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9 Habit Changes Successful People Make Before They’re 40

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, and there are plenty of great web resources too.

Over on Twitter, the annual #Stoptober campaign 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.

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.

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, 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” 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. 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, 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 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, 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, 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 if you do it just once a day.

6. Start Keeping a Journal

Journaling is a simple habit to rocket your productivity, 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.

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.

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.

Don’t just save money, also get rid of your debts alongside. Keeping a visual reminder of your debts is a good habit to stop you from spending money frivolously.

And of course, like always, there are apps and websites to save money.

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.

Matthew has written a fantastic guide on achieving goals through the Theory of Change, 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 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, 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?

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