7 Gigantic Pitfalls to Avoid in Your 20s

7 Pitfalls to Avoid in Your 20s

There are so many well-hidden suckholes that can stop all momentum, growth, and success in your twenties.

And you can fall into one of these pitfalls without even realizing it, and then stay stuck well into your 30s, 40s, 50s…you get where I’m going…

Now that I’ve successfully freaked us all out, lets talk about these pitfalls and how we avoid them.

 7 Pitfalls to Avoid in Your 20s

Pitfall #1: My Circumstances are “Who I Am” 

If you start believing “well this is my lot in life and I can’t do anything about it,” then you are more than stuck.

Really this pitfall makes all other pitfalls nonexistent because you never walk far enough forward to even have a chance at failing at anything else.

Don’t be cemented in your circumstances. They change all the time.

We all have crappy subplots we need to work through. Don’t let them become your main story.

It’s really hard to step into your future if you don’t believe you have one. (click to tweet that)

Pitfall #2: Settling

Too many people date like they’re in the grocery aisle, grabbing a last second Snickers Bar because they’re hungry, so why wait?

Too many people are letting their careers pick them, instead of working with grit and determination to pick their career.

Too many people are settling in Sucksville because they don’t believe they can leave town.

Now, I do think for many of us we have to settle for certain seasons without settling completely. That’s different. That’s strategic settling for a season.

I know for me personally, there were many times I had to do jobs that weren’t my dream because I was working on my dream on the side.

Your twenties set the course for the rest of your life. If you start settling for a life that’s a “3 out of 10” now, it might not magically become better later.

Pitfall #3 Becoming a Double A-Hole (Someone who Analyzes without Action)

Yes we need to do the tough work of inner-work, but we can’t perpetually analyze our lives without any action to move us forward.

There’s such a glut of information at our fingertips these days, it’s hard to pick a restaurant, church, gym, or first date without feeling like you’re missing out.

Don’t be wrecked by research.

Do your homework and then choose to make a choice. Then move forward in that choice.

Pitfall #4: Never Committing to Anything

Find something you enjoy, that gives you life, and commit to it. It doesn’t have to be what you want to do for the rest of your life, to give a little of your life to it.

Your twenties are about what you plant in the ground, not about what you harvest. (click to tweet that)

We can’t keep pulling our seeds out of the dirt before it has time to grow.

Pitfall #5: Becoming Bitter, Instead of Better

You might be feeling good about life. Maybe you’re even at the grocery store, with an actual list, buying things like kale and argula!

You’re crushing this whole adulthood thing.

And then you jump into the line at the checkout and start checking out Facebook or Instagram, with the Glaring AMAZINGNESS of all your friends buying a new BMW, having a new baby, traveling to Istanbul to take pictures for American Express, and suddenly you want to replace your kale with a box of wine.

Obsessive Comparison Disorder has a way of heightening any discontent to “I only want to drink wine from a box” levels.

Don’t become bitter. Become better. Don’t smack yourself with some yardstick you’re not measuring up to.

You do you.

Pitfall #6: Doing Life Alone

We are made for community. We thrive in relationships. Your friends are struggling right next to you to find their purpose and place.

Call a friend. Be honest about what you’re going through. Seek out mentors. Ask them to coffee. Call your mom. Find a counselor if you feel you need one.

Don’t do twentysomething life alone.

No matter how amazing we’re making our Facebook profiles look, we all have the same smelly stuff in our toilets.

Pitfall #7: Failing to Clarify Your Signature Sauce

I believe you have a Signature Sauce – a unique mix of ingredients that gives the world a flavor that no one else can.

No, I’m not talking about some sort of magical marinara.

I believe that defining, refining, owning, and honing who you are, your unique tailor-made-ness, your personal Signature Sauce, is the absolute most important thing you can accomplish in your twenties. It’s the key to not only finding your passion, but living it for the rest of your life.

Don’t expect anyone to hire you for your passion if you can’t explain what it is. 

As Danny Rubin wrote at News to Live By, “Success in our 20s is the ability to exit the decade with a clearer sense of purpose.”

The people who are the most successful know who they are, what they believe, and why they are pursuing what they’re pursuing.

Successful people build a plan that is propelled by their purpose.

And when the details of the plan change, it’s not as devastating because their innate purpose stays intact.

Don’t get me wrong, this discovery process is not always simple and straightforward. This is why I’m working on an intentional program and community to help us refine and define what our Signature Sauce is.

You have a unique signature sauce that the world needs.

It just might take some time, strategy and intentionality to figure out what it is.

I’d love to hear your thoughts within the comments on this article: 

Have you ever been stuck in one of these pitfalls? 


  1. GermanoPassion

    Well said Paul

  2. jim

    Exceedingly well said! Bravo! I’ve got a 20-something and I’m forwarding this on to him. Speaking as someone who has been 20-something and then some (and then some and then some), this really is excellent advice. Great job!

  3. Linda

    I agree wholeheartedly. This can be a book in and of itself. Thank you!

  4. Caitlin

    I’d add going into loads of student loan debt. That totally cripples your life, takes away your freedom, and shackles you to jobs that you may not want because you’ve gotta pay those payments.

    • Paul Angone - All Groan Up

      Yeah considering student loan debt is now in the 1.3 trillion dollar range, I’d say it’s looking a tad bit suckhole-ish…

      • Téa Milutinović

        I agree with this. I’m currently entering the world of debt and it’s definitely feeling suckhole-ish. But I think it’s really important to remember that we have a choice in how we face our debt. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, we are in control. And facing it with a positive attitude is going to cushion the blow and make it easier on ourselves overall.

  5. Nisha Varghese

    LOVE #1, #2 and #7

  6. Tanisha Marie Stoute

    Hi, Paul. I love how you bring truth in an entertaining way. I’ve been working since freshman year of college to discover my “unique signature sauce”. I’m almost half way through my twenties and still working on it. But there’s hope for me. I decided to work at a job I’m passionate about that doesn’t pay a whole lot, instead of looking for an “acceptable” job. My goal is to throw my whole self into that job, discover what I’m gifted at, then move on to the next thing armed with my personal brand. I couldn’t have done it without inspiration from your articles.

    • Paul Angone - All Groan Up

      Thanks Tanisha! That’s awesome. Sounds like you’re tackling this season with intentionality and purpose in the process. Well done!

  7. Dave Arnold

    #5 is a huge one. My wife has always said the older people get the either get better or bitter. Great post!

  8. Danny Rubin

    “Doing life alone.” So true and a great way to phrase it!

  9. Danny

    I totally agree with what you said about social media ‘Facebook’ . It adds pressure and makes us all want things right now. But there’s beauty in the struggle. Surround yourself with qauilty friends , people that you look up to and that inspire you to keep moving forward. I’m 24 and found that volunteering is the best thing you can do in your 20’s because there’s no risk , if its for you then happy days , if not then you can walk away scratch free. It can open so many doors , you can learn loads from it about yourself aswel.

  10. Namupolo Imene

    When I first discovered this site,I was relieved I was not crazy, nor am I the only one. Now it’s finally starting to sink in… It’s starting to make sense


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