A friend recently suggested that I write a piece about the importance of career in your 20s.

After some pondering I’ve concluded that, for most of us, our 20s are not a time to choose a career. By focusing solely on our career, we neglect to explore, play, experiment and figure out our ‘why’, our purpose for being.

Here are my 11 tips for navigating life in your 20s:

1. Find your purpose

The true profession of a man is to find his way to himself — Herman Hesse.

Our sole job, in our 20s, is to figure out our purpose and start living it.

I define ‘purpose’ as our reason for being. Aligning ourselves with our purpose brings us love, happiness, success and fulfilment. For that reason, purpose is notwhat you do. It is not a job title. It is your why and your how.

Find your passions. They will lead you to your purpose.

In order to find your perfect career, you need to:

  • Figure out what your passions and values are;
  • Transfer your passions and values into a purpose; and
  • Find a career that intersects with your purpose.

Ask yourself ‘what games did I play as a child before the world told me what I should and shouldn’t be doing?’ This answer can begin to unearth your passions and your purpose. Also take the time to look inwards and speak to your family and friends who sometimes know you better than you know yourself.

2. Trust your intuition

Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. — Steve Jobs

Contrary to what you’re being told (by your boss, society, family etc.), you alwaysknow instinctively what’s best for you. The other element of this equation is trust. We need to learn to trust ourselves.

3. Experiment, learn and play

Our job in our 20s is to continue playing and experimenting with life experiences, relationships and our careers. Why do we need to take everything so seriously?

Our brains are still a beautiful, malleable, absorbent little sponge. We’re creative and have the ability to absorb and retain enormous amounts of information. We also have the wonderful ability to spring back from whatever life throws at us (including the odd hangover).

4. Be a rebel

Rebellion is when you look society in the face and say, I understand who you want me to be, but I’m going to show you who I actually am — Anthony Anazagorou

In our 20s, we’re the architects of the future. If we think we can change the world, we will. While there is a wealth of knowledge that comes with age, there is a beauty to the naiveté in which you view the world in your 20s.

We shouldn’t be afraid to be radical with our thoughts or actions. Set ‘the rules’ alight if necessary!

5. Be selfish

We are not solely to blame for the discontentment we feel in our 20s. This is because our lives are shaped by various external forces, be that by society, our elders or our superiors. Everyone is protecting their own interests and, unfortunately, some grown-ups do not have the patience to allow us to grow into the person we are truly meant to be.

Our job is to figure out what we want and what we deserve. Ask yourself: what are my non-negotiables? Then, draw a line in the sand and don’t let anyone cross it.

6. Invest in yourself

This ties back to a post I wrote recently which can be read here.

You are your no. 1 asset. You must nurture and treat that asset like the precious gift it is.

7. Do not settle

There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living — Nelson Mandela

By refusing to settle, we tell the universe that we trust that there is something wonderful waiting for us until we’re ready to receive it.

8. Find your tribe

Find a place or people that will teach you, allow you to grow and will nourish you.

Also, be willing to let go of the people that no longer serve your needs. A person who does not support you and does not want to see you bloom has no place in your life. Let them go to create room for someone worthy to enter your life.

9. Work hard and hustle

Your 20s are a time to lay the foundations for your future.

The old adage ‘you reap what you sow’ still applies to your 20s. Work hard, be ambitious, constantly challenge your own boundaries and learn something new every single day of your life.

Also, give something 100% of your effort. There is not wrong with saying ‘I gave this everything I had. I poured my heart and soul into this and it didn’t work out.’ There is no such thing as failure. Failure is doing nothing.

10. Become the hero of your own story

I truly think it is our role in this world to constantly strive and push for a better future. We need to live by example and become conscious of the effect that we have on every living being around us.

When we’re the heroes of our own story, we inspire the same in others. This place needs a few more heroes.

11. Embrace the present moment

I’ve been reading a lot of Eckhart Tolle lately. His teachings espouse the importance of living ‘in the now’.

Once we realise that we only ever have the present moment, we can truly enjoy our life journey and all the precious moments along the way.