12 Most Important Choices in Your Life between 21 and 41

12 Most Important Choices in Your Life between 21 and 41

Life choices are always present. Whether we actively or passively make them, they happen. Sometimes, they happen to us. Other times, they happen for us. The best time is when we actively make them ourselves.

Our ramp-up years can be classified as being between 21 and 41. Many life decisions happen during this time, and it may be the first time that we are really on our own. We are out of college, and our life is unfolding in front of us.

During this time, we need to make many choices, and the following ones should be made actively and fully-engaged. Each of these has a big impact on the direction our life takes.

1. Your first job

Your first job begins to lay a foundation. It is the first lap around the track, so ensure you start in the right lane and with the right pace. With the current economic challenges, you may feel like there are no real choices, but there are. You just may need to be more creative in your life plan, listen to what your spirit is trying to tell you, and grab a hold of who you are and why you are perfect for the job you want.

Don’t settle. If you cannot find the right job right away, then find a volunteer position to enhance your skills. As said earlier, be creative.

Think about your career. Think about the jobs available. Choose a job that puts you on solid footing.

2. Your spouse / partner

Finding the right person to share your life with is essential. Select your spouse or partner carefully, but don’t keep them waiting forever. Find someone who shares similar principles yet has uniqueness to spice up your life and make it interesting. Find someone who shares a passion for the life ahead yet is willing to work with you along the way. Find someone you can talk with freely and completely while listening carefully and fully.

Choose someone who, when you can grab each other’s hand, you both walk forward with a smile on your faces, a twinkle in your eyes, and a passion in your hearts.

3. Your friends

Besides family, friends will have the most influence on you. Do your friends bring out the best in you? Do you bring out the best in them? Are they supportive or critical? Are they helpful or using? Choose your friends wisely where you both learn, grow, share, and make life better.

4. How much you save

When you are young, thinking about saving money may seem irrelevant. You have college bills to pay, fun to have. Take a small percentage and begin to save. You will be amazed at how it will accumulate and help you later in life.

Select a percentage and put it aside. It could be an amount equal to your organization’s 401(k) match.

5. How much you buy

Commercialism is ever present. Nice clothes, nice accessories, nice cars… and the list grows. Determine what you really need to look proper, snazzy, and appropriate. Determine the quality you may require. Determine where and how you can spend wisely.

6. Whether or not to attend graduate school

After college, you may wonder whether or not to attend graduate school. Think about what you want to accomplish in your life. Think about what you will gain from an added degree. Think about what you will learn and how it will help you grow. Think about the stage you are in your career and how it will help you get to the next phase or step. Ensure you are doing it (or not) for the right life reason, not just for another credential.

Understand your talents and direction and decide what education levels will help you get there.

7. When / if to change jobs

After some time, you may become restless and begin to think the grass is really greener on the other side. You begin to think about whether or not to change jobs and maybe organizations as well. Just as in your first job choice, understand what your talents are and whether or not you are, or can, use them fully where you are. Don’t jump just to jump. Understand what is missing in your career life, and then decide where and how it can be filled.

8. How to raise your kids

Almost more important as to whether or not to have a family is how to raise one. Both parents need to be consistent on what approach to take and principles to use. When a child senses inconsistency between two parents, leverage opens up to them, and parenting has just tripled in challenges. Determine your approach; maintain consistency.

9. Your life philosophy

Of the 12 Most, this may be the most critical. Decide what is important in your life. Based on this, decide what principles or philosophy will help you live it most honestly and meaningfully. Decide how to live your life based on your defined philosophy.

10. Your attitude

Your attitude is the outward expression of who you are. Select an attitude that best represents you. Select an attitude that will inspire others. Select an attitude that will offer the most to your team members and community. Decide on an attitude that will let your life shine out loud in a contagious and caring way.

11. How you handle life transitions

Inevitably, there will be life transitions. It may be friends who move away. It may be friends or family members who pass away. It may be layoffs or face-offs with people who are trying to sway you the wrong way. Determine how you will handle life’s transitions. Will you sacrifice your life philosophy? Will you uphold your life principles? Will you fade under the pressure? Will you rise above and over any hurdle thrown in your way?

12. Your level of involvement

There is a community around you. You can elect to ignore it or take it for granted. You can elect to engage your community and try to make it better. You can take the time to get to know your neighbors or pull into the garage and shut the door. You can volunteer in certain organizations to leave a mark or you can just mark it off as something unimportant. It is your choice.

There are many life-changing, life-enabling choices that are made within those 20 years. Ask questions of those who have been through these ramp-up years; learn from their mistakes and successes.

For those of us already on the other side of these 20 years, take time to share your experiences with the young adults around you as they enter this phase of their lives.

In all our life choices, we should aspire to make ones that lead us in inspired directions.

What essential life choices would you add that happen between 21 and 41?

Featured image courtesy of advicepig licensed via creative commons, some rights reserved.

Jon Mertz


I was raised on a family farm in South Dakota. Although I am far from being on a farm today, growing up on one provides a unique perspective. The prairies give you an expansive, grounded view while delivering an appreciation for the ability to see for miles, soak in the most colorful sunsets, and experience some of the hardest, most satisfying work possible. Outside of career and background is my family. Being married for nearly twenty years and currently raising two teens provides an endless list of joys, challenges, and memories centered in love and always trying to make the right choices. All of this has defined who I am in so many different ways. Springing from my experiences, thoughts, and inner spirit come my personal mission: "I want my life to matter… for my family, friends, and community. I want my life to stand for something meaningful that others can grab onto and pull forward. I want my life to encourage and challenge, advancing thoughts and ideas. I want my life to be spirit-filled and engaged fully."

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