Why You Should NOT Soul Search in Your 20s

by Alexander Heyne · 25 comments

“Wake up! If you knew for certain you had a terminal illness–if you had little time left to live–you would waste precious little of it! Well, I’m telling you…you do have a terminal illness: It’s called birth. You don’t have more than a few years left. No one does! So be happy now, without reason–or you will never be at all.”

- Way of the Peaceful Warrior

Lone Tree

If I hear one more person in their 20s say that “your 20s are for soul searching, partying, and traveling” I’m going to start kicking puppies.

Throughout my travels and adventures, I often meet a lot of 20 somethings (and 30,40,50 somethings) trying to figure out what to do with their lives.

And I very often meet one particular kind of person: the person who says “we’re gonna live to 100 anyway… 20 is the new 30, so I’ve got plenty of time to figure my shit out.”

…Except it’s not true.

And most of these people I meet end up saying the same thing for one year, then five, then ten, then twenty. Many of the ones I’ve met haven’t progressed much in their lives, are no closer to figuring out what they enjoy, and are no sooner going to be living the life they want.

The people I usually meet with this mindset have lives that looked the same at 18 as they do now at 35. No growth. No progress. No change.

The other day I heard a fantastic talk by Meg Jay, called “Why 30 is not the new 20.” And, in case you haven’t heard her talk (I’ll link to it below), this woman is spot on.

Let me share some points that will blow your mind.

What Do You Think Happens When You Say “You’ve Got Plenty of Time” To a 20 Something? (Jack shit.)

Dr. Jay says something along these lines in her video – that the most damaging thing you can ever possibly say to a 20 something is “Oh, you’ve got plenty of time, you don’t need to figure it out now.”

And what happens?

We just stall further. We avoid asking ourselves the hard questions in life (One of the biggest life mistakes you can make in your 20s).

We put off the important stuff.

We take shitty jobs that don’t matter.

We date shitty partners because “we’re not going to marry them anyway.”

We tell ourselves “there’s no rush.”

But I’m here to tell you something way different.

It is urgent that you figure out the life you want to live now, as soon as possible, not later.

URGENCY.

This talk sort of re-fired up one of the main principles I want to encourage all of you to follow: figure your shit out now!

Life goes by fast – really fast – you don’t have time to spare. None of us do.

You’re 25 now, and tomorrow you’re 35 with two kids, a spouse, and not enough money – and no time to pursue stuff you’re passionate about.

You’re 25 now, and tomorrow you’re 55 having your midlife crisis because you never focused on the important stuff when you were young… and now you have to figure it out when you have fewer resources, time, and poorer health.

But there’s one other big problem which is…

Avoiding Asking The Hard Questions Now = Getting Shafted by Life Later


Dr. Jay brings up a really interesting scenario, that goes something like this:

20 something doesn’t want to get a real job. “I don’t want to get stuck and chained to a desk.”

20 something takes a part time job, or an entry level job. “I want my free time.”

20 something remains under-employed, barely making enough money for self. “I want to just enjoy life and not work so hard, I can figure out what I like later.”

20 something becomes 30 something… meets a nice man or woman, and settles down.

30 something no longer has enough money, and is forced to find a job that will provide that money.

30 something no longer has time to “find his/her passion” or start a career over.

30 something now has kids, and is further bound financially.

30 something realizes he/she hated this job for the past 10 years, but can’t take exit plan because he/she has a family and kids.

30 something becomes 50 something – and because she is having a midlife crisis, she doesn’t feel like she is in the life she wanted, feels like it’s all a dream, and she’s tired of it all.

Following me?

All this because she avoided the important stuff when young. But once she hit her 30s or 40s she got crunched by trying to solve several huge life problems at once: finances, relationships, kids, purpose, meaning, passion, etc. And at that point, she couldn’t afford to address them all.

So Here’s What You Should be Doing…

It doesn’t matter if you’re 18, or 60.

Focus on working your ass off for the life you truly want. Many of you already know what that is. If you don’t, begin the road to experimentation.

Start today.

Find or make work you enjoy, that pays you enough for the lifestyle you want.

Live the life you want to read about in books and stories.

Start doing less in life, and start doing more stuff that is meaningful.

Do a flow test for a month – eliminate the shit you hate, do more of the stuff that makes your life worth living.

You Have a Terminal Illness – It’s called LIFE.

“Wake up! If you knew for certain you had a terminal illness–if you had little time left to live–you would waste precious little of it! Well, I’m telling you… you do have a terminal illness: It’s called birth. You don’t have more than a few years left. No one does! So be happy now, without reason–or you will never be at all.”

- Way of the Peaceful Warrior

I’m going to leave you with this quote I found in Way of the Peaceful warrior.

None of us have lots of time. We just think we do.

The more you put off the hard questions, the harder you make your life later. Do the hard work today.

30 is not the new 20.

So stop wasting your time on work, people, and activities that don’t matter, and start pursuing the shit that does matter.

– Alex

P.S. Here’s the talk I was referring to. Listen when you get a chance. I suspect the talk will be polarizing – many of you will love it, many of you will hate it.

Image credits: Freedigitalphotos.net

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