21 is the age where you are officially classed as an adult. You are also likely to be at a completely different place in your life compared to your friends or other contacts. Some people will be focusing on studying or starting a career, whilst others are settling down with a partner and having kids! The choices you make from here on out are completely your decision and you must accept the consequences. You can’t blame anyone else for how your life turns out, because you are completely in charge. Sometimes, you may think you have everything planned out for the next 5-10 years of your life, then all of a sudden everything changes and you decide to go down a completely different path.
21 may be the perfect age where you have equal amounts of responsibility and freedom. You still have to go to work everyday and make wise choices about your spending habits and goals, but you may not necessarily be tied down to a mortgage or children yet. I have put together a list of 28 things you should be able to do by the time you turn 21, to enable you to live life independently. Enjoy!
Things You Should Know Before You Turn 21
- Manage Your Money – Money has always been a ‘taboo’ subject. We aren’t taught about it in school, except for the fact that we should ‘get a job and buy a house’. If one of your goals in life is to be financially independent and have freedom, then you shouldn’t copy what the rest of society is doing. According to Forbes, 63% of Americans don’t have enough money in the bank to cover a $500 emergency, yet most of them have access to a credit card. The way we view money is completely alarming, as debt is seen as the new ‘norm’. We are so accustomed to consumerism and ‘looking over the fence’. As a young adult, I highly advise that you learn the difference between a want and a need, track your spending every month, learn how to make extra money in your spare time, fast track your savings, and learn how to make money out of something you enjoy. “Making money is hard, but so is being broke”.
- Get Involved In Hobbies – Leisure time is a MUST to ensure your own happiness. I know what it’s like to be a workaholic as I was desperately trying to earn as much as I could for University Fees. But it’s easy to get burnt out by not having ‘you’ time. It’s good to get out of the work-sleep-work-sleep cycle and schedule some time for things you enjoy. Whether it’s playing a sport, reading a book, going out for cocktails with friends, hiking up a mountain, or cooking new recipes. Find that activity that relieves your stress and tension.
- Have Direction – You can’t expect people at 21 to have their whole career plan sorted and entire life planned out. But you should have some idea. Ensure you are striving to reach your full potential and don’t settle for anything less. Make sure you are working towards a career you are passionate about and write out the steps required to achieve that. Also know your priorities in life – whether its travelling the world, acquiring great riches, having a family, owning your own business, or maintaining a fit physique.
- Clean A House – Cleaning may not be the most enjoyable way to spend your free time, but living in a clean tidy space can do wonders. According to studies, people with messy or cluttered homes are 77 percent more likely to be overweight or obese. When you sit in a cluttered home it can make you feel exhausted mentally because of the size of the task that needs doing. When you clear your living area, it can clear your head space, making you more likely to make healthier decisions and feel motivated. Knowing how to clean will also leave you on good terms with flat-mates, and having visitors to your house!
- Throw A Dinner Party – Or at least know how to cook a decent meal!
- Stay Out Of Drama – Who has the time and energy to absorb themselves in something completely futile? It’s best to just stay out of it and get on with your life.
- Appreciate Simple Nights With Friends And Family Rather Than Partying And Clubbing Every Weekend – Sometimes it’s nice to go out on the town, make bad choices, and dance the night away. Personally, rather than getting pushed around in nightclubs, sore feet from my heels and alcohol spilt all over me, I would rather go out for cocktails and nibbles where I can actually talk to my friends.
- Maintain A Proper Nutritional Diet – Stop eating empty carbs, stick to one type of sweet treat, make healthier alcohol choices, quit sugary drinks, stop starving yourself, and stop watching the scales. Start eating more nutrient dense foods. Consume more fibre rich foods, complex carbs, plan meals ahead of time, eat more healthy fats, incorporate super foods into your diet, and swap sweets for healthy alternatives. Click here to see how I can help you can create the body of your dreams and increase your energy levels. It’s better to look after your body at a young age, to enable easier maintenance in future years. I also strongly believe that to cure anything, food should be the first choice of medicine!
- Find Your Passion For A Career – This is a hard one. You may never fully decide what you want to do. But at least do what makes you happy right now, as well as the next few years. For me personally, I work in hotels. I studied Hotel Management and have a job at one of the best hotels in New Zealand. But I don’t know where I am heading. Do I want to get into sales and marketing? Do I even like working in a corporate office? Do I want my own business in the industry? Or do I want to get out of hospitality all together? If you are currently working a job you are not sure about, I insist that you still give it your 100% effort and take away as much knowledge as you can, because that can open up future opportunities for you! Even if you don’t know what career you want, try to have a brainstorm of ideas, a certain field, or a certain skill required that you posses.
- Learn Who Your True Friends Are – If people don’t make an effort to regularly contact you and stay in touch, or ask how you are – don’t worry about keeping them in your life. When life circumstances change such as moving to a new city or country, becoming a parent, working on a new savings goal, or starting a new job – if your friends aren’t there for you, you need to cut them out of your life. Find new friends with the same interests or lifestyle as you, and spend your time with people that make you laugh!
- Write A CV – Ensure you have a strong CV containing your experience, skills, goals, interests, previous jobs and reliable references. It could be the deciding factor on whether you get that interview!
- Hold On To A Good Friend Even If You Don’t Live In The Same City – You know it’s true friendship if you can go weeks or months without talking or seeing each other, yet when you finally get to hang out again it’s just where you left off last time. Life can be busy and things get in the way of your weekly get-together’s, but find people that understand and are just happy to see you no matter what.
- Set Standards For How You Want To Be Treated By Others – If someone intentionally disrespect’s you, then cut them out of your life. You control how others treat you by what you put up with. Let them know that you don’t appreciate it, and if they don’t make an effort to take it back or make it up to you, then they aren’t worth your energy.
- Invest In Self-Improvement – Never stop learning by reading books, watching online seminars or videos, taking courses, quitting bad habits, improving your weaknesses and building on your strengths. Focus on self-care and putting yourself first. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable because it’s the only way you will truly grow.
- Be Open Minded – If someone has certain lifestyle choices, try to see it from their point of view before judging. Try to understand why they are doing it in the first place and how it benefits them. Personally I have just converted to a ‘mostly’ vegan diet. The reason I say mostly, is because I am not strict about it. If I eat a teaspoon of dairy I know it won’t kill me, but I try to stay away from meat and dairy in general. This is such a controversial topic but since doing this for only a few weeks I have noticed many health benefits. My bloating and digestive problems have disappeared and I feel cleaner on the inside by not consuming so much saturated fat and cholesterol. Mentally it is also giving me peace knowing I am not contributing to animal abuse or destroying the planet through mass animal production. It’s a personal choice and I am not going to try to make everyone vegan if they don’t want to. But just understand that some people have reasons for living a certain way that actually benefit them immensely ♥
- Pay Your Bills On Time To Avoid Extra Fees – It’s a good habit to get into, to pay it off as soon as you receive it or can financially afford to. I also like to keep a calendar app and to-do list on my phone to ensure I never forget.
- How To Look After A Car – It’s very handy to know basic maintenance such as checking and filling up the fluids, pumping up and changing the tyres, getting regular services and keeping it clean inside and out.
- Practice Self-Care – Take a hot bath, treat yourself to a massage once a year (it has many health benefits), maintain a regular exercise routine, fall in love with your body, eat with mindfulness, spend time with people that lift you up, immerse yourself in nature, talk to loved ones about your problems and struggles, and be grateful for your life every single day.
- How To Communicate In A Professional Manner – Learn how to send professional emails, speak with confidence and treat others with respect. Work with integrity.
- Keep Important Documents In One Place – Get a file to store personal information. You shouldn’t be running to your parents asking what your tax information is, or asking for your birth certificate to apply for a job. You should be organized enough to look after these documents on your own. You can also put other things in the folder such as your passport, bank account details, job history and references, car repair receipts (for when you sell it), certificates and qualifications you have earned.
- How To Present Yourself Nicely – It depends on your environment as to how you would define ‘nicely’. But always show that you take pride in your appearance, because that demonstrates self-respect. I have noticed even going to the supermarket how differently I get treated if I am wearing a suit on my way home from work, or track pant’s and a t-shirt after having a lazy day around the house. Dressing nice will also raise your self-esteem.
- Have Some Goals Set – You should always be working towards something bigger and better. Even if you have a few large goals set for the future, break it down into smaller goals to lay out the steps needed, which will make it more attainable. Stop wasting your nights and weekends. Work towards something worthwhile that will benefit you in the long-run.
- Be A Valued Member Of A Workplace – If you leave a job, your managers and boss should be sad to see you go. They should place importance on employee retention, so having a valuable staff member leave should be a bad experience. If they aren’t putting in effort to keep you, you haven’t tried hard enough. Work as if your boss is watching you every minute of the day.
- Act And Dress Professionally – Stand up straight with your shoulders back, smile and dress conservatively. Adapt to the workplace, the atmosphere of the job, and the type of people you are serving or targeting. The way we dress affects the way we think, feel, act, and the way others react to us.
- How To Take Responsibility For The Choices You Make – It’s astonishing how many people don’t realize that they are actually in control of their own lives! If you look at yourself ten years from now, the life you have will be completely up to you. I understand that things knock you down, but DON’T GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS. Keep working harder, working smarter, coming up with new ideas, setting new goals, taking action and striving to BE and DO better! Life doesn’t just ‘happen‘ to you – every action has a consequence. “It doesn’t matter where you’ve come from, it only matters where you are and where you want to go”.
- Organise Your Own Appointments And Plans – I know people my age that are STILL calling up mummy and daddy to book doctors appointments for them. GROW UP! It’s not hard to search the place on the internet, click on the phone number, then make the call. Put it into your calendar to remind yourself as well. Stop being a baby and start organizing yourself!
- Fully Support Yourself – Sometimes things come up that may require you to borrow money. I have been through it myself when I was doing my $50,000 degree and trying to fund it on my own. I started when I was 17 so it was clearly impossible, as I had not worked to gather savings beforehand due to coming straight out of highschool. I did everything in my power though – reduced my spending to just the essentials, created a digital product to sell online, tracked every dollar I spent, worked part-time and consistently researched ideas of what I could do to help my situation. I am STILL in a lot of debt from this, but it is high on my priority list to get it paid off. Anyway, the point here is to avoid asking anyone for money unless you absolutely NEED it. You may end up just digging yourself a bigger and bigger hole unless you change your spending or earning habits. If you are not doing everything in your power to help yourself, then nobody else should be sacrificing their own money to give to you.
- Understand The Value Of TIME – You will feel better if you accomplish more in a day. Not to the point of exhaustion obviously, but you should always go to bed ‘satisfied’ with your productivity levels. Life is too short to put your own happiness on the back-burner and let other things get in the way. You never know when your last day on this earth will be, so live in the moment and appreciate the present time. Live the life you always dreamed of.
Be humble, be hungry, and always be the hardest working person you know ♥
Feature image by @rogue.nz