Setting myself up for the Future
September 15, 2015 12:27 PM   Subscribe

Tips for looking out for my future self

I'm still young (late 20's) but in the past few years I've started to get a first -real- taste of aging--my metabolism definitely slowed a bit, I start to feel sleepy much earlier, my stomach can't handle certain foods as well, I lost some friendships I never expected to lose, etc. Aside from these health and relationship changes, I find that mentally I am also in a different place--it's like suddenly I'm much more aware of all the terrible things happening in the world and I'm concerned with how to be involved and make change. Of course a lot of time my mind turns toward the future.

To that end, I'm seeking the advice and wisdom of Mefites who have been here before...what do I do now, while I'm still energetic and relatively untethered, to help my future self? Whether it regards health (exercise, yes...but is there any specific area/type of exercise I should especially target?), interpersonal relationships, life skills, hobbies--what have you done that has served you well as you've gotten older?
posted by sprezzy to Grab Bag (17 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
Save money. Pay off your credit cards, max out any tax-advantaged retirement accounts that you have access to and build a 6 month's expenses emergency fund. Then build a 2 (your # might vary here) month's expenses mad-money fund, and draw from/replenish that when you do fun things like take vacations, splurge on fun experiences/stuff.
posted by sparklemotion at 12:33 PM on September 15, 2015 [5 favorites]

Save money. Save money for retirement (in a 401(k) if you have one, and especially if you have a company match). For a house, even if you don't think you'll want one right now -- life can change. And for an emergency fund aka "Fuck You" money.

Pay off any debt you have (credit card and high-interest debt especially).

Take good care of your teeth. Floss.
posted by pie ninja at 12:35 PM on September 15, 2015 [4 favorites]

We are probably the same age but just this year I started using moisturizer on my face. Moisturizer, duh, right? But I was a zitty, greasy teenager and grew into an only slightly less greasy, zitty adult and slapping moisture on my face sounded dumb/unnecessary to me so I didn't. But now I do (along with a stridex/bha) and my face feels less shitty all the time and generally looks a lot nicer what with the pores and blackheads and whatnot and I kind of wish I had jumped on the moisturize your face bandwagon sooner. So you should do that. (I'm partial to the CeraVe in a jar.)
posted by phunniemee at 12:37 PM on September 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

The advice I give to you that I am also trying to follow myself is this:

Wear sunscreen on face, neck, and hands every day.
Drink 1-2.5 liters of water a day.
Take a brisk walk for at least 30 minutes every day and breath deep during it.
Eat an apple and at least one dark green salad every day.
Not so much sugar.

I'm also trying to save money but I live paycheck to paycheck, so my next step is to have a job where that's not the case anymore.
posted by Hermione Granger at 12:43 PM on September 15, 2015 [5 favorites]

Travel. See the world. And I don't mean just to the standard tourist destinations. Go off the beaten path. You will never understand the world until you go see it. There is no substitute for actually having your own boots on the ground.

Do the most difficult trip you can handle now. As you get older, levels of difficult trips will begin to fall off. You can drink wine on the Champs Elysees in Paris when you are old and retired. But if you do not go to the Amazon while you are young, you will never go. And if you want to understand what that place is all about, you have to see it.

Traveling to see the world is something that takes a life long commitment. I mean, realistically, you will only do one or two things a year - and over the course of your life, that means maybe 50 trips. And that will allow you to see only a fraction of the Earth.
posted by Flood at 12:49 PM on September 15, 2015 [4 favorites]

Don't be afraid to try something you don't think you can do. Generally you can do more than you think. Successful people are generally risk takers and don't mind so much taking responsibility if things go wrong, whereas most people will not take risks out of fear of failure and will likely not climb very high either.
posted by waving at 1:00 PM on September 15, 2015 [4 favorites]

Sunscreen in your moisturizer, wear it every day. You'll never regret it. And hats in direct sun. The best protection is actual shade(from a hat or an object).

Save money, stay out of debt. Make getting rid of things just as much fun as getting them. So much time and energy is wasted when one is weighed down by possessions.

Sometimes you will drink too much, or smoke, or do drugs. Give your self a break. That's often how we humans cope with shit. Don't let stuff turn into bad habits but don't stress out because you indulge occasionally. The self condemnation is worse that the drugs/alcohol/sex (whatever it is) and just as hard a habbit to break.


Take care of your family and friendship relationships. It actually does get harder to make good ones as you get older. Who knew?

Yoga and meditation are SO good for you. Get into the habit of doing some of each every day. Yoga kept me sane through some difficult times and I'm a big fan.

Love something every dayday. Pets or kids or a movie or art or running or a sunset or whatever, but just love something every dayday. Let yourself feel as deeply as you can possibly feel. Every day is precious, enjoy every single one you get.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 1:07 PM on September 15, 2015 [5 favorites]

I was sort of shy until I was 30. That removes so much fun from life, so my advise would be to start speaking out loud, taking up space, use your assertive rights all day and all night with family, friends, co-workers and strangers.

Find out what your passion in life is and follow that dream. Learn to bounce back from failure.

Remove yourself from poisonous people. Seek love and step away from fear.

Fix loose threads you might have with your family/parents. Read "Families and how to survive them" by Skynner and Cleese.

Do every wild and crazy thing on your bucket list before you become a parent.

Don't let bullshit (astrology, paranormal nonsense, religions, etc.) rule your life.

Good luck and have fun!
posted by hz37 at 1:25 PM on September 15, 2015 [8 favorites]

Take good care of your teeth (really) - seconding flossing, but also brushing well 2x a day and seeing a dentist regularly. This seems like a small thing when you're young, but you can save yourself thousands of dollars and lots of pain (and, possibly, heart disease if the theoretical connections between gum and heart disease are correct). I regret that I did not.

Also, try to think in a concrete way about where you would like to be a decade from now, and take practical steps to get there. Think you might be interested in something? Find a way to actually get your hands dirty doing it (it has never been easier, thanks to the internet, to do this - there are a lot of shitty things about being young in 2015, but this is a decided advantage). You make the path by walking it, as they say, but the outcome tends to be much more interesting and satisfying if you don't wander aimlessly, or by habit.
posted by ryanshepard at 1:28 PM on September 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Network. I've been hanging out with the same group of ~50 people who are roughly in my field (but not direct coworkers) for about 5 years now. I hear about job openings before they are announced, get invited to participate in conferences for free, and get free meals out with people who are a few years ahead of me on the same career track. But it took YEARS to get to this point and I wish I had started sooner.
posted by miyabo at 2:00 PM on September 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

Yoga or other strength/flexibility training. Impulse control. Empathy and kindness.

Also, get rid of stuff. Stop collecting things or don't start collecting things. Don't buy books--check them out from the library. Don't get a new party dress for every party. Don't keep swag--put a picture on Facebook and be done. It gets so much more difficult to get rid of the things that meant so much to you when you you got them when you're so much further away from that time and place. But things are so much more a burden as you get older. Storing them, cleaning them, moving them, thinking about who will have to sort through them when you die. Ugh. It's a drag. I never believed it when I was younger, but now in my mid-40's, I find it seems obvious that things are only more of a burden as time goes on.
posted by crush-onastick at 2:15 PM on September 15, 2015 [6 favorites]

Teeth teeth teeth teeth teeth teeth teeth!

Also, exercise. Getting yourself in the habit now will help you in your 30s when that bit you want to get rid of ain't so easy anymore, and besides, it has all kinds of friends now.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:23 PM on September 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Lift weights and keep it up forever. My personal trainer has two clients in their 80s who lift. Find a physical activity or sport you love and keep that up as long as you can. Yoga is good for your mind and keeps you toned like nothing else.

Network like crazy. Go to every meetup, party, happy hour, conference, training, and forum that you possibly can. I know that there are costs involved, but they are worth it. Do professional service for such occasions or groups.

Travel as much as you can while saving as much as you can. Don't forget to be a tourist where you live.

Read Streamlining Your Life by Stephanie Culp, and live it.

And floss.
posted by jgirl at 4:56 PM on September 15, 2015

Actively keep up with important friendships. As in, not just shallow interactions on social media, but talk to them face-to-face when possible, plan annual trips if you're long-distance, send little notes or gifts every once in a blue moon, have a monthly dinner date if they're close by, etc.-- whatever feels right for your particular friendship. As you grow older everyone will naturally retreat into their relationship/family bubbles but it's so, so important (and fun) to have outside friendships, and it's something you really have to work at after 30 or so. It's easier start now so you can establish traditions and strengthen your bond for the future. I can't tell you what a blessing (and I never use that word!) it is to be able to have a drink and catch up and vent and basically pick up where we left off with my best friend from college.

And be on the lookout for new friends and tend to those relationships as well-- again, this seems to get more rare and difficult as we age (peruse old ask mefis about difficulty making friends if you don't believe me.)
posted by kapers at 6:39 PM on September 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

Oh, and ask your dr. about retin a if you have problematic skin. I wish I had been prescribed this earlier. Not just for acne but for wrinkles, and the earlier you start, the more improvement your skin will show. (Obviously per everyone's suggestion you will already be using the absolutely essential daily sunscreen.)
posted by kapers at 6:44 PM on September 15, 2015

Sunscreen. I've been putting it on daily since my mid 20s. And it makes a huge difference. Face and neck.
posted by persona au gratin at 2:16 AM on September 16, 2015

Health and money and connections. Keep your weight down, get regular outdoor exercise, keep your teeth clean and strong, do not get into debt, and save a big stack of actual cash in the bank, and keep at least one or two good friendships (outside of romantic or marital relationships) going all the time.

A couple specifics:

1. Ride a bike instead of (not in addition to) owning and driving a car. This is good for your life-long health, good for your bank account, and good for everyone else in the world. A bike is quiet, clean, small, harmless, efficient, stylish, and fun. Even the fanciest, most expensive bike you are likely to want will be much cheaper than the average car, so you can be a high-end holy-shit-look-at-that-machine road-rocket bicyclist for less money than you can be a low-end boring automobilist. Riding a bike to and from work encourages you to exercise two times a day, five days a week, and encourages you to live a sensible, unstressful distance from work, so you will lengthen and improve your life. And a bike will make you a little sexier, with all that that entails, every time you take it out. Meanwhile, as a former car owner and caretaker, you are not making car payments, not making car insurance payments, not paying for parking or gas, not searching for parking spaces, and not paying for inspections and repairs. Depending on current gas prices, the annual cost of owning a car in the US is close to or more than $9,000. Every damned year. Spend a little of that on a bike (or two! or three!) and have all the rest for other things. Keep a little money aside for taxis on those occasions when you really want a car ride without all the bother of car ownership.

(Alternatively, ditch the car and take the train or bus, which is a very good step up, but you lose a lot of the advantages that riding a bicycle offers.)

2. Always pay off the entire balance of your credit card as soon as you get the bill. If you can't pay it off that way, you are spending more than you can afford to spend (you are spending money before you earn it). If you're going to buy something unusually expensive with your card, plan for it and save the extra money for as long as it takes, and then pay for it with the credit card pay the entire credit card bill as soon as it comes. Pay zero credit card interest.

3. If you are commuting between a suburb and a city, or between two suburbs near a city, move to that city. Reduce your travel times and costs, increase your cultural and social possibilities, and forget about living in the suburbs. Your possibilities are much greater in a city. Civilization is a product of the city.
posted by pracowity at 2:36 AM on September 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

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