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5 Life Lessons That Will Accelerate You Through Your Early 20s



lessons you will learn in your twenties
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For many people, living life in their early 20s is like walking through a maze at night time. You’re constantly unsure of which direction you need to take and are blinded by the dark notion that uncertainty will play a large part in your journey. Additionally, you’ll likely feel lost at some point along the way. Often we are swayed by schools, the media, our peers, and societal norms to take a pre-disposed route and this can leave you unfulfilled by the time you hit your mid 20s.

Falling into debt, poor relationships and bad health are not uncommon during the first quarter century of your life. However, this doesn’t have to be your story. You can create your own narrative, build yourself a foundation for winning and become a force to be reckoned with going into your late 20s if you take a few actionable steps towards success.

Here are 5 life lessons that will supercharge you through your early 20s:

1. Get on top of your fitness

Eating healthy and challenging yourself physically will improve numerous areas of your life. Being fit makes you feel good, and when you feel good about yourself, you become a better person to be around. This has a positive effect on your relationships, work, and social life along with giving you momentum going forward.

Lifting regularly in the gym also builds your physical appearance. As shallow as it may seem, you are judged on how you look and present yourself. Set a good first impression by looking the part and this will pay dividends in job interviews, social situations, and your personal life. 

If anything, fitness is the gateway drug to self-improvement. If you struggle with stress, anxiety, and are prone to depression, lifting something heavy or going for a hard run is the hit you need to get you back into a better headspace and onto the winning path in your early 20s.

2. Learn to be financially competent

Money isn’t everything, but being broke is never fun. Whilst it is very unlikely that you will be at your monetary peak in your early 20s, it’s vital that you learn how to understand basic financial literacy and begin to become financially independent. 

A good rule of thumb is to save 20% of everything you earn. For instance, if your take home monthly pay is around $2,000, try saving at least $300-400. This accumulated over 5 years could be a house deposit, investment into a business, or freedom to move abroad. 

Another smart thing to do is create a side hustle. If you work a full-time job, use your weekends and evenings to build a passion project or business that generates you an extra form of income. This can pay for your holidays, drinks with friends, and may even turn into your full-time gig. Whatever your goals may be, having money in the bank and multiple revenue streams gives you choices and options going into your 30s.

“It’s not how much money you make, but how much money you keep, how hard it works for you, and how many generations you keep it for.”- Robert Kiyosaki

3. Build your network and social skills

How many times have you heard someone say “I made friends with X and they knew someone who helped me do Y.” Being personable, likeable and charismatic are the foundations to building your biggest asset – your network. The social skills you acquire to obtain your network will likely get your further in life than your technical ability.

The people you surround yourself with will also have the highest impact on your trajectory. People often say that you’re the average of the 5 friends you spend the most time around, and it’s true. If you hang around with industrious and hard-working people, you’re likely to be industrious and hard-working. If you hang around lazy and unenthusiastic people… well, you know how that turns out.

Invest time during your early 20s into your relationships and meet a wide array of people who are actively working on themselves. Their energy will be contagious and may even be your ticket to the next life-changing job, business opportunity, or relationship.

4. Your issues are your responsibility

One of the coldest lessons you learn in life is that nobody is coming to save you. The issues you carry from childhood and the past traumas you faced may not be your fault, but it is ultimately your responsibility to solve them. Almost all of the meaning that you need to get you through the hard times of life is going to be the direct consequence of adopting responsibility. 

Take ownership of your problems. This will make you feel competent and give you a sense of urgency that causes you to move through reality with more confidence and intensity. When you fulfil your obligations today, you don’t have to worry as much about what tomorrow holds. This extreme accountability will set you apart from your peers and move you into maturity much quicker.

“You only have control over three things in your life – the thoughts you think, the images you visualize, and the actions your take.” – Jack Canfield

5. Work is important but so is fun

There’s an undeniable urge for us to seek pleasure and fun as young people. Many self-help ‘gurus’ will tell you that the grind is the only way to get ahead. The issue with this mindset is that just staying on the grind will turn you into an emotionless and insufferable robot that is only useful for hitting company KPIs and being operationally efficient. This is in no way a noble or a sustainable way to live.

A large part of your fulfilment will come from dabbling in some hedonism and instant gratification from time-to-time. It’s important for your development to travel and be open-minded

Both work and fun are important in becoming fully rounded and curating a person that will be successful moving into their second quarter century. Apply yourself daily but don’t forget to smell the roses!

What’s the biggest lesson you learned in your 20’s? If you’re still in your 20’s, what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far? Share your lessons below!

Oliver Anwar is a qualified nutrition coach, health consultant and business owner that helps busy entrepreneurs, founders and professionals become fitter, healthier and more productive. During his teens, he spent most of his time playing elite football in the UK before moving into personal training and online coaching in his early 20s. Since then, he has worked with some famous YouTubers and consults with companies such as WeWork to help give busy people actionable, practical and tangible ways to optimise their health, fitness and mindset for greater performance and fulfilment in life. Find him at and on LinkedIn.


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Why Do We Have An Unconscious Bias and How Can We Manage It?



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When I hear someone using my name once in a while throughout the conversation we are having, I cannot stop myself thinking “this person must have read Dale Carnegie’s books or must have been influenced by someone who read them…” Have you just recalled a similar moment and it felt nice?

As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and the most important sound in any language”. Why did Dale Carnegie highlight the importance of an individual’s name to that person in his “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book published in 1936?

Each and every one of us wants to feel special and unique. I guess he recommends using the person’s name in the conversation because that is one of the easiest ways to grab that person’s attention so that we can enhance the chances of getting our point across. However, I am more interested in this from the other side; hearing our names directly addresses our individuality, our need or desire to feel special and unique.  

Let’s park this one for now and we will come back. 

Categorization is essential to our survival

There is countless scientific research telling us about how our brains recognize similarities and put things into categories, which has been crucial to our survival in evolution and still helps us with a lot of things from learning new things to coping with the continuous influx of massive amounts of information through our senses. 

The continuous influx of information is mostly handled by our subconscious mind rather than conscious. It is estimated that our brains receive about 11 million bits of information every second through our senses, of which only 40-50 bits can be processed by our conscious mind. We process more information than we are aware of. The magic here is the subconscious mind.

An example is when you are at a very loud party where you hear a lot of words flying around without you recognizing each one of them, then suddenly, you immediately catch it when you hear your name. Your subconscious had been processing all of those words, without your awareness, but informed your conscious mind when your name was out there because it was relevant to you.

In order to most effectively process this much information and inform the conscious mind with only the relevant ones, our subconscious employs categorization as one of its strategies.

When our ancestors encountered some deadly predators in the African savanna, their subconscious prompted their conscious mind to immediately fight or flight by categorizing the information gathered through their senses into “predator / life threat / take action”. Most probably we are not descendants of the ones that were frozen rather than fighting or flighting! 

Although it is a completely different situation, the same strategy applied in remembering lists. Let’s look at the below two lists.

  1. lion, eagle, shark, leopard, hawk, whale, panther, falcon and dolphin 
  2. lion, leopard, panther, eagle, hawk, falcon, shark, whale and dolphin

The second list is easy to remember because it is reordered into relevant groups even though the content of the both lists are identical.

Subconsciousness is the magic and categorization is one of its key strategies. It is essential to our survival, learning new skills and processing information as well as bringing back the information we had processed and stored. 

This amazing skill has its drawbacks

As a result of our brains’ categorization strategy, we also categorize people, especially if we don’t know them as well as our closest ones.

Imagine I am sitting at the table next to yours while you are having your favorite coffee and working on your computer or reading your novel at your neighborhood coffee shop. I stand up, very calmly grab your bag, and start walking away. Your reaction might be quite different depending on my outfit. It could be much more vocal and harsh if I have a dirty T-Shirt and a pair of torn jeans on. However, if I have some navy colored, 3-piece suit and well-pressed white button up shirt on, you might even say something like “Excuse me, you might have picked up my bag by mistake”. (There is an experiment done by social psychologists which reported similar results)

Similarly, I would not be surprised to hear that my co-worker’s spouse is very skilled and knowledgeable in English grammar and literature because he is an English teacher. However, I would not expect it from my co-worker herself because she is an outstanding chemical engineer.  

This is defined as unconscious bias or stereotyping, as a result of our subconscious brain’s categorization strategy. The outfit I have at the coffee shop impacts your response to my action, because it puts me into a different category in your mind depending on my outfit. My co-worker’s and her spouse’s backgrounds make me put them into different categories, which might mislead me sometimes.

Just like we categorize things, it is very natural that we categorize people.  

The key question here for me is; how do we truly treat people as individuals so that they feel unique, just like as they would want, while we know that our brains categorize people

We can overcome unconscious bias 

Leonard Mlodinow, in his enlightening book “Subliminal”, suggests that “if we are aware of our bias and motivated to overcome it, we can.” That doesn’t mean that we need to fight our brain’s categorization strategy. We just need to employ our conscious mind more when we are working or dealing with individuals. 

Our unconscious bias might tell us scientists are bunch of technical nerds who cannot understand abstract concepts that marketers are talking about or it might say that marketers are some daydreamers who need to be grounded by scientists to the real world all the time. I am an engineer and I love thinking in abstract terms and I worked with quite a lot of marketers who thought primarily in factual and concrete terms. 

Spending some effort to learn more about individuals will help overcome unconscious bias. Gathering more information and qualities about them will make it easier for us to treat them as individuals rather than a member of the category we put them in our minds. 

The moral of the story here is to recognize the fact that our brains do categorize, and it is essential; but also, to recognize that every individual wants to feel unique. When we appreciate these two and keep reminding them to ourselves, we are one step closer to figuring out our own way to overcome unconscious bias and treat people more like individuals. 

What was the most interesting part of this article for you? Share your thoughts below!

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