19 Things To Stop Doing In Your 20′s

If you’ve been following this little blog for awhile, you know I’ve chatted quite a bit about turning 30 (maybe too much!) and chronicled tackling my 30 before 30 list here, here, and here.

A few months ago, I stumbled across this list. I’ve read it a million times, shared it with quite a few people, and to be honest, I’m STILL thinking about it. Clearly, this must mean something really resonated with me. Maybe it’s because I do nearly all 19 things. And because I’m 30, I need to STOP doing these things. No more excuses.

Because this list has been so top of mind, I thought it was fitting that I shared it with you guys. It gets you thinking, and working hard at becoming the person you want to be.

1. Stop placing all the blame on other people for how they interact with you. To an extent, people treat you the way you want to be treated. A lot of social behavior is cause and effect. Take responsibility for (accept) the fact that you are the only constant variable in your equation.

2. Stop being lazy by being constantly “busy.” It’s easy to be busy. It justifies never having enough time to clean, cook for yourself, go out with friends, meet new people. Realize that every time you give in to your ‘busyness,’ it’s you who’s making the decision, not the demands of your job.

3. Stop seeking out distractions. You will always be able to find them.

4. Stop trying to get away with work that’s “good enough.” People notice when “good enough” is how you approach your job. Usually these people will be the same who have the power to promote you, offer you a health insurance plan, and give you more money. They will take your approach into consideration when thinking about you for a raise.

5. Stop allowing yourself to be so comfortable all the time. Coming up with a list of reasons to procrastinate risky, innovative decisions offers more short-term gratification than not procrastinating. But when you stop procrastinating to make a drastic change, your list of reasons to procrastinate becomes a list of ideas about how to better navigate the risk you’re taking.

6. Stop identifying yourself as a cliche and start treating yourself as an individual. Constantly checking your life against a prewritten narrative or story of how things “should” be is a bought-into way of life. It’s sort of like renting your identity. It isn’t you. You are more nuanced than the narrative you try to fit yourself into, more complex than the story that “should” be happening.

7. Stop expecting people to be better than they were in high school — learn how to deal with it instead. Just because you’re out of high school doesn’t mean you’re out of high school. There will always be people in your life who want what you have, are threatened by who you are, and will ridicule you for doing something that threatens how they see their position in the world.


8. Stop being stingy. If you really care about something, spend your money on it. There is often a notion that you are saving for something. Either clarify what that thing is or start spending your money on things that are important to you. Spend money on road trips. Spend money on healthy food. Spend money on opportunities. Spend money on things you’ll keep.

9. Stop treating errands as burdens. Instead, use them as time to focus on doing one thing, and doing it right. Errands and chores are essentially rote tasks that allow you time to think. They function to get you away from your phone, the internet, and other distractions. Focus and attention span are difficult things to maintain when you’re focused and attentive on X amount of things at any given moment.

10. Stop blaming yourself for being human. You’re fine. Having a little anxiety is fine. Being scared is fine. Your secrets are fine. You’re well-meaning. You’re intelligent. You’re blowing it out of proportion. You’re fine.


11. Stop ignoring the fact that other people have unique perspectives and positions. Start approaching people more thoughtfully. People will appreciate you for deliberately trying to conceive their own perspective and position in the world. It not only creates a basis for empathy and respect, it also primes people to be more open and generous with you.

12. Stop seeking approval so hard. Approach people with the belief that you’re a good person. It’s normal to want the people around you to like you. But it becomes a self-imposed burden when almost all your behavior toward certain people is designed to constantly reassure you of their approval.

13. Stop considering the same things you’ve always done as the only options there are. It’s unlikely that one of the things you’ll regret when you’re older is not having consumed enough beer in your 20s, or not having bought enough $5 lattes, or not having gone out to brunch enough times, or not having spent enough time on the internet. Fear of missing out is a real, toxic thing. You’ve figured out drinking and going out. You’ve experimented enough. You’ve gotten your fill of internet memes. Figure something else out.

14. Stop rejecting the potential to feel pain. Suffering is a universal constant for sentient beings. It is not unnatural to suffer. Being in a constant state of suffering is bad. But it is often hard to appreciate happiness when there’s nothing to compare it to. Rejecting the potential to suffer is unsustainable and unrealistic.

15. Stop approaching adverse situations with anger and frustration. You will always deal with people who want things that seem counter to your interests. There will always be people who threaten to prevent you from getting what you want by trying to get what they want. This is naturally frustrating. Realize that the person you’re dealing with is in the same position as you — by seeking out your own interests, you threaten to thwart theirs. It isn’t personal — you’re both just focused on getting different things that happen to seem mutually exclusive. Approach situations like these with reason. Be calm. Don’t start off mad, it’ll only make things more tense.

16. Stop meeting anger with anger. People will make you mad. Your reaction to this might be to try and make them mad. This is something of a first-order reaction. That is, it isn’t very thoughtful — it may be the first thing you’re inclined to do. Try to suppress this reaction. Be thoughtful. Imagine your response said aloud before you say it. If you don’t have to respond immediately, don’t.

17. Stop agreeing to do things that you know you’ll never actually do. It doesn’t help anyone. To a certain extent, it’s a social norm to be granted a ‘free pass’ when you don’t do something for someone that you said you were going to do. People notice when you don’t follow through, though, especially if it’s above 50% of the time.

18. Stop ‘buying’ things you know you’ll throw away. Invest in friendships that aren’t parasitic. Spend your time on things that aren’t distractions. Put your stock in fleeting opportunity. Focus on the important.

19. Stop being afraid.


It’s quite the killer list, huh?

If we’re talking details, I’m especially guilty of #2, #12, and #18. But again, in one way or another, I’m guilty of all 19 things. The good news is that I’m working on these things. The bad news is that the list is long.

What list items resonate with you? How do you guys personally tackle “self help” and see results? Spill it.

55 thoughts on “19 Things To Stop Doing In Your 20′s

  1. Kara Said:

    This was a great post! Ouch… some of those hurt to read because it was like getting slapped in the face with my own reality.

  2. Emily Said:

    Great list, thanks for sharing. :)

    1. Kamna Said:

      Could you email me a copy of that list you were talking about? I’d love to print that out too!

  3. Rachael Said:

    Yes I think I resonated with every single one. Each one is a part of being human and I will probably need to be reminded not to do these things in my 40′s too :-)

  4. Jenn Said:

    Wow, such a great list – thanks for sharing! While all resonate to a point, at the moment I am SO GUILTY of #17.

  5. heather j Said:

    Oh my, i am guilty for sooo many of those. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Jenn @ Home Style Report Said:

    Wow, I’m not sure if I was ready to read that. Obviously I needed to if I am having such a strong reaction but whoa. Ouch, that’s one big magnifying mirror you just posted there.

  7. Mandy Knapp Riggar Said:

    LOVE THIS! Woah #1 is SO good & SO true. I started a gratitude journal and it has brought a handful of peace and contentment. Instead of ending the day in a whirl wind and practically falling into bed, I carve out 2 minutes to just think about what I am grateful for that day. Not yesterday or last week, but just one thing today. It’s helped me realize what is awesome, but also what I can change. I highly recommend it :) xo

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  9. Joy | Frock Files Said:

    Kirsten, this couldn’t have been posted at a better time — I’m in the midst of writing some articles on my 20s and many of these come into play. Especially #18 and #6 — in fact, I just wrote about the latter in a post for My Thirty Spot about all the jobs I had before realizing none of them worked for me. Round peg, square hole! :)

  10. Lila Smyth Said:

    Great list. Made me stop and think. This is actually my second time coming back to it. I turned 30 in January and am thinking about some big changes. Not letting fear rule is a tough one for me at this intersection. Yowza, lots to think about.

  11. Kristin Said:

    Very refreshing – all good reminders, no matter how old you are. These are hard habits to break, but the 1st step is to be aware when you’re actually committing them!

  12. Yana Puaca Said:

    This is such a great list- there’s some I feel I’ve mastered and others that ring true to my ears. I must work on them. #6,7 and #12 require my time and attention to work on. Thanks for sharing!

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  14. Jess Fly Said:

    I cannot express how much every single one of these items resonates with me. It is so hard to keep moving forward and enjoying life more fully, but these are all goals for me to constantly remember!

  15. Cate Said:

    My friend just sent me this list, and I love it! #2 and #12 also deeply resonated with me, as well as #10. Also, I read your “About Me” and saw that we both are married to men named Kyle. Yay for Kyles!

  16. Christina Said:

    #8 is to stop saving money? This is advice to someone in their 20′s. Liquidity is everything. Save up for a rainy day. If you are ages 22 – 42, there’s going to be many.

  17. laurasmess Said:

    Wow. This is so, so good. I have another six months in my twenties and I think #8 and #19 resonate the most with me. I’ve always taken the ‘sensible’ option by saving money, depriving myself of opportunities to enrich my life or be ‘rash’ and spontaneous. I was afraid. I AM afraid. I was saving for something concrete, like a house, but… having something like that tie me down has equally scared me! Thanks for posting this list. I might just go take a year off and travel the world ;)

    1. Thina Said:

      Thank you for sharing!Few things feel as good as growth and this list only encourages the best kind. #10 – Stop blaming yourself for being human encompasses my struggle with most of this list. I will approach this list calmly, doing my absolute best because I deserve it, not because I am a disaster of a human being. I may not be where I want be, but I am certainly not where I used to be. I am not perfect, but I am doing what I can to remedy my short-comings. I am fine. ;)

  18. Samantha Said:

    so it’s saying stop being human?

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  20. nicole Said:

    So cool and well written! Makes me wanna be friends!

  21. Michal Said:

    I just happened to stumble across your blog, and I LOVE this article! Being in my twenties I can relate 100% to many of the things you talked about, and I’ve already forwarded it to my friends. I look forward to checking out the rest of your blog!

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  24. Sam Cook Said:

    Such a wonderful post! I’m printing it and posting a link to it on my blog. Every bit of it rings true for this girl!

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  32. Megan Said:

    #20 Stop making stupid childish over-simplified lists.

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  39. DissidentDaughter Said:

    This is a thought provoking list, for sure. Sadly, I think it took me until 40 (now 43) to “stop” doing most of these thing. I wonder if for some people they sound too unrealistic. Unfortunately, I gristle at the negative approach to these things. It feeds into any shame issues we might have and people will be more apt to become defensive. Positivity might be more helpful. What do you think?

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  41. DeeDee Riley Said:
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  44. Shirine Said:

    I guess what these all come down to is just being confident and happy with who you are, as you try and be the best person you can be! It is good for us to all critically look at ourselves this way.

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  46. Katherine Said:

    Thank you Kirsten for the list! I’m in my 20s and have come across a whole lotta roadsigns and construction work lately. Your list has helped me to simmer through and find some breathing room, much appreciated! :-)

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  48. Teresa Said:

    I really liked number 9. We do get so caught up in everything that we have to do, that at the end of the day our head is spinning from everything did or didn’t get done.

  49. Rahul Said:

    We do get so caught up in everything that we have to do,everything did or didn’t get done Nice inspiration !


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