“You’re never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – C.S Lewis
I legit started this piece contradicting the quote with the title. But oh well, what is life if not a confused pathway of what ifs and maybes. And I have realised, this is precisely how some of the people in my life feel. Including me. This piece can go many ways, but the point of me writing it is trying to gather my thoughts towards a central question that has been bothering me for a while now.
Am I wasting my youth? The integral part of my 20s? The years of self-discovery, travel, stupid mistakes that turn into fantastic stories to tell in the future? Am I wasting my time? Am I not living my life to the fullest which is why I feel the need to ask myself these questions?
Well, before we even get into that, let me tell you where this is stemming from. I can proudly, surely, wholeheartedly say that I am a brilliant time manager. I handle my time so well, so well that I impress myself sometimes. Not to toot my own horn or anything (which I already am) but recent events in the last few years have made me plan my time in a way where I get to do a million things and still manage to balance it all. Is a balanced life over-rated and can backfire sometimes? Yes, it is. But we are going to talk about that another time.
So despite someone who handles her time between friends, family, work, personal projects well, why do I feel like I am wasting my youth? Maybe it’s because I feel like I should have accomplished much more at 27 than I have right now. And this is not because social media has set standards and while everyone is getting married and having mini versions of themselves, I feel inferior. Oh no. On the contrary, I feel like my accomplishments lie somewhere else.
Maybe I want to travel more, maybe I want to live in a different city, perhaps I want to quit my job and become a full-time streamer/youtuber. I don’t know. Maybe there is an underlying feeling that’s making me feel unaccomplished.
Step 1: Figure out what’s making you feel like you’re wasting your time.
Is it your job? Is it a stale relationship? Is it a lack of adventure? Lack of socialising? Meeting new people? Doing new things? What’s making you feel like you are whiling away your precious days on things that don’t matter?
This is probably the most important part because if you were to ask me, this is how you weed out the reason you feel the way you do. For me, personally, I feel like I am not doing enough with my time. But here is another thing to think about. Just because my social calendar isn’t bogged up with dates and commitments doesn’t mean I am not doing enough with my time. It isn’t the number of things you do, but doing the things that make you happy.
Step 2: List out the elements that make you happy
Using myself as an example, I like reading, watching anime, I love trying new recipes for the house, I like writing blog posts in coffee shops, I like talking to new people, I like updating my wattpad account and working.
Now ask yourself, if you were to do read, Netflix and cook all the time, would that make you feel like you are not wasting your time? Would that make you feel like you are spending your days appropriately?
Well, if the answer is no, you need to think harder. For me, if I were writing all the time, it wouldn’t make me happy unless I had a goal to accomplish. Or an objective to all my writing, if that means working on my blog more then, sure. That would make me happy.
So that got me thinking.
I need a goal. I needed something to work towards. I needed to make myself feel like whatever I was doing with my time, was for an achievement.
Step 3: Formulate end goals into two: short-term and long-term
So I told myself, okay you, what are the things you want to achieve from the things that you like to do. And slowly, a humble list began to develop:
- I want to fit into these shorts I had since I was 10
- I want to organise my blog and activate it on Pinterest
- I want to be more active on wattpad and re-write my stories
- I want to write more about anything. About everything.
- I want to cosplay a character for comic con which I have been meaning to do for a while but always back out due to lack of time
- I want to read these book titles, watch those animes
- I want to learn more at work and be more aware
- I want to do new things around my city and explore fun places to eat
And then I started organising them into short-term goals and long-term goals
- Update on wattpad every day for this month
- Start using the weekend to shop for comic con outfit
- Limit one (okay 3) YT videos every night. Use 11 pm as a gadget switch off time.
- Read those books which you have meant to.
- Use weekend nights as anime catch ups. Start with the Netflix list. Make plans for the month. Organise how you want to spend your free time and use one weekend to chill at home.
- Work out regularly. My gym membership expires in 4 months. Make the most of it
- Fix 3-4 blog pieces every week. Including making a Pinterest pin/SEO/proof-reading etc.
- Use the weekend to write my stories. And stop depending on locations to feel inspired.
- Get to work early, leave early. Talk to more people around you.
- Talk to new people, accept invitations. Even if you leave disappointed or show up over-dressed. Have experiences and make the most of them.
And then finally:
Step 4: Mould your time into working towards these goals.
Yes, this includes fixating a schedule and sticking to it. But trust me when I say this, you feel better each night, knowing you did something today that helped you bring yourself a step closer to what you wanted to achieve. Even if that means passing a test, or eating a healthy dinner, it’s something so small, but its helping you get somewhere.
And as contradictory as this may sound, don’t beat yourself up about it if you fail to match up to these schedules. Because at the end of the day, you are doing this to make yourself happy. If that is coupled with this pressure to constantly perform, then it just makes you feel like your goals are just humane tasks. Like a soul-less check box.
So as much as you can, by doing the best you can, stick to your schedule. Make smaller do-able step-by-step lists if that’s what it takes.
Because we need to understand some very fundamental things about our youth:
One, if you believe it, (because I do) I know we are all doing the best we can. But to be able to feel like we are getting anywhere in life, the sense of self-accomplishment is extremely important. There was a time in my life where watching a movie on a Friday night made me feel accomplished in winding down. So be it. It’s a dumb goal, but it’s something.
Two, of course, you are never too young to do anything, but the opportunities that surround us at this age is something that needs to be exploited entirely. You can totally sneak out of the house to go on a drive with your friends at 45, don’t get me wrong, but this is the age to use that energy to build the foundation of the kind of future we want to see ourselves in.
Three, appreciate the people around you who are helping you work towards these goals. They are the ones who do certain things, so you can full-fledged explore parts of yourself and re-discover the very essence of what makes you, you. They allow you that freedom, even if it means letting you make mistakes so you can learn something about yourself through them. (Thanks Mom!)
Four, there is never an age for self-discovery, but when you are busy building the foundations of your adulthood, knowing who you are is vital. Knowing yourself inside and out is important as it is necessary. And your 20s is the perfect age for that mainly because to me, you are held less accountable. You’re still in that flexible zone of trial and error and your mistakes (hopefully) will deal with little consequence. So make the most of it to study you, in all the good and maybe even the bad ways.
Five, I have never been an advocate of experimentation, because I am a sissy who likes to play safe in life. But if you do want to experiment with various aspects, do it now. This will cause less guilt and what-ifs as you grow older. Now if you want those experiments to be stupid, is up to you. But to me, that also means trying new things that you would never imagine doing before and saying yes to things that scare you, but also excite you.
No one is telling you to work towards 11 goals at once. But I gave myself as an example to see if my theory towards having something to look forward to, helps in reducing the over-all emotion of not using my life well enough.
And of course, these aren’t life-changing things that are ground-breaking.
Over the course of you achieving these, you will also understand the need to build new goals, or your priorities will fixate you to move in a different direction. And that’s all OHKAY.
Because despite it all, despite how you feel, even working towards changing how you feel is something. It’s a goal in a way. To snap out of a funk, to be happier, to not sulk or complain all the time.
If you keep constantly telling yourself I’m wasting my youth but doing nothing to resolve it, then legit you are wasting your energy and your time.
I like to think of everyone holding the pen to change their life’s story forever. I think it would be fun if we all made it as interesting as we can, yes? 🙂
This isn’t the end-all. This isn’t the last stop. This isn’t the final destination. Something better is always around the corner.
So let me leave you with this:
Do you feel like you aren’t using your life well enough? What’s that one thing you can do tomorrow to change it?
May your heart forever stay young,