Things I Wish I’d Heard in My 20s

"Youth is wasted on the young," according to Irish writer and poet Oscar Wilde.

Many people in their 20s do not realize how fortunate they are to be young. Thus, they often fail to act on opportunities that are right in front of them, thinking that they have all the time in the world.

A few lucky people, however, did not let that "time of their life" go to waste. LiveOlive found them and asked them to share some of the best decisions they made even in their 20s.

Learn the "S" word early

Dewa, 47, shares that the habit of saving money has to start from the moment one starts working.

“Not much, 30% of your salary is enough,” said Dewa, who works at a state-owned media company. As a senior journalist, he has experienced saving his salary little by little so that he could buy a house and provide more for his family. By saving money, he explained, one will be able to invest the money that will become the savings when the person starts a family, “So we don’t get married without any money,” Dewa said.

Natalia, 45, agrees with this and believes that saving money, however small, will ease the burden when you get older.

“Your twenties is your most productive age. Use it to work and save money for your late age,” said this mother of one who started saving a seemingly insignificant amount of her salary but is now able to afford a luxurious retirement home.

Don’t hesitate to buy property

Both Dewa and Natalia highly recommend buying a property. For Dewa, real estate is the most promising long-term investment. Moreover, according to him, the real estate price "never declines", providing you choose property in strategic locations.

Natalia, who now owns six huge houses in prestigious areas in Jakarta, allocated a part of her income to pay for installments. She bought her first house when she was in her 20s and did not look back since then.

“As long as I can afford it, I will buy a house. After I pay one off, I will buy another one,” Natalia said.

Don't procrastinate on working out

No one can argue that health is the most important wealth in our lives. At young age, one can easily become too busy with work and forget about his or her health. 

Natalia firmly believes in forming the habit of exercising early in life because our health is deteriorating as we age. “If we have the habit since our 20s, we will get used to working out until we’re old. So we don’t easily get sick,” said the PR executive, who is still actively doing cardio and kickboxing.

Surya, 55, a director at a state-owned enterprise, believes that lack of activity causes illnesses like heart problems, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Some illnesses also demand high cost treatments.

“If we are used to working out, even just a little bit, we can avoid those illnesses,” Surya said.

Set a career goal

Some people in their 20s do not know what they want to do, so they stay unemployed or do low-paying jobs waiting for something to motivate them. In a country with huge young population like Indonesia, fresh graduates have to compete to land a good job. Those who are not making firm decision on their career would likely get surpassed by their peers and get stuck in underemployment. 

“I wanted to become a manager before I reached 24, and I did it,” said Natalia, who works in a foreign mining company.

Natalia attributes this to her willingness to perform tasks outside her job description. “We need to show that we are hardworking,” she said.

Get Work Experience Quickly

According to Dewa, a great career can start from internships. Apart from being an effective way to look for a job after graduating from college, he explained that internships allows one to experience actual working conditions.

“During internship, show them that our work is great. Then the opportunity of being a full-time employee in that company will open up,” he said.

Furthermore, it widens network and builds confidence –both of which gives an edge when applying for a job.

Being young is an opportunity to either waste valuable time or jump-start one's life, so if you are in your 20-something, make sure to choose wisely.

Read also: What to Put on CV When You Have No Work Experience

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