Seven Life Milestones to Meet By Age 27
The first 27 years of a person’s life is supposed to be the foundation-building years, where youth grows into adulthood and gains the basic skills and education necessary for one’s peak career years. As the foundation goes, so goes the building!
Here are seven things that if accomplished by age 27 will serve you well over the course your life:
1. Start Paying the Future You. The sad truth is that most people think they can wait to start building net worth until later on in life when their income become “high enough” to set aside a portion for the future. And while health advances will most certainly extend people’s lives and earnings years, the best time to begin a systematic program of saving and investing is your pre-teen years. Why? Because your parents are providing you with most necessities, making your expenses discretionary, providing the extra money to set aside.
Here’s an easy example to remember. You get a $25.00 check for your 10th birthday from grandma, and you decide that you’ll use it to start an investment account. Let’s suppose you put away $2.08 each month ($25.00 per year), and the investment provides a mere 3% return. You do this until age 70. According to this free interest calculator, you’ll have saved $4,217.10, even though you only put in a little more than $1,500 over sixty years. This is the power of compound interest, which Albert Einstein once called “the eighth wonder of the world.” If you haven’t begun this discipline yet, start immediately. Here’s a quick tutorial on investing that you can use to invest in the future you.
2. Know and Live Your Unshakable Values. We all do (and have done) crazy stuff when we were kids. That is just a part of growing up. As we matured, we began to recognize the value and wisdom of limits, of respect and reputation, of trust and trustworthiness, and of doing the right thing even when it’s hard. We learned that saying it and doing it were two different things. Rudyard Kipling offers this incredible gem: Sooner or later each of us will sit down to a banquet of consequences, most of our own making. So by 27, having a well-defined set of unshakeable values, and living by them, can and will bring about a more pleasant life banquet.
3. Build Your Professional Network. By the time the average person reaches age 27, he or she has met more than 4,000 people through childhood, family life, schooling, work, military service, neighborhood, social activities, and most recently, social media. As early as pre-school when you were learning socialization skills, you were networking with play-mates and discovering things you had in common. By the time you hit your 20th birthday, turn your focus to building your professional network, comprised of people who are currently (or preparation to be) in the working world. Add just 3 people per week, and by age 27 you’ll have a professional network of nearly 1,100 people. Great sources to consider:
a. People from Your Personal Network – this includes family members, people in your community, friends, and people with whom you socialize.
b. People from Your Educational Network – including people with whom you went to school, attended training programs and study groups with you, and met in e-learning programs.
c. People from Your Employment Network – includes people with whom you worked, served as fellow interns and volunteers, and spent summer and part time jobs working alongside others.
d. People from Your Social Networks – any and all social network connections who are also part of the professional world.
4. Serve for the Benefit of Others. Have you noticed that over the past 20 or 30 years society has become more and more me-centric? We’ve become masters of the personal pronoun, haven’t we? Now…here’s the real get-honest question, Does anyone who is me-centric ever truly feel fulfilled? Life experience will show you that the more selfish a person is, the more miserable he or she becomes.
Fulfillment comes from serving others. There is no denying the sense of purposefulness when you shift the focus of your life from all things self, to investing part of your life serving others. Ask any nurse, firefighter, teacher, janitor, parent, or grandparent. The world out there is full of needs, so you won’t lack for opportunity to serve. Pick something you care about and serve with no expectations of anything in return. When you do that, you’ll become less selfish, more grateful for what you do have, and find the inner peace that comes from making a difference in someone else’s life.
5. Purpose to Be a Lifelong Learner. My grandfather lived into his nineties, and nothing made his day more than learning something he didn’t know. A highly respected business and community leader, he believed every person in the world could teach him something. And they did. Truth be told, most of us could learn something from everyone we meet. One of his favorite sayings: In life, just like a summer garden, you’re either green and growing, or ripe and rotting, and the choice is pretty much yours. Lifelong learning keeps you green and growing!
6. Find Out What You’re Really Good At, Then Do It. By the time you’re 27 you’ve accumulated anywhere between 900 and 1,300 skills, plus a few dozen God-given talents. Your early jobs while in school, and the one(s) immediately following it, have helped you to identify the ways that your skills and talents can be put to work. You’ve lived long enough to realize that when you do something for a living that you really don’t like, neither you nor your employer enjoys the results. Life is too short to be miserable. Conversely, when you love what you do it really isn’t work at all…it’s an expression of your passion. It is only then that you’re at your most creative, and you never watch the clock.
7. Build Your Own Career Plan. By the time you hit 27 you’ve likely completed most or all of your formal education. And you likely have had a full-time job or two in the working world, and have begun to identify what you like and dislike in a job, employer, boss, and occupation. In your early 20s you identified some potential career paths that became clearer as you progressed in your early jobs. By 27 you should have a clear idea of where you want to go in your career…positional objectives, educational objectives, earning objectives, and work/life balance objectives. The trick is to commit those goals to writing, recognizing that they will probably change over time as new and unexpected opportunities present themselves and life happens. By committing it to writing, you stand a much better chance of accomplishing the objectives you deem important.
Now figure out what to do for the next twelve months in order to move towards each objective. Bounce your 12-month plan off trusted advisors and consider worthwhile guidance. Repeat this every six months and you’ll find yourself making steady progress towards successfully achieving the objectives you set for yourself.
Just like achieving any of these seven foundational milestones, the going won’t always be easy. One thing is for certain: achieving each of these seven by the time you reach your 27th birthday will help make you into a better employee, leader, parent, mentor, influencer, friend, sibling and fellow-sojourner along life’s highway.
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