9 Career Milestones You Don't Have To Hit By 25

As far as I know, there are only three certainties in life: death, taxes, and becoming an existentially fraught human disaster while trying to get your career on track in your 20s. Everyone tells you in those first few years post-graduation that it's going to take a little bit of time to get your bearings, but then suddenly those first few cushion years are over, and you are quickly approaching 25. Objectively, there is no real reason to panic — you are a mere three years out of college, and those three years are a tiny, ridiculous fraction of the years you will spend in the workforce. You know deep down past the little panic button going off in the front of your brain that most people who are huge successes in their fields were once in completely different ones or virtually unemployed at your age. And yet, despite all the mounting evidence that you are going to be fine, you freak out. Because we are millennials, and that's how we roll.

So the next time you feel your job panic senses tingling, take a deep breath. You're not really on any kind of deadline to get things done, and the year you turn 25 certainly isn't one of them. Here are the career milestones you don't have to reach by 25:

Have A Job That In Any Way Relates To Your College Major

I think we can all pretty much agree that this dream is as dead as the economy in 2008, but just in case you were holding onto some misguided notion that you were going to do anything with that psych major (#represent), now's the time to let it go. Don't regret your major — no matter what it was, it was well worth the experience — but don't let it box you from other opportunities you might be hella better suited for.

Overcome Imposter Syndrome

When you're at this age you have the "oh my holy cheese monster I do not deserve this job I am a dunce EVERYONE KNOWS I AM A FAKE" every two to three hours. As I understand it, though, this kinda feeling never stops, and secretly we're all having it no matter how old or accomplished we are. At some point the voice gets a little quieter and less frequent, but until then — ride it out, fellow fakes. We (kind of? hopefully?) GOT THIS.

Have A “Forever” Job

Real talk: Any job that you did consider a "forever" job might not even exist in five years. The idea of "forever" jobs are basically extinct. So if you're not doing the dream thing that you planned on doing at this specific instant, or you're just vaguely unhappy where you are, remember that the tides are shifting every day — not just for you, but for everyone.

Work On Salary, From Nine To Five, Monday Through Friday

The traditional idea of what a "job" looks like is also hella outdated. Maybe you're still working shifts and living off tips in a job you hate to support a passion you love. Maybe you're a freelancer and you make your own work schedule. Maybe you work ridiculously weird hours because it's what your specific field demands. It doesn't make your job any less "legit" than traditional nine-to-fives, so trying to get into one shouldn't be a goal on your radar unless it's something that you genuinely want for yourself.

Contribute The Full Amount To An IRA Every Year

At this age you will hear a doomsday speech about how this is the most important age to start saving!!! approximately every other open tab on your desktop. I mean, I'm not going to sit here and say that's not true — sure, it's a smart and responsible thing to do that will surely benefit you in the future — but at this age, for a lot of us, it's just plain unfeasible. What little money you do save ends up going to surprise expenses or, if you're lucky, gets funneled into new projects and ideas you want to get up off the ground. There will be other times in your life to hoard your money at the expense of your dreams, but this, thankfully, is not yet that time.

Stop Thinking Of Your Parents As A Safety Net

Yes, moving back in with your parents for anything may seem like a niiiiiightmaaaare and a half — not because you don't love your 'rents, but because if that happens, it means something with your job or finances went up the wazoo wrong. But if you are lucky enough to have parents who would welcome you back, let yourself acknowledge the safety net. You may never use it, but you'll panic a little less about the small things.

Have A Resume With A Clear Path Or Theme

Honestly, if your resume isn't a messy hodge-podge of internships and retail jobs and "personal assistant to" at this age, then you are in a VERY small minority. It is extremely rare to get a job in your desired field right out of college. Those of us who had to take the long way around should wear that disjointed resume like a badge of honor — there is plenty of time for it to have some kind of narrative to your overarching career goals, if you want it to, but you no means have to accomplish that any time soon.

Finish With Internships And Educational Opportunities

Maybe you're three years deep into a career, and you've just realized that you've hella changed your mind about it. That's exactly what your 20s are for. It might seem like you've run out of time to go back and start over, but when you consider how much time is left in your decades long career, it is actually an extremely worthy investment to go back and learn about something that, in the long run, makes you much happier.

Have A Five Or Ten Year Plan

It's OK to be 25 and have no idea what you want to do for the rest of your life — as long as you're doing something. The more "somethings" you do, the closer you'll get to figuring out what "the thing" is. And hey, the way things are moving and shaking these days, maybe your thing doesn't even exist yet! There's no reason to put pressure on yourself to make plans, because if you do, the universe will just laugh in your face anyway. Take a breath, y'all. We got this.

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