Your future self will thank you.
“Live every day like it’s your last.”
That oft-quoted motto sounds great on a bumper sticker. But if we all followed that advice, we’d be perpetually eating tubs of Ben and Jerry’s while watching Friends reruns – until we realise at age 60 that we forgot to actually advance our career and family goals.
That’s why I’m firmly in the “10-year-plan” school of thought, forever looking for pearls of wisdom that’ll help me get where I want to go in years to come.
Here are a few tips that are easy enough to implement in your 20s and 30s– but my research tells me they’ll make your life a whole lot smoother and more successful in the long run.
1. Get healthy.
Author Mark Manson asked 600 people aged 37 and above what advice they’d give to their younger selves – and the mantra “keep physically healthy” cropped up time and time again.
I don’t mean to sound like your grandma, but good health is a vital foundation to a long and successful future. So stop putting off that jog, start wearing sunscreen and schedule that overdue dentist appointment… you get the idea.
2. Focus on people and activities that add value.
Remember how easy it was to while away hours after school with classmates as a teenager, despite having nothing in common with them beyond a vague dislike of your oddball teacher?
Chances are, you have more demands on your time now, making every hour outside work/kids/gym precious. That’s why now’s the time to let go of old acquaintances who take without giving, and start saying “no” to obligations that don’t bring you value.
Same goes for dead-end romantic relationships: If your partner isn’t emotionally available, consider moving on to someone who shares the same vision for the future. The last thing you want is to be going through a painful breakup years down the track, then wondering why you wasted your time.
3. Take control of your finances.
Living hand-to-mouth may have been the norm as a teenager – but these days, living off Ramen noodles while you await your next pay cheque isn’t going to cut it.
Set aside a portion of every month’s wages into an ‘emergency fund’, prioritise paying off debt, and start planning for your retirement early — for example, by rolling your super accounts into one or ensuring that your super contributions continue while you’re on maternity leave.
Superannuation’s a big deal for women in particular; as La Trobe expert Amalia Di Iorio has found decisions around super are heavily influenced by factors like the gender pay gap and an imbalance in family care responsibilities. As a result, one-third of Australian women have no super at all – so start dealing with this now to ensure you can actually enjoy your later years, rather than retiring broke.