Life moves pretty fast so you better plan ahead so that you are not caught off guard when the rest of the world is struggling and clawing simply to keep up you can win because you are already ahead of the game. These ten things can make all of the difference five years from now.
Pay off debts
Debt makes slaves of us all. While you may or may not be able to pay off your house in the next five years, you can get rid of all commercial debt. Pay off your credit cards and any other debts that you might owe. But to pull this off you need a plan. Experts recommend that you pay the balance on all of your debts. Then take the lowest debt and pay extra on it until it is paid off. Once you have it paid off take the entire amount of that payment and apply it to the next lowest debt. Using this system and staying focused on not creating more debt you can get yourself out of debt. By the way, if you can pay off your home that is a great investment as well. Look at home improvements as investments and be deliberate in how you care for you home even if you don’t plan on selling in the near future.
Starting a habit of healthy eating can pay big dividends in the future. It may start out simple. Skip out on 2nd dessert. You know that extra bowl of ice cream or piece of cake that you indulge in after the kids go to bed. That one habit can get you started toward better health. However, don’t stop there. Push on toward cutting desserts and sugary snacks down to special occasions. Be careful how you define special occasions of course. What I am talking about is birthdays and anniversaries. My kids used to want to have birthday parties for all of their stuffed animals for an excuse to have cake. Adults do similar things. The point is to quit medicating your emotional pain with junk food. While you can have ice cream or cake once in awhile you need to cut back. Once you have that under control it is a good to add fruits and vegetables to your standard meals. You know the standards and what is needed. Get to it.
There is something about the exercise of reading that is calming and encouraging. New ideas come to life in your head in a way that video and conferences alone can never achieve. Take time to read anything and everything. It does not take much to become a subject matter expert. Most experts seem to indicate that if you read five books on any one topic that you know more than 90% of the world on that topic. I don’t know if you want to put that on a resume but why not? The payment in knowledge and expertise in your field will definitely pay off in the future.
Establish habit of exercise
You find time to watch TV and to scan Facebook. Chip away at those time wasters and apply that time toward your physical health. Studies are showing the emotional and mental help that this can provide. Some of my best ideas and the most creative solutions to problems have happened during a run or while splitting wood. When you make a habit of these things you are building muscle that will enable you to still be able to play with grand kids someday or run a senior marathon. Old warriors continue to be warriors because they have taken care of their bodies and minds. Establish this habit and reap the benefits over time.
Go back to school
Most people go to school simply with the idea of getting a better job or a promotion. What would happen though it you took some classes with the simple idea of learning and having fun? The opportunities for true education would blossom. Check out a local community college or look up lectures or other learning opportunities and find out something new. Visit a museum and study something specific. You needn’t take many classes your purpose is not in getting a degree but instead to simply learn. How much do you know about the history of the city that you live in? Who lived there before your ancestors? What famous people passed through your city? Taking classes and taking the opportunity to learn is exciting and fun and can reap benefits. When you learn things you become a more interesting person. Focus for the next five years on some area and become wise beyond your years.
Be deliberate about making friends. You can join a civic club or church or simply go out away from work with interesting co-workers. Friendships are critical for long term health. These are the people who will energize you and inspire you to greater versions of yourself. Choose carefully that you are not making friends with naysayers or others who will suck life out of you. A good friendship is one that will breathe life into you and that you can breathe into them. Search out people with similar passions but more importantly a passion for personal growth. The proverb that says that iron sharpens iron holds true.
Take up a hobby
Work takes up most of our lives and thoughts. We must find an enjoyable escape if we hope to grow and prosper. Find a hobby that you love. It might be an indoor hobby like stamp collecting or map studies but could also be a sport or horseback riding. Simply find something different than your work day life to inspire you and help you to exercise your whole mind and spirit.
Join a club
There are many different types of clubs out there mostly named after animals. But there are also professional development clubs like Toastmasters that will force you to develop professionally. However, any club that you join will enable you to practice leadership and people skills as well as give you a healthy social outlet. Too many people in our nation are stuck in the TV all evening club. When that happens it becomes very easy to become cynical. When you join a club you are likely to find others who are passionate about different issues and you may even totally disagree with them, but you will find that they are human.
Learn a new skill
Taking the time to learn a new skill without the stress of emergencies is great and carries great benefits. What if you took the time to learn about plumbing by attending the workshops that are offered at the box stores? If you can learn plumbing when there is no leaky pipe in your home WHEN it does happen you can fix it without losing your mind. Other skills can come in handy just as often.
Set goals Of course! Think of what and who you want to be five years from now. Consider who you need to be and what you need to do to make that true. Put your plan in action.
Overall the point is to live life on purpose. Get up each day and have a plan. Focus your growth and never surrender to the whims of laziness. If you can overcome our propensity to hold on to the status quo and letting sleeping dogs lie you can have a more successful future than you ever dreamed of, but only if you begin today.