In this post, I will give you 26 things that I believe men should know by age 26.
Cards on the table; I will soon turn 32 but sometimes there is little better than hindsight. We all want to know that we are progressing well in life, that we haven’t missed anything, and are giving ourselves the best chance for a good future.
Some are general and might seem obvious, but some are really things that I’d wish I’d known earlier in my life.
Of course, this list is not exhaustive and is somewhat subjective. With this in mind, feel free to add your own things in the comments below!
So, without further ado, let’s get into what you should know by age 26!
01 You won’t stay slim forever
This might seem like a strange thing to lead with but it’s a fact and it’s something you should plan for.
As we age, weight creeps up on us. It simply can’t be avoided. I don’t know many men that look the same after 26 as they did at 18 or so.
It’s incredibly easy to gain weight as we get older, particularly if we aren’t careful about diet and exercise.
You want to be in the best shape you possibly can. So, whilst you’re young, exercise and stay fit. Try as much as possible to remain slim and keep on top of your health.
02 Never give up on an achievement
It’s easy to get frustrated when we run into obstacles along the way but that’s not how things are supposed to work.
Approach all the challenges you encounter with an open mind. Don’t assume you’ll get everything right every time. There will be times when things don’t work as planned.
This doesn’t mean you should abandon the idea, it means to keep going and carry on making mistakes and learning from them along the way.
03 Making new friends will become harder
When you’re young, it’s easy to make new friends – after all, most people are social creatures and we tend to attach ourselves to those that are similar to us.
Unfortunately, this does become harder with age. I’ve never met anyone who’s become suddenly anti-social or isolated as they get older but people do change and it becomes much harder to meet like-minded individuals later in life.
It is therefore essential to keep in touch with the people that are important to you.
04 You don’t need to have it all figured out by 26
This is a common problem. If you feel like you haven’t figured out what you’re doing with your life, that’s not a bad thing.
By 26, I’d expect to have made some mistakes and had some failures but that’s okay – it’s a part of learning!
Having it all figured out is great, but if you haven’t then don’t sweat it.
05 You’re NOT old
I’m sure we’ve all heard this before.
It’s easy to compare yourself to your peers, with each step you take towards 30 and feel that you’re getting older. I think this idea is perhaps a bit more prevalent than it should be though, particularly at the younger end of the spectrum when you haven’t really got a handle on life just yet.
You are getting older, yes, but you are not old. Do get down in the jumps when you reach that second half of your twenties. If anything, I had as much fun after 26, as I had before.
06 You’re also not a child anymore
On the flip side, you are not a child.
We’ve all been there, where you’re caught off guard by a universal childhood thing and most likely didn’t know how to react.
In general, with age comes responsibility.
As mentioned earlier, you don’t need to have it all figured out but you should have some idea about what you’re doing by 26 and know WHY you’re doing it, too. You may not be responsible for others yet but you should be responsible for yourself.
07 Don’t let your parents or anyone else make your life difficult
Young adults struggle with this a lot because they want to please everyone. I think the best way to handle this is simply to not let them get under your skin.
Just because they don’t understand something, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t trust yourself.
08 Don’t take life too seriously
You are young – don’t take things too seriously.
Don’t feel like you have to be in a rush or have all the answers and do your best to not live your life at another’s pace.
Don’t become so busy with yourself that you neglect the people you love. It is likely that some people love you more than anyone but they never get enough chances to show it because of how busy you are.
09 Choosing a good partner is key to a happy life
It’s natural to want to settle down with someone that you love, but don’t rush into a relationship with someone just because you want to feel like you’re part of something.
I’ve seen this happen and it doesn’t end well for either party. You should be able to spend time with each other and talk about anything, not just the typical ‘relationship’ topics.
10 But…there is no ‘one’ person for you
On the other side, I am not saying that there is one person for you; there are many. Accept it and it will make things easier.
I firmly believe that waiting for ‘the one’ is flawed logic. Love grows. Be patient.
Give relationships a chance and learn from them but as mentioned in the previous point, don’t commit to something for the sake of being in a relationship.
11 You have choices
On approaching 26, some may feel that their life has been set out before them.
You probably followed a traditional path.
You went to school.
You got through university, and if you were lucky, choose something that suited you and that you are passionate about.
You were fortunate to be offered a ‘good’ job so you took it even though it wasn’t exactly what you had in mind.
On approaching or being 26, you probably have a few years of work under your belt. You may have had a few promotions and changed companies or roles.
It was all exciting at the beginning and you are more comfortable than you have ever been but you are beginning to question if it is really what you should be doing.
You are not alone. Just know that at 26, you are still young. You have choices.
Want to travel? Make a plan and execute it.
Want to change careers? Find out how to go about that and start taking the steps to achieve it.
Want to start a business but feel it is risky? It probably won’t get any less risky when you get older; take the plunge…or don’t but it is a choice.
12 You will see your friends less often
Friends are a big part of our lives and seeing them less frequently can be quite a shock. You see that you’re getting closer to 30 and realize that the closer you get, the more difficult it is to see your friends.
After 26 many of your friends will have found someone special and their lives are different.
Make sure to cherish those moments with your friends before and after 26.
13 You will have more responsibility
On approaching 26, you are or will probably be a full-time employee who has had a few side projects.
Now that you’re getting older, your responsibilities are likely growing and it’s not just about work anymore.
If you want to be a masculine man, you need to work hard and take responsibility for your life.
It might be housework or keeping up with your health but you have other things that need to get done and it gets harder to cope with all of this as time goes by.
14 You are not invincible
It’s easy to think that you are invincible when you’re young. You feel like nothing can touch you and that you will be fine.
I want to let you know that this is not true.
Things do touch your life and things change, but not always for the worse.
Good or bad, by 26, accept that you are not invincible and not everything is within your control.
15 You will become more like your father
You might feel you have nothing in common with your dad anymore and maybe, you don’t.
More likely, however, you will find yourself becoming more like your father as you get older. I know that I have become more like my dad since reaching 26. We may not agree all the time but we understand each other a lot better now.
16 Learning never stops
Learning never stops, even when you’re 26; at least for me.
Fortunately, it’s now easier than ever to learn with the internet in our pockets.
Learn to develop interests, learn to fail, and keep going.
17 You will have fewer close friends
It’s easier to lose touch with friends as you get older and you will probably have a smaller group of close friends than you did when you were in your early twenties.
And the truth is, you don’t need 10 or 20 friends anymore. You need a handful. That’s it (but the sooner you can find people that whom you do have a deep connection, the better).
18 You will gain respect for your parents
In some ways, your parents might become some of your best friends as you get older. You realize that they are (or were) the best guides that anyone could ask for.
They took care of you and did their best to make sure you didn’t make too many mistakes.
All they want is the best for you and they know better than anyone else what will bring the best out of you. You eventually see this as time goes by.
19 You may want to settle down
If you are like many young men, marriage wasn’t even on your radar when you were in your early twenties.
At 26 or after, however, you might start to see things differently. You may start thinking of what it would be like to spend your life with one person, to start a family.
Or, of course, you might decide that marriage isn’t for you or that you’re not ready to get married; both of these are okay but it is likely a consideration that will arise.
20 Things take longer than you thought
When you’re younger, there is an urgency to most things and you want them done as quickly as possible.
Now that you’re older, you understand that certain things will take time, even if they shouldn’t.
You probably have a better idea of what’s necessary and what’s not so essential. It happens with everyone.
It’s a good idea to create a short list of priorities and make decisions accordingly.
21 Compound interest is almost magic
This post is clearly not focused on finances but this is worth a mention.
We’ve already mentioned that you should learn to invest in a previous article. The earlier the better.
While you may not be thinking of retirement as you turn 26, know that time is your greatest friend in investing.
A difference of a few years can make a huge difference to the amount of money you end up with. Money is not everything but is it not insignificant.
Let’s say you start investing two hundred dollars a month from the 26 all the way until the time you are 60. Based on the average S&P 500 return since 1957, you would end up with almost 700,000 dollars on retiring (60 years old).
If you waited until 36 to start investing the same amount, you would end up with just less than 240,000 USD on turning 60 years old.
Yes, inflation needs to be accounted for but you get the idea.
22 You don’t have to have all the answers
You are not the know it all that you started out as.
You may feel like you had everything figured out when you were younger but now you realize that there are many things that you still don’t know.
This is normal; this is how life works. No one knows everything and no one needs to have all the answers.
23 You don’t have to be afraid of change
Things staying the same is comfortable and predictable. For many of you who have not yet turned 26, things may not have changed very much. You live in a city close to your home, you are responsible for yourself and the important people in your life are there to support you.
You probably take it for granted.
I know that I did. However, know that eventually things change and they do so whether you want them to or not.
24 You will start saying goodbye
This is one of the hardest parts.
It’s hard to say goodbye to people when they move away and it’s even harder to say goodbye to some people when they pass away.
Sometimes, there is no choice but don’t take that for granted. The older you get, the more you say goodbye.
25 You are not perfect
When we were younger, we feel like everything is within our control and there is nothing that can happen to us that we can’t handle.
This doesn’t always hold up. You will make mistakes.
Accept it. Learn from it. Forgive yourself and move on to a better man.
26 You are going to change
Young men in their early twenties often feel like they know themselves well. At least I did.
It wasn’t until later when I was closer to 30 that I realized how much I had changed.
You will probably change. That’s okay. Realize it. Embrace it even.
That’s it for today guys. I hope you found this post useful. If so, you may also be interested in our article 50 things a man should do by 30.
If you have any more things that a man should know by 26, go ahead and drop them in the comments below; we’d love to hear your experience.