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10 Disciplines I’d Recommend Everyone Start in Their 20s

disciplines college students

This is one of those posts I hope someone learns something from that can help them in life.

OK, I hope that for all of my posts—otherwise, why am I writing? But I see this one as a life-giving post for those who will read it and take some of it to heart. Specifically, my target is those who are in their 20s, who are starting out in their adult life and career. As I’m writing, I’m thinking of my own two sons in that demographic, the young people who work on our team, and the hundreds of college students and young adults in our church. Those who come to mind are driving my desire to invest something in you who will read this.

I’m 51, which is certainly not old—although it may have seemed like it was when I was younger—but it is old enough to have learned a few things. Like things I wish I had done when I was younger. And some things I’m glad I did.

I have learned the only way to really sustain something in your life is through self-discipline. No one is going to force you to do some of the most important things you need to do.

If I were in my 20s again, there are some disciplines I would make sure I incorporated into my life. I would practice them enough that they would be natural for me today.

Here are 10 disciplines I would recommend everyone start in their 20s:

Saving. It’s easier to start setting aside money before you start spending it. Setting a budget and living by it makes so much sense to me now. It didn’t in my 20s. I wanted all the disposable income I could make. But I didn’t spend it wisely and now I have to make up for lost time saving for my future.

Exercising. I exercise everyday. Now in my 50s I recognize more than ever my need for regular physical activity, but some mornings the body doesn’t want to get going. Without it being intrinsic to who I am, I’m not sure I would start now.

Journaling. I have journaled off and on throughout my life. It is so much fun to read my thoughts from 30 years ago and reflect on how much I’ve learned and things God has done in my life. Still, there are periods missing where for years I didn’t journal. Knowing the value in what I do have, I wish this had been a more defined discipline.

Friending. Those deep, lasting friendships often start early. And take work. At this stage in life, friendships have deeper meaning and importance to me. I need people who can speak into my life who know me well. I have those, but not necessarily among people I knew in my 20s—who have a long history with me. I look on Facebook at friends from high school and college and I wish I had worked harder to keep those friendship strong. I miss them. At the time I thought they would last forever. They didn’t. They are still “friends,” but not at the level they once were. I’d make sure I surrounded myself with the right friends—and those may or may not be the people from your 20s, but I’d build healthy, long-lasting friendships.

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Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been helping churches grow vocationally for over 10 years.