Success and seasons of life
What I wish I had known in my early twenties
I had spoken with a new college grad who worked for my friend. At the end, he thanked me and said: "I see now that he connected us for you to teach me about seasons."
When you're in your early 20s, career may be your top priority. You feel like you must do all the "right" things to set yourself up for success: Go to the right grad school, take the right internships, get in the right companies. Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years? You have those answers down pat. You have your sights set on the corner office. You know what you want - or at least you think you do.
Here's the thing: Your present self doesn't really know what your future self wants. Not exactly. You may have an idea. But your values, interests, and priorities will change. In part, it's because you will learn and grow. You will encounter career paths you didn't know about. New opportunities will arise.
But in part, it's because life will become less about you. Generally speaking, as you age, more people will rely on you - your spouse and kids or your aging parents and grandparents. You won't have the time and freedom you now enjoy. In fact, you may need to set boundaries to prevent burnout.
Your definition of success will change as well. I know people who had dreamt of becoming CEO. But when the opportunity was presented years later, they weren't interested anymore. The title comes with demands that no longer aligned with their priorities. In short, your career decisions won't be yours alone.
For most people, your 20s are about finding work, finding love, and in the midst of it all, finding who you are. More or less, it's your time to "do you." That's why I think it's important for twentysomethings to try different things. Figure out what lights a fire within you.
Conventional wisdom tells you to go work for a big company or the government. Add some brand names to your resume. Start your pension service years. Get on that management track. There's certainly value in this. But it's not for everyone. Life is about more than security and doing what makes sense to others.
If you have a compelling idea and a strong itch to launch a startup, there's no time like the present. When you're 22 you can live with 3 other roommates and eat cup noodles for dinner. When you have a spouse and kids to take care of, that won't go over well.
Likewise, if you want to do overseas missions or serve in the inner cities or work for a small nonprofit, that's your prerogative. You likely don't have dependents to worry about. This is your time.
As a young professional, you have the latitude to take risks. Understand what you're getting yourself into. But if it doesn't work out, you have plenty of time to change course.
Make the most of this season because it won't last forever.
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