What Do YOU Want To Achieve In Your 20s?

Your 20s – allegedly "the time of your life" - are meant to be filled with fun, adventures and minimal responsibility. It is your moment of experimentation, living without the fears of pre-adolescence or restrictions of old age. Now fully equipped with all the necessary social qualifications and conventions, through years of formal and informal education your 20s become viewed as the decade of flying-the-nest; chance, change, newness, consolidation, achievement, potential, flight – in short, anything you want them to be.

Last week, I turned 21. It is too late now - I am in my 20s, officially. Gazing out of the window on a sunny afternoon, I started thinking about what I wanted my 20s to be and the list of things I hoped to slowly but surely tick off.  What about others, I thought? Do they share the same interests and desires/ anxieties and concerns about their 20s.

Hence, this led me to this article: asking a pool of individuals, male and female, all 21, about what they want to do in their 20s. The responses make for an interesting topic, falling into several key categories...



Almost everyone, without prompt, jumped to talking about their career first. It appears that for most 21-year-olds the immediate future is about advancing job prospects and security; obtaining, hopefully by the end of the decade, a place in an industry/sector that they really love. Granted, this prioritising of "career first, personal second" could be because I have exclusively asked university students – eager to put their three years of study and £27,000 to good use.

However, there was a prevailing feeling, both for the women and men, that this was a time when the messy questions of love, marriage and the baby carriage could wait. Instead, individuals wanted to try out different jobs, see what fits and then find a comfortable suit by the age of 30. The boys even referred to specific figures as a benchmark of their career success, with 50-60k being the desired goal. Money, after years of being denied it, is a pivotal issue. Happiness also factored into the equation.



Ranked next in the people’s estimations of their 20s was travel. Wanting to see the world and properly experience it was a popular goal with both the women and men. Some talked about ticking off all the continents. 'What about Antarctica?' I responded. Well, maybe not Antarctica.

So, the hotspots; South America, Africa, Asia, all coming with cultures that are vastly different from the ones we experience daily in Britain.  Broadening ones horizons was a key theme; both literally and figuratively, through looking at various sunsets with rose-tinted goggles and scratching off new areas of the world.



The issue of housing divided the two groups. The girls laughed at the prospect of affording a house by their 20s, in reference to the hostile prices in the current market; namely, in London. Renting a place, preferably with friends, is what they expect to happen in this decade. The boys were more optimistic, talking about having a place of your own.

Yet, in all cases, the consensus prevailed that the 20s is a time when you live with someone, preferably with friends, just like in the TV show. Residing in a dump, very much like my student room now, was not what people envisioned. Somewhere to be proud of, perhaps investing in art or inviting people around for a sophisticated dinner party, was a aspirational goal.


Personal Life

Freedom - this was the overriding conclusion when people talked about their personal life. Note that the personal life discussion always came, as it is featured here, at the bottom of the list. Not being tied down, either married or with kids, was the dominant narrative. Experiencing new things, both sexually and romantically, for the girls was the primary ideal for their 20s.

For the boys, talk wavered around the issue of being happy with yourself, for both now and beyond, but also entering into a relationship organically when you meet the right person. They see no pressure about doing so in the timetabled next 10 years though.

What happens when you turn 30 and there is no one? It wouldn’t be great, was the reply, but as long as you were comfortable and confident with who you are then everything is okay. I agreed.