5 Things To Do While You’re Young

Things To Do While Young

A few days ago I was discussing with a friend what things we did while we were young that we could probably never do again. I’m not sure if I chose the right activities or not, so I began thinking: what are the best things to do while you are young?

It seems like my friend and I were just in college, roaming the dorm room hallways, seeking out new friends and finding exciting new adventures to go on everyday.

After that the speed of the real world crashes into you like a tsunami. The transition was like nothing we had ever experienced. I always thought there should be a post college transition class that preps people for the trauma that is getting your first job and leaving your schooling behind. Starting different levels of school is nerve-racking but it is also exciting, leading to new experiences that we can remember for the rest of our lives (and they actually prep you for these transitions). This does not happen for the real world.

One year into my first job I realized I had nothing to show for it, nothing memorable happened. Sure my savings account increased a bit, but looking back, those 365 days blurred into one monotonous day. I drove to work the same route everyday, viewing the same buildings and scenery, I sat in the same cubicle staring at the same screen and then I drove home, ate and went to bed to do it all over again.

The days were dreadfully long, but that year felt remarkably short. The worst thing about this was everyone I know said the exact same thing.

And I knew that the longer we waited, the quicker life would pass us by.

Everyone should make a point to explore while they are young for two reasons:

  • Hopefully these actions evolve into habit so you can continue exploring and trying new things for the rest of your life.
  • If not, at least you can look back and reflect on the freedom and empowerment your youth provided.

Here are 5 things to do while you are still young so your later years can be more fulfilling:

1. Travel to other lands

Even if you travel to another state or province, you will be better for it. Speak with locals and explore what makes them different. Don’t be a tourist, but an adventurer.

Take a road trip.

Whether you are with friends, family or by yourself, everyone should get in a car and just drive. One friend of mine backpacked through Europe by himself, while another took a road trip from Illinois to Glacier National Park by herself. I, myself drove from Chicago to Los Angeles and back. Surprisingly we all said the same thing. It was pure freedom. Freedom from money, from organization, from media and the clutter of everyday life.

Saying you can’t travel because of money or a job or relationships screams one thing: fear. Fear of leaving the comfort of your life.

It’s the most uncomfortable parts of life that make us the strongest. So pack and up and go. Trek through the deserts of the Outback, soar to the top of mountains in Switzerland or watch a pig race at the Indiana State Fair. Whatever it is, your legacy will be more exciting.

2. Take Risks

Taking risks is actually the most practical point in this post. It is the part of life that separates greatness from mediocrity. Even when setting up an IRA, 401K or investing in the stock market, any financial advisor will tell you to take more risk when you are young.

This should apply to all facets of life.

Go on dates with people or in situations that make you uncomfortable. Start a business. Jeff Bezos of Amazon, or any billionaire for that matter, did not opt for the safe route, and they changed the world.

Even something as small as trying a new restaurant for lunch or dinner provides an adventure in itself.

Trying a new food and getting food poisoning is like starting a new business and failing – you tried something and learned from it. But the person who went with their usual restaurant again and felt just fine is the same person who went to their boring job for the umpteenth time in a row.

It’s not a good story, no one is interested, you didn’t learn anything and you aren’t stronger for trying something and failing. Most importantly, that child inside of you, the one that always craved greatness in life, settled for mediocrity.

The person who went to a new restaurant and got sick experienced a new part of town that he or she didn’t know about before, maybe met some new people at the restaurant, learned something about the restaurant (or about their allergies) and had a comedic story to tell friends.

Taking risks makes us more interesting, well-rounded people.

3. Do Something Good With Your Money

There seems to be two common views on how people should handle their money when young. I’m going to call them Safety Nets and YOLOs.

  • Safety Nets – People who preach savings. Managing your money wisely, opening up a retirement fund and a savings account to live a more fruitful life in the future.
  • YOLOs – You Only Live Once. A recent mainstream acronym commonly used by young people after doing something regrettable.

I don’t get either. Saving money is important, I agree, but the idea that every dollar you make was earned by you and shouldn’t be shared is pure arrogance.

Money is a privilege and should be used for good.

The YOLO side is a bit easier to argue against. This idea usually is stated after someone does something regrettable. Spending too much money one night, drinking too much alcohol, or having an undesirable sexual encounter.

Why is the term YOLO never preceded by an act of kindness like giving a dollar to the homeless man who’s ignored by everyone, going to a soup kitchen or visiting elderly relatives. Why don’t you hear, “Just brought gifts to the local children’s hospital for Christmas, YOLO.”

Why is living your life to the fullest only when you do something really stupid?

Hoarding money for yourself or spending it frivolousness on questionable acts displays a youth of selfishness.

Save enough to provide for yourself and treat yourself occasionally, but remember that none of this affects others in any way. A new TV, a souped up car or constant weekends drinking with friends won’t leave a mark on the world, but buying a cheeseburger for a homeless person or bringing gifts to a children’s hospital during the holidays most certainly will.

4. Write

Document your life, blog about what you love or just write a journal or diary. Writing is like a time capsule, you can always come back to it and reflect. Writing also provides therapy for tough times in your life.

If you don’t feel the need to write then your life needs a shakeup. Please refer to point 2.

If writing doesn’t suit you, find something you love doing. Learn to play an instrument, teach yourself another language or take singing lessons.

Passions are what define our lives, not professions.

5. Be Active

For your body and mind’s sake, get out and do something active. If you can’t get yourself to exercise or go out and be adventurous now, it will never happen as you get older. Everyone has different chapters in their lives and I noticed that proactively we go through stages as well.

When I was in high school I played football and baseball, lifted weights and ran everyday. When I went to college I couldn’t do that anymore so I played some intramural sports and occasionally went to the gym. After college none of the organization was there anymore, no one is there to tell you to be active, and chances are you don’t have the physical ability to perform some of those activities anymore.

As for me, my work schedule made it difficult to join a football league and from what I could see there weren’t many post college baseball leagues going on, unless you went pro. So I started an activity I had never tried before, rock-climbing. I’m a pretty big guy (so I wasn’t very good at it) and rock climbing was new to me, but it kept my body in shape, introduced me to new people and forced me into an uncomfortable situation that eventually made me stronger.

So take advantage of the youth that you still have and embark on a travel adventure, try something new and use your money for something other than yourself. Document your experiences or find another passion that defines who you are as a person.

But I’m not young anymore.

Engaging in these activities will be more difficult, but being older allows you a rare opportunity:

The ability to make an even bigger mark on the world, by sharing new experiences with your family, especially kids, or to rekindle old relationships with friends. It may be more challenging, but isn’t that how we grow? It’s never too late to learn and grow for the better.

Let me know in the comments what things you should do while you’re young.

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About Joe Warnimont

I am a writer, marketing expert and adventure seeker. I help people write, market their writing, live truthfully and embrace their lives through creativity. You can find me riding my bike around the streets of Chicago. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.


  1. I love every one of your points, especially the one about taking risks. Even if you don’t succeed, it’s usually worth the trip.

  2. Take up every opportunity and forget your vanity. When you’re young, you often don’t do things because they might seem uncool, or you worry too much how you look. I once didn’t go on a beautiful ocean walk with some friends I was staying with in Sydney, because I didn’t have any flat shoes with me. My friend’s husband offered to lend me a pair of his shoes, but I didn’t want to be seen in men’s shoes (as if anyone would be looking or would care!). So I didn’t go. Now my friend has died, and I regret that I didn’t go on this walk.
    Also, love yourself! You will never look as good as you look now. In 20 years, you will look back on photos you hated, and marvel at how young and vibrant you looked. Again, put vanity aside and enjoy being photographed with your friends. You’ll have lovely memories to look back on.

  3. The same thing as when we are older, Joe.
    Live it wide.

    • Caron, I couldn’t agree with you more on both points. What narrow little lives we live when caring “how we look” plays any part in the decision-making. I wish I’d read Joe’s post when I was young enough to profit by it, or even Amy Poehler’s astute observation: “Nobody looks stupid when they’re having fun!” As for me, I am trying to make up for lost time, and just graduated with a bachelor’s in anthropology, after not starting college till I hit my forties. πŸ˜‰

  4. elkemurphy says:

    So true! I am glad now that I have travelled extensively when I was younger, experiencing freedom – my long trip, the year I travelled all over America, felt like the longest year in my life. I still have great memories.
    Another thing that you should do while young:
    learn about yourself and your relationships – take workshops, get tools for reflection and how to relate.

    • Hi Elke,

      Thanks for the input. Learning about yourself and relationships is a great point. Building relationships with yourself and others is important. I don’t know if I’ve ever used any formal tools or workshops for this, maybe my high school retreats? Regardless, whether it’s organic or organized, very important.

  5. Enlightening! Thanks for posting this! I start thinking I have to travel more, I’m finding advices everywhere about travelling lately and I feel inside me that something needs to be moved!

  6. I’m with Franny, the person who posted before me, I’m going to travel more. My mom died at such a young age and she didn’t have time to do a lot so I ‘m starting to cross thing off my bucket list…travel especially.

  7. Ah, the wisdom in this post! Value the moments, and realize that each moment builds on the last and creates the tapestry that becomes our past, and ultimately, our future.

    And eat more chocolate. . .. πŸ™‚

  8. These are great, especially #4. I lived in England for eleven years, and that was such a blessing. πŸ™‚

    Thanks for following my Forever of One Heart blog.

  9. WOW. This is an excellent post.

    Like you, I recall college as if it were yesterday. I graduated in 2004 and fondly remember that gleeful feeling of “YES! Now my life begins!” And when “it” began, those thoughts changed to “NO! My life is sh*T!”

    After I graduated I did a post-bacc to get my Sec. Ed. teaching certification in English. I student taught in a 12th grade English class and hated every moment of it. The teachers were miserable, the kids were miserable, the school was miserable. Every day I had to climb the stairs to the second floor of the building, and every day when I climbed those stairs, I said to myself, “Just get through it. It’s only 6 hours.”

    I think when we’re younger we have a tendency to “hope” for the best, even when we know that whatever it is may not be in our best interest, but we’re afraid to make the change. We’re young so we have the time to just “accept”.

    But as we get older, we realize, “This HAS to change.” We can’t accept being miserable. There is a deep desire to discover our passion, to make a difference. And that difference depends on whether or not each of us is willing to take that leap of faith and risk failing. Some adults do, others don’t. I’m in the baby-step stage right now–I’ve got two little boys, so they come first. However, I’m doing what I can to get myself out there and chase my dreams. I know that one day I WILL catch them ;).

  10. Joe
    I couldn’t agree more, when I was a spring chicken I sold up and set off on a two year adventure overseas. Working in London as my base I got to see so many interesting countries, Egypt being one of my favourites. I learned mostly about myself, a student of life. Even at forty eight this well seasoned old duck will always have a passion for an adventure and often go back over old travel diaries to remind me how it defines us. Love your writing.

  11. Thank you for visiting my blog. #1 is my favorite and it’s so true

  12. I didn’t finish my college education while I was young, and ended up finishing my BA as I turned 50. I was accepted into a fellowship program that took me to Asia, where I celebrated my 49th birthday in Hiroshima, Japan. Five years later, I found myself teaching in Taiwan (for a year or two). That was four years ago, and I’m still here going strong. Age can be a factor, but it doesn’t have to be a barrier. Thanks for reminding us to live life fully. πŸ™‚

  13. Learn music. It expands the mind and people think it’s cool…which it is!

    • Great addition to the list! πŸ™‚ I was a piano teacher for several years, and it really does make a difference in people’s lives. Amazing, too, the number of people who want to learn as adults. It’s never too late!

  14. Hey Joe – very insightful post. My son who is a few years out of college now says the same thing…and I agree. Time really runs by us and escapes if we just stay “on the road side” and observe. We need to participate, explore, create – whatever living fully means to each of us. Then looking back is fun, I promise!

  15. These are all perceptive points for getting more out of life. I especially like the one about travel-leaving one’s comfort zone and living out of a suitcase or backpack is liberating and a valuable learning experience.

  16. I love how you put #3! It’s true that people seem to say YOLO when they do something regrettable, rather than -like you said- giving the homeless man a dollar. Also, I like point #4 as well πŸ™‚ Great post!

  17. Great post! I’m 16 and I’ve recently been discussing this issue with my friend, who is a freshman in university. I’ve been feeling as though you can’t really do anything until you graduate from university, as though this whole time (0-22 years old) is just this preparatory stage for “actual” life. I realize this is a very negative way to think about my current state, and that I should be taking more risks and doing more things that I love.

    To fix this, I recently asked the owner of a local cafe whether or not I can send in my photographs. The cafe displayed several photos for sale, hung all around the walls. I took a dive and asked for some information, spoke with the manager, and ended up exchanging phone numbers and emails with her. I’ll have to get around to sending in an excellent piece, but for now I’m very content with myself for asking in the first place.

  18. A list like this can easily accommodate one as they grow thru the decades.

  19. Lovely! It just about covers everything πŸ™‚

  20. This is a great blog post! I truly enjoyed reading it. Specially the part about risks πŸ™‚ It is interesting how taking risk in one area of our life makes us prone to look for safety in the rest of the areas. We do not take risks all over the spectrum. Need to correct this one πŸ™‚ Thanks for writing! Refreshing and awesome!

  21. Thanks for following my blog.
    I love this post, especially the bit that points out that you are never too old! It is great to read such a positive, optimistic blog. One thing I would add to your list, though, is that it is important to pay attention to your life. Those collectors amongst us do notice a lot of things along the way, but if we aren’t careful we can get lost in our own heads from time to time and then you really can miss out πŸ™‚

  22. Breath of fresh air…hey, us old ones are still seeking…Great blog. Thank you for finding me and following me, I appreciate it. BE patient with me, sometimes I get it right. You have a new follower.

  23. I love this post! Only recently had I started thinking about all the things I could possibly do so that my years wouldn’t be of much waste. This was truly thought provoking, and surely I’m going to remember this advice for a long time to come! Thanks πŸ™‚

  24. So true! Study abroad was the best decision I made during college.

  25. 1: Check
    2: Check
    3: Check
    4: Check
    5: Check


    You are absolutely right. I am in my middle years now but can look back on an exciting and adventurous life. I don’t regret a day of it – bad times and good times, both made me strong.

    The only thing I would add to your list is:

    6: Laugh often
    7: Live in joy

    People worry way too much.

    Cheers to you. πŸ™‚

  26. Great post. Adventuring isn’t only for the young. It’s a lifelong habit. Adventure on! Thanks for following my blog, I hope you enjoy the stories.

  27. This is an excellent read…i can’t but agree with you completely and with your permission may I ‘”re-post'” this piece on my blog?

    One more thing I will add to your list of things to do is “Love much and love unconditionally” πŸ™‚

  28. Thank you for following me! I see you love to write? We have something in common!

  29. Hi Joe. Thanks for visiting and following my blog. You’ve got a great site here, and this post contained some thoughtful tips, even for someone like me who’s not quite a young as I once was. Indeed, reading through your suggestions, I realize that I did manage to do all of them in one way or another. In this way, I agree with what Alison Manson commented above about being mindful of your life. Otherwise you may find yourself always striving for more rather than acknowledging and appreciating what you already have and have done.

  30. Thanks Joe for following me! I really enjoyed your post. I really like the section on taking risks and spending your money. I think youth, including myself, is always on the extreme sides of the spectrum with that stuff.
    Taking risks are too scary for some people and they never want to try something new and on the other side of the spectrum, you have those who take stupid and unnecessary risks like drinking and driving, unprotected sex, etc. I liked how your post gave examples on some good risks like starting a business – which I was almost dissuaded on doing but it’s been a dream of mine, and how even something small like trying a new restaurant can be a fun risk and have benefits.

    As for the spending money portion, again I feel like youth myself either spend it all on themselves or have to save every penny – there is no middle ground for spending a little on yourself and other people. That really got me thinking of new things I could try.

    Thanks for all the insightful tips!

  31. I didn’t attempt these things when I was first out of college, but am happy to say I’ve done them all in my 30s, a decade I am closing out now. Hoping for an even more adventurous 40s!

  32. Nice post Joe, inspirational. Looking forward to more.

  33. These are all excellent things to do while you’re young. By nature, I am not a very adventurous person and am quite an introvert (though nobody seems to believe it, because I learned to hide that at a young age), so going out and having adventures was always a craving that I sated with books. Sci-fi/fantasy is still my favorite genre. Recently, I’ve been getting out of my shell a little more since I’ve started working, and just going to work can be an adventure in itself.

    I would love to travel once I’m done with college. I will be married in a few months, and my fiance and I have begun to put together a savings plan that will allow us to travel once we’re both out of school. As I mentioned before, I’m not adventurous, so travelling to a far-off place is well outside my comfort zone, but I want to have stories to tell when I’m too old to do these things, rather than telling people, “I wish…”

    I’ve also just started getting more active! I ran a mile in under 11 minutes this morning, and my goal is to run a 5k race called Run For Your Lives. It’s a race in which you are chased by zombies, and must face all sorts of obstacles as you run.

    And I believe I’m done rambling now. This post just made me think about all of this, and I’m not sure why I felt the need to put it in the comments section, but maybe something I said will help you with an idea for a new post. I don’t know.

    Have a wonderful day (or night, depending on where you are in the world).

    • Hi Alena,

      That’s a great idea to start building some savings to travel! I also heard the Run For Your Lives race is a lot of fun. I did the Warrior Dash last year, which is an alternative race, like the zombie run. Thanks for all the feedback!

    • Hi Alena,
      I came across this beautiful quote by Mark Twain, which I shared with a friend before she headed off to Australia (on her own for 3 months, and she had never been there before).
      β€œTwenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
      Have fun on your trip!

  34. akkbar says:

    i recommend that everyone move as far from home as possible to engage differenet cultures and the shock of it.

  35. I did all those–when I was over 40….including jumping off a cliff strapped to some cute French guy when I was over 50. Hmmm….I think I see a blog forming.

  36. I agree with you. But you can keep on doing those things, you know. By the way, writing is one thing you have to do regularly. I’ve been journaling about my life for fifty years. It’s fascinating to reread what I wrote in my twenties, and it’s a good aide to memory when you write your memoirs.

  37. This is indeed a very good post.
    I’m 60, in my third marriage, and have three sons. I can sum up most of the advice I’ve given them and most of the good advice I’ve ever received in one phrase.
    “Always chose freedom.”
    In every significant moment of choice there’s always a difference between the most open-ended, creative, insecure option and the ones promising security, permanence, and a clear definition of yourself. Always look for and take the one that opens more channels of possibility, even if your feelings tell you to take the ‘safe’ route. In my experience anything that claims it’s safe is de facto dangerous.
    And never forget you could die at any age. Don’t waste the moment, inhabit it.

    • My thoughts EXACTLY!!! We could all die tomorrow, so, while youth and aging are real, it’s all a thought form. I made the choice to separate from my husband (so hard to do, as he’s a great man, just not the one for me) and create my own start up – and your advice has helped re-affirm my gut feelings!

  38. I couldn’t agree with your closing statement more – these are 5 great things to do while you’re young; but more importantly, 5 great things to do while you’re ALIVE! Age should never stop us from an endeavor we deem worthy!

    Love the post!

  39. Thanks for the advice. I have just begun my journey as a professional writer and I am glad to find a voice to guide me

  40. Angela Cohan says:

    Great advice..

  41. I enjoyed reading this post…very nicely written πŸ™‚

  42. True and simple words. I completely agree with the Risks and the Write points.

  43. This is so very true! once in a life time opportunity! Before you know it your old….:(

  44. Thanks for reading my blog! I love what you have written here and it’s so amazing to see and get encouragement from people like you who are not only fulfilling your dreams spiritually but aligning your best self in what you love to do in your career, while also stating “tech savvy” and up to date with current technology. I had yet to find a good balance of that before I came to the WordPress community. I had friends that were spiritual and earthy but never touched a keyboard or have never heard of blogging before (let alone know what it is) I had empathetic and introspective friends who felt guilty for wanting to make money and create financial security, so they stayed broke. I had acquaintances who were tech savvy but were empty, confused puppets, unable to notice what their purpose on this earth was to be. You, my friend, seem to have a good balance of them all!

  45. I agree. I waited until my fifties to take a risk. I wrote my book. Don’t wait to do anything. Do it now!

  46. geokult travel says:

    Hi Joe,
    Thanks for following my blog. I really enjoyed this post – some great insights πŸ™‚

  47. Marie Wallace says:

    All very great points and advice I would give young people as well. But I also think it’s good advice for older people as well. Save your money so you can travel and visit other lands…try daring, adventurous things, always! Eleanor Roosevelt said, “…do something everyday that scares you.” You feel alive and you accomplish great things with risk. I enjoyed your post, and I look forward to reading more!

  48. Thanks for following my blog! Good post!

  49. Well–ordeal by fire. Disqus just demanded I join to post and in the interim erased my rather long comment. Okay–here goes again. I couldn’t agree more with your advice about what to do while you are young. I advise all my young relatives and friends to do their traveling right after college graduation (or before beginning a career if college is not within their life plan.) Not only does it give an expanded view of life and a better appreciation of different cultures, but it also affords an opportunity for the extensive travel that will probably not be possible again until their retirement. I have never regretted spending 3 years after graduation in traveling and working around the world. Although I continued to travel during summer vacations, I never again had the freedom to roam with quite the same sense of abandon. Another factor that enters in is physical stamina. Although I have never been particularly physically-fit, youth affords us opportunities that our bodies reject at a later age. Good work, Joe, and thanks for following my Blog. Hope to see you there often.

  50. Marelise Venter says:

    This article is not only one of the best-written I’ve seen in my blog wanderings, but also one of the most relevant! I don’t know if it’s just because I’ve been traveling for a while, but I feel like the proportion of people taking their lives into their own hands and actually DOING something rather than just being a passive observer, is growing (albeit slowly). The step between getting all fired up and motivated to change something in your life, to take a risk, to do something different and actually getting that ball rolling is a pretty big, daunting one; I can see people reading this article and get their lives going!
    Thanks for putting into words what a lot of us don’t know how to express!!

  51. Healing Angel says:

    I love this article and its exactly what I need. I’m going to be turning 30 in 6 months and I feel like I haven’t lived yet. My relationship of 10 years is most likely going to end soon and it’s depressing to think that I spent my 20s worrying. Yes I went to college but even then I let my relationship and family issues get in the way of being a regular college student. My classmates enjoyed college life and even traveled and I always had some issue to deal with (almost always financial hardship). I don’t think its too late for me to try this. I will soon get in my car and drive somewhere. I can’t afford Europe but I am going to my home Puerto Rico soon. Maybe I can treat it as a vacation even though it’s the only place I can fly to.

    Thank you for sharing this….I will def try using these 5 tips and will post on my new blog…http://healingangel2014.wordpress.com/