25 Things I Learned Before Turning 25 

September 8

Last Thursday was my 25th birthday. In the week leading up to it, I did a sort of life inventory. What did I hope to accomplish by 25, what have I actually accomplished by 25 and what do I want to accomplish in the next five years?

The most important accomplishment has been learning: not just in school, but also in life. Coming up with this list has reminded me that yes, I am actually 25, not 18. Of course these are things I have found to be true, but that doesn’t mean I always remember or practice them. I still need to work on following my own advice.

  1. Don’t waste time on Facebook. Even with a News Feed that is heavily focused on art, food and news, Facebook is a time suck. In fact I just wasted 15 minutes on there instead of writing.
  2. Read more books. I read an article once suggesting that one book a month — fiction or nonfiction — will advance your career. When I follow that advice, I am more motivated and creative.
  3. Be responsible and organized with your money. What are you spending? What are you saving? Where is the money that you’re saving going? I have to say a huge thank you to my big brother, Ian, who is a financial advisor. He’s free. He gives amazing advice. I couldn’t navigate finances without him.
  4. Plan and prepare for your future. The most important thing Ian helps me do is save for retirement. He’s taught me how important it is, and how to do it.
  5. Invest in a few quality, classic pieces. This goes for style, furniture, food, everything. Some things cost more money for a reason: they’re better.
  6. Eat real food. The food you put into your body matters. It might be more time-consuming to cook a home-made meal, but it’s worth it. Your body will not thank you for eating Cup-O-Noodles and ice cream every night. And no, pizza doesn’t count as a serving of veggies.
  7. Develop your own style. I admit I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to match my style to the style of those around me. After moving so much in the last five years, I finally picked my style.
  8. Don’t compare yourself to others. Every person has had a specific set of life experiences. You are you. The most important thing is that you are learning and improving, not what others are doing.
  9. Be brave and confident. I’ve done some major things in my life — things that some people would never dream of doing. Moving forward I need to allow that strength to give me confidence.
  10. Do things that scare you. “Sometimes the things you’re afraid of are the most worth while.” I’ve found that to be true. It was true about the scary sledding hill when I was ten, and it was true about my year in Scotland.
  11. Go on adventures. Adventures, big and small, are important. A trip to Europe is great, but so is visiting the sites in your own state or town or neighborhood. Example, my parents took me to Traverse City this weekend. Mini adventure!
  12. Make time for your parents, family and the people you love. Talk to them, visit them, spend time with them. They’re important.
  13. Don’t give up on the life you want. Sometimes I want to settle for the idea that I’ll be single at 60, but I don’t. And I’m often tempted to tell myself that a life of travel is unrealistic, but I won’t.
  14. Wake up early. You are more productive in the morning. This isn’t true for everyone, but it’s true for most people whether they realize it or not.
  15. Start. It’s never too late to start. “Love is like riding or speaking French. If you don’t learn it young, it’s hard to get the trick of it later.” Shrimpy Fletcher said it to Lord Grantham in Downton Abbey, and it broke my heart that he included French. But he said its hard to get the trick of it, not impossible. It’s never too late.
  16. Decide what you want to spend your time on. You have time to achieve the things you want to achieve, you just have to let go of other things.
  17. Watch less TV. Netflix and Amazon Prime are better than cable.
  18. Write thank you notes. Send them to people who give you things, advice, time or a place to stay — friends, colleagues and business acquaintances.
  19. Do what you love. If you’re in a career you hate, make sure you are taking steps to get a career you’ll love.
  20. Drink quality coffee. Taking the time to manually grind and French press morning coffee is so worth it. If it’s not good coffee, what’s the point?
  21. Skip dessert sometimes. You don’t need to have dessert after every meal.
  22. Practice yoga and meditate. They actually work to ease anxiety.
  23. Connect with a community who believes what you believe. Over the last year spending time with my friends from my Bible study group has become so enjoyable, and an important part of making this place feel more like home.
  24. Cook and eat food that you’ve made from scratch. It is incredibly rewarding. Homemade yogurt, homemade bread and homemade chicken broth taste amazing.
  25. Understand that you have a lot to learn. Twenty-five years of life. The more I learn the more I realize how much more I have left to learn. About history, art, nonprofits, money, food, love and life.

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  • Reply Elizabeth September 10 at 5:30 am

    Hi Margaret, I found your blog through your wonderful mom today. She doesn’t know it, but she inspires me. I can see that you have a very gifted family. I loved your list, and I wish you continued inspiration on your journey. My favorite was number 9!! You are probably blowing people away right now, and you don’t even know it. I look forward to reading more from you soon.

    • Reply September 11 at 5:24 am

      Thanks for reading Elizabeth! I’m glad my mom shared it with you!

  • Reply Barb Conti October 17 at 11:15 pm

    You are very wise! Many thought provoking comments and you are very insightful. Thanks for sharing !

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