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habits to start in your 20s for a successful life


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Our 20s are supposed to be an exhilarating time in our lives, but more often than not, this decade feels like one long stretch of lonely, bewildering experiences, with minor existential crises sprinkled throughout.

Those years can go by quickly, but they can also be some of the most significant of your life. 

In examining dozens of life stories written by prominent, successful people shortly before their deaths, researchers at Boston University and the University of Michigan discovered the most consequential moments that determined the years ahead were most heavily concentrated during the twenty-something years. 

“Claiming your 20s is one of the simplest, yet most transformative things you do for work, for love, for your happiness, maybe even the world,” clinical psychologist Meg Jay once said during a TED Talk about the importance of this decade.

Steve Adcock leveraged his 20s to achieve his dream of retiring early and traveling across the U.S. with his wife, Courtney. 

In 2016, he and Courtney retired at 35 and 33, respectively, after accumulating about $870,000 working in information technology. With the right investments, their net worth increased to $1 million shortly after. 

Adcock credits much of his success to smart habits he adopted in his 20s. Here, Adcock shares the three habits all 20-somethings need to enjoy a long, prosperous life: 

Steve and Courtney Adcock

CNBC Make It

Switch jobs often 

Say “yes” more than you say “no” 

Your 20s are the best time to get out of your comfort zone and take risks. 

“If you have an easy, low-stress job, you’re doing it wrong,” Adcock says. “Your 20s is when you should be busting your ass, because you have more energy and fewer responsibilities than when you’re older.”

Adcock recalls almost turning down a promotion to a director-level role in his early 20s because he didn’t feel confident or ready. “I was so afraid of failure that instead of addressing what scared me, I hid behind my potential,” he says. 

He accepted the role anyway, a decision that set him up for a higher salary trajectory for the rest of his career. 

Saying “yes” to more promotions and opportunities earlier on in your career will often yield you much better results in the long run, from broadening your experience to meeting new people who can help push your career forward.

Maximize your retirement savings 

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Bellie Brown
Bellie Brown
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