2020 was a big year for me. I graduated undergrad, started graduate school, moved out on my own, started Adulting Starts Here, and ultimately became serious about figuring out the imprint I want to leave behind in this world.
Plus, COVID, it being an election year here in the U.S., and just so much happening in the streets. I really had to look at myself and wonder what is it all for. What am I doing to make this place better than when I eventually leave it?
I know that’s a cliché, overused existential question, but it doesn’t make it any less worth asking. And my answer, well I didn’t really have one. Yes, I’ve volunteered, helped people apply for scholarships, and get over some tough times, but what value was I creating each day?
I could not give myself a satisfying response. Now, people that know me well know that I am constantly going all in on the fight for personal progress – maximizing my potential – surpassing my limits, all that jazz, but I couldn’t remember the last time that I felt like I was doing enough.
I had a lot of time to think about this, and my girlfriend often tells me to speak about my feelings more, so I think I actually uncovered some gems in 2020 – Life v Lifestyle being the biggest outlet.
Here’s what 2020 taught me:
What good is the hustle, if you die before you enjoy its rewards?
Gosh this one here, is something that I have been struggling with my whole life. It’s like I have this self-destructive fear of being a failure in life that I force myself to constantly be doing something. Now, I am 8001% for the progression of the self and making necessary sacrifices, but I’ve come to the point where I would rather focus my time on building relationships than in the office or working all time.
I have not become a bum since pressing the pause button and taking things slower. In fact, its been very helpful for me as I grapple with transitioning from being a regular college student to a working graduate student. 2020 is where I really started my journey of learning how to smell the roses.
Spending more on your health actually saves you money long-term
I always thought all I had to do was stay active and my health would be good. Booyyy was I wrong. I mean I’m only 23 but my back feels like it’s 53 sometimes… You ever just get up in the morning, get out of bed, stand up and your bones just start popping one by one like they are being called to attention. It’s concerning, to say the least.
But I digress. I’ve started focusing more on health, by buying products that are healthier for me, putting healthier food in my body, and being more aware of how I treat my body period. It definitely costs more money to eat healthier food and use products with fewer chemicals, but the long-term health rewards truly outweigh these immediate gains. Shout out to my lady for this one too. She’s the healthiest eater I have ever met in my life.
I am pretty neglectful, and I need to work on it.
Remember when I spoke about the hustle? Well, this one goes hand in hand with that one. I was always on the go, focusing on my next move that I have become a pretty neglectful guy when it comes to friendships and relationships. I distinctly remember always telling people I can’t do this or that because I was on my way to go do something else.
Looking back now, I realize I did that way too often. There is a balance to be struck between pursuing your personal ambitions and making sure those close to you don’t feel neglected. I failed at that, miserably…for a long time. I am improving now and still have a long way to go.
A point I do want to make is that, for those of us who are ambitious and working towards that next step, we have to be careful about our pursuit, especially as early-career individuals. We are most susceptible to this illusion because we feel we have a lot to prove or are behind the curve. Maintaining this balance is a key reason why I call my podcast the Life v Lifestyle podcast.
As young people, we are trying to build both a fulfilling life while pursuing a lifestyle we feel we deserve. For both to be done well, they become demanding, and we are only human, so things fall through the cracks whether it be a relationship or a career goal. Balancing both is tough.
Financial Literacy is something you must pursue on your own.
Fun fact, schools don’t teach the stuff we need for everyday life. We all know it and financial literacy is one of those things. If you listen to the Life v Lifestyle Podcast, which I suggest you do and be sure to subscribe, you will know that financial literacy is something I am extremely serious about.
I had to get through school on scholarships and my own dime, so I was always trying to learn more about how I can better put myself in a situation where I didn’t have to worry about money. I did pretty well, only having to take out an $803 loan my second semester of freshman year (it was more so I could get a credit card later, but that is another article).
But 2020, has been a year that certainly showed me how much being some percentage of financially literate can help. I have been able to weather the storm of 2020, and not come out in debt. A big part of that is because of YNAB (mentioned in the podcast a lot – go listen to it when you finish reading!).
I live and breathe YNAB, You Need A Budget, and its ability to help people, especially young adults get a handle on their financial life. I’ve built most of my financial knowledge from scouring Reddit and using YNAB. I will link YNAB and a helpful Reddit thread on personal finance below.
At the end of the day though, it is on you to start educating yourself and to keep that education going. Whatever resources you feel the best learning from – learn all you can from them, then find more resources.
It’s okay not to have the answers. What’s not okay is expecting the solutions to come to you without any effort on your part.
It’s pretty straight forward. I learned I can’t expect a different income or for answers to just come to me. I have to seek them out – try different approaches.
Overall, 2020 was a heck of a year for so many reasons. It will forever be one that I remember, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t beyond happy that it was over. Here’s to 2021 and the continued growth of Life v Lifestyle!
*Note: I am not a licensed financial planner of any sort, so please do your own due diligence when planning your finances.
Best of luck adulting!
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About The Author
Donald Williams, Jr.
Donald is an avid believer in helping young people prepare for adulthood. He spends his time working on Adulting Starts Here and helping new adults plan for the future. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family and going to the beach.