At twenty-two years old I had just graduated college. I moved to a city I didn’t know, got a job at a gym beginning my days at 4am paying what amounted to pennies, and tried to start a company on the side that I had no business starting.
At twenty-three years old I was failing at the aforementioned startup company (of which I borrowed OPM for – Other People’s Money), and not doing much else beyond partying.
At twenty-four years old I talked a girl into marrying me (she somehow overlooked the above two points), gave up on the startup dream, began paying back my OPM debts, and moved to another city that I didn’t know. It was in this new city that I got another job at another gym beginning my days again at 4am paying what again amounted to pennies. I worked for free during the days at a commercial real estate brokerage in the pursuit of a “real career” and hated every minute of it. So I quit.
At twenty-five years old I transitioned from commercial real estate to residential real estate. Though I hated it less, the margin wasn’t by much. So I quit. Again. The next stop on the career merry-go-round led me to the real estate school at a private university where I helped fill their classes with aspiring real estate developers. At last, I enjoyed a job. Unfortunately…I didn’t love the pay. So as the pattern above would tell you, once again I quit.
At twenty-six years old I got a job in sales at a tech startup. It was a gamble, making even less of a salary than I had at the university, but the potential upside of sales was much greater.
From twenty-six to my now thirty-one years of age my life has had the imprint of tech startups all over it, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
The gamble paid off.
I write this simple narrative of my life to respond to the question proposed in the title:
What to do when you’re 22?
The answer? I have no freaking clue.
But I know that it begins with exploring. The 20s are a special decade. They’re a decade that sets the tone for the rest of our lives. We have a map in front of us and can take off in any direction we choose. Some people may enjoy the first path they take, and that’s great for them. But for the rest of us, the first few paths aren’t the correct paths. They teach us what we don’t want to do, which is oftentimes just as valuable as knowing what we do want to do.
When you’re 22, explore.
When you’re 23, explore.
When you’re 24, explore.
When you’re 25, explore.
When you’re 26, explore.
Repeat the pattern above until you find work that you enjoy, that you’re good at, and that serves the world. You have the rest of your life to get really great at something. Spend your 20s figuring out what you want that something to be.