Proactive people prepare for the future before they step into it. Long term thinking prepares you for a better and intentional future.
When your decisions take into consideration your future self, you actively choose to consider what might happen in the future — you think about the second-order consequences of your present decisions.
You can’t perfectly plan for the next 10 years, but you can prepare and be radically proactive about behaviors and habits that can help you live a better life when you are ten or twenty years older.
Days and months are giving us experiences and lessons but planning for the decades pay off in the long-run. Delaying gratification in a world that rewards short-term thinking is a superpower.
If you keep forming habits that pay off long-term, eventually you arrive in the future and enjoy endless rewards.
Perhaps a better way to say this is, “Be radically proactive about any behavior that pays off in 10 years,” writes James Clear.
Too often we do not give importance to this kind of behavior because we look for immediate results. When you plan in 10 and 20-year increments, you invest your time — you don’t just spend it.
1. Self investing is the foundation of long-term wealth
Investing in yourself is a long-term process.
You probably won’t reap the benefits immediately. But guess what knowledge compounds and helps you make even better decisions about your future.
“Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment,” says Steven Covey, author of The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People.
You can invest in yourself by learning how to build something of value to a lot of people, learning a skill that makes you indispensable in the future, or by reading selected books on specific topics you care about.
You could also invest in your future by setting up an investment account that makes it easy to put invest a percentage of your income every month.
To build long-term wealth, invest just a small percentage of your income into a broad-based fund every month.
Once a month, I buy more shares of selected Vanguard Index Funds. The cost is low, and the risk is also relatively low (when a company that’s on an index goes bust, it gets replaced by another one).
2. Reading is pretty much guaranteed to make you smarter over time
Reading puts your brain to work. And it can also help you get ahead in life. Successful people are drawn to great books for a very good reason.
Your brain on books is active — growing, changing and making new connections and different patterns.
Roberto Bolaño once said, “Reading is like thinking, like praying, like talking to a friend, like expressing your ideas, like listening to other people’s ideas, like listening to music, like looking at the view, like taking a walk on the beach.”
Read to improve yourself and for pleasure. It’s one of the best ways to wind down after a long and busy day. And reading can even reduce stress and boost emotional intelligence, according to CNBC.
Try reading for 15–20 minutes in the morning before work. You’ll be surprised at how much more focused you are once you start working.
Losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation!
3. Make time for your side hustle — your long-term happiness depends on it
Most people skip their side hustles because they too busy to make time for something that can bring out the best in them.
The daily grind can easily overshadow passion projects like writing a book, starting a blog, learning a new skill, starting an online business, creating art, painting, learning an instrument, designing, learning to code, etc.
The secret about a side hustle, passion project, personal project is that even if you don’t make any money from it in the end, you will enjoy the process, especially if it’s something you deeply care about.
Side hustles can make you a better person — if your actual work stresses you out, get a personal project. Something you will enjoy doing. You will be happier in the long-term.
Prioritizing your side hustle is key to living a balanced life. Pursuing side projects is also a great opportunity to learn new things.
4. Movement — even leisurely movement — can be profound on your health
Walking has immense health benefits. Your future self will be in a lot better health if you embrace an active lifestyle today.
Our health naturally declines if we do nothing to protect yourselves. However, if you intervene early, you can slow the body’s deterioration process — it’s easier to protect a healthy body and brain than to try to repair the damage.
Exercise can reshape the aging process. Any form of movement doesn’t just strengthen your muscles, it can also slow memory loss, increase brain volume, and the quality of connections between neurons. Using the brain during and after exercise triggers enhanced neuron survival.
A wealth of studies in the past decade underscored that even gentle exercise is good for your body, brain and mental health. Exercise is also emerging as a promising way to overcome depression.
When you stop moving for extended periods of time, it’s like telling your body it’s time to shut down. The less sitting you do during the day, the better your chances of living a healthy life.
Long-term thinking is hard and requires active planning. The good news is, long-lasting behaviors pay off exponentially. You won’t regret it.
This article originally appeared in Medium.