Why So Many People Get Lost In Their 20s (And How to Find “The Path”)

by Alexander Heyne · 16 comments

Path in woods

Most people blow the shit out of their 20s, because they make a very big mistake.

Most of the time when we’re lost in life, we do one of two things.

Think about the teenage years, when everyone is a little awkward, figuring life shit out, figuring parent-related shit out, and even figuring out sexuality.

Usually in those strange years, we tend to do one of two things.

The first thing is that if we’re lost, we just conform.

You know, our parents say, “Hey Jimmy, daddy was banker or a CPA, so you’re just going to go to school for accounting, finances or economics.”

And the kid’s either like, “Okay, fine, I don’t really care, I want a good job.”

Or, they tend to do the exact opposite.

Most kids just accept and conform, and work for mommy or daddy’s business, get the college degree, get married and get that whole white picket fence life – and just do what they see everyone else doing.

They don’t spend too much time thinking deliberately about what they want.

Most people just conform, which is fine.

Then, you’ve got another side of the coin here.

When we’re lost, we tend to either conform (and do what we see everyone else doing, going back to school, getting jobs, getting married, having kids), or we rebel against the system.

This is really easy to spot in the teenage years too.

You see kids going gothic for just a phase, from that 16-19 age, where they get piercings, black lipstip, fishnet shirts, and they’re involved in all kinds of alternative stuff.

Or you have those teenage girls that become lesbians for a few years, and magically become straight again by 21.

It’s just this fighting against the system, and fighting against the man idea (the whole preacher’s daughter syndrome).

Most of us conform, some rebel, but most people miss the magic: the third path.

The Third Path: Where The Magic Happens


The middle is where the magic happens.

Guess what? Neither of these paths are deliberate living. Neither of these paths get you to your dream life, because neiter of them are conscious, deliberate choices.

Most are just reacting to something (pulling or pushing) – accepting the push from your mom, or just pushing against it.

Neither one of those paths is me saying, “Hey, what do I really want from life, and where am I trying to go?”

The conforming path is just “okay, going with the flow…”

The rebeling path is just pushing shit away – just for the sake of rebeling, not because rebelling even gets you anywhere, it’s just about saying fuck you to mommy and daddy, or the man.

Neither of them are conscious choices about going down a deliberate path.

The secret is in the middle: what do YOU as an individual really want?

Most people are too busy going with the flow, like going back to grad school, or going off to thailand and becoming a digital nomad, stoner rhasta, saying “fuck you” to the man and promising to never get a job.

“I’m not dealing with this society bullshit” is a pretty common phase that almost every 20 something goes through at one point or another.

But both of these are losing paths, and neither of them really get you on the path that’s really fulfilling.

The Real Question About Figuring Out Which Path to go Down

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My question for you is simple: first, what bucket are you in?

Maybe you’ve been conforming for the past five years – which is fine – maybe you just got a job and got married because you thought that’s what you were supposed to do.

Maybe you didn’t get a job, and just dropped out of society to live on the fringes, smoke weed, and just mess around because you didn’t want to deal with this society and grown up bullshit.

But what do YOU want?

What do you really want?

What do you want your financial life to look like?

What do you want your spiritual life to look like?

Your work?

Your health?

Your relationship?

Your travels?

What do you want all of this to look like, in the absence of conforming or just fighting against mommy and daddy.

Then, only then, can you go after the path you want.

Everything else is just a distraction, a bullshit side path.

Stop Lying To Yourself

Stop telling yourself things like you can be “successful or happy” – it’s bullshit.

Stop telling yourself you can be “spiritual or rich” – it’s bullshit.

Always choose the and.

You can be successful AND happy AND fulfilled AND contribute AND have time with your family.

You can have both.

Think in terms of and, intsead of either/or.

Maybe you’ve rebelled, or maybe you’ve conformed.

But what do you really want?

Comment below which path you’ve been on for the past 5 years, and what your game plan is now.

– Alex

Images: used with permission from picjumbo and freedigitalphotos.net

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Elena June 28, 2016 at 2:01 pm

Alex, you have just described it so well. That’s clarity. Thank you. This helps a lot!

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Alexander Heyne July 1, 2016 at 4:48 pm

Glad it helped Elena :-)

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Alan June 28, 2016 at 10:29 pm

What you talk about at the end of the post I have been thinking about a lot lately… That work can be fulfilling AND pay the bills… that you can accomplish your goals AND have close friends and relationships…. this is a realization that makes the future exciting and the possibilities seem limitless.

I just got fed up with other people’s expectations, and my own fears and negative self-talk, controlling what I do. It’s my life and I’m going to live it the way I want.

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Alexander Heyne July 1, 2016 at 4:48 pm

100% – always choose the and.

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SP June 29, 2016 at 8:36 am

Alex-

I haven’t done anything at all with my life, and I’m 38. Literally–I haven’t done anything. I’ve been working the same dead-end job in a file archive room for 10 years now and have no motivation to change anything. Haven’t been on a date in almost 6 years either and have never had a serious girlfriend.

I always blame feeling like I learn far more slowly than most people on all my problems. I don’t feel even close to as capable as others in almost any area of life. I just waste money on new clothes, just like my parents do (they’re almost 70). The rest of the time I just sit at coffee shops and write in my 1,500+ page journal about how I have no life. The best thing in my entire life is binge watching It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia on NetFlix. That’s pretty much it for me.

I realize this sounds like I’m victimizing myself, but I seriously do feel like I don’t learn fast enough to do pretty much anything that requires valuable skills. Or by the time I learn those skills it’ll be “too late.” I’m the guy who can’t follow a movie plot and has to read about it afterwards, and even then I struggle to process what I’m reading. Or clever jokes go right over my head. Or I miss important things at work. And so on.

I don’t know what kind of advice you’d have for someone in my boat, other than “stop making excuses and take action.” And I get that. I just feel like I’ve been in a lifelong rut and never feel like digging myself out.

-SP

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Alexander Heyne July 1, 2016 at 4:49 pm

Hey SP,

Totally hear you there. First, I wouldn’t worry about not being a fast learner. Most millionaires I’ve met are NOT SPECIAL and are NOT smart – seriously. They are completely average, they just decided to figure out what it takes.

Second – and this sounds random – who has a cool life to you? What if you channeled that journal writing into book writing?

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Andy July 2, 2016 at 6:24 am

Hi Alex, just wanted to drop you a quick message saying I’m loving the videos, they’re awesome!

Personally, I guess I’ve gone from the conforming path to the rebelling path (quitting my job to travel, with no plan) over the last few years. Now I’d say I’m on that 3rd path which is amazing! It’s slow progress (and hard work) as I’m doing it all around an okay full time job, but to reference one of your previous blogs, there’s a lot of ‘laying bricks’ now, which is very fulfilling and leads to a lot of optimism.

Thanks for your emails/blogs/videos- they help to keep me on the 3rd path and work it. Cheers bro!

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Alexander Heyne July 2, 2016 at 3:04 pm

Thanks Andy, glad it’s helped! And yes.. in the short run, the middle path seems like the slow one, but in the 3, 5, 10 year game – it’s way faster, and more rewarding (including financially).

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Jascha July 4, 2016 at 6:24 am

Hey Alex,
first off, great video! For some reason, I personally never had a conformity or rebellion phase. I’m 21 now, have a clear goal, and am working towards it every day.
One thing I noticed: When you point at the viewer (e.g. “What do YOU what to do?”) your index finger is bent and doesn’t point straight forward. If you point with a straight finger directly at the camera it will make the gesture clearer and come off as more confident.
Being really nitpicky, I know ;)! I wouldn’t come anywhere close your level when talking on camera.

Best regards
Jascha

PS: Sorry for grammar mistakes I’m German

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Alexander Heyne July 18, 2016 at 5:01 am

Hahah thank you Jascha

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Vy July 5, 2016 at 10:05 pm

Hi Alex,

I have managed to keep my dreams alive, but when so many people tell me that I’m not gonna make it, sometimes I couldn’t help doubting myself .

Gratefully, you and your wise words remind of who I really want to be.

And yes, I agree with you, we shouldn’t push AGAINST the “society bullshit”. Instead we should push it ASIDE, and most importantly, stick to our own path.

I’m working very hard towards the dream of my life, and will share with you when I am successful :)

It’s amazing how you did not only realize your own dreams, but you are also helping many people to realize theirs. Thank you!

Keep up the good work!

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Alexander Heyne July 18, 2016 at 5:01 am

100% Vy – you have to be VERY clear on your own vision for the future. And then make sure you only hang around those kinds of people.

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Sajan July 19, 2016 at 1:37 pm

Hey Alex, I am going to try to give you some value here.

First I want to say thanks for all the content over the years, it has helped me since I was 16 (I am 19 now).

I dont know if you have read them but So Good They Cant Ignore You and Deep Work by Cal Newport are very good books and great for millennials like you and me.

Also, if your struggling with willpower, the Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal is a very god book. You probably already do some of the techniques naturally but she has some good stuff that I think you’ll like. Look at her Talk @ Google, its very good.

Lastly, you probably already listen to him, but Gary Vaynerchuk is a great guy to listen to about business and marketing. Very smart guy,

I just wanted to post this comment cause I was feeling in a good, happy mood and you have helped me in the past, so I thought I’d try and repay the favor.

To Alex and anybody else reading this, have a great day!

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Alexander Heyne August 26, 2016 at 2:14 pm

Hey Sajan,

Awesome book recommendations, will definitely check out the ones that I haven’t read!

-Alex

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Abbey August 23, 2016 at 12:03 pm

For the past 5 years, just conforming.
For the past 5 months, I’m conforming AND rebelling.

I’m in the zone where the magic happens! But I’m not waiting for the magic to happen. I’m doing my best to make it happen. It wasn’t easy giving up the security I had from my previous job and a lot of people (mostly, elders) think that it was very selfish and stupid of me to give up. I left because I felt like “a square peg being pushed in a round hole” – something that unfortunately, not a lot of people around me, understand.

It’s not easy being in the “magic zone” either especially now during the early stages. The questions can come all at once and drive me crazy sometimes, but I’m definitely not going back to just conforming. I’ve had enough of living to please other people. As of now, I’m definitely not thinking of just rebelling either. Life’s too fun to waste!

Thanks Alex! Awesome post, as always!

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Nick February 26, 2017 at 10:39 am

You hit the nail on the head man. I never was a rebellious youth, and then after college I spent five years doing the first path, working as a cpa. Then I paid off my debt and quit to go and travel. Now I’m almost 30 and I feel like I’m having my rebellious teenager phase that I didn’t have in those years. I’m back home and making money doing temporary work but considering more travel/teach english abroad/whatever.

“I’m not dealing with this society bullshit”

That rings true. I know in some part of my brain the damage that those attitudes can do in the long run, but currently I indulge in them anyways.

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