In order to be rewarded throughout life, you sometimes have to take a little risk. Going outside the box can be daunting, if not outright terrifying. Your 20s and 30s are the perfect time to take these risks and reap the rewards. You’re still young enough to recover from any missteps and learn from your mistakes. In the process, you can bolster your own mental health and fortitude, as taking risks helps you become a better-rounded person accustomed to facing change and overcoming adversity. Here are 7 risks you should consider taking to grow well through your 20s and 30s:
1. Break the Mold
As humans, we enjoy what is comfortable and familiar. That can be the same routine, the same job, or even the same spot for lunch every day. But a rut is not always the healthiest place to stay. Life is characterized by change, and humans need to be agile and ready to move with those changes. Now is the time to break the mold and try something new and different.
Tackle something that makes you uncomfortable and challenges you physically or mentally. Climb that mountain, take an improv class, sing at your church! Whatever it is that breaks you out of your normal mold, do it—and do it repeatedly. The more frequently people experience situations that make them uncomfortable, the better they get at working through unfamiliar scenarios in life. In the process, you build a kind of mental toughness that can serve you throughout the rest of your life. Plus, it’s a joy to learn just how strong you are and how much potential you hold within.
2. See the World
Before you accrue too many responsibilities, like a mortgage and family, take the opportunity to get out and see the world. Travel far and travel often. Taking advantage of opportunities to experience other cities, countries, and cultures will help you gain a better understanding of this world and the people in it. Not only will you see some really cool stuff, but traveling will also help you grow as a person, increasing your flexibility, compassion, and communication skills, among others.
Travel doesn’t have to cost a fortune if you plan it right. Take advantage of low-season travel benefits like cheaper airline tickets and hotels and consider less heavily visited places. While the most popular tourist destinations may be attractive, they also can be costly. Take the road less traveled and discover what adventures await.
3. Consider a Job Change or Transfer
By the time you’re in your 20s or 30s, you may have been in your current position for a few years. But it’s fair to ask: Is your company, or even your current line of work, right for you? Now is the time to decide. Before getting too entrenched in one company, you might want to explore the options of relocating to a new city.
Some cities are emerging as popular locations for young professionals. For example, not only does Tampa have a growing STEM market, but it also has a low cost of living compared to other cities. This means if you’re saving money on rent, commuting, and meals out, you can bring more money home to enjoy what you love. Or, you can use that money to…
4. Start Saving
While it may be tempting to spend a good portion of your income each month, you’ll be better off setting aside some of that money to go into your savings. Your 20s and 30s are a perfect time to start building up your savings account. Without too much financial or social responsibility, you can quickly watch your savings grow.
Some of us aren’t the best at saving. If that sounds like you (and it’s good to know that about yourself), try using tools and tricks to help you reach your goals. One suggestion is to deduct more money from each paycheck and put it toward your taxes. Anything above the amount you owe on your year-end tax return can be refunded to you in one large sum, which means you could add a big chunk of money to your savings all at once. Online tax calculators can help you plan for what your return might look like at the end of the year.
5. Take a Class
Probably the last thing you want to hear as a recent graduate is that going back to school can help accelerate your career. Although it can be difficult getting back into the grind of studying again, going back to school when you’re young can pay off big later in life. Having an advanced degree can help kickstart your career and put you on the fast track to promotions and pay raises.
In addition to its professional and financial effects, the habit of lifelong learning has been shown to benefit mental health by keeping curiosity and creativity sharp while expanding logical thinking and balanced evaluation capabilities. Also, continued learning habits can help people feel more in control when they understand more about the forces behind situations which might otherwise be confusing and distressing. Additionally, learning in classes or group settings can present opportunities for productive social interaction, broadening our societal fluency and keeping us connected to others.
If a full college curriculum is not in the cards, simply taking one-off classes or gaining certifications in your line of work can help grow your skills. Take advantage of additional learning opportunities now while you’re young, and you’ll have more time and money to dedicate to higher education and professional development.
6. Pursue Your Passion
If there’s something you’ve always been interested in, whether it’s painting, cooking, or learning to kickbox, now is the time to pursue it. When you’re in your 20s and 30s, you have the perfect opportunity to go after the things you love. Without a solid work schedule or demanding financial and social responsibilities, you’re at the prime age to explore what makes you feel content. Not only will pursuing your passions make you a more well-rounded person, but also, they can help keep you fulfilled and happy.
7. Stand Up for Yourself
When we’re younger, we have a tendency to go with the flow to appease others. Sometimes, though, you have to stand up for yourself and show others you’re not a pushover. Your 20s and 30s are the perfect age to make a stand and set some boundaries. When you stand up for yourself, not only are you showing that you’re dedicated to your beliefs, but also you’re requiring others to respect you—and this respect can carry through your personal and professional life.
If you’ve detected a theme in this post, it’s this: Now is the time! Although you might be on less steady financial or emotional footing in your 20s and 30s, you have a great deal more freedom and leeway to figure out those aspects—and many more—than you will when you’re older. Take a deep breath, think about where you want to risk some comfort, and take the leap into a new passion, practice, or endeavor that can change your life.
*Molly Barnes is a full-time digital nomad. She works remotely, travels constantly, and explores different cities across the U.S. She started her site, www.digitalnomadlife.org as a resource for travelers, nomads, and remote workers.