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9 Habit Changes Successful People Make Before They’re 40

Mihir Patkar 13-11-2015

Your teens are for discovery and experimentation. Your 20s are to figure out who you are. Your 30s is the time to form a platform for the rest of your life, otherwise it’s going to get too late.


Recently, Business Insider compiled a list of nine things people should change in their lifestyle to set up a life of success once the 40s come around. The data comes from business advisors, medical studies, articles, and user submissions. It’s not a “who’s who” list, but the advice is solid enough.

We look at how you can use technology with your proactiveness to make these changes slightly easier.

1. Stop Smoking


Why is it so important to kick the butt before you get to the big four-o? Research shows that those who quit smoking before 40 have a 90% lower mortality risk than those who continue.

Death is a pretty good reason, right?


The good news is that technology is a great aid in your quest to stop smoking forever. The right apps can make your smartphone an aid in kicking the habit Your Smartphone Will Help You Kick The Habit: Quit Smoking With These Apps There is nothing easy about quitting smoking. Just like any addiction, it can take over your mind and make it next to impossible to move on with your life and kick the habit. Whether you... Read More , and there are plenty of great web resources too Quit Smoking By Yourself With These 5 Websites Quitting smoking will change your life and could potentially save it too. Unfortunately it's easier said than done. Cigarettes are highly addictive, which is why quitting tends to involve a process rather than just suddenly... Read More .

Over on Twitter, the annual #Stoptober campaign Taking Part in Stoptober? Five Places To Go For Help If you can quit smoking for 28 days, you're more likely to give it up for good, but it's tough. So what should you do when you're struggling to stay smoke-free? Read More is a good way to quit in a group, helping others and getting help along the way. It’s just one of the many ways to find an online support group for your addiction How To Find An Online Community To Support Your New Year Resolutions You've made a great resolution, and you're ready to stick to it in 2015 . . . now what? Set yourself up for success by finding an online community to help meet your goals this... Read More .

2. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others


Envy can be a motivator early on in your life, but it’s an unhealthy one. Step out of its ugly shadow and find your inner passion and motivation, rather than comparing yourself to what others are achieving.


Unfortunately, we live in an age where it’s easier than ever to compare your achievements with those of others, thanks to social networks like Facebook. But that’s the thing, such Facebook envy is spreading sadness and depression Facebook Makes You Sad, and "It Won't Happen to Me" is a Lie Facebook's potential as a trigger for depressive symptoms has been talked about in the past too, but this year has seen more of such studies than before. Here's what they say. Read More .

Don’t lie to yourself and think you’re immune. Recognize that it can happen to you and be prepared to fight it.

The biggest thing is to realize that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social shares are a “highlight reel” of that person’s life. That person goes through the same struggles you do, maybe even worse, but you concentrate on the one positive they have posted instead of recognizing the whole picture — and that makes you think they’re leading a more fulfilled life, when they are probably struggling just like you are.

Instead, work on regaining your motivation Programming Burnout: How to Regain Your Lost Motivation Feeling tired of programming? Suffering burnout and can't see a way out? Here's how to begin regaining your motivation to code. Read More , it’s a better, healthier long-term lifestyle solution.


3. Stop Trying to Satisfy Everyone


The most transformational lifestyle choice is also the hardest. Learning to say “No” is hard, it requires you to cut connections and live with not satisfying everyone, even earning their ire or severing ties. But it’s an essential step towards success.

Entrepreneur and writer James Altucher’s short presentation on 12 Things to Say “No” To Today is a great introduction. And if you like what you see, pick up his book, The Power Of No.

Business Insider recommends starting with something smaller, like culling your social networks. Play a game of “Block, Mute, Unfollow” Spring Clean Your Twitter With A Game Of 'Block, Mute, Unfollow' [Weird & Wonderful Web] It's time to play a game. It isn't one you'll be familiar with, because we've just invented it to give you an entertaining excuse for spring cleaning your Twitter. Read More to whittle down your list to only those people who you truly want to hear from.


4. Start Sticking to a Sleep Routine


You’re not a kid any more, and whether your body is telling you this already or not, you need to get more sleep. Sleep is critical to success How Can Sleep Help You Become More Successful? Read More . Going without sleep for a single night causes changes in the brain that are similar to a knock in the head.

A while back, James tested apps that help you sleep better Can An App Really Help You Sleep Better? I've always been a bit of a sleep experimenter, having for much of my life kept a meticulous dream diary and studied as much as I could about sleeping in the process. There are a... Read More , and found a remarkable improvement. He wrote,

“In good conditions, I found that 9 times out of 10 SleepCycle would do as promised, waking me up feeling refreshed. It’s difficult to convey how incredible that feels, but your life will be better for it.”

Download: SleepCycle for iOS ($0.99)

Download: Sleep as Android for Android (Free to try, $2.97 to unlock)

While you’re at it, you might want to filter your phone’s blue light What Is a Blue Light Filter and Which App Works Best? These blue light filter apps for Android will help you get a better night's sleep, even when using your device at night. Read More to get something less distracting in the dark, so you can get a better night’s sleep.

5. Start Exercising Regularly


If you take care of your body, you’ll find it much easier to take care of your dreams and ambitions. As we age, our body deteriorates. Regular exercise is vital for staying fit, which is crucial to chasing your goals.

In my recent weight loss and exercise regimen, I made some discoveries about the role of technology in staying healthy The Unexpected Lessons My Daily Exercise Habits Taught Me For beginners, exercise and fitness apps are a distraction. It gets confusing when the health habit is so intertwined with gadgets. These discoveries and lessons might help you make better choices. Read More , so if you’re setting up a new healthy lifestyle, I would strongly urge you to read that.

You might also want to track your health and fitness with Excel sheets 10 Excel Templates To Track Your Health and Fitness Read More , so that you can see the progress you are making. And in case you’re blaming a lack of time, well, the 7-minute workout will get you into shape Use Free 7 Minute Workout Videos To Get Into Shape [Stuff to Watch] There are lots of YouTube videos that can show you exactly how your workouts should be going, and they won't cost you a penny. Read More if you do it just once a day.

6. Start Keeping a Journal


Journaling is a simple habit to rocket your productivity Start this Simple Habit to Rocket Your Productivity: Journaling Journaling is an underrated career tool and a core habit of many successful people. From increasing productivity, to maintaining accountability, we explore why you should consider introducing journaling as a productivity tool into your workday. Read More , but so few of us do it. It seems silly to write a diary as a grown adult, until you realize that’s exactly what you have been doing through your Facebook updates and Foursquare check-ins and Twitter musings.

A journal will help you reflect on the positive notes of any day, which puts you in a good frame of mind and cultivates a healthy attitude to tackle stressful moments. Plus, it’s pretty easy to incorporate this habit. Our resident journaling expert, Bakari, says you can start a journaling habit in just 30 days Start A Digital Journaling Habit With A 30-Day Challenge One useful path to personal self-improvement is through keeping a journal. But this approach requires journal writing to become a habit. A journaling challenge could be the push you need to just begin. Read More .

Apps like Day One for Mac and iOS, and Journey for Android and Chrome, are all the tools you need. To learn more, read Bakari’s beginner’s guide to digital journaling The Beginner's Guide to Digital Journaling  Maintaining a private journal is a great way to build your writing skills, spill out your thoughts, desires, worries, and reflections on paper. The very act of writing itself can often help you think through... Read More .

7. Start Saving Money


Those easy-spending ways need to come to a halt now. Savings are ignored when you’re young, but as Business Insider puts it,

“The power of compound interest means that starting as early as possible is the best thing you can do.”

If you’re new to the idea of saving money, then try out EveryDollar, which suggest seven baby steps to start saving and budgeting 7 Baby Steps to Finally Start Saving and Budgeting Your Money with EveryDollar EveryDollar is made by personal finance guru Dave Ramsey. We look at how it can help get your finances on the right track. Read More .

Don’t just save money, also get rid of your debts alongside. Keeping a visual reminder of your debts How To Start Saving Money And Stop Spending With 4 Easy Habits One of the top new year resolutions on many people's lists is to spend less and save more. It's easier said than done, but you can still rely on several apps and tools to help... Read More is a good habit to stop you from spending money frivolously.

And of course, like always, there are apps and websites to save money 4 Ways You Can Save Money With Apps and Websites It's vital to have enough money in your savings accounts. Take the first steps to financial security by using these apps and websites. Read More .

8. Start Pursuing a Dream


You need to define “success” to achieve it. Figure out one specific life goal and start pursuing it, chalking out all the things you can do in the next 12 months to get closer to it.

That goal can be anything from “Buy my own plane and travel the world” to “Retire by 40”. Make it big enough but not unrealistic. Just avoid the five critical mistakes in goal-setting 5 Critical Mistakes To Avoid When Setting Goals Goal setting is a great way to cut down on procrastination and boost productivity. If you don’t have goals, you don’t have direction. Without direction, it’s easy for you to feel lost and confused. Fortunately,... Read More .

Matthew has written a fantastic guide on achieving goals through the Theory of Change How the Theory of Change Can Help You Achieve Your Goals The inherent problem with goals is they're all about the 'what', and not the 'how'. The Theory of Change helps you to define a goal and work out the steps needed to accomplish it Read More , where he explains this concept of goal-defining and how its inherent flexibility helps in reaching your goal even when the method changes.

Alternately, if you’re sure about your goal and your methods to get there, then Saikat’s guide to create a vision board on Trello How to Create a Vision Board and Meet Your Big Goals You can call them as big rocks or big, hairy, audacious goals. Some call it a bucket list. Emptying that bucket calls for action. This is where a visual tool like Trello proves useful. Read More is the perfect “small steps, big rewards” path to achieving your targets.

9. Start Forgiving Yourself


Success is about the process of learning from your mistakes and failures, and not dwelling too long on them or beating yourself up. You need to learn the art of self-compassion and forgive yourself, to be able to move on and achieve better things.

Meditation is the best way to learn self-compassion and forgiveness. Stop, Breathe and Think, a fantastic free meditation app for Web, Android and iOS Learn Meditation On Any Device & Don't Spend A Dime Contrary to popular opinion, you can meditate without a yoga mat, religious guidance, a peaceful personal space, incense candles, and any other apparatus. Here's a simple tool to help you begin. Read More , actually offers exercises specifically for this, such as Gratitude, and Commonality of Suffering.

What’s Your “Start Now” Success Tip?

Ultimately, all these changes are about setting up routines for a habit change. You don’t have to wait for the “in-between” decade of your life to start them. Start early.

Apart from these nine lifestyle changes, what one single tip do you think people need to start doing as soon as possible, to set themselves up for success later in life?

Image Credit: happy young man by Iakov Kalinin via Shutterstock

Related topics: Fitness, Habits, Health, Motivation, Personal Finance.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Blue Sky
    November 13, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    Start eating better! ; )

  2. MaryonJeane
    November 13, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    Random thoughts generated by this article on a Friday 13th:

    - Research has established that people are more likely to make significant life changes in the year preceding any birthday beginning with a nought (including, of course, suicide...)

    - Saving money is all very well in theory, but given inflation, bank failures and skulduggery, continuous plundering of pension pots and all uncertainty generally, what about 'money for hyacinths' and giving no thought for the morrow ("they toil not, neither do they spin" and all that jazz)?

    - Stop comparing yourself with others, yes - but also come down heavily on others who do that comparison for you, continually (and this mandate is particularly important for women)

    - Ditto re saying 'No' (often difficult for women to say, particularly in a strong voice with no palliative ("not really", "thanks all the same", "I don't think so" etc.))

    - "Forgive yourself" is never going to be an easy one: some people will feel guilt all their lives for things for which they never had responsibility (for example many victims of abuse); some people wouldn't recognise guilt (or even responsibility...) if it came up and introduced itself; "Get to know and like yourself well enough" might be a touch more achievable

    - 'You've got to have a dream/If you don't have a dream/How you gonna have a dream come true?'; if you're not one of those people who from early childhood always wanted to join the police, win an Olympic medal, change the way the world sees Pointillism or design a new plastic bucket, then finding your dream might in itself be a lifetime's job - does that matter (It is better to travel hopefully...')?

    - Ages and stages can never mean a lot when some people's live are destined to be two minutes, some twenty-four years, and some a hundred and twenty-two; if you want to leave school at sixteen and learn how to be a farmer, is that better than staying in education until you're nearly thirty and becoming an architect? Does the position change if you know you're only going to live until you're sixty-three?

    - 'Start now' tip? Maybe reassessing as you go? "Who am I?" isn't just a question for the angst- and booze-ridden nights of adolescence, it's one you should ask of yourself all through your life, particularly at any time you make a major decision. Always taking a look at yourself from the outside helps as well - just like you do with your house when you've got people coming to stay; look with an outsider's eye. 'This above all, to thine own self be true/And it must follow, as the night the day/Thou canst not then be false to any man' (or woman, of course...)

    Oh grief, it's the end of the working day on a Friday; definitely time to reassess...

  3. Anonymous
    November 13, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    I'll let you know if any of this crap works in 25 days.