7 Important Life Decisions You Should Make Before Turning 21

"Did you know that August and September both record the highest number of births and most common birthdays, respectively? While celebrating one's birthday is a commemoration of how far they have come, it is also a good time to reflect and decide for the future. Not only the learning never stops but what better time for setting new goals than the verge of a new beginning?"

Turning 21 is a significant milestone, a juncture where anticipation collides with reflection. After perhaps a few too many celebratory shots, the occasion prompts introspection. It’s a moment to reflect upon the last 21 years and the decisions that have shaped your path. This moment offers a unique opportunity to evaluate life’s trajectory and to set a course for the years ahead. Whether you’re about to turn 21 or turned 21 this year, let’s explore seven pivotal decisions that can illuminate your path and ground yourself with fulfillment and purpose.


As you stand on the cusp of this milestone, a dual perspective emerges: looking back at the experiences that have sculpted you, and gazing forward at the, perhaps daunting, road ahead. This age, 21, bridges the enthusiasm of youth with the responsibilities of adulthood. It’s not solely about the legalities that come with the number; it’s about defining your narrative and setting the stage for what’s to come. The importance on the number 21 is a social construct, so these decisions are here to help anyone in their journey towards adulthood. Together, let’s ask ourselves the right questions to get on track towards a sustainable and prosperous life.



1. Learning Never Stops

Whether you’ve just walked across the stage with your bachelor’s degree or have been navigating the world post-high school, don’t let the status of your enrollment in an institution dictate your thirst for knowledge. Learning is an ongoing journey that extends beyond the confines of a classroom. Embrace diverse forms of learning – experiential, technical, interpersonal, and more. Books, podcasts, and a vast array of media content are at your fingertips to enrich your understanding of the world

Ask yourself:

– Have I unearthed passions beyond the classroom’s confines?

– What avenues can I explore to feed my intellectual curiosity?



2. Building a Support System

As you think about what comes next after college dorm life or living with your parents, it’s important to realize that community is not confined to where you live but is better defined by those closest to you and the memories that you are able to create. When the world seems too big, remember that you can find community and those with similar interests wherever you are! Use technology to your advantage in finding community.

Ask yourself:

– How can I recreate feelings, memories, and experiences wherever I am and go?

– Are there specific groups, clubs, or communities I join or perhaps even create?



3. Prioritizing Health, Wellness, and Self-Care

Perhaps you have become accustomed to your college’s health center or counseling center. Or maybe your parents still call to make your doctor’s appointments – no shame here! But, as we venture out towards a path to independence, it is important to not get overly consumed with the hustle and bustle that comes with navigating life on our own that we neglect our personal wellbeing. Make health and self-care a priority! This includes nurturing your body with a healthy and nutritious diet. With so many resources, recipes, meal prep guides, and healthy options, it’s time for all of us to have fun and experiment beyond the microwave and ramen noodles. 

Ask yourself:

– What routines should I establish and which is best to care for both my physical and mental well-being?

– How can I cultivate a balanced lifestyle as I start navigating the demands of adulthood?

– What is my relationship with  and understanding of nutrition and diet?

– What are some culinary skills I can master to enhance my well-being while still satisfying my delicate palate?





4. Being Aware and Alert

Whether you’re now thousands of miles apart from your besties or sharing an apartment with your lifelong friends, your tribe should contribute positively to your growth and wellbeing. Life is much more overwhelming when we do it alone; never be afraid to ask for help, no matter your age. However, while mentors, friendships, and intimate partners enrich our lives, they can also distract us from critical signs. If you made it to age 21, you already know that not everyone has your best interest at heart. It’s important to always know your own worth, and to trust your intuition and lean into your values. Never be afraid to set boundaries, and never let someone or something get in the way of your dreams.

Ask yourself:

– What qualities should I seek and cultivate in my relationships – no matter where life takes you?

– What boundaries are necessary to promote my personal wellbeing?

– Are there connections I might want to deepen, strengthen, or mend as I journey forward?



5. Getting a Job

Unless you’re fortunate enough to be born into generational wealth, your ticket to financial independence comes with money. For most, achieving this requires a job. Accessing, spending, saving, and investing your own money whenever you want it is key to a happy and independent life. This doesn’t mean you have to restrict yourself to any job though. Cater to your strengths and weaknesses. The goal should be that you are so passionate in what you are doing, it doesn’t even feel like you ar working (for the most part at least). We all can pave (or crawl) our own place in the giant economy. This can even mean making your own work. Be your own self-employed boss! Read our past blog to see if freelancing is right for you. Whether we want the security of a full time job or the excitement of multiple part-time gigs, we all have to start somewhere. This is where platforms like Parker Dewey come in handy to help get your foot in the door and get paid for a variety of professional projects without needing prior experience. By exploring internships, you’ll get a taste for different roles and companies and a better idea of what you want. Already working? Fantastic! Read our blog for tips on how to level up from your current position.

Ask yourself:

– How can I effectively strike a balance between earning as much as possible and enjoying my professional and personal lives to the fullest?

– Where do I see myself in 5 years? 10?





6. Embracing Financial Responsibility

Here comes the boring but probably the most important part: money. It’s time to start thinking about the student loans, leases, and credit cards. While it may seem impossible, accessing the keys to financial freedom is key to living an independent and prosperous life. If you get too overwhelmed, think of each decision as a building block to your financial stability. By nurturing your abilities and enhancing your knowledge, you empower yourself. Whether you’re a saver or a spender, it’s important to find a healthy balance that works in your favor. Get in a habit as soon as possible to earn and invest. But remember to invest in yourself, too! your personal growth and skill development are your most invaluable assets. 

Ask yourself:

– Have I set tangible and realistic financial milestones for MYSELF?

– What measures can I adopt to invest in my future and to ultimately achieve financial literacy and stability?



7. Setting The Next Goals

Continue to learn about yourself and the world (1), strengthen your relationships (2), own your steps towards health and wellness (3), practice being aware of your surroundings and others (4), become financially independent (5), and start managing your finances (6). Once you are able to implement these 6 things into your life, you have clarity, self-confidence, support, and independence on your side. This recipe makes planning your life ahead so much easier, feasible, and tangible.



Along the way, remember not to be too hard on yourself. Think about all the progress you made over the past 21 years! You certainly should be proud of yourself and celebrate for making it this far. But know that the years ahead can be even more meaningful and filled with growth. Always be compassionate to yourself and others. We all know how hard life is, so be a light.



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