Posted October 01, 2015
That's me and my sister and a family friend coloring on our deck in Lake Orion, Michigan....
I've been making a mental list - not sure why - of things to do while you're still young. Many of the items on the list are bad habits that, once broken, will reduce the stress in our lives. Many of them are things I wish I'd conquered when I was young. When you're older (I'm 42) it seems like everything is easier to deal with when you're young (like, 22). Here's my working list - what would you add?
Things to Do While You're Still Young
1) Get sober. I can think of ten people off the top of my head who have died young from health problems related to alcohol and drugs. Half of them were in my own family and not a single one of them died in a car accident. Chronic drug and alcohol use hardens the arteries, damages nerves, and generally makes your life miserable. Did you know that poor people are more likely to get clean than other socio-economic groups? That's because they hit "rock bottom" much earlier while other folks have families that support and protect a user's addiction by giving them money, bailing them out of jail, and so on. Think about it.
2) Find a good therapist, support group, read and journal so you can deal with your "issues." Your childhood experience forms so much of how you approach adult life. Find out what makes you tick and make adjustments if needed. Therapy is expensive, but if you start young - you still have time to make changes before you make too many mistakes.
3) Quit smoking. You'll save your health and, literally, thousands of dollars. I quit aged 25 on "the patch." It's not easy. But it can be done.
4)) Replace fat with lean muscle tissue - through strength training and cardio. It's so much easier to lose 15 pounds when you're 25 than it is at 45. At 42, I don't exercise to look good, I exercise to stay strong. If I look better as a result? That's great. But my first goal is to keep my body in condition for whatever life throws at me.
5) If you're going to get divorced, do it early and/or young. If you can possibly help it, don't have kids with the "wrong" person because you think it might help a bad relationship. Don't hang around for ten years hoping it will get better. Either commit to working on it with a therapist or commit to making the painful decisions that will ultimately lead to greater peace and happiness.
6) Pay off debt and/or learn to live within your means. Even if you only earn $20,000 a year. You will, first, have to learn to say "no" to some things you really want to do.
7) Once you've paid off debt, start setting money aside. A disciplined $50 a month will add up when you find yourself in a tight spot.
8) Travel. Get on an airplane and go somewhere interesting when you're young - before you have the commitment of a big job and concerns for your family. Before you get accustomed to having everything "perfect" or posh. This may be the only time I tell you to spend what you don't have and put the trip on a credit card. You'll be much happier paying off a trip to Europe than a stupid handbag you bought at TJ MAXX.
9) Wear the bikini or strapless dress even if you're not confident about your body. Let people take pictures of you. Let people take lots of pictures. Ten years from now you'll think you looked great. Even if you're not super skinny your young, healthy skin will make up the difference. Always let people take pictures. Because (most of the time) ten years later you'll always look back and think you looked great.
What do you wish you'd done while you were "still young?"