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12 Habits to Build in Your 20s for Success in Your 30s

Updated: Feb 17, 2021

I think my fascination with habits came after my love for personal development hit hard in my mid-twenties.

On a Ted Talk by Meg Jay (why 30 is not the new 20), I heard about the idea that our brains are constantly in new stages but we're way more adaptable to learning new habits before the age of 30. Now that I am 30, I know you can build new habits at any age, but at the time I took the idea of habits being easier to form in your 20s as something I could use toward my advantage.

I constantly hear about successful people's daily routines and what sets them apart from others being chalked up to the habits they've formed.

Here are the good habits that I built for myself in my 20s:

  • Wake up early everyday. Sleeping in used to be my preference but I kept reading more and more about the benefits of starting your day earlier. Believe me, if you had said to 21-year-old Katie that she would enjoy the days where she gets out of a cozy bed by 6:45am, there's nooo way I would've believed you. I use my mornings for reading, journaling, exercising, meditating and savouring a latte. That quiet time before the rest of the world kicks in is something I really treasure now.

  • Read regularly. This usually means reading a couple of times a week. I always have a handful of non-fiction books (usually in the personal growth space) on the go. There's just nothing like curling up with a good book.

  • Constantly learning more. I think this is probably the most important habit for everyone. Learning is so key in becoming a better version of yourself. I think it's part of the human condition to want and need to learn. Growth can't happen without being open to new ideas and taking the time to learn new things.

  • Staying physically active. I am now in the habit of exercising three times a week. I'll go for a quick run or do a strength-training workout at home. Pre-COVID I walked a ton around the city and also went to classes which I look forward to going to again. I usually take my dog on a daily walk too. I feel better mentally when I'm active, it gives me more energy and I usually eat healthier after a workout.

  • Eating (fairly) healthy. My husband is a big part of why I'm healthy. He does meal prep for us every week (or sometimes I do) and it's a total game changer. We don't eat out much as a result and we choose fresh ingredients rather than anything packaged. He usually makes a chilli, chicken curry, veg and rice/pasta. We also don't really drink alcohol during the week (minus an occasional drink after work) and haven't been drinking a whole lot on the weekends either.

  • Meditating. I got into meditating after my workouts a few years ago with the app Headspace. I wanted to try something new this year so I'm using Insight Timer now. It completely grounds me and can change my mindset from stressed out to blissful in about 10 minutes.

  • Get the right amount of sleep. I am a person who absolutely needs her sleep to function properly. I'm talking a solid 8-8.5 hours per night. It's a big priority to me and when I don't get it, I can survive but it's not me at my best. I have tried 7 hours as I had heard that as the minimum you should get and I've also let it slip to 9 but anything less than 8 or more than 8.5 hours doesn't work best. I truly believe there is no blanket correct amount for everyone and I think it's important to find your ideal amount of sleep and then stick to it. This means I go to bed early, usually around 10. It does take discipline to not let Instagram or a great TV show cut into this precious time but like any of these, it's become a habit of mine to not let it.

  • Track your money. I'm careful here not to say I stick to a budget because although I have one in an excel document, I don't really use it "properly". I'm still trying to figure out how to make this habit work best for me but I've made the tracking of my money a habit for about the last 3 years. Being able to watch my money go where I put it intentionally is helpful and it's really satisfying to see when I hit milestones. I update it twice a month. I want to become financially smart and I think knowing where my money goes is important in that journey.

  • Listen to podcasts daily. Going along with my learning habit, I am obsessed with podcasts. Almost all of the podcasts I listen to are personal development/business/wellbeing podcasts. They help me reflect on life and teach me new ideas. If I'm doing something around the house, like laundry or cooking, I always have a podcast on. I've been doing this for years now and totally adds happiness to my day.

  • Journaling. I've had this habit since childhood but not always consistently. I've stepped up my journaling game in the last few years. Journaling is something that makes me happy. It also helps me when I'm upset, angry, hurt, grateful, excited, confused and just need to get it all out of my head. Writing is very therapeutic to me and as planning is one of my favourite things, it allows me to write out outcomes and see how I feel about a variety of things. It's also really cool getting to go back and see how far I've come in certain areas (or how I haven't changed at all in others).

  • Clean before bed. This is more of a general sweep - ie. clean the kitchen, put the dishwasher on, put any clothes lying out away, etc. It's so nice waking up to a clean place to start your day fresh.

  • Drink water constantly. I don't drink anything besides water, coffee and occasionally booze. I'm obsessed with water. I think this was one of my earliest adopted healthy habits because I had heard about the benefits of not drinking juice and pop a long time ago and just thought that's one thing I can easily do! I love the freshness of drinking water and it also goes with all foods in my opinion. I'm incredibly grateful I can drink out of the tap for free.

Would love to know what habits you've been able to create for yourself?

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