When you’re a kid or young adult, you probably don’t think much about how your actions might affect your future. For example, you may make a purchase without checking your bank account first, thinking that everything will work out because your parents’ bank account is linked to yours through overdraft protection.

However, as you start to get into your 20s and graduate from college, it’s important to consider how your actions are preparing you for the future. Here are a few guidelines to follow so that you’re ready to face the unexpected.

Find a Job you Love

Having a job you love can really set you up for success as an adult. Far too many recent graduates are “underemployed,” a phrase which means their pay is far below what their degree and credentials should command.

In her book The Defining Decade, Dr. Meg Jay discusses the concept of identity capital and how you can go about acquiring the skills and experiences that give you value as an individual in the job market. By having a job that you want to pursue, even if you can’t get the job immediately, you can work towards your goal by picking experiences that help you reach that job. Once you have a job you love, then you have a sustainable source of income and a job that you are happy doing.

Flip-flopping across industries and internships while working as a barista isn’t a way to work towards a reliable income doing something you love. By determining how to acquire more identity capital that you can cash in on a worthwhile career, you’ll be setting yourself up for a valuable career in the long run.

Prep for Retirement

Once you have a good job, make sure that you’re preparing for retirement. It may seem like you’ve got plenty of time to do this over the course of your career. However, the earlier you can start saving for retirement, the more money you’ll make in the long run.

This is all because of the magic of compound interest, which can do yeoman work for you, even with small contributions of $100 each month. The difference between saving for retirement starting at age 25 and starting at 35 is staggering, with younger people investing less money and still outpacing their older counterparts.

The sooner you can start saving for retirement, the more money you’ll have when you retire, making it much easier to keep up the cost of living that you’ll become accustomed to over the course of your life. 

Get Yourself Insured

Having insurance is another way to protect the time and money you spend investing in yourself. This is because having health, dental, and vision insurance can be the difference between $3,000 in out-of-pocket expenses or a simple $400 medical bill.

Even simple medical conditions that you may be diagnosed with over the course of your life can come with costly prescriptions if you don’t have good health insurance. While it may seem counterproductive to do in your 20s, if you use an online website to help compare health insurance, you’ll be able to find a good plan that gives you the coverage you need without breaking the bank.

When it comes to preparing for the unexpected as an adult, the most important concept is to invest in yourself. By focusing on your income, health, and retirement, you can set up protective measures that allow you to go after your goals with the peace of mind that you have safeguards in place to ensure you reach your goals.

Find a job you love that pays well, purchase health insurance, and start saving for retirement, and you’ll be well on your way to a long and fruitful life on whatever path you choose.