Self-improvement is one of my favorite things. But I wasn’t always like that. In fact, for a long time, I didn’t care if I got better at things or even how my life would look like in the future.
I was content with living from paycheck to paycheck and coasting through life with as little friction as possible.
And that’s why I’m writing this letter to my past self. The things I know now that would have helped me in my teens, twenties, and even thirties.
The things that I should have started years ago to get ahead of everyone else in 5 years.
1) Set up a budget, start saving, and invest to build financial stability
First of all, you’re all over the place with your money. You need to start saving ASAP. It doesn’t matter how much or how little money you have in your wallet.
The time is now! The compound effect is your greatest companion in life. Start appreciating it.
So, set up a budget, save, and invest because these are crucial steps toward reaching financial stability.
If you’re smart, you’ll start learning about the FIRE movement so you can reap the benefits later in life.
But, as a baseline, start understanding your finances and planning for the future now. This will give you peace of mind and let you focus on your life without financial stress.
Because you don’t have the chops to do this by yourself in a smart way, consult a financial advisor to tailor a plan that aligns with your goals.
I’ve talked to them, and believe me – they don’t bite.
2) Develop a consistent exercise routine and adopt a healthy diet
You’ve always had an on-again, off-again relationship with exercising and eating healthy. That’s why you’ll probably develop major health problems in the future if you don’t commit to this NOW.
Once and for all, develop a consistent exercise routine and adopt a healthy diet. Living a healthy lifestyle can boost your energy, thinking skills, and ability to handle stress, which improves your performance.
Prioritizing self-care is not only a personal investment but also a strategic move to ensure sustained success in your career and life in general.
That’s why, yet again, I recommend investing in a personal trainer who can help you with both exercising and eating healthier.
But, most importantly, they will make you accountable so you don’t fall off the wagon again.
3) Identify key skills in your industry and commit to learning or improving one each month
Adrian, this is a mouthful, but once you break it down, it’s not so hard. You simply need to pinpoint the most important skills in your industry and decide to learn or improve them on a regular basis.
This means taking online courses, attending workshops, or participating in hands-on projects.
If you keep learning new skills, you’ll be valuable and adaptable in your field. This will make you more competitive.
But perhaps even better, start something hands-on to gain practical knowledge.
4) Start a side project to gain hands-on experience
Diving into side projects linked to your interests or career goals is a direct way to apply your skills.
I’d start by making a personal website, contributing to open-source projects, and starting a small business.
By making these efforts, you can show off your skills and gain valuable insights and experiences. This can help you stand out from others.
These skills also look great on a CV.
But more importantly, once you get a taste for entrepreneurship, you’ll open up a whole new world for yourself.
Trust me, once you start working for yourself, you won’t go back to work for others. That being said, don’t fret if things go wrong sometimes. Learn from them.
Plus, with the skills you’ll learn, you’ll be able to bounce back in no time.
5) Enroll in online courses or workshops
One of the best things you can start right now that will put you way ahead of everyone else in 5 years is to expand your knowledge.
Online courses can be expensive but also give a lot in return.
But enrolling in online courses or workshops goes beyond just acquiring certifications; it’s about staying ahead of industry trends and gaining practical knowledge.
Take these courses to learn more about specific topics, new tools and technologies, and the latest developments in your field.
If you learned touch typing then, I wouldn’t have to do it now. The same goes for videography, public speaking, and other things on this list.
6) Develop a strong social media presence
To get ahead, use social media to show off your accomplishments and connect with others in your field.
Yes, your two cats are awesome, and you know I love them to death, but you don’t have to share their pictures every day.
If you build a well-thought-out online presence, you will attract opportunities, collaborations, and even industry recognition.
Listen, I know you hate LinkedIn, and that won’t change in the future. Still, your LinkedIn profile is a dynamic reflection of your journey. The same goes for X, I mean Twitter (it’s a long story).
Regularly update it with your latest achievements, skills, and professional photos to improve your online presence.
Staying on recruiters’ radar and connecting with professionals who share your interests can open doors to partnerships and prospects.
Engage with others and share valuable content as a priority to establish yourself as a credible and influential professional.
It’s as easy as that.
7) Expand your network
Alright, I know networking was never your forte, and your people skills aren’t that good.
Still, actively partaking in events, conferences, or meetups will give you the perfect opportunity to connect with like-minded people.
And remember, meaningful connections often come from genuine conversations and a willingness to share experiences. Don’t be afraid to open up and talk to others.
8) Improve your public speaking skills
Look, I know you’re an introvert, and you hate public speaking and being on camera. But many successful people are introverts just like you, or even worse.
If you want to get ahead, think about joining a public speaking group. Otherwise, start a YouTube channel to become more comfortable on camera.
Both of these will improve your communication skills. You have to learn to be more comfortable expressing your ideas in public.
This will boost your confidence and visibility in your industry. You also become an asset.
9) Find a mentor
Another easy thing I want you to do is to find a mentor. They’ll be invaluable for accountability and guidance.
A mentor can offer insights based on their own experiences, help you navigate challenges, and provide constructive feedback.
Building a mentorship is a two-way street. You must be open to advice and willing to learn from their experience.
10) Read regularly
I know how much you love reading so don’t stop. Don’t stop even as your attention span gets much, much worse, and reading through 10 pages of a book becomes a pain.
You’re in the same boat as everyone else, but to get ahead of them, you can’t stop learning.
Dedicate time to reading industry-related books, articles, and blogs to stay informed. This habit not only keeps you updated on the latest trends but also exposes you to diverse perspectives and innovative ideas.
By reading regularly, you can expand your knowledge and make better decisions in life.
11) Offer your skills and time to volunteer
We all know you can be lazy when it comes to volunteering and helping others. But I’m here to tell you that real fulfillment comes from helping others and not being focused solely on yourself.
Offering your skills and time to volunteer for projects or organizations adds a meaningful dimension to your life.
Volunteering not only allows you to contribute to causes you care about but also reveals your commitment to making a positive impact.
12) Get feedback from peers or mentors to identify areas for improvement
And lastly, I know you don’t respond well to criticism. Even when it’s constructive, and someone’s looking to help you.
But, believe it or not, you’re not the smartest person at all times and in all situations.
So, actively seeking feedback from colleagues or mentors gives you valuable insights into your strengths and areas for improvement.
Constructive feedback is a catalyst for personal and professional growth. You’ll refine your skills and enhance your performance.
Embrace feedback as a tool for self-improvement, demonstrating your commitment to continuous development.
Staying or even getting ahead of everyone else in 5 years isn’t easy, but it’s also not especially hard.
Little things do add up if you do them consistently. Just think of your why and who’s the person you want to be in 5-10 years.