5 Inspiring Ted Talks for Twenty-Somethings

Since taking a demotion and changing career paths I have discovered I have all of this new found energy and free time. I’m finishing at 5pm on the dot and am no longer stressed, exhausted and burnt out – amazing what a difference not hating your job can have!

I’m aware there are limits to how much development and learning I can gain in my new role, so have been trying to maximise this free time outside of work to focus on professional and personal development. As part of that, I have started using my commute time as a chance to learn, listening to TED talks.

(The TED mobile app is great as it gives you the option to download the audio of any of their talks, so you can listen to them offline without using all of your mobile data, and you can also bookmark interesting talks for later)

I only commute for about 20/30mins to and from work, but as most TED talks are around 20mins I can easily listen to a few a day. It’s so easy to sit on the bus and scroll aimlessly through social media feeds – in comparison this seems like a much more valuable use of my time.

It has also proved as a great conversation starter with my boyfriend – we now unwind in bed by discussing the interesting things we learnt during the day (yep, I’ve got him onto listening to them too!).

There have been a couple in particular have really stuck with me, due to their relevance to my life as a twenty-something trying to get her shit together. I wanted to share them with you, internet world, in case they inspire you too!

1) Dan Gilbert: The surprising science of happiness

To be honest, I got a little lost in the middle of this TED talk, but the main points that Gilbert raised really stuck with me: we always think that something will make us really happy, so much so that we become almost obsessed with it, but in reality it will probably only make us marginally happier, so we shouldn’t worry about it too much. What I took that to mean was that we so often get so focused on getting the next promotion, the bigger house, the better car as we think it will make us happy, but actually, there is no point that you reach in which you are ‘happy’. So try live in the present, be content with what you have and make the most out of it – it’s all about the journey, not the destination!

I also found this relevant to my day-to-day, helping to rationale against buying that extra coffee or pair of shoes that I obsess about in my head (‘I NEED a coffee today’/’I NEED those shoes’). Because, realistically, sometimes you definitely do NEED a coffee, but most of the time you will be just fine without it, and no one pair of shoes is going to make you infinitely happy (although in my opinion beige pumps are a must in any female’s wardrobe…).

2) Shiomo Benartzi: Saving for tomorrow, tomorrow

I find behavioural economics fascinating, and this talk was excellent at highlighting the flaws most of us have in our approach to saving money (i.e. we suck at it). A great talk to remind you of the weaknesses of human nature and how to overcome your subconscious to save more money. Benartzi first talks about the the mistakes we all make, then finishes with some helpful tips and advice in how to combat this. Twenty-somethings tend to think very much in the ‘now’, so I found this particularly relevant.

3) Daniel Goldstein: The battle between your present and future self

This talk perfectly connected the key points from both of the talks above, and really gave me a ‘lightbulb’ moment that has helped me change my day to day behaviour for the better. Goldstein talks about how we often forget about our future self in order to reward our present self, but both ‘selfs’ are equally important. As someone who often says ‘YOLO’ (and not in an ironic way), this caught my attention. He talks specifically about how we often spend too much money having fun day-to-day, forgetting about what that will mean for retirement, and about how the decisions we make in regards to our body today impact how well we will age. Nowadays so many of us live with the balance out of whack and in order to be truly happy we must change the way we think in order to have happiness now, and in the future.

4) Alain de Botton: A kinder, gentler philosophy of success

I’m quite a fan of Alain de Botton – he is a great speaker and has an interesting, refreshing view on a number of key topics. I found this talk particularly thought provoking as he looks closely at ‘success’ – what society has told us success is, how we can find true success in ourselves, what success means for each individual. Do you know what success truly means to you? Listen to this and have a think…

5) Meg Jay: Why 30 is not the new 20

Meg Jay is a psychologist who has focused her career on helping floundering twenty-somethings – perfect! In this talk she gets straight to the point and challenges common thoughts and misconceptions we all have as a twenty-something: your twenties are not a decade for you to hang around and waste time – you need to be makings steps towards your future NOW, not when you hit thirty. She’s not subtle about it, this is a big kick in the butt for anyone out there who is still trying to get their shit together (or not trying at all). A very worth while pep talk!

I encourage you, explore the world of TED! It’s an inspiring, completely free resource that we can all gain a lot from.

And share your thoughts and findings from any of them in the comment section below – I’ve blabbered on about what I took from them, but I’d love to hear what you gained from them too! 

Jes x


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