Most twentysomethings experience a bit of a quarter-life crisis: that doubt about our career path, life goals, and purpose, brought on by the stress of adulting. Clinical psychologist Dr. Meg Jay wrote a bestselling book on the topic, The Defining Decade, where she argues that unemployment, choosing a career path, living on our own, and reevaluating our relationships are the greatest causes of stress and anxiety in our twenties.
But our twenties are also such a free time of life. It’s still totally acceptable to be figuring things out. It’s a time to be young, have fun, make mistakes, and discover yourself. It's also the time to go after new experiences! Use this summer to accomplish some of these bucket list ideas to make life better in your twenties.
01. Read those books you’ve been meaning to get around to.
My goal this summer is to get through one whole book that has been on my list for years. I have yet to decide which book that will be (perhaps one of these?), but my reading list has been building since high school. Summer is the perfect excuse to crack open that book. Life gets so busy sometimes that I have to intentionally carve out time to read, but there are some serious benefits to reading, so it’s definitely worth the time.
02. Plan a night out at a karaoke bar.
Singing changes the brain . . . in a good way. Research shows that singing out loud can lower stress, relieve anxiety, and contribute to overall quality of life. Try a night out singing karaoke with some girlfriends. If you’re not into public singing, tons of karaoke bars provide rooms for you and your friends' ears only. Either way, sing your heart out.
03. Give your time, talents, and treasure where they’re actually needed.
Many organizations are in need of help during the summer. The key is to go where your volunteer labor is both necessary and skilled. Find a cause you’re passionate about—like spending time with war veterans or gleaning at a local farm—and donate what you can, whether it’s food, money, time, whatever! It is also a solid way to meet good people, which is rewarding at any age, but especially in your twenties when life changes so much and it becomes harder to keep up with old friends.
04. Master making a crowd-pleasing recipe.
Learning to cook one really great dish is not only fun but incredibly useful, too. If you don’t already have a signature dish, check out our treasure trove of recipes and pick out something tasty. Once you’ve mastered your new side dish, drink, or dessert, share it with your coworkers at the company picnic, your (future) in-laws for Sunday dinner, or at your BFF’s birthday brunch. A delicious dish that is sure to be a crowd pleaser will be a winner at any party.
05. Take a trip.
Soak in new sights and cultures by taking some time to travel this summer. Whether it's for a day trip to a nearby city you’ve never been to or across the globe, you will immerse yourself in something new which will challenge and help you grow. Traveling is a liberating experience, especially traveling alone. Or grab your girlfriends and hit the open road. Look for a cheap flight to anywhere and get away. These ten dreamy European Airbnbs are a good place to inspire your wanderlust.
06. Document your family history.
Sit down with your parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles, and find out where your family heritage comes from. Speak less, listen more. Ask them to share their stories, and don’t forget to record or write them down. When you get the chance, visit wherever your roots lie and form a deeper connection with who you are. In 2015, I traveled to Ireland to learn about my heritage and walked in the footsteps of women who came before me long ago. It was the chance of a lifetime, and I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.
07. Have your portrait taken.
You’re never going to be as you are right now. Capture twentysomething you in a nice photo. It doesn’t have to be a big production, just an excuse to get dolled up for you. It will be fun, years down the road, to show to your grandchildren what you looked like at their age.
08. Achieve one new health goal.
Have you been putting off taking your health seriously for a while? I know I have. It's never too early to start a healthy habit that will benefit you for a lifetime. Begin by joining a gym, signing up for group exercise classes, or cleaning up your diet.
09. Go on a blind date.
If you’re still single and looking (or just single) go out on a whim and try a dating app even if you prefer to meet the old-fashioned way. Or let your friends play matchmaker. You have nothing to lose by going on one date. You never know, it may lead to a second. Being set up by friends is the leading way people meet their significant others.
10. Learn how to jump-start a car.
From changing the oil to rotating tires, caring for your car is a practical and handy skill to have pretty much as soon as you start driving. I learned how to jump-start a car last summer (by necessity); now I know that should my car die, I can fix the problem on my own. Take three minutes to teach yourself this super-useful skill this summer (thanks, Art of Manliness!).
The defining decade of your twenties is full of new experiences and lessons that will set you up for a life well lived (and if you want some more ideas, Verily has ten life skills to brush up on, too). Make moves now to accomplish your goals—trust us, it won’t be long before you’ll have a whole new list of things to experience by 40.
Photo Credit: Lean Timms