Summary

Well, there’s more than this…I had another three bullet points here but I just don’t have time right now so maybe later.

If you’re in your 20s now, and reading this: Please look after yourself as best you can, and contact me if you have anything you want to talk about, as I’m always happy to help. Email’s in the sidebar.

(Now…what would I change about my 40s, ten years from now, or even 20 years from now? I’m actually kind of excited to find out. So far my 40s have been a huge improvement in comparison to the previous decades.)

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