What do you see when you picture your forty-something self? My guess is, you don’t envision an indebted slob living paycheck to paycheck with just barely enough energy to get through the forty hour work week. Instead, you probably picture someone who is relatively healthy with a comfortable amount of money set aside for retirement; a person who manages to get their laundry done on a timely schedule. Now take a second to examine your current lifestyle. Are you on your way to fulfilling this vision? Or are you on the fast track to living in a van down by the river? Here are a few things you can do now that your future self will thank you for.
Make peace with your body. We all have at least a few things we wish we could change about our bodies, but we have better things to do in life than pinch at the fat on our thighs in the mirror. Fuel your body with nutritious food and reward it with endorphins (and occasionally, cheesecake). Feeling good is much more important than looking a specific way, which is a message we should all pass along to our children someday. Remember, even supermodels don’t look like supermodels. Don’t waste your short time on earth seeking an ideal that isn’t even real.
Pay yourself first. It’s hard not to throw all your extra money at your student loan debt or to splurge on that dress you’ve had your eye on for weeks, but saving a few dollars today will pay off handsomely in the future. Start building up your savings account by putting 10 percent of each paycheck away for a rainy day. Label this your “emergency fund” and never withdraw from it unless it is truly an emergency (examples of an actual emergency include medical bills, repairs to your car, or necessary expenses if you get laid off from your job). Bonus points if you can start putting money into a 401K or IRA now so that you can retire comfortably and take advantage of those golden years. The more time you give yourself to save, the more you’ll have built up!
Try the escargot. And by “try the escargot,” we mean try the things that scare you. As far as we know, we each get to live once. You might as well go skydiving, take that backpacking adventure through South America, pursue that lofty management position with all you’ve got, and ask that cute guy at the coffee shop if he has any plans for the weekend. In the future, you’ll regret more of what you didn’t do than what you did do. We promise.
Slather on the sunscreen. The sun’s ultraviolet rays are no joke; they can take quite a toll on your skin, resulting in wrinkles, age spots, and in the worst case scenario, deadly melanoma. It’s important to protect your skin each and every day, not just on sunny summer days at the beach. Head to your local drug store and find a face moisturizer with sunblock and make it a part of your daily routine. As much as we all love that naturally bronzed look, I think we can all agree that it is not worth risking your skin or your life over.
Stay connected (to the right people). In a world in which most of us have over a thousand “friends” on Facebook, it’s easy to quit genuinely connecting with people one-on-one. Some of those “friends” should probably be deleted out of your life forever (are you really going to strike up a conversation with your middle school boyfriend anytime soon?). On the other hand, some of your friends deserve more than a “like” on their most recent status. Take the time to send a personal message to a childhood friend you’ve lost touch with, call a girlfriend up for a long-overdue gossip session, or even send them a letter through snail mail. As the song goes, “make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold”. Take the time to cultivate meaningful relationships offline, but don’t feel bad if you need to simplify your friends list a little bit.
What about you, twenty-somethings? What are you doing that will positively impact your life in the future? Share in the comments below!