06 January 2014

20 resolutions for 20-somethings

As someone who once asked a boyfriend if we could have "new month resolutions," I love goal setting all year round. However, there is something so energizing about the way people all over the world embrace the fresh start the new year offers. I know we're now six days in to the new year, but it kind of feels like the first day since it's the first full work week. 

So, while I encourage this any day of the year, here are my 20 resolutions for 20-somethings:

1. Stop hating your job. This season of life is so precious - don't waste it hating five out of seven days a week. If you're miserable at work, don't be afraid to quit. If you picked the wrong career path, it's OK to switch entirely. You're young enough to make the change, but have just enough experience to know where you want to go instead. If  you're not sure where to go next, think about what makes you happy - what fills your cup - and use that information to drive you forward.  Also, if you want to backpack Europe or go on a mission trip to Africa, now is an excellent time to do it before you have a spouse and babies. 

2. Master something. Learn a new skill. Conquer a goal. Travel. Maybe you've got a killer karate chop boiling deep inside you? Maybe you're a sommelier and don't know it? Maybe you're actually qualified to be a backup dancer for Justin Timberlake and just haven't found out yet? This is the perfect time to find out. With more interests and more knowledge, you'll be more excited about life and more confident. Heck yeah, you can beat box! And nobody's gonna stop you. 

3. Get out of bad relationships. I know - it's so hard. But, you cannot move on, meet your spouse, build a new relationship or, most importantly, heal, if you're holding on to the old one. You have to cut them loose. Stop talking. Stop texting. Stop hooking up. If you don't, you'll be ringing in 2015 with the same pit in your stomach, wishing he was nicer, listened to you, treated you better, was there to kiss you, etc. The only thing stopping you from finding a healthy relationship is the unhealthy relationship you keep holding on to. You deserve the world.  You just have to be willing to let the world in.

4. Don't be afraid of change. Imagine if nothing had changed since we were in college. I'd still be drinking too much, far less aware of who I want to be or where I want to go in life. Don't get stuck clinging to the past. Change is so beautiful. At the end of 2014, how wonderful will it be if we look back and are shocked at how much has changed? That's exciting!

5. Budget {a doozy!}. Start the year by setting a goal that excites you. Maybe it is to be debt free by the end of 2014? Or buy a car in cash? Or have enough saved for a fun friendymoon (honeymoon with a friend). Make a budget and go for it! And if you mess up, cut yourself some slack and keep trying. I cannot tell you how many times I've accidentally bought something when I meant to save a little more. It happens. Just keep trying. It gets easier. 

6. Stop hating your body. You are enough just as you are; and you are worthy of love. Take a deep breath, look in the mirror and pick out something you love. Keep doing it every day, but pick something new each time. Your body does so much for you every day - give it good love so it can love you back.  It's amazing!

7. Embrace your quirks. My family is pretty dang quirky but, you know what? I think it makes us interesting. I love meeting people who completely embrace their weirdness, their uniqueness. Who are fully themselves. Don't try to be less of yourself to be more of someone else. If you do it, you'll find you're actually just becoming less. 

8. Try something new. Get outside your comfort zone. Maybe it's a new class? Maybe you're going to rock drop-crotch pants? Maybe you're going to eat oysters? Try it out and try it with confidence. My sister gave me a beanie for Christmas and the first day I wore it, I felt awkward - like I wasn't cool enough to wear a beanie. Then I realized I was at the airport and no one there knew if I was cool enough to wear it. So then, I decided, heck! I might as well just wear this beanie like I wear it every day. Maybe I do - they don't know!

9. Explore your city. Or town, neighborhood or state. Your home, really! Nothing makes me more excited than knowing Atlanta backwards and forwards and sharing it with people I love. Visit little stores, make friends with the owner of the mom and pop shop, become a local at a neighborhood restaurant. It's your home, after all!

10. Love where you live. If you don't love it, change it! Redecorate, buy one thing that makes you excited or - heck - move :) I've found that in times when I don't love where I live, my life quality of life declines rapidly. It's important to want to go home - to feel comfortable and happy in your home. Make it comfortable, warm, happy, homey - whatever it is that will make it yours.

11. Talk to strangers. One of my favorite things about traveling is the way people on the plane will randomly tell one another their stories - largely unprompted. It seems that every time it happens, I'm reminded that we're all really the same. We're just people trying to find our place in this big world. Let's do it together!

12. Embrace your emotions. It's OK to cry. To laugh really loudly. To get a little mad or frustrated. To be hyper.Your emotions are yours and they're real. And, I've found that if I try to ignore them, I normally end up crying over something like spilling coffee on my shirt - followed by tears and ramblings about how I "don't know why I'm so upset." Emotions are our safety net - they tell us when something is not right, when we need to look out for ourselves. Don't give up your safety net.

13. Pursue relationships that fill you up. I've noticed that sometimes I get spread so thin between commitments that I don't always give my best to my family and close friends. Because I am tired, need a night alone or just don't want to be on the phone. This year, I'm focusing on giving my best to the people that mean the most to me. This means I won't be able to please everyone all the time. And it's going to be hard. But, as Abe Lincoln said long ago, “You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.” This year, I'm give my best to my bests. 

14. Break free of social media. Repeat after me: real world likes are greater than Instagram likes. Just because your photo (/status/blog post) doesn't get that many likes does not mean you are not well liked. You are still well liked, I promise. Don't let that tiny thumbs up rule your life.

15. Be present. Go to dinner and don't check your phone. Leave it at home from time to time. Let it die. On nights when I ignore my phone, I'm always amazed at the way I connect with people. Sure, I may not have photos from the night to show for it, but sometimes the pure, uninterrupted conversation is worth more than the photo of the wine to go with it.

16.Deal with your issues. By 25, most of us have experienced some pain and heartache and, by now, things have begun to stick a bit. I think we often fear seeing a therapist because it seems weak, or weird, or stressful to talk about ourselves for 60 minutes while paying for it. But it's OK to ask for help. Sometimes, we just need to talk through things and that doesn't make us weak. In fact, it makes us strong for recognizing it.

17. Give up some mindless activities. Swap some TV time for reading time. Some Facebook time for real-friend-conversation time. Some sitting for some moving. It'll fill you up!

18. Be part of something. A church. A movement. A volunteer project. Something that excites you and reminds you that this world is much bigger than just us. That you can make a difference with your own two hands. 

19. Say please and thank you a lot. Oh, and I love you. I don't think anyone tires of hearing those words.

20. Give yourself grace. You will mess up. You will make the wrong choice. You will spend too much money, stay out too late, drink too much and text your ex. It. Is. OK. Try again tomorrow. Or the next day. You are doing your best in this big world and that is absolutely enough

Now go get 'em!


  1. I love all of these Whitney - and #3 is especially important!!!

  2. these are amazing. you have such a great perspective and can write so authentically. everything you write hits home, keep it up!!



  3. I may be 30, but I love this list! ;)

    I read these questions on a friend's facebook status, and thought it was a great way to reflect + set achievable (but big) goals:
    1. What is one thing (only one) that you accomplished in 2013 that you're most proud of?
    2. What is one thing (only one) that you failed at in 2013, most powerfully, what was your biggest failure?
    And then the tricky question that opens 2014 with hope & promise:
    3. What is one thing that you'd like to accomplish in 2014, that if you achieved this single thing, no matter what else happens this year, it would be impossible to declare the year a failure?

    1. i love these questions!!!! you need a blog :)

  4. love this. love you. miss you friend!

  5. Whitney, you are so wise! Really, you're writing is so personable and eloquent and always makes me stop and think. Thank you for this!

  6. Love this Whit! Hope you are well, have a great new year!

  7. I left my 20's behind in 2013 but I still will be re-reading this post throughout the year as this is perfect. Thank you Whitney!

  8. This is beyond amazing! I read lists of how to deal with your 20's and being single and boy it's a tough road to navigate. I just love your website and your lists! Thank you :)

  9. This post made me really think about a change. I've been in a bad relationship for 2 years now and started drinking too much about 6 months ago. I used to never drink and I lost my friends because of this bad relationship which is why I felt I could never let go. I have a wonderful job that I love with great compensation and benefits. I want to change for the better. I want to stand up for who I want to be in my life. Thank you for being my friend.


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