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It’s official; as of the 9th of December I’m no longer in my twenties. Throughout the last decade I made a lot of mistakes, I learned a lot and things turned out pretty well in the end so I thought I’d share with you guys 20 things I learned along the way, enjoy:

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1) Be Nice

You know what feels really good? People liking you. And if you’re an assh*le, people don’t like you. Be nice more, say hi to your barista, tell the shop assistant her smile is cute, compliment your sister on her new job – the more love you give, the more love you’ll get. So give it all away.


2) Entitlement

What happened to us generation Y’ers? Our sense of entitlement makes me sick. What? Cos Miley Cyrus made $10m from just shaking her skinny ass and Kim Kardashian’s 2 big assets gave her a free ride (ermmm, no pun intended) doesn’t mean we can get the life we dreamt of without the hard work. You’re in your 20s, you’ve got unlimited energy, get off your ass, hustle and make your actual life into the one you dreamed about.


3) Party Hard

Life’s simple. Work smart, party hard. I lived it up in every country I lived – Ireland, England, USA, Thailand, Korea, Australia, Malaysia and all the way back to Thailand again. And I don’t regret any of it. I know in 10 years time, when I hit 40 I won’t think regret my drunken shenanigans from around the world. I’ll reminisce with my close friends and raise a glass to how crazy we were. And I’ll be smiling from ear to ear.


4) Go to the Gym

Of course it’s nice to have a nice ass or a ripped six pack, but more importantly exercising regularly makes you feel better about yourself. More confident, relaxed and empowered. It’s not cool to be lazy. Speaking from experience, I’ve been on both sides of the fence and regular exercise is the cure to a lot of life’s ailments. In your twenties, it’s the best time to get involved. Set the precedent for yourself and don’t look back.


5) Learn a language

While I don’t subscribe to older people bemoaning the fact that due to their age they can’t learn a new language, it’s fair to say that being younger allows us more opportunites in this field. So throw yourself in, sign up for a class, make a fool of yourself, meet people, educate yourself. Languages open doors and as we age, we want as many doors open as possible.


6) Be impatient

Good things do not come to those who wait, whoever said that is still waiting. Be impatient, go out and get the girl/guy, go out and get the job, go out and make a million dollars. We can wait around forever but it’s not gonna come to us, we have to go out and get it. So let’s go.


7) Teach English

If you’re fortunate enough to be native English speaker then get a TEFL qualification and get your ass to Thailand/Korea/Mexico/anywhere. Teach in a foreign country, live abroad, get paid pennies and love every second. It was probably the best decision of my life, and changed my path forever.


8) Eat well

You don’t need to go all out and turn vegan but eat your fruit and veg, drink lots of water and lay off the ice-cream and chocolate when you can. Learn to cook, and make it a lifestyle choice to eat at least half-decently. Remember, adding 1kg each year of your life makes you old and fat. Eating right will keep that at bay.


9) Cut out the assh*les

Life’s too short to deal with negative assh*les. People break up with their gfs/bfs all the time yet there seems to be a stigma attached to breaking up with friends. F*ck that, cut these people out of your life. Surround yourself with positive, upbeat people who also believe they can live the dream. That way you all might end up living it together.


10) Laugh at yourself

This is something I was awful at as a teenager, not great at in my early twenties but as I gradually learned that being too-cool-for-school wasn’t cool at all, I seem to be a much cooler person now – ironic isn’t it?! Have fun, be an idiot, live life and watch how much happier you are.


11) Start a business

You don’t need to found the next facebook, but do something. Buy and sell on ebay, write an ebook, create something. Sure it might fail, but a) it’s exciting b) it might succeed and c) you’ll learn a lot about yourself. Business isn’t about suits and ties, it’s about enjoying what you do, talking to people and getting results.


12) Find your passion

I thought this was an easy one but my best buddy is 30, he’s really struggling to find his passion and I really feel for him. You need to work out what makes you tick when you’re young. Money? Travel? Philanthropy? Videography? Think and then think some more. We have one life, make sure you’re doing the right thing with it.


13) Acknowledge your lack of responsibilities

Never in your life will you be so free. And don’t read this thinking “You don’t know my situation Johnny, I’ve got A, B and C”. I’m sure you do, but what I’m telling you right now is that 10 years from now you’ll also have D, E and F so acknowledge this is as free as you’ll ever be and run with it.

14) Make an effort

If you love the people in your life, work hard to keep them there. Don’t be the person who tells your friends on facebook that you love them but haven’t spoken to them in 12 months – that’s not love mate, that’s a soundbite. Relationships take work, whether friends, family or partners, put the work in our lose your loved ones. This works both ways.


15) Call your mum & dad

They sacrificed more than we can ever know, just cos we’re a big shot in the city or backpacking around the world doesn’t mean it’s ok to forget them. They certainly didn’t forget us. A couple of phone calls per week is all it takes. No excuses, skype is everywhere.


16) Look good

We won’t look good forever so embrace it. While you don’t have to burn $500 on a pair of Armani jeans, you should take pride in your appearance. Don’t be a bum, look your best (at least some of the time). Wear clothes that fit, stay trim, smile more and drive your partner wild. Make your future self think back wistfully at just how damn sexy you were.


17) Help People

Help people whenever you can. You don’t have to believe in Karma to know that the more helpful you are, the more help you’ll receive. Donate money anonymously, give things away instead of selling them and help that old lady across the street. If we could all do this more, the world would be a wonderful place.


18) Do IT. Lots.

Whether it’s with 200 people or 2, embrace your sex life. We’re young, energetic, at our peak level of attractiveness so go nuts (pun entirely intended). Embrace, explore, enjoy and get it while you can.


19) Don’t fritter your money away

Spend your cash wisely and daily Caramel Macchiatos in Starbucks don’t qualify. Be smart with your money, make lunch every day at home and watch the pennies pile up. So many people in their 20s just fritter it away, you don’t need that last round of $50 tequilas at 4am, you can take the subway instead of a taxi and no you can’t justify a weekly massage because your legs ache, not yet. Invest, buy property and spend on your dreams – don’t watch it waste away with nothing to show for it.


20) Enjoy every second

Time to wrap up. Your 20s come and go, believe me. I remember turning 20 in university thinking I was invincible and here I am 10 years later, a decade gone in a heartbeat. Make the most of it, ride the learning curve, live fast, love deep and chase those dreams.



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0 thoughts on “Motivational Monday: 20 things to learn from your 20s

  1. HI Johnny,

    I am 20 now and this post was really helpful. I am glad it came to me on time. I will make sure I make the most of my 20s. Your blog is very inspiring. I love travelling and wish to lead a life like yours. 🙂

  2. Read your article today on Nepal, when I was having an existential conversation with myself (a friend described it as a “mid-life crisis” 15 years too early) and 3 hours later, I’m still reading your blog. Interesting stuff with a lot of food for thought. I’m finding number 12 the most challenging because even though I am working in my dream job, I am still so junior that it is difficult to establish a sense of ownership in my work. Time to start a new project I guess. In the end, this is perhaps the epitome of #firstworldproblems. 🙂 Great blog.

  3. Wicked post Johnny. It’s like all my long-term goals and new year’s resolutions rolled into one. This will have to get pinned!

  4. Love all of these, especially #2. After traveling to a tiny island in the South Pacific where 300 kids had two soccer balls for recess, it was hard to be empathetic with the student who tattled that another student called a “rope” on her in tetherball. Move on, child.

  5. Dear Johnny,
    You ROCK! I discovered your blog in mid-2013 and love your Motivational Mondays in particular – they keep me from going crazy while I’m chained to my desk. I’ll be leaving my office job this year to live the dream, which to me means Travelling, Acting and Writing. Keep up the great work!

  6. Hi Johnny,

    This is a great post. It’s funny how most of us begin to understand this stuff when we are actually getting to the end of our 20s. It’s also like having an Aha! moment when you realize that the most important things you need to do are not difficult at all. My favourite was ‘Be nice’. Don’t you sometimes wonder why would people want to be anything else (I know I often do).
    I am looking forward to reading a post on “things I learnt in my 30s” in ten years 😉
    Cheers and Happy Birthday!

  7. Hi Johnny,

    I loved this post. It’s stuff we are all told all the time, but heed rarely, so it’s good to be reminded.

    Also Adam’s mention of Alan Watts quote reminded me of the quote: ” Jobs dear, they are those things ppl spend their lives standingd in the rain, waiting for buses to get to, in order to spend hours slaving there so that they can earn enough to escape them for a few days of freedom, or to do what they actually love for a week a year”!!! (hoc)

  8. Hi Johnny,

    I loved this post. It’s stuff we are all told all the time, but heed rarely, so it’s good to be reminded.

    So in reverse: 20. I am relearning, 19.

  9. Johnny man, great post 🙂 I laughed out loud at several of those.
    And also, Happy Birthday mate! 30 is a big sounding number to someone who hasn’t reached it yet, but really man its just one more year of learning and fun. Be there in a flash I’m sure haha…
    I hope you enjoy your time back in Ireland!!
    Peace for now dude – Joel

  10. Nice post Johnny. It costs nothing to be nice..
    Party hard but as you get older you will realize that certain drinks should be avoided..
    Gym is a definite, get it done – Kettlebells all the way!
    Still haven’t learned a language… Spanish is sexy enough.
    I seen a sign in the AIB the other day ‘Have you your pension sorted? Can you afford to to retire at 65?” Screw that, make a fortune it in your early 30’s and ‘retire’ from there..
    Teaching English was narrowly avoided thanks to becoming a freelance writer..
    Eating well is a given. Eat sh*t, feel like sh*t.. You can’t out-train a bad diet..
    A wise man once said.. ‘You are the sum of the five people you spent the most time with.. Choose them wisely.’
    I have done lots of laughable stupid stuff.. Sure you’ll have that!
    Start a business… In motion >>>
    Finding a passion is a massive factor to anyones happiness. Playing music, doing art, writing.. Do what makes you happy. The money will follow. In the wise words of Alan Watts “If you say that getting the money is the most important thing then you will spend your life, completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing. Which is stupid!
    No debt and traveling the world.. You are truly free! The only responsibilities are feeding yourself and calling home…Create a way to make money online – Gold.. Not necessary but helps alot.

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