20 Lessons I Learned in My 20’s: Introduction [Part 1/5]

I don’t remember exactly what I was doing on my 20th birthday but it likely involved excessive partying and making problematic decisions with friends.
At the time, I was aimless. I had graduated from high school (barely), didn’t go on to college, and going on my 2nd year of working for a local landscape company. I dug ditches, moved wheel barrows, hauled bricks, and anything else my boss needed of me.
I wanted to move out of the small town I was living in but I didn’t know how or where.
I was audacious, naive, and really annoying.
In a few short months, I will be turning 30 years old. I am happy to report that I’m far more responsible and far less pretentious these days. I’ve changed a lot in these 10 years. I don’t get disproportionately drunk anymore and I don’t dig ditches anymore. I’ve played college hockey, moved across the country (twice), visited multiple places around the world, built hotels, built hospitals, developed discipline, and managed to create (in my opinion) a meaningful reality.
In our instant gratification culture, it’s easy to forget that most personal change does not occur as a single event in time, but rather as a long, gradual evolution where we’re hardly aware of it as it’s happening. We do not wake up one day and suddenly notice life-altering changes in ourselves. Our identities slowly shift.
It’s only when we stop years or decades later and look back that we can notice all of the dramatic changes that have taken place.
That’s why I’m excited to inform you of a new exciting project I am working on. I’m reflecting and writing out the “20 Things I Learned In My Twenties.”
This project is underway and has got me excited to share these in a way that can benefit someone else.
I have decided to start breaking down the last 10 years spent navigating through the Modern World and share with you what I have learned.

The purpose of my blog has always been to reflect on life experiences, increase clarity, expand on complicated ideas, and to help people become better as I grow myself.

One thing I’ve observed as people grow into your thirties & forties, it becomes harder and harder to make changes to the foundation of who you are. Your foundation is more or less built by the time you are 35 which is why I’ve found this meaningful to write. Your brain and ideologies become more rigid and life’s responsibilities often can get in the way of making life changes.

I would be pleased to see future young men & women high school grads be able to read these these well-developed thoughts and be able to not only understand them but be able to make adjustments and apply them in their own life as they proceed throughout their 20’s.

What I have found and will elaborate on is that I’ve found our 20’s to be extremely important and yet underrated years.

Claiming your 20’s is one of the simplest, yet most transformative things you can do for your life.

In Clinical psychologist Meg Jay’s best-selling book “The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter–And How to Make the Most of Them Now,” she argues that twenty-somethings have been caught in a swirl of hype and misinformation, much of which has trivialized what is actually the most transformative period of our adult lives.

This decade is a foundational decade for the years to come in your life. They really need to be well thought out and executed properly in order to really squeeze the juice out of life.

According to the facts and Meg Jay’s research, 80% of life’s most defining moments take place by age 35. That means 8/10 decisions and experiences and Ah-ha moments that make your life what it is will occur by 35.

“We know the first 10 years of a career has an exponential impact on how much money you will earn. We know that over half of the Americans are either married or living with or dating their future partner by 35. We know that the brain caps its second and last growth spurt in its 20’s as it re-wires itself for adulthood which means that whatever it is you want to change about yourself, now is the time to change it. Your 20’s are the time to educate yourself about your body, your mind, and your options.” – Dr. Meg Jay

As I started writing this and developing these ideas, I quickly noticed how much there is to cover. So I decided to break this topic into 5 separate articles. This is Part 1 of a 5 part series on my blog.

Writing this so far has been extremely difficult because, well let’s face it, writing about something (like life) that is so complex, contextual, and complicated is challenging.

Life, in my experience, is made up of multiple categories that are all intertwined together. Each category pulls and pushes on the others.

Moreover, “success” is subjective. What I want and what I value may not be the same for you, which is fine.

How do you know if you’re successful? Do you rely heavily on objective metrics such as your job title, the size of your bank account, or the colleges your children are getting into?

Or do you focus more on the subjective, such as the satisfaction of solving difficult problems at work, the joy of collaborating with clever colleagues, or how happy you are at home?

These are all things to consider as you set off to build your foundation.

The goal is to break these ideas down into clear, practical, actionable, and understandable content that is available to help the generations to come.

These 20 Lessons are broken down into (4) different parts. The parts represent the 4 fundamental categories that encompass what we call “Life.”

Part One – Philosophy. This is your mindset, your beliefs, your personal development. Your engine. I like to think of this as your personal operating system.

This is everything to do with your mind and the filter you see life through. These are your character traits, your perceptions, your values, emotions, and thoughts. These are the intangible tools you use to make decisions and take action.

Lessons 1-5:

  1. Follow Your True North
  2. Discipline Equals Freedom
  3. E (Event) + R (Response) = O (Outcome)
  4. Everything You Want in Life is UpHill
  5. The Four Agreements

Part Two – Career & Resources This is your craft, your purpose, your work, and your resources. This is your professional life, finances, and your ambitions.

Lessons 6-10:

  1. Prioritize Self-Improvement
  2. Get Your Money Right
  3. Leadership Using Extreme Ownership
  4. Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You
  5. The Snapshot

Part Three – Relationships & Social. This is having everything to do with how you think, relate, and interact with people, relationships, partners, teammates, strangers, and the external world.

Lessons 11-15:

  1. Judgement
  2. The Digital Age
  3. Going to College
  4. Charisma
  5. Body Language

Part Four – Health & Fitness. This is your body, your mind, your hormones, your energy, your recovery, your sex drive, and your longevity for life. This is your physical and mental ability to meet the demands of life.

Your body is the vehicle you travel and experience life in.

Are you moving through life in an old broken down Toyota? Or are you efficiently cruising through life in a clean, well oiled Ferrari?

Lessons 16-20:

  1. Move, Breathe, Recovery
  2. How to Breathe
  3. Intensity Breeds Results
  4. How to Cook
  5. Having A Physical Practice

Over the next few months, we’re going to be delving into the 20 Life Lessons. One category at a time.

We’ll explore what they are and how you can apply them on your journey to becoming a better human.

It’s not enough anymore to focus in and obsess over one category. All of these areas need to be managed because they all intertwine.

There will be times where you need to go all in on your career, there will be times where you need to pull back and focus on family and relationships, there will be times where your going all in on yourself and getting clear about your philosophy and values. Perhaps in between all of that, you will also need to maintain your health and the vehicle we travel through life in (your body).

You cannot be perfectly balanced. Balance is an illusion.

Anytime spent doing one thing is time taken away spending it somewhere else. All we can do is prioritize our life and goals.

This is a big reason why I’m focusing on the twenty-somethings. Because this decade is a time to make it a habit to invest in your future and prioritize yourself.

This is called the 20/20 Series.

  1. The Writing Plan: This is a series of content all held together by one concept – succeeding in your twenties so you can succeed forever. Each lesson will also be a podcast episode. All of this will eventually be brought whole to become a published book.
  2. The Mission: Look at myself with a critical eye and reflect on an entire decade of adulthood. Extract the success, the failures, the lessons learned, and the hardships in such a way people can benefit from it.
  3. Goals/Objectives: To offer value to the future adults and leaders in this world. To create a strong piece of content full of well developed, proven ideas/tactics to succeed in your twenties and forever.
  4. Target Audience: Anyone who wants to be more, learn more, and do more. This applies to all who seek to be bold, go big, create wealth, and impact the world. If you lack ambition  to pursue abundance and meaning, this content will likely not interest you. If you want to max out your life experience in all categories, you will love this series of articles.
What Problem does this Article / Book Solve?

The 20’s are a developmental sweet spot where you can really take advantage of low responsibility, low commitment, and earning potential. This is the time to invest it all in yourself and very few people are taking advantage.

Instead, we have a culture that is trying to make their 20’s “the best years of their life.” This line of thinking is dangerous and misleading. This is the time to go all in on you to start designing your version of a life well lived.

One with responsibility, resources, emotional intelligence, values, truth, health, happiness, adventure, and the things that consistently bring you fulfillment.

I believe the objective of your 20’s is to be able to position yourself properly for the overall success of your future. To be in a position where you can look yourself in the mirror and take full ownership and responsibility of your circumstances. What I’ve found is there is a very good feeling about living with inner peace knowing your living authentically inline with your values.

When you learn how to succeed in your twenties, you will know how to succeed forever.

Success is your duty.

I believe we all have a duty, moral obligation, and responsibility to succeed.

For ourselves and for our communities.

The key is that you have to define what that success is and looks like for YOU. 

Not anyone else. You.

You don’t have to want the same things I do.

The choice is yours. But you have to choose.

And if you don’t want to settle, you have to choose independently of society’s influence on your own mistaken perceptions of what is possible.

That is what I will get into in the forthcoming series of blog posts.

It is in your best interest to work on these principles early to take advantage of this incredibly fun and exciting period of time in life.

Once the foundation is laid, supports are then put in, permitting the rest of the structure to be built.

People always seem to forget that they have a future self 10 years from now. If you can think with that in mind you can literally take control of your world.

If you always remember you have a future self and you look out for that person – you will notice that your life improve incrementally.

Make your future self proud and start in your twenties. The world needs better leaders. Make the choice and be a leader.

Don’t be like everyone else and drift through life.

Take ownership. Lead and win.

With that, I hope that you’ll get around to reading the series and that you’ll learn as much as I did.

You’re welcome to email me questions or raise issues for discussion. Better yet, if you know a good book on a related topic, please pass it along. And as always, if one of these articles mean something to you, recommend it to someone else.

Enjoy, treat your education like the job that it is, and let me know if you ever need anything.

Talk to you in Part 2.

Kyle Nitchen

Ok, that’s all for now. Come say Hi on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to my e-mail list for more excellent content.