After graduation, you probably spent your 20s on self-discovery, traveling, and figuring out who you are and what you want to do with the rest of your life. Most likely by this time, your personality and your habits have solidified. Fortunately, our brains are wired to be more developed in our late 20s than our early 30s, so we are more capable of making significant decisions closer to 30 than to 20. This should be music to your ears if you partied too much as a student that you don’t even remember those days.
The habits you establish during this specific decade tend to stick and become the foundation of your adult life. That being said, you should master yourself and build manageable habits that will set you up for a productive and happy life. Here are some that I suggest you develop by the time you are 30 for a lifetime of success.
Develop A Daily Routine
By the time you hit 30, your peak and slow times should already be obvious to you. Some people (specifically writers) have a sweet spot. Either they write at the wee hours of the morning or late at night, and that time is usually their most efficient so they stick to it for the long haul. Athletes usually wake up at the same time and have developed a steady workout and diet routine.
It comes as no surprise that successful people have routines. They’ve mapped out when they wake up and go to bed, what they eat for breakfast, what they they do day-to-day and on the weekends. It really doesn’t matter what your routine is just as long as you have one. I suggest experimenting with a few options to see which maximize your energy. Creating a productive schedule will help you reach your goals. And remember, there is only one you in the world, so what may work for others may not work for you. Successful people know their tendencies and weaknesses and create schedules that play to their strengths.
You cannot take care of others without taking care of yourself. You should have a primary doctor. Pay for regular doctors appointments and get your healthcare paperwork in order. Shed the bad eating and drinking habits of your youth and develop a fitness regimen before the physical limitations of growing older began to set in. It’s also been scientifically proven that living organisms have adapted to the day-night cycle and evolved a “circadian clock,” that is: an actual cellular metronome — whose effects are not completely known yet. Disruption of normal circadian rhythms can have deleterious effects on health. For example, lack of sleep is linked with obesity, and the time of feeding was shown to affect the ability to control body weight. Keep this in mind when creating your schedule.
Respect Other People
There are a few ways our respect for others shows up in life. Being responsive, keeping your word, and being on time are clearly on top of the list. Responding to your friends, family, and colleagues in a timely manner says that you respect the other person enough to respond promptly and that you are organized. Projecting these things will yield positive outcomes in both your personal and professional life.
No one enjoys tracking down other people, so keep that in mind. There is (almost) no excuse for not responding in 24 hours to friends, family, and coworkers. Fortunately, technological advancements have reduced the time it takes to get back to the other person, and everyone is aware of this. Even if you only have enough time for a short message or call, let them know you received their message. Be courteous and just respond—it only takes a moment.
In a similar vein, the only thing that is worse than running late is when someone else keeps you waiting. Be on time without rushing. By the time you’re 30, showing up late is just rude. Punctuality illustrates that you’re life is in order, and it makes you a better coworker and friend.
Also, if you say you’re going to call, then call. Keep yourself in check and have enough integrity to speak your truth when making appointments or promises. Even though you may have to give up on “looking good,” being punctual and keeping your promises will preserve the respect others have for you.
Find Your A-Team
Life is short, time is precious, and true friendships are rare. Surround yourself with those who are good to you and make you better. Above all, do not take them for granted. Think about who you have outgrown, who you don’t talk to anymore, who makes no effort to see or talk to you and who is exhausting to be around. Protect your time, energy, and emotional resources.
Don’t fill your free time with insincere, toxic, vain, disloyal, unsupportive, selfish, and narcissistic friends unless that’s your cup of tea. The best way to acquire authentic friends is to be one. You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time around, so you really are the company you keep. If you really want to reach your highest potential, you have to surround yourself with people who challenge you, and whose strengths offset your weaknesses and who are where you want to be.
Always take an opportunity to add diversity to your network, meet someone new, interesting and talented. Set aside what you believe may be “useful,” and look for people who have the same values and ethics as you. Even if they don’t have the same professional goals, this should not deter you from inviting them into your circle of friends. In fact, chances are, it will enhance your life in other ways.
Invest in Your Future
By 30, your finances should be in order or at least on their way. You should have financial goals and a solid strategy to achieve them. After all, finances are too important to neglect. You should be putting money away each paycheck or month, have a 401K, and plan for retirement. You should be building your credit, pay your bills on time and have a healthy habit of living within your means. Fortunately, there are many apps on the market that provide excellent assistance for financial planning.
Consider automating your savings and investments. With Clink, you can invest as little as $1 per day and save every time you go out. Your money is invested in a diversified ETF portfolio and keeps growing without you needing to worry about it. Clink puts the power of saving in your hands. Its free platform links your checking account to your Clink account and allows you to determine how much money you would like to contribute to a diversified portfolio and how often. The Clink scheduler allows you to easily pick what days you want to add money to your Clink account and determine the set amount. You can make changes to this setting at any time. Clink makes saving easy by associating the process with shopping and dining activities. You can set a percentage of your bill that will be automatically added into your Clink account and invested in your stock portfolio. Simply link your credit card to your Clink account to shop and save.
Learn from Failure and Take Calculated Risks
So much of the time, we don’t take a leap of faith we should. In your 20s, you have time on your side, so take the plunge. Most of you may not have families yet, so you have the luxury of experimenting with regards to work, goals, and “poor” decisions.
In truth, the most successful people will tell you that their failures were more important than their successes. You’re going to make mistakes and you can’t avoid it. You will make poor judgments of character. You will make bad investments and you will avoid the right career move out of fear of failure of even success. In your 20s, embrace your failures. These are opportunities to learn.
Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek recommends a simple exercise for weighing risk:
1. Fold a piece of paper into three columns.
2. In the first column, write down all of the things that could go wrong should your attempt fail. Think of the most terrible things possible.
3. In the second column, determine ways that you can mitigate the possibility of each of those bad consequences from happening.
4. In the third column, think of how you would recover from each of the scenarios you imagined and wrote in the first column.
Most of all, have the courage to examine your life and choices. Self-improvement isn’t pretty, but if you expect greatness from yourself, then start looking in the mirror. Get comfortable with the ugly truth and look forward to the future.