Many of us have habits we do every day and barely think of: they just come naturally.
And not all of them are positive or helpful.
But by consciously changing our habits and developing empowering, proactive habits, we can launch our life forward at warp speed.
Here are the top 15 little habits to start doing now to be ahead of everyone else in 10 years.
The first five are to optimize your long-term physical wellbeing, the next five habits are to optimize your long-term mental wellbeing and the last five are to optimize your long-term emotional wellbeing.
Practice these habits and your life will progress in ways you formerly only dreamed about.
1. Save a bit of money
With inflation hitting harder than ever and the job market continuing to be uncertain, one thing you can continue to count on is economic instability.
If it’s at all possible for you to save even a little bit of money, this is a habit you should cultivate.
It will ensure you have the food, shelter and physical well-being to care for yourself and those you love if times get hard.
In one month you may save only $610. But over 10 years that can make a massive difference ($73,200), especially if it’s invested wisely.
The best daily habit to practice for saving money is to divide your available monthly income into categories in what’s known as the “envelope budget” method.
Put money in various necessity categories and keep track of the amount available for things like groceries, gas, bus passes, medications, utilities, clothes, going out and emergencies.
Once that money is gone, it’s gone.
This should leave you with a minimum monthly amount you can depend on to save, barring emergencies or unexpected and non-optional expenses.
In this way you can know what you’ll save and begin to get out of the mire of debt and having no savings that plagues so many people.
2. Cook at home when possible
One of the best little habits to start doing now to be ahead of everyone else in 10 years is to start cooking at home as much as possible.
This not only helps to save money, it also ensures you have a healthier diet and can choose what you eat.
It also increases your self-discipline and gets you in the daily habit of looking after yourself.
If you’re in a relationship or marriage and one or both of you assumes responsibility for cooking duties, ensure that you talk over your diet for the coming weeks and months ahead of time.
3. Exercise on a daily basis
Modern life is full of opportunities to be lazy.
For one thing, an increasing number of people work from home or work on a computer.
For another thing, many of the tasks that used to keep our ancestors active, from chopping firewood to washing clothes with a washboard, are no longer necessary.
Technology is a great blessing in many ways, to be sure. But it provides many chances to automate what used to be manual.
That’s why exercise needs to be a conscious choice and commitment.
It needs to become a daily habit.
You don’t need to become a powerlifter or get deep into health and fitness.
Make a commitment to do 25 minutes of cardio a day from walking, jogging or exercising at home.
If you do workouts as well, great.
But make that 25 minutes your daily habit in the form that’s best for you.
Maybe it’s jogging, tennis, swimming, weightlifting, volleyball, biking or something else physically engaging.
Find a daily habit, or switch up your activity day by day. But put in that 25 minutes!
4. Sleep well and get enough rest
Sleep is one of those things many of us don’t spend a lot of time thinking about.
We know that it’s important to sleep and rest, but we often find our sleeping schedule becoming irregular or unpredictable.
One of the crucial little habits to start doing now to be ahead of everyone else in 10 years is to get enough sleep every day and sleep well.
The best way to ensure that is to have a quiet, comfortable bedroom and not eat right before bed.
It’s also to ensure that you’ve had an active day and are physically tired.
The amount of sleep you should be getting depends on your age bracket.
Babies up to several years old may sleep for 14 to 16 hours a day. This sleep requirement decreases somewhat, with teens up to 18 needing 8 to 10 hours a night and adults needing a recommended 7 hours.
Significantly oversleeping or undersleeping is bad for your health and can become a very bad habit.
“For adults, getting less than seven hours of sleep a night on a regular basis has been linked with poor health, including weight gain, having a body mass index of 30 or higher, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and depression.”
5. Cut down sugar and get enough H2O daily
Consuming too much sugar is poison for your body.
Not only does it lead to heart disease and diabetes, it also leads to problems in all areas of your energy, gland degeneration and weight.
Reducing the amount of sugar you consume is a matter of looking at ingredients, but it’s also a matter of small habits that are easy to do.
Less adding sugar to tea and coffee, less processed foods and cutting out soft drinks and sweetened juice.
You should also make a daily habit of drinking at least 16 cups of water or liquids per day if you’re a man and 12 a day if you’re a woman.
“Getting the proper amount of water is extremely important as every cell, tissue, and organ in our bodies needs water,” notes David Buice.
6. Take tech breaks away from your devices
Your long-term mental wellbeing isn’t something to take for granted.
With people now having the average attention span of a goldfish, there’s clearly something wrong, and a big part of it is mobile devices and screen addiction.
Smartphone addiction and technology reliance is becoming a serious concern.
If you find that it’s difficult to spend even five minutes away from your smartphone, you have a problem.
That’s nothing to be ashamed of, but it is something to address.
Cultivate the daily habit of spending at least an hour per day away from your phone or electronic devices like laptops, ipads and other devices.
Enjoy relaxation and enjoyable moments without needing to take a photo for social media or ask your friend what they’re doing tomorrow.
Practice just being OK being with yourself with any outside stimulation.
“The digital world, as much as it enhances our lives, can take away our present moments and allows us to miss what’s really going on around us,” observes Leon Ho.
Which brings me to the next point…
7. Practice meditation to find your center
In the mental well-being category, another of the little habits to start doing now to be ahead of everyone else in 10 years is practicing daily meditation.
Even for just 15 minutes per day, meditation is an excellent way to clear your mind and become mindful of a still, small center of yourself that remains calm in the storm.
Combine this with the tech break I advise doing daily in tip four.
Have a habit of meditating.
Combine it with a walk or with sitting out in nature if possible.
If you live in a cold climate or prefer to remain indoors, sit in a comfortable chair or on the floor on a cushion and quiet your mind, focus on your breathing and set a timer 15 minutes.
Let the thoughts and emotions come and go as you just follow your inhalation and exhalation.
An excellent way to meditate is to practice breathwork. There’s a free breathwork video training here.
8. Make a habit of connecting at least once a day with those around you
It’s easy these days to just stay inside with your computer and shut the world away.
The pandemic only made that worse, and mental health statistics reflect a growing crisis with anxiety and depression.
That’s why one of the daily habits which will enormously boost your wellbeing is to try to connect at least once a day with someone around you.
Do it in person, and don’t stress yourself out by thinking of it as a big endeavor.
It may be something small like asking the cashier how her day is going at the pharmacy or connecting with a guy walking his dog at the park and asking him about his dog.
Just do your best to connect on at least the most basic of levels every day.
It will leave you feeling a lot more connected to the world.
9. Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want
Another of the key little habits to start doing now to be ahead of everyone else in 10 years is to focus on what you want.
Deal with problems and challenges as they come up, but consider them barriers to overcome rather than over-analyzing them.
Keep your goals firmly in mind whenever possible and try to live by your values whenever you can.
By focusing more on what you want than what you don’t want, your mind begins to be shaped almost like a muscle.
It reflexively begins to avoid the victim mentality and negativity and instead focuses on empowerment and action.
10. Develop and hone your critical thinking
The next of the little habits to start doing now to be ahead of everyone else in 10 years is to develop and hone your critical thinking.
This is the practice of questioning and examining your own beliefs and assumptions as well as those you find around you.
Critical thinking is basically the ability to look at issues from various sides instead of only responding emotionally or tribally.
When you routinely try to engage in critical thinking on a daily basis, you set your mind up for much more resilience and a richer emotional life down the road.
11. Make yourself the hero of your own story
Now we get to the most important emotional habits that can help you be ahead of everyone in 10 years.
The first is to make yourself the hero of your own story.
Practice the daily small habit of thinking of yourself as a protagonist and hero in a story that you’re writing.
You’ve had challenges, setbacks, made mistakes and had near misses. You’ve wondered why any of this is happening at all and maybe even gotten into a habit of thinking negatively or nihilistically…
But it’s all happening for a reason:
It’s all part of your self-actualization, finding the right person and a meaningful journey.
12. Make a habit of forgiving and forgetting the small stuff
A hundred small annoyances happen every day, from being asked to do favors you don’t want to do, to dealing with rude drivers in traffic.
These are the kinds of issues which can really weigh on you and ruin a day or a week.
Get in the small habit of just letting it go.
Stand up for yourself, of course, and stay safe. But practice the habit of releasing that frustrated and angry energy.
Push a few deep breaths out after a bit of stress and just keep right on keeping on. You got this.
13. Allow yourself to feel bad at times
That brings up the next point about emotional wellness.
One of the key little habits to start doing now to be ahead of everyone else in 10 years is to allow yourself to feel bad at times.
When life and other people hit us with true disappointment, tragedy and alienation, it’s not always possible to feel great or remain goal-oriented.
Think of some times as down time when you get in touch with your anger, frustration, sadness, guilt and other emotions…
Don’t beat yourself up for feeling these. They are part of your journey and they are house guests who may be clearing the way for other visitors who are also on the way.
14. Be willing to embrace your own individuality
Practice daily habits that reinforce your own individuality.
This can be as small as drinking the blend of coffee that you love all the way to dressing in your own unique style and having unusual friends and acquaintances.
Don’t be ashamed to be you.
Practice the habit of knowing that you are valid and unique and you have the right to live your life in a way that’s true to you.
15. Be open to embracing your own commonality
Last and very importantly in the little habits to start doing now to be ahead of everyone else in 10 years is to embrace your commonality.
At the same time as you are undoubtedly unique and should strive to be more so, you also share a part in the grander human story.
You’ve had similar emotions to what I’ve had, we may have even experienced some very similar setbacks.
Practice the habit of not self-isolating in your pain or considering it “special.” While you may have problems and challenges many might not grasp, many others might be able to.
Cultivate an attitude of what you have in common with others and the experiences we all share.
Ten years from now
Picture this. You’re the captain of your very own ship, standing confidently at the helm, the salty sea breeze swirling through your hair. The horizon stretches out as far as the eye can see, and while whispers of a brewing storm reach your ears, there’s an unflappable glint in your eyes.
After all, your ship isn’t just any ship. It’s a vessel borne out of the sweat, grit, and determination of the small, daily habits you’ve cultivated over the years. Habits that have shaped you, not just into an everyday sailor, but into a fearless seafarer ready to navigate the seas of uncertainty.
Fast forward to ten years from now. You’ve turned into a seasoned captain, prepared for whatever storm may come your way. The provisions you’ve packed represent the little bits of savings you’ve consciously put aside every month. Each dollar is a granule of security, a lifeline that ensures you’re well-equipped to brave the tides of economic instability.
Your ship is robust, powered by the energy derived from wholesome home-cooked meals, daily exercise, and sufficient rest, all part of the regimen you adopted in your day-to-day life. You learned to balance the sweetness of life by cutting down on sugar, replacing it with the purity of ample hydration.
The crew aboard your ship, the relationships you’ve nurtured, were carefully chosen. While you did take occasional breaks from the constant hum of technology, you also used it to your advantage, creating deep, meaningful connections with those around you.
On this ship, you’ve set a unique course, one where you’ve anchored your mind in positive, goal-oriented thoughts, allowing for clearer navigation. The sails that billow above are stitched together with threads of critical thinking, enabling you to weather gusts of misinformation and bias.
But, what truly sets your journey apart is the way you’ve weaved your narrative. You’re not just a sailor; you’re the hero of your own epic. Each day, you chose to let go of minor hiccups, acknowledging that it was okay to feel low sometimes. You embraced your individuality and accepted your commonality with others, learning from shared experiences and diverse perspectives.
So, when you picture yourself ten years from now, see the seasoned captain ready to weather any storm. The horizon may seem distant, but you know you’re moving forward, focused on the sunlit shores that await you. You’re not just surviving; you’re thriving, exploring, and discovering. And you’re not adrift on the sea of life, but charting your own course towards your grandest dreams. Remember, fellow sailor, this is not a mere imagination; it is your destiny shaped by the habits you choose to cultivate today. So, hoist the sails and let the voyage of a lifetime begin!