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What Everyone Should Know at 20: Life Lessons That Nobody Teaches You



Channing Tatum

After embarking on a year-long spiritual journey, reflecting on my life, and reading the works of some of the world’s most influential thought leaders, I have compiled a list of twelve ideas that will make life a lot easier and more fulfilling if practiced in your 20’s and beyond. During my time as a hotel desk clerk, I had the opportunity to interview dozens of strangers (some over age 65) about their biggest lessons in life. Some were truck drivers. Some were war veterans. Some were cancer patients. These are their life lessons.

These are the 12 things you should know (but probably won’t do) in your 20’s.



12 Life Lessons For Those Living In Their 20’s


1. Relax

Slow down. Take a deep breath. Don’t worry about the future, prepare for it. Life is lived in the present.

If you keep going at this pace, one day you’ll wake up and be 30!


2. Learn to love yourself now

You’ll never be younger, more attractive, more energetic, or more carefree than you are today.

Don’t waste your time being self-conscious. You’re hot! Enjoy it.


3. Take care of your body

You’re going to regret all of your smoking, drinking, and unhealthy eating habits when you’re older. I know what you’re thinking: “You’ve got to die from something, right?”, Wrong! I know that you secretly think you are going to die suddenly at around age 45 before you have to deal with your mistakes. I know you don’t really believe that you are going to live until age 60, and you may not, but what if you do?

The average person who reaches age 60 lives to be age 82. Don’t spend the last 20 years of your life in misery!


4. Stop caring about what other people think

Ninety percent of them, you’ll never see again. Ninety-nine percent of the remaining ten percent won’t even cry at your funeral! If everyone lived their truth, no one would have to pretend.


5. Follow your instincts

Gain the courage to always do what you truly desire versus what everyone else expects of you.

Trust your inner voice, it’s always right.


6. Vulnerability is not weakness: it is strength

Tell your friends how much you love them. Give a speech in front of a large audience. Have an intimate conversation with your significant other. Allow yourself to be seen.

Being vulnerable is the only way to truly connect with others, and that is truly what we all want.


7. Happiness comes from within

Regardless of your circumstances, e.g., homelessness, death of a loved one, loss of a job, etc., you can always choose happiness. It is not dependent upon external factors. Embrace the uncertainty of life. The way to overcome fear of change is to eliminate your desire for things to remain the same.

Life would be boring if you always knew what to expect.


8. Funerals are pointless

Appreciate your loved ones while they are alive. You don’t have to say “goodbye” when they’re gone if you’ve said “hi” while they were here.


9. Invest your money

Invest in yourself. Invest in your knowledge, your skills, your experiences, and your personal relationships. Purchase assets that will produce even more money for you in the future. Save for retirement. All of those designer clothes, frappé mochas, and movie tickets won’t help you when you’re old and broke.

The time value of money is your best friend. Don’t ruin the relationship.


10. Have a solid plan

Figure out what you really, really want and don’t give up until you get it.


11. You have nothing to lose

You don’t have a mortgage. Odds are, you don’t have any children, if you are in your early 20’s. You’re already broke! Stop pretending like you really own anything in this life. You are free! And your time is running out.

Don’t spend it frivolously.


12. You will ignore everything on this list

Like most 20-somethings, you’ll just ignore the elders advice, make the same mistakes, and wish someone had told you earlier. Prove me wrong.

I dare you!



If you enjoyed these life lessons, please share this article with your friends. They probably won’t listen, but hey, at least you tried!

If you have any standout life lessons that you have come across, please share them in the comments below.




  1. brenda

    Feb 22, 2014 at 4:26 am

    Well done!! Im 57 & I couldn’t have said it better.
    I have 1 for ya all….. “you’re never to old to set a new goal or to dream a new dream!”

    • Dan McDaniel

      Feb 24, 2014 at 11:23 pm

      Thank you, Brenda! And I agree. You’re never too old to grow.

  2. DCharles

    Jan 30, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Great article my friend. thank you.

  3. Ron

    Dec 27, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    Thanks I much for this beautiful article!!! Came at the right time. Thanks!

    • Dan McDaniel

      Dec 28, 2013 at 8:17 pm

      You are very welcome, Ron. I hope I could help.

  4. Natalia

    Dec 23, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    As a 40 something mom of 5 with two kids in their 20’s I find your insite spectacular! In my life experience I would say “always be true to you because the only person who has your best interest at heart is yourself” never let go of who your are.

    • Dan McDaniel

      Dec 26, 2013 at 6:23 pm

      Thanks, Natalia! “Be true to yourself” is great advice. Good luck with Detail by Design 🙂

  5. Naren

    Nov 6, 2013 at 11:02 am

    I’m 23 and find these words inspiring. Your point on funerals shook me. I keep telling myself to lead an inspiring life. Too many people live lives with no intent. Great post!

    • Dan McDaniel

      Nov 7, 2013 at 2:22 pm

      Thank you! And it’s true. Too many of us live our lives for other people. If everyone lived for him or herself, everyone would be so much happier.

  6. @Mr_Ignitor

    Oct 17, 2013 at 6:08 am

    Happiness truly comes from inside… Some look for it in some future accomplishment only to realise the accomplishment doesn’t make them as happy as they hoped. It is important to stay happy always and enjoy the journey.

    • Dan McDaniel

      Oct 19, 2013 at 2:08 am

      Absolutely. Or the accomplishment only makes them happy for a short time, only to wear off when they desire something else.

  7. Dan McDaniel

    Oct 14, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    It’s true. And you’re welcome, bro!

  8. Sebastian

    Oct 13, 2013 at 4:35 am

    I didn’t expect the comment of people not crying on your funeral. Sad but true.

    Thanks man!

  9. Dan McDaniel

    Sep 30, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    Thank you!

  10. James@youdolife

    Sep 29, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Brilliantly presented!

  11. lovelyroroa

    Sep 29, 2013 at 11:40 am

    I will happily except, wish me luck =)

  12. Tim Hodgetts (@jerseycyrano)

    Sep 23, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    This sounds so much like Baz Luhrmann’s 1998 single “Everybody’s Free (To wear sunscreen) and the poem it came from. I wonder what advice I can get my soon to be a teenager son to listen to?

  13. clay

    Sep 17, 2013 at 3:59 am

    Actually, a good suit is a good investment. 😛 And I think it’s not about not listening to what other people say, but more like carefully choosing who to listen to. If we’ll keep ignoring ALL of other’s opinions, we’ll probably end up as entitled, insensitive indiciduals who do not realize that some people are guiding us to the right path (like this article).

    These are all very inspiring. Not easy of course ( I cant listen to my inner voice very much because it isnt even sure what to tell me, haha, and creating a solid plan often ends up confusing me), but nonetheless I agree with all of it. Time to upgrade!

  14. Dan McDaniel (@ExtremeHonesty)

    Aug 30, 2013 at 3:12 am

    Thanks, Beautiful! I agree 🙂

  15. dniahsoutfit

    Aug 29, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    Your words are inspiring, I do love to add love and believe in yourself, because you cannot reach your full potentials if you set limit in yourself or have a no “I can’t do” mindset. Keep doing what you believe in and trust the process, it is not over until you win.

    Love & believe!

  16. Dan McDaniel (@ExtremeHonesty)

    Aug 28, 2013 at 3:22 am

    Unfortunately, it sounds like they will. But hey, it’s not your fault. At least you tried!

  17. shobee

    Aug 27, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    I am in my 40 now and these are the advices I give to my children. At this age, I learned so much and I try to spare my kids from being hurt due to ignorance. Yet, they do not listen. Yup, I told them to read this site, yet ignored me. I just hope they will not learn things the hard way.

  18. Benjamin

    Aug 23, 2013 at 11:27 am

    excellent punch line 🙂

  19. Dan McDaniel (@ExtremeHonesty)

    Aug 19, 2013 at 3:09 am

    Happy 50th birthday! And great advice about the processed foods. If it’s not in its natural state, don’t eat it! It’s great to have a real-life case study right here in the comments. Sounds like you’ve had quite an interesting life. I’m sure that’s gonna be an excellent book 🙂

  20. Marilynn Tebbit

    Aug 17, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    I could not agree more!! Especially the part about taking care of your health. I rode motorcycles in my 20’s. I didn’t think I’d see 30. I did. I bought an RRSP. Before 40, I got very sick from unhealthy eating, staying up all night & crazy work stress. I went on a big time health diet, lived past my mother’s age & just celebrated 50. Through it all, I worked on my dreams. I weight trained, which saved my life twice, maybe more (survive bike accident; cleanse lymph). And kept writing. My first e book is coming out in 5 months. Yeah, live for today, but, quit processed foods so you won’t live a slow death in case you do make middle age +

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