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Twenty-five is a confusing year. You still feel young and free, but you also know you need to get your life together since you’re a quarter of a century old. Well, you don’t have to have it all figured out at 25, and you certainly aren’t required to be at a specific stage of life.
There are, however, a few things you should be doing by the time your 25th birthday rolls around. Carpe diem, baby.
1. Paying for Your Phone Bill
If you can pay for utilities and find money to go out on the weekends, you can absolutely pay for your own phone bill. Even if you’re still on your parents’ plan for contractual/data reasons, you need to be giving them money for your portion every month.
2. Saving for Retirement
The golden years will be here before you know it. Do yourself a favor by putting away a little bit in your 401k, ROTH IRA, or a regular old savings account every pay check. You’ll be so glad you did when you walk out of your job for the very last time.
At 25, you should have at least a basic familiarity with the kitchen. You can’t live off of frozen dinners and take-out forever (and boy will your weight suffer from it). Learn some basic recipes, like casseroles and spaghetti, and don’t be afraid to try new stuff when the mood strikes. If you need some guidance, sign up for a cooking class—or even call your parents.
4. Watching the News
Yes, it can be depressing to see all of the bad stuff going on, but you need to be aware of the state of the world if you have a chance of changing it and even simply surviving it. You’ll also seem immature and ambivalent if you can’t discuss the news with other people, which is not the persona you want to portray. If you’d really just rather watch anything other than the news, sign up for newsletters like The Skimm and The Betches’ SUP. It’s basically the news in a way you’ll actually want to read (and maybe even care about).
5. Sleeping Enough
You can hustle all you want, but if you don’t get enough rest, that hustle will turn into a fiery downward spiral. Your body needs to sleep if it’s going to function properly and stay healthy. The to-do list won’t run away while you sleep.
6. Exercising Regularly
At 25 you’re still young enough to feel strong and lithe, but if you put off exercise you’ll have a 30-year-old body that doesn’t feel so great. Regular exercise now is the best way to make active living a life-long habit and prevent a plethora of health issues later.
7. Taking Care of Your Skin
Sunscreen, daily moisturizer, not picking at pimples — all of these are important at this age. Face it, you don’t have the same amount of collagen you did in high school. If you want to avoid wrinkles, age spots, and skin cancer later, you need to take care of your skin now.
8. Going to Yearly Checkups Like a Big Kid
You need to schedule and attend the dermatologist, gynecologist, and general health and wellness doctor on a yearly basis. Checkups are the best way to prevent serious issues, stop any problems before they escalate, and learn what is and isn’t right in terms of your body. Short and easy checkups now are way more affordable and enjoyable than long tests and treatments later in life.
Unfortunately, there’s no getting around the need to budget in life. Start learning what a realistic budget is for you now while you’re still relatively free of financial obligations. Budgeting isn’t a skill you want to have a crash course in after you have a mortgage, kids, car payments, and other adult stuff.
10. Calling Your Parents
You don’t have to tell them all the details of your life if you don’t want to, but you do need to call them at least once a week to check in. Your parents are aging. They aren’t always going to be around, and you’ll regret not talking to them more when that heartbreaking day comes. So call them, ask about their day, how they’re feeling, and share a little bit about your life so they don’t feel like they’ve lost you.
11. Reading and Listening to Audiobooks or Podcasts Every Now and Then
It’s good for you, so stop thinking of it as a school assignment. If you don’t like the act of physically reading, then pick up an ebook or subscribe to some podcasts. It’s important to be a well-rounded individual and to continue educating yourself on the topics you’re interested in. This is how you do that.
It takes maybe 30 minutes of your day to register and maybe an hour to vote for the leaders of the country. There’s no excuse for not voting in local, state, and national elections. If you want to protect your rights and support your beliefs, then you need to start voting.
13. Actually Showering and Getting Ready Every Day
You shouldn’t be skipping showers or forgetting to brush your teeth and swipe on deodorant at 25 years old. You’re an adult, and you should smell like one.
14. Contemplating Your Future, at Least a Little Bit
The future is scary, but you need to think about it. Where do you want to live? What do you want to do? How are you going to make that happen? If the big picture freaks you out too much, start small. What are you going to do next month to make your dreams happen? Do you want to live in a different apartment or house when your lease is up? Those smaller questions will eventually make it easier to ask yourself where you want to be in 10 years.
15. Saying No to the Things and People That Don’t Make You Happy
If something or someone just sucks energy and joy from your life, then say hasta la vista. When you’re 25 you should be able to identify the things that make you happy and the things that don’t. Pay close attention to your happiness level, and make the necessary cuts.
16. Having Insurance on Yourself and Your Car
It’s expensive, but it’s the responsible thing to do. You need health and auto insurance to give yourself peace of mind and provide a safety net for when disaster strikes. Don’t go through your twenties without any form of insurance. That’s just asking for trouble.
17. Working Toward Your Goals
No matter what your goals are, you should be doing something every single day to move closer toward realizing them. Save the money for a trip, run a little further to lose that last five pounds, and do that one extra thing to stand out at work. The small steps all add up.
18. Staying Up on Politics
Before you head down to the polls, you need to know who you’re voting for and what they stand for. The only way to do that is to stay up on politics through the months leading up to the elections. Bonus: Watching the news helps.
19. Paying Your Bills on Time
An occasional, accidental missed bill is not a big deal. Late payments every single month are though. You should be paying every single bill on time when you’re 25 because there’s really no excuse for not managing your life and money properly when there are automatic payment options.
20. Taking Vitamins
It doesn’t matter if you still want to take the tasty, chew-able gummy kind as long as you’re taking your vitamins. Don’t take a ton—a daily multivitamin is all you need. It’s just another way you should be thinking about your health in the long term.
21. Building Credit
This comes from paying your bills on time. Credit takes time to build, but can be lost in a matter of months. Start paying attention to your credit score and paying your bills and loans on time to keep it at a healthy number. You’ll be glad you did when you want to buy a house or car.
22. Finding a Mentor
Mentors are important for guiding you through your career and sometimes even life. Find a good mentor and take time to foster a close relationship with them. Good mentors aren’t easy to find, so start looking for one while your career is still relatively new.
23. Building Your Personal Brand
You might not think you need a personal brand, and hey, you might be right, but many 20-somethings do. Think about what you want your brand to be at the very least and make sure it aligns with who you are as a person. Then take steps to incorporate that into your work every single day.
24. Broadening Your Horizons
You don’t want to be in a rut in your mid-twenties. Expose yourself to the unfamiliar, learn about other cultures, pick up some new hobbies, try new things, travel if you can, watch documentaries. Do things that teach you and challenge you.
Everyone needs to network in some way. Make an effort to meet people in your field so you have connections for the future, and cultivate working friendships with these people. You won’t regret creating a web of people in your profession or interests.