Opinion

Five habits to build in your twenties

"Some habits that I believe will turn you into a well-rounded character."

By Afnan Alobaidli

“Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.” Image: Shutterstock.

Welcome to adulthood. You may not have noticed it, but your years of being a teenager are behind you. You have probably just graduated from university or are about to. You’re probably looking to establish a career path. You’re probably thinking you should look for your other half and maybe start a family with them. Your twenties are turbulent years, rife with decisive moments that will determine how your life will look like for the next decade, maybe even more.

Perhaps the one thing that you should pay attention to during these years are the habits that you’re creating for yourself, the things that you do on a daily basis. Because, although some paths are determined by one-time decisions, others are determined by the things that you do everyday. So here some habits that I believe will turn you into a well-rounded character, things you should take into consideration while you’re still in your twenties:

1.Read more and learn more

This one goes without saying. Graduation and getting your certificate does not mean that you have reached the end of the learning road. Your twenties are the time when you start learning from the school of life. So be prepared. Learning a new language can give you an advantage in communication, in getting hired for a new job, or in pursuing studies in higher education. Reading fiction can help you become a more compassionate and articulate speaker and writer. Reading non-fiction can open new branches of knowledge for you. There is always something new to learn. So stay updated. Remember that school only gives you the keys to knowledge. It is up to you to follow the path.

2. Learn to do something with your hands

Being able to create something with your hands makes it all the more special and memorable. Learn how to paint, or take up knitting, or cooking. That’s how artists and creatives started out. By involving yourself physically in an activity, you are building memory into your muscles, and the earlier you learn a craft, the easier it is for you to pick up on its skills and integrate it as a habit in your life. 

3. Connect with people

In a TED Talk by Robert Waldinger on “What Makes a Good Life? Lessons from the Longest Study on Happiness” Waldinger talks about one of the longest studies conducted on adult life by The Harvard Study of Adult Development. They tracked 724 individuals for 75 years to answer this one question: “What makes a good life?” The answer was simple and clear: “good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.” If there is something you should focus on at this time in your life more than anything else, it’s building good relationships with your parents, siblings, and friends because as you grow older, you can grow apart from them because you will get more involved with your work and personal life. Remember, there will always be more work. So you are going to have to learn how to maintain good relationships. This is probably the hardest skill to learn, but one that is essential to your emotional stability as you grow older. 

4. Pay attention

Observe more and listen more. This is where wisdom and creativity are born. The things  that we learn from people and experiences are different from the things we learn from books. If you want to live a more meaningful life at home and work you need to develop the skill to pay attention and to focus better. Pay attention to people around you, and you will develop empathy towards them, while they will show you equal respect and value. Pay attention to your work and it will yield results of higher and more creative output. Perhaps this is easier said than done. But being aware of the value of paying attention to the people and the things around you at a younger age will help you become a wiser person.

5. Finally, be gentle with yourself

Maybe you’re not hitting those milestones career-wise or in relationships. Maybe your friends are doing better. And maybe you’re comparing yourself to others all the time. It is natural to feel this way. It is also natural not to be on the path you want at the time you want it. Accept that some goals will not be met at your twenties, and that you might need a longer learning and working curve than others. Acceptance too is a skill that should be learned at a young age, so that you are able to feel comfortable under your skin, at whatever age.     

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Afnan Alobaidli is a graduate of English Literature from Saudi Arabia. She is passionate about art, history and literature. She loves to express herself through writing and plans to make it her lifelong vocation.

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