1. You Know What Makes You Happy.
Well, for the most part. But maybe more importantly you know what won’t make you happy, like drinking half a bottle of vodka. So you also probably know that if you are an aspiring artist that a career in finance isn’t going to make you happy either. You don’t have to know exactly what you want out of life yet, because hardly anyone does. However, being picky about the job you accept or the people you want to interact with will ultimately impact your happiness, because those facets of life take up a lot of your time and energy.
2. Your Environment Shapes You.
This leads us to point number two. Your environment does shape you. Your close friends, or your “urban tribe,” are going to impact the course of your life. 20-somethings spend more time living independently, according to Dr. Meg Jay author of The Defining Decade, and thus surrounded by the extended family they create for themselves. That being said, if you want to be a young professional who is moving up the ladder and being smart about how you spend your money, then hang out with others who feel the same way. This doesn’t mean cut ties with everyone you know who isn’t like you, but be mindful of how much time you put into relationships that feel like they are bringing you down. Keep your standards as high for your friends as for your significant other, because they are the family you build for yourself.
3. You Get What You Give.
If you are in a relationship where you’re one foot out the door, then you’re probably going to treat the person like you don’t really care. If your job is just the place you go 40 hours a week to make money, then you probably won’t be fighting for a promotion or good rapport with your coworkers either. Sadly, if you half-ass something, you’re only going to get half-assed results. And if a half-assed life isn’t for you then you need to trust your gut and make a change. Break up, quit, whatever it may be. This is easier said than done, but your pickiness will pay off in the long run. If you want to get what you deserve in life then you need to put yourself in the position to give adequately first.
4. Comfortability Is NOT Satisfaction.
It’s often difficult to decipher between what you are comfortable doing and what truly satisfies you. In relationships it is not uncommon for people to settle for someone who has similar interests, but doesn’t necessarily push them to grow as a person. As entrepreneur Amy Webb explains in her TED Talk on “hacking online dating,” these might not be bad people, they are just bad for you. And that is okay. Don’t waste your time dating down when there is someone who can make you a better person, they just might be harder to find. Or in terms of your career, a decent salary and perks like Casual Fridays don’t mean that you are feeling challenged, fulfilled or even productive in your work environment. For a while these things may work for you- especially if you have to pay the bills (I speak from experience) – but don’t lose your fire. Stay hungry for what you really want, and then go get it.
5. 20 is No Longer the New 30.
Okay so this may sound slightly pessimistic, but I promise it isn’t. Dr. Jay poured years of research into the lives of 20-somethings. What she found is that people in their twenties subscribe to the ideology that this decade of their life is almost disposable. Bad relationships, career choices, financial decisions, and plans for the future are all acceptable, because in our minds we can patch them up and make right in our thirties. According to Jay and many of her patients, this is not the way to most utilize your time and set yourself up for success. So while it might feel comforting sometimes to blame bad behavior on your twenties (which I don’t discourage in the instance of ordering another mimosa), its okay to begin planting the seeds for the future you want. In fact, coming to the realization that your twenties are just as valuable as any other phase of your life is liberating, because these days count. You have the power to alter the course of your life, and that is an amazing thing, because it allows for so much positive potential.
So dear reader, this isn’t to say shut down every new opportunity that comes your way. Everyone has a difference in comfort zones; it’s just all about knowing the difference between stepping outside of them as opposed to feeding bad habits. Being picky will help you define that difference and keep you on track for the future you want.
Stay choosy, don’t be afraid to say no and, most importantly, trust yourself. As Webb concludes in her talk, “Whether you’re looking for a husband or a wife or you’re trying to find your passion or you’re trying to start a business, all you have to really do is figure out your own framework and play by your own rules, and feel free to be as picky as you want.” And guess what? That’s just fine.