9 habits to start doing now to get ahead of everyone else in 5 years

There’s a huge difference between drifting through life and strategically planning your future.

It all comes down to habits. The right habits can propel you forward, helping you outpace everyone around you.

But what are these habits? How do you start cultivating them?

Well, it’s simpler than you might think. In fact, I’ve found 9 habits that, if started now, can put you light years ahead in just five years.

And the best part? These are habits anyone can adopt. You don’t need to be rich, highly educated, or extraordinarily talented. You just need to be consistent.

Let’s get started. 

1) Start setting smart goals

Every successful journey starts with a destination in mind, and getting ahead in life is no different.

The key to this isn’t just setting any goal, but setting SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Think about it. If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time. But if you have a clear, measurable goal that is achievable and relevant to your life, with a specific timeline to achieve it, you’re setting yourself up for success.

And the best part? This habit isn’t hard to develop. It can start with something as simple as setting a SMART goal to read one book a month or to save a certain amount of money each year.

The important thing is to start. The more you practice setting and achieving SMART goals, the better you’ll get at it.

And in five years? You’ll be amazed at how far you’ve come. But remember, this isn’t about being manipulative or trying to outdo others for the sake of it. It’s about personal growth and achieving your own version of success.

2) Prioritize continuous learning

I can’t stress enough how crucial this habit is. In a rapidly changing world, continuous learning is no longer just an option; it’s a necessity.

Let me share a personal example. A few years back, I realized that despite my solid job, I was starting to feel stagnant in my career. I wasn’t growing or learning new things, and it was starting to take a toll on my motivation and job satisfaction.

So, I made a decision to start dedicating an hour each day to learning something new related to my field. Whether it was reading industry articles, taking online courses or attending webinars, I made sure that each day, I was expanding my knowledge and skills.

Fast forward to the present day, and not only have I become more proficient in my field, but I’ve also discovered new areas of interest that have enriched my professional life and opened up new opportunities.

The key here is consistency. It doesn’t have to be an hour a day; even 15 minutes of focused learning can make a significant difference over time. Trust me, five years down the line, this habit will have you leaps and bounds ahead of those who chose to stay within their comfort zones.

3) Practice mindfulness

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get swept up in the hustle and bustle and lose sight of the present moment. But did you know that mindfulness, the practice of focusing your attention on the present, can actually boost your productivity and overall wellbeing?

Research shows that regular mindfulness practice can lower stress levels, increase focus, and enhance emotional intelligence. It can also help us become more resilient, enabling us to bounce back from setbacks more effectively.

You don’t need to meditate for hours each day to reap these benefits. Even a few minutes of focused breathing or a short mindful walk can make a difference.

By integrating mindfulness into your daily routine, you’ll be equipping yourself with a powerful tool to navigate the challenges life throws at you, putting you way ahead of the curve in five years’ time.

4) Cultivate a growth mindset

One of the most powerful habits you can adopt is cultivating a growth mindset. This term, coined by psychologist Carol Dweck, refers to the belief that our abilities and intelligence can be developed through dedication and hard work.

Having a growth mindset means embracing challenges, persisting in the face of setbacks, and seeing effort as a pathway to mastery. It’s about understanding that failure isn’t a reflection of your abilities, but rather an opportunity for growth and learning.

Adopting this mindset won’t just impact your personal and professional growth; it’ll change how you tackle every obstacle in your life.

This is a habit that will keep you ahead of the pack not just in five years, but throughout your life.

5) Embrace healthy living

While it might seem obvious, the importance of a healthy lifestyle can’t be overstated when it comes to getting ahead in life. Good physical health is the foundation upon which all other success is built.

This means paying attention to what you eat, ensuring you get regular exercise, and prioritizing sleep. It’s not just about looking good or even feeling good—it’s about giving your body and mind what they need to function at their best.

Incorporating healthy habits into your daily routine might seem challenging at first, but remember, small changes can make a big difference over time.

By committing to a healthier lifestyle now, you’re investing in your future self. Five years down the line, you’ll reap the benefits of this habit in the form of increased energy, better focus, and improved overall well-being.

6) Nurture meaningful relationships

Life is not just about achieving personal goals and milestones. It’s also about the connections we make and the relationships we nurture along the way.

Maintaining meaningful relationships is a habit that can enrich your life in ways you can’t even imagine. These relationships provide support during tough times, offer joy in good times, and add depth to your everyday experiences.

But remember, nurturing these relationships requires effort. It means showing up for people, listening to them, and being there when they need you.

In my own life, I’ve found that the bonds I’ve nurtured over the years have been one of my greatest sources of strength and happiness. And I believe that investing time and emotion into these relationships now will pay dividends in love, support, and companionship in the future.

Make it a habit to keep in touch with your loved ones, make new friends, and invest time in the people who matter to you. Trust me, five years down the line, you’ll be glad you did.

7) Cultivate gratitude

A few years ago, I found myself in a rut. Despite having a lot of good things in my life, I was focusing on the negatives and what I didn’t have. This negative mindset was affecting my mood, motivation, and overall happiness.

Then, I started a simple practice of writing down three things I was grateful for each day. At first, it was challenging to shift my focus, but as days turned into weeks and months, I noticed a significant change in my perspective and attitude.

This small act of acknowledging the good in my life each day transformed my mindset. It made me more positive, happier, and even more motivated to pursue my goals.

Cultivating gratitude is more than just saying ‘thank you’. It’s about recognizing the good in your life and appreciating what you have. Start this habit now, and watch how it positively affects your life in the next five years.

8) Embrace failure as a learning opportunity

This habit might seem counterintuitive, but it’s a game-changer. The fear of failure can hold us back from reaching our full potential, but once we learn to embrace failure as a learning opportunity, our path to success becomes much clearer.

The truth is, everyone fails. It’s an inevitable part of life and growth. What separates successful people from others is how they deal with failure.

Instead of viewing it as a setback or a reflection of your worth, see it as a stepping stone on your path to success. Each failure is a lesson learned, bringing you one step closer to your goal.

By adopting this mindset now, you’ll be able to face challenges head-on and bounce back from setbacks faster. Five years from now, you’ll look back at your failures not with regret, but with gratitude for the lessons they’ve taught you.

9) Consistency is key

If there’s one thing you should take away from all this, it’s that consistency is key. The most successful people aren’t necessarily the most talented or the smartest, they’re the ones who show up every day and put in the work.

Regardless of the habits you’re trying to cultivate, the real magic happens when you commit to them consistently over time. It’s not about making massive changes overnight. It’s about small, consistent actions that accumulate and lead to big results.

So, start now. Be it setting SMART goals, learning new things, practicing mindfulness, or nurturing relationships – stay consistent. Five years down the line, you’ll be amazed at how far these habits have taken you.

Final thoughts: The power lies within

The journey of self-improvement and growth is deeply intertwined with our daily habits. It’s these seemingly small routines that, over time, create a profound impact on our lives.

The nine habits mentioned in this article are not quick fixes or guarantees of success. They are tools, strategies to help you sculpt the life you aspire to live.

Remember, it’s not about outpacing everyone else, but about outpacing your past self. It’s about becoming a better version of who you were yesterday.

Whether it’s setting SMART goals, practicing mindfulness, or cultivating a growth mindset, the aim is to create a life that aligns with your values and aspirations.

As Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

So take these habits and make them your own. At the end of the day, the power to shape your future lies within you. Five years from now, you’ll look back and appreciate the steps you took today.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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