Molly Barnes spent the past year living in an RV, figuring out how to work remotely and travel without starving. You can read about her adventures here.
Your 20s or 30s are the prime of your life — which also means it’s the best time to take a risk or two.
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These are often a little harder to consider once you’re older with a family, career, and mortgage to keep you on the ground. But in your younger years, risks can help to improve your life by allowing you to conquer fears and strengthen character, which in turn will enhance the chances of your success in a multitude of ways.
Consider these options for constructive risks to take:
Do something scary
Everyone has something that scares them, either a little or a lot. These fears can be hard to overcome, particularly as you get older and continue not facing them. Instead of letting fear rule you, look it in the eye. Understand where it comes from. Give it a name (fear of heights, fear of other people, fear of failure, etc.). Then take a step toward addressing it. Try doing something scary you thought you’d never do — even skydiving.
You might ask, ‘why do something frightening like this and put myself in a tough situation?’ The answer is: Fear is a transformative experience — one that can improve your life by whittling down the list of things that limit you. For example, riding a zip line can help you overcome a fear of heights and take this burden off of your back.
Try to tackle these scary possibilities one at a time to ensure you have enough energy to manage and process them properly. Taking on too much too quickly can trigger anxiety and make the situation even worse.
Conquer one fear at a time — each success will build your confidence to tackle the next — and become a happier and healthier person.
Test your body
In high school or college, were you an athlete who worked hard and stayed in shape? Or did you mostly sit around enjoying beer and watching your team lose almost every game? Whatever your personality and activity level, these years are the perfect time to take a risk and test your body.
Getting into shape is a great step to take toward improving your health in a myriad of ways by strengthening bones and muscles, enhancing heart and lung functions, and improving metabolism. If you’re not into gym culture, try out a new and challenging activity — rock-climbing, acrobatics, trampoline — to enhance your health (both mental and physical) and push your body to new limits.
Travel is something you can do at any time of your life, but it’s often easier when you’re young, with fewer obligations to weigh you down and less stringent physical accommodations needed to travel comfortably. Checking out places in Europe, Asia, Australia, or Africa can make your life more exciting and fun. And did you know people work out of Antarctica every year? Talk about an adventure!
Try to choose areas offering attractions that correspond with your interests and needs. If you’re an adventurer, you might gravitate toward places with dramatic scenery that offer extreme sports opportunities. If you’re a leisure-seeking type, you can find relaxing areas that interest you. Visiting your ancestors’ home country is often a fun way to get in touch with your history.
Or, if you’re career-focused, you can concentrate on places where you might meet potential business partners or colleagues. For example, do some research on the next country you’re visiting to find a trade show in your industry. This could introduce you to an audience or potential customer base that you might have otherwise missed.
Start a new business
The idea of staying shackled to a single job for a lifetime became passé long ago in the business world. Now, most people hop jobs — and even fields — multiple times during a career. This especially makes sense when you’re young, as you need to try new things to figure out what’s the best fit.
If you haven’t yet found the gig that’s right for you (at least right now), you might consider starting your own business. Especially if you have an independent mindset, this risk can open up a whole new world of opportunities and potentially pay off big!
To begin, think of an area that excites your passion, and then dedicate some time and research to exploring it. Try to identify a service or a product that you know your area lacks; filling in a void like this often requires tweaking your niche toward a more specific offering or area.
One smart way to jumpstart your business is to move to a new city that offers a welcoming climate for your offerings. For example, you could try a smaller city like Tampa, FL; it provides plenty of opportunities but also a lower cost of living than larger cities. In this way, you can improve your chances of creating and owning a lucrative niche.
Try going mobile
A growing number of young professionals are skipping the tradition of settling down in one area and are going mobile as digital nomads instead. This often requires finding a gig or business model that lets you work remotely while you travel, via jobs like online writing or networking, or businesses like online sales.
A mobile lifestyle is particularly suited to entrepreneurs. For example, say you’re a digital nomad who travels in an RV: You can stop in or near a likely city, park your home, ride a bike or scooter to a gig, and meet up with people willing to collaborate, advise, or even invest in your business. Meanwhile, an array of online platforms, software, and apps can help with administrative tasks, such as calculating your taxes, communicating with team members, or scheduling deadlines.
This type of mobile lifestyle might prove too challenging to sustain once you move into your later years and start putting down roots. However, investing in a tiny house or mobile home and working around the country can be a great way to mix business, travel, and pleasure.
Pursue your passion now
Lastly, you need to pursue your passion in your 20s and 30s, while you’re young and still have the energy and drive to achieve lofty goals. For example, if you’ve always wanted to write a fantasy novel about a post-apocalyptic world where dogs ride T-Rexes and shoot lasers from their eyes, now is the time to do it!
More practically, you could combine your passion with a side hustle that helps you make money. If you love painting, for example, you could paint portraits and sell them online; this type of artwork can be always be sold to people like families and young couples, or even pet owners.
Give some consideration to whether you want to totally dedicate your time to your passion project, or if you plan to split your time between your dreams and your day job. Either path has proven effective for lots of people. The extra work required to realize a big goal takes up a lot of free time, though, so be prepared to miss out on the latest television shows and movies! (If you’re sufficiently consumed by your project, you won’t really miss them.)
Your 20s or 30s are the time to take advantage of your youth and freedom and take some risks. Consider a few of these options, or, if you want to pursue something else unique and fun, pick the most likely wild idea and take the plunge.
It’s never too late — or too early — to change your life for the better.