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Career Climb: What career development path looks like your 20s

Portrait of smiling young african businesswoman with people in background. Cheerful young woman standing relaxed in her office looking at camera and smiling.

I remember my twenties with a lot of nostalgia. I did not know it then, but this was the most defining decade of my life. The choices that I made then have impacted my life to date and will definitely impact many more years to come. From securing my first job and getting my first paycheck, to finally being able to make my own decisions, to even determining the kind of relationships that I would engage in. All of these were not only a big part of my twenties but continue to be a pillar in my 30s.

Dr. Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist who specializes in adult development, and twenty-somethings, in particular, writes, “With about 80 percent of life’s most significant events taking place by age thirty-five, as thirtysomethings and beyond we largely either continue with or correct for, the moves we made during our twentysomething years.”

The twenties are an exciting time in an individual’s life. However, most people do not recognize the power of their 20s and therefore do not make the best use of them. While there is a lot of focus on wealth creation in the 20s, it is the character and career development in those years that will serve you well in the years to come. Lapid Leaders Africa is among the top institutions that focus on building the values of the 20 somethings. Here is one of the most things that Lapids advocates for every 20 something to invest in:

Career Development
Media and many other modern-day channels have created the perception that there are endless possibilities for the youth today, from entrepreneurship to freelancing to office work, the options seem endless. While this is partly true, we have found that those who identify the career paths that they would like to work on and focus on them in their early twenties are more likely to succeed. This is especially true in an economy such as ours where wrong choices can be very costly.

Malcolm Gladwell in his book “Outliers” claims that the key to achieving world-class expertise in any skill, is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing the correct way, for a total of around 10,000 hours. This principle applies to career development, the earlier you can begin to put in your 10,000 hours, the better.

In the book “Defining Decade”, Dr. Meg Jay stresses the importance of 20 somethings being realistic and narrowing down the career choices as early as possible despite the common message of unlimited choices. She cites psychology’s famous jam experiment, the conclusion of which is when one has an array of options, as opposed to a smaller selection from which to choose, he or she has a harder time making a decision.

Unfortunately, most of our education choices work against this ideal. We have found that many young people are pursuing degrees in fields that they have little interest in, the Joint Admission Board (JAB) made the choice for them. The result is that a conversation that should have happened in the late teen years on career choices is extended late into the twenties and sometimes into the 30s and 40s. The result is that many twenty-something are either clueless about where they want to start investing their 10,000 hours, or are constantly job-hunting and in the process never building expertise in anything. This is very unfortunate given that the counterparts in developed countries will have started building their 10,000 hours as early as 16 years old.


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For more information on career development visit the Lapid Leaders Africa site.

This article was written by Esther Mwaniki, CEO of Lapid Leaders Africa.

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