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Age Seventeen Or Age Seventy – Daily Habits For A Better Life

Question on Quora:

What are some things that every 17-year-old should be doing daily?

My answer:

What a great question! I need to say right off that I generally don’t like to “should” on people. We each have our own journey to travel, our own trials to go through and our own victories to celebrate. But I’m going to answer this question first, because you’ve asked, and second, because I’ve always thought it would be great if my current self could go back in time and give my twenty-year-old self a heads-up on things I could do to make life a little less stressful and scary.

The question is not as clear as I’d like it to be, so I’m going to assume the full question would be, “What are some of the things that a seventeen-year-old should be doing every day if they want to live a fulfilling life and prepare for adulthood?”, and answer it as such.

Some of those things are things that anyone of any age, starting with the late teens, should be doing if they want to live a healthy, happy, and fulfilling life. I’m going to start with those. Why? Because if you don’t get into the following habits when you’re young, it will be much harder to get into them when you’re older.

When it comes to healthy lifestyle habits, sometimes waiting until you’re older turns out to be too late. For example, avoiding disease and terminal illness is 85% lifestyle and only 15% genes.

#1. Connect with your Creator. I know, it’s not P.C. for me to write that. Too bad. I’m not P.C.

Moving along…every day, spend some time praying to the One Who loves you more than anyone else ever will, and the One Who can help you more than anyone else ever will be able to. Express gratitude for all the good things in your life, ask for help with your struggles, but most of all, pray for wisdom. This is a quality lacking too much among even the older adults of today’s world.

#2. Treat others the way you want to be treated. HINT: There are a lot of behaviors that are considered acceptable in our culture today that are based on manipulation and using people. Do you want to be manipulated and used? Think hard about that question in the light of any action you’re about to take.

Generally, think before you say or do anything. Would you like someone else to say or do the same thing to you?

#3. Take one to three baby steps toward a goal that you have set for yourself. Get into this habit at age seventeen, and you will be far ahead of your peers ten years from now.

#4. Eat way more fruits and vegetables and way fewer processed sweets and fatty junk foods.

#5. Get your body moving for at least thirty minutes every day.

#6. Get enough sleep.

#7. Avoid using any drug that changes your state of cognition. That means it’s messing with your brain cells, and will cause you problems down the line.

#8. If you’re a female and you have any P.M.S. symptoms whatsoever, or if you’re either gender and suffer from depression, anxiety, or anger problems, get on a chelated magnesium supplement immediately. Two capsules in the morning, two capsules before bed.


Now, for some advice specific to a conscientious individual in their late teens.

#1. Chill about grades. I made myself miserable in high school, thinking that I had to be a straight A student to get into my college of choice. Unless you’re going for an Ivy League school, this isn’t true. And when you get out into the work force, you will find that your employer couldn’t care less about your grades in high school.

They might not even care about your grades in college.

Do your best and strive for excellence, but don’t half-kill yourself over grades. Which are, ultimately, a meaningless measure of what you know and don’t know in a very narrow body of knowledge, most of which you will forget by the time you’re thirty years old.

Which leads me to the next thing…

#2. Think really hard and long as to whether or not you need to go to college/university. You won’t necessarily need to do this every day, but probably most days you’re going to feel the “you must go to college” pressure either from your parents or your school.

Consider these facts.

First, most college/university graduates end up in a career or job that has nothing to do with the degree they acquired.

Second, the cost of higher education has risen to the level that I consider it to be a marketing scam. And costs are projected to continue to skyrocket, much faster than the rate of inflation.

There is no decent, ethical rationale for a 600-page textbook to cost $150, for example.

There are many people in their twenties, thirties, and forties – a few even older – still struggling to pay off student loans. Debt is a burden which can, at worst, shorten your life for all the stress it causes and, at best, cause you to stay with a job or career you don’t really like because you need to make the money to pay off the debt. And it looks like that the cost of attending university is soon going to be out of reach of all but either the wealthy, or those willing to take on student loans.

In other words, it will be beyond the average student’s reach to be able to work their way through college, as was possible when I attended.

Third, today’s world is much different than it was fifty years ago. For most jobs, a college/university degree isn’t necessary. Certain careers, such as many in medicine (but not all), law, and engineering truly require four years (at least) of intense education. Other careers currently require a four-year degree, and they should not. I can tell you from experience that one of those careers is teaching.

If you wanted to start your own business, a few community college classes and some mentoring from other business owners would suffice.

For parents (or Quora members) who want to disagree with me on this point, please read the book The End Of School by Zachary Slayback. Or visit the author’s website, zakslayback.com.

#3. Work at a job. This won’t be something you’ll be doing every day, I imagine, since employers who hire high school-age people recognize that they have grades to keep up and extra-curricular activities to do. So they put high schoolers on the schedule three to four days a week. But I include it because I believe it’s important because you learn different skills that you might otherwise not have gained. If you plan to eventually work for someone else, you also learn what employers expect from their employees. And one day, you might end up as an employer, and you will have past experience to guide you as to what makes for a good boss and what makes for a bad one.

Having a job is a good segue into the next point…

#4. Practice being a good steward over your finances. Read different books on personal finance. I recommend that you read Your Money Or Your Life by Robin and Dominguez and The Permanent Portfolio by Craig Rowland, and marry the best of both books.

Give to charities. Save. Don’t spend more than you make. And for goodness’ sake, don’t touch a credit card application with a ten-foot pole!

#5. Relax. You should have at least thirty minutes a day to yourself, to do whatever you want to do. I could have put this in the first list, but I remember how stressed I was at seventeen, how anxious I was to get out of the “nest,” yet how intimidating the big, wide world seemed at times. So it’s especially important for a seventeen-year-old to take “chill” time every day.

On the same note…

#6. Have (healthy) fun. Watch a five-minute comedy video. Put on some music and dance around your bedroom for a while. Have a movie night with friends.

#7. Appreciate your parents. Sorry, as a parent I had to put this in. 😉  And I’m saying that for a seventeen-year-old who doesn’t have abusive or neglectful parents. You won’t agree with everything they believe, and that’s fine. But every day, think about all the sacrifices they’ve made to allow you to have the good life you’ve had. It will help improve your relationship with your parents. And if you can remember to tell your mother “I love you” every day, so much the better! 😉

#8. Keep in mind that trials help you grow, and that they will pass.


I think you get my point. Develop and practice habits that respect your body, your future, and other people. And take learning into your own hands.

Most of these tips will help you to have a happier, more fulfilling life, regardless of your age.

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