Monday, 24 February 2014

Why your 20's are the most important years of your life

Now I know a lot of you have just had a minor panic attack reading the title, but don't fear! If you're sat in your superhero onesie reading this at 3pm in bed or fretting about not having a job yet, there is plenty you can do to change this trend.

So most of you in your 20's reading this will probably be thinking that most of your development was done and dusted by now, wrong! While you've spent your childhood and teenaged years developing physically and (hopefully) mentally, your brain goes through one last growth spurt before you are truly a developed adult. This growth spurt also happens to coincide with the mast majority of major life events that will shape your future life trajectory (I really like that phrase) eg first proper job, first house, marriage (hopefully only once!) etc etc.

Now while most of your brain's growth spurts have been mostly symmetrical, this last one is very heavily biased towards the prefrontal cortex. This area is involved in all those grown up things like social interaction, decision making, problem solving, planning and so on that basically underpin "growing up". If you've recently reflected on what you used to be like even just a year ago and thought that you've matured or "found yourself" you're probably going through or about to go through this vital last step to becoming an adult.

As a 20 year old myself, this is understandably daunting, but then when I think about it- it's actually exciting! This is because we are part of the so called "next great generation" or "millenials". These are the people that were born between 1981 and 2001; that grew up with the technology revolution we are going through right now, that were only young when 9/11 hit, that have been tying to get a job and work out what to do in life in a global market down turn, that have realised that everything can become global, that have realised that you can become a millionaire overnight with a good idea, or a billionaire in a few years if it's a really good idea, that have realised that the world around us is changing rapidly around us- and that we can be the architects of that change.

So while you might be working your 6th zero hours contract, or have been told that you can't have this experience because you don't have any other experience, things can change almost immediately if you have been putting in the hard work, and you create and take the opportunities that you can. Think about Apple, Google, Amazon, Wikipedia- all these massive organisations that were once just a couple of graduates with an idea. It took 6 years for Amazon to turn a profit, but now they completely dominate the online shopping market. Google started out as just a few graduate students who knew how to code, now their company is synonymous with big thinking ideas, technology and the internet revolution. Why can't your idea be the same?


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