26 Life Lessons To Learn By 26

26 Life Lessons to Learn by 26

Turning 26 last September got me thinking about what I’ve learned in life so far and especially in the past year while living abroad in both France and the Netherlands. A year ago I wrote a similar post called “Things I Learned When I Turned 25” that was widely popular so let’s continue with the “series”. I want to help you achieve a lot of things in your twenties both mentally and physically and also show you that it’s very possible ❤️

26 Life Lessons to Learn by 26

1. Improve your emotional intelligence. High emotional intelligence (EQ) will help you in every aspect of your life; your career, your relationships, how you manage your feelings, how you communicate and also generally how you go on about life.

2. Network. You never know who’s help you’re going to need in the future for whatever reason. Who knows who your future colleagues might be, so remember to always work hard, show interest and try and genuinely get to know people around you.

3. Learn that it’s never too late. It’s never too late to learn new things, never too late for love, never too late to apologize, never too late to do that thing you always dreamt about… Realize it’s not too late to start living the life you truly want to live. You have to make it happen yourself – no one else will.

4. Live in the present. I feel like a lot of people either live too much in the past: “I wish I had done that differently back then” or too much in the future: “The day I live there, have this salary etc. I will be happy“. Instead you should learn to live right now and not dwell on past shortcomings or think that something in the future will be that thing that changes your life or makes you happy. If you live in the past or the future, you will miss out on what is happening right this moment. Think: if you can be happy now, wouldn’t you choose it?

5. Forgive, forget and let go. There is absolutely no point of holding a grudge or keeping up a fight. Let it go, forgive it or forget it. If it has been “processed” it’s better to stay that way. Imagine how much of your energy you will use if you have to live in resentment, negativity or bitterness all the time. But remember not to always forget. For example if someone hurt you, don’t just pretend it didn’t happen, process it and forgive or let go. Learn to let go of petty things, you’ll get some peace of mind that way. The past is the past and since you can’t change it – let it go. (Sounds like the Frozen soundtrack here).

Overlooking lake at Schloss Burgau, Germany

Overlooking lake at Schloss Burgau, Germany

6. Know what you want. This one might be a bit hard nut to crack. I do believe that you should have probably started to figure out a direction for your life (unless you don’t want to) in your mid-twenties. The easiest way to go about it is to try things; new, safe, scary, irrational, fun, even a bit dangerous and especially uncomfortable things. Only by trial and error will you learn what you like and what you don’t like. You’ll learn from mistakes, from failures, from others and from every experience. The better you know yourself, the better you know what you might want for yourself now and in the future.

7. Try traveling alone or moving abroad. It will make you less scared of new things, it will make you more adaptable to change, it will make you more open, it will force you to communicate with strangers, it will make you less scared and it will make you more independent. Both can seem scary at first, but just try it. Your home will be there if you decide it’s not for you.

8. Practice gratitude. Learning to be grateful was one of the best things in my life. Being grateful for and appreciating what I have, the friends I got, for my family, for new experiences, for my education and for so many more things, made me happier. I stopped craving a lot of things that others had or seemed to have that I thought would make me happier, but in the end I realized I already have everything I really need.

9. Give to others. Give your time, give your help, give advice, give compliments, support and listen. Appreciate people around you, show that you care, give your full attention or give strangers an act of random kindness.

10. Help others. If there’s someone around you who needs help of any kind, help if you can and actually be there when a friend needs you. I believe that by helping others we can pay forward a culture of kindness.

The times we had on Toompea Hill in Tallinn

Toompea Hill, Tallinn, Estonia

11. Be kind. Reflecting on the previous point I believe kindness to yourself and others is important. You can be kind to yourself i.e. in how you view yourself and your body. By being kind to yourself you get automatically more positive! By being kind to others you also spread positive energy. It tells a lot about a person who can be kind to i.e. waiters, store clerks, receptionists, homeless and random strangers, rather than only people they know.

12. Clean up your social media presence. Delete those horrible photos from anno 2008 and clean up your social media profiles in general – it’s time. This is especially important if you want to be seen as a professional when searching for a job or be taken seriously when out in work life. Hit delete!

13. Job hunt on social media. While we’re on the topic of social media and online presence: keep your LinkedIn profile up to date and even create an about.me page if you think you need it! In this time and age your resume should be found online, at least if your job relies on it. Creating a profile on other job search sites like Monster is also a good way to get headhunted by recruiters.

14. Learn to be critical to social media. Everyone on social can portray themselves and their lives as they want them to be seen and perceived. But do know, that reality and what is shown to others is not always the same thing. A blogger for example might be posting fancy pics from endless brunches, mini vacations, random hotel staycations and fancy material things. But do know that this is quite often their “image” online, they are paid or sponsored to do a lot of it to earn money on their content (i.e. blog). What you show to others is just a fraction of your real life, and more often than not we might ourselves also be guilty of showing only the good bits of it all.

Amsterdam houses

Amsterdam houses

15. Realize that nobody is perfect. Because nobody is. There is no such thing as a perfect person, a perfect life, a perfect relationship, a perfect job, a perfect vacation, a perfect anything. You’re the one defining what is perfect for yourself. Everyone’s “perfect” is different and it’s on you to decide what you want and don’t want in your life to make it your version of perfect. Never compare your life to others, you’ll end up miserable!

16. Surround yourself with people you like. At this age you can really choose your friends. Let go of people that make you miserable or feel bad, you don’t need those toxic relationships in your life. Surround yourself with people you like to be with, people you feel are going to be there for you and vice versa and people you care about.

17. De-clutter your life. Get rid of all the material things you don’t need or things you’ve kept “just in case” or because it holds some memory. In a lifetime you’ll gather so many things and the truth is that you can pretty much live out of a suitcase if you want to. The KonMari Method might be worth a try to get you started!

Rauvolanlahti, Turku, Finland

Rauvolanlahti, Turku, Finland

18. Care about something important to you. Show that you care about something. It will make you instantly more interesting if you have something you’re passionate about. Animal rights? Human rights? Women’s rights? Whatever it is – become an expert and help the cause you believe in.

19. Never stop learning. Self-growth is the key to a lot of things; self-confidence, better mental health, a happy relationship, great work life and better social experiences. Strive to be a better version of yourself by i.e. reading books, learning from others, teaching others, being kind, listening, helping, picking up a new hobby, learning a new language and so on. There’s so much you can do to grow as a person. I promise it’ll work wonders on your life in general!

20. Stop slut-shaming! No one is a slut. Slut-shaming can really ruin a person – so don’t do it. I believe it’s a form of bullying, especially towards women, and nothing constructive comes out of it. It’s not your business anyway. End of discussion.

21. Stop fat-shaming! Another thing that can really destroy a person and her/his self-confidence. It’s not your business and instead of fat-shaming, maybe try and help if you can through support and encouragement? Even if you think your comments to someone else or to yourself are innocent and maybe even “funny” they can really hurt deep down and slowly chip away on a persons view of her-/himself. If you have nothing positive to say – don’t say it at all.

Sunset in Äänekoski, Finland

Sunset in Äänekoski, Finland

22. Lower your expectations. If you always expect the world from yourself and others you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. It’s healthy to expect i.e. honesty from your partner and friends, but don’t ever expect someone else to make YOU happy. That is all on you and you need to love yourself and define your own happiness. The higher the expectations, the bigger the disappointments.

23. Never stop dreaming. To dream about doing some things in life or achieving something is healthy – however small or big the dream. Do not confuse dreams with expectations though. You can decide to make your dreams come true, but sometimes it doesn’t pan out or it’s not what you expected – or it is, or it is a compromised version of what you wanted. That’s the beauty of it – dreams keep you alive, curious and excited.

Flying over the Baltic Sea

Flying over the Baltic Sea

24. Always choose experience. You can learn oh so much from studying theory, but to learn from practice always is the best way to go. Valuable life or work experiences will count so much more than anything you can ever learn from a book or from passively observing.

25. Learn languages. A new language doesn’t have to be that hard to learn. But also know that sometimes it is. I finally learned decent French by moving to France for a longer time and immersing myself into the language and culture. I know that even you can learn basics in a language by listening to music, watching movies, reading books or magazines and practising on apps like Babbel or Duolingo to learn a little every day. Just keep it present in your daily life, that’s the key!

26. Love life. Love and appreciate the small things. Smile a lot. Laugh. Spread kindness and positive energy. You will get so much in return and be a happier person.

What have your greatest life lessons been so far? Let me know in the comments! ?


Related reading:

Things I Learned When I Turned 25

Valuable Life Lessons I Learned From Living Abroad

7 Steps For Creating A Visual CV

Love: How to Learn to Expect the Unexpected

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