30s are the new 20s, you should enjoy life now, live to the fullest, experiment, change jobs, study for as long as you can, later will be too late. You have all your life to be responsible and work a lot, let yourself loose now!
And why that is a problem? Because the 20s are the time when we make the biggest steps into the future!
DEFINING THE REST OF YOUR LIFE
Some say that twentysomething years are an extended adolescence while others call them an emerging adulthood.
We all have plans for life, but we assume that life will just happen after we turn thirty. And maybe it will. We will be successful, have a family, house and great salaries. It will suddenly switch from careless 20s life to great responsible and comfortable 30s life.
“Your life is up to you! You can do and be whoever you want to be!”. Sounds great! But these words are also full of terror. Not knowing what you want to do with your life–or not at least having some ideas about what to do next–is a defense against that terror. Being confused about choices is nothing more than hoping that maybe there is a way to get through life without taking charge.
We imagine that if nothing happens in our twenties, then everything is still possible in our thirties. But going from no career in our 20s to great career in our 30s is not realistic. So we have to choose and keep in mind that getting a good job is not the end; it’s the beginning and a step we have to take in our 20s.
We have two critical periods of growth when our brain is producing more neurons than it can use, which is exponentially increasing our capacity for new learning. First growth period is the first 18 months of life and the second one is from adolescence until twentysomething years.
The second one prepares us for adulthood. We easily find a professional niche, a partner, a career, prepare for parenthood and being responsible in general.
Our frontal lobe is a part of the brain responsible for rational thinking, regulation of our feelings and impulses, solving problems and making decisions according to our best interest. This part of the brain does not fully mature until sometime between the ages of twenty and thirty. People with still-developing frontal lobe are “uneven”.
This is why our personalities change more during the 20sth years than at any time before or after. This is big news because conventional wisdom tells us that childhood or adolescence is when our personalities are on the move.
Never again will it be so easy to become the people we hope to be. The risk is that we may not act now and become what we hear and see and do every day: survival of the busiest.
We don’t change after 30, personality traits appear to be essentially fixed after that. The twenties are the time when people and personalities are poised for transformation.
We prefer to get a reward right now than wait and get a bigger reward in the future. We are all prone to this bias; we think about today and say that we will deal with the future when it comes.
Present bias is especially strong in twentysomethings who put a lot of psychological distance between now and later. The problem with feeling distant from the future is that distance leads to abstraction, and abstraction leads to distance. It is tempting to stay distracted and keep everything at a distance. But then how can we create the future we want if we don’t think about it?
MRI studies show that twentysomething brains react more strongly to negative info than do the brains of older adults. With age comes what is known as a positivity effect. We become more interested in positive information, and our brains react less strongly to what negative information we do encounter.
“Society is structured to distract people from the decisions that have a huge impact on happiness in order to focus attention on the decisions that have a marginal impact on happiness. The most important decision any of us make is who we marry. Yet there are no courses on how to choose a spouse.” David Brooks, political and cultural commentator.
Money, work, lifestyle, family, health, leisure, retirement, and even death is connected to who you are going to marry–it influences almost every aspect of your and your partner’s life. Plus your overall happiness.
Postponing marriage does not make for a better union. Marrying later than the teen years does indeed protect against divorce, but this only holds true until about age 25. Older spouses may be more mature, but they are also set in their own ways, they are not forming together.
A good relationship does not just appear when we’re ready. We hit our thirties and our life will change. Nope, doesn’t work like that. It may take a few thoughtful tries before we know what love and commitment really are. And who we really want next to us for the rest of our life.
Our needs and wants change in time and marriage is no exception. We might need a great dancer in our 20s, but in our 40s we will want a partner we can trust and who is responsible with money. Who knows?
The point is that this is the greatest opportunity of twentysomethings: we can pick and create our families. Couldn’t choose the primary one, but we can surely choose the secondary.
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