Youth is a time for hard work and building ones’ fortune for the future. It is a time for late nights, disappointments, failures and essentially the most important period in life.

We all grew up differently, but the same in many ways.  If you had your parents growing up, they probably did what they could, they probably tried harder to do better than their own parents. Maybe it was enough, maybe it wasn’t. The most important thing is you are here now and that’s all that matters.

In this article, we are going to look at 18 things you need to know and get right before reaching the age of 40. If you are reading this and you are over 40, don’t despair, it’s never too late to go back and fix what you missed out in your 20’s and 30’s.

Your present is rooted in your past, but your future is built on the things you’re doing right now.

1) Know the 3 things that make a successful life

Fundamentally there are 3 things that everyone in any culture should pursue: wealth, health and happiness. Knowing this in your early 20’s and 30 will allow you to set your goals and prepare your life in the direction set to achieve this.

-Wealth doesn’t mean having a large bank account, it means security, it means comfort, it means you are able to take care of those you care about and you are well positioned to help those who can’t help themselves. In your 20's and 30's, set your wealth goals, using what you have, where you are.

-Health - In most cases, good health is a result of not sacrificing the future for momentary pleasure. Adopting good health practices early in your life will guarantee you all the success and a longer life.

-Happiness could mean a thousand different things, most people confuse it with pleasure, but happiness comes from living a stress free and exciting life. A life you cannot believe you get to experience, surrounded by people you love. Knowing this and preparing for happiness earlier on in life is a sure way to accomplishing a well lived life at the end of your years.

2) Nothing beats Hard work

There are no short cuts in life. You might have sampled a few get rich quick schemes or you may have heard of some people who tried their hand in some of these and even lost instead of gaining. This is something you’ll have to figure out earlier in life.

The only thing that is 100% under your control is how hard you work and how much time you put in.

This is especially if you’re like some of us who were not born with a silver spoon in your mouth, naturally talented or have an unfair advantage. You will often realise that you have to put in the work if you are going to achieve anything in life.

The sooner you understand the value of hard work, the better quality your years ahead are guaranteed.

3) You are paid for what you’re worth

If you want to increase how much you earn, increase your skill and you will increase your earnings. People are paid according to how much they are worth. Knowing this earlier in your life will enable you to make the necessary preparations for your future.

If you missed out on college, and you are working a low paying job, find ways to get a skill. If you want to be a lawyer, find out how much lawyers earn per hour and work towards that. Many people love to blame others for their failures, so figure out a way to escape the system by developing skills of economic value. The only way to improve your value is to get a skill which people are willing to pay for. 

Lucky for you, you can learn valuable skills online for free and you can learn real skills which you can monetise. We are in the age of information and being ignorant is a choice.

4) Luck is not a strategy 

Many people go through life wishing they'll be "lucky" one day and escape poverty. Change comes only by what you put in, doing what you can, where you are with what you have. The sooner you understand this, the quicker you’ll achieve your goals. All successful people do everyday is improving the probability of them making more money. Successful people don’t believe in luck, they work hard and are always looking out to see how they can make money by looking out to get paid to solve problems around them using resources available to them. 

5) People will treat you the way you treat yourself

If you think of yourself as being lesser than others, they will treat you that way, if you think others are smarter than you, then they become smarter than you. It’s all about the way you choose to go through life. Your reality is determined by how you allow others to treat you. This is why standing up for yourself is important, it teaches people not to screw with you in the future. Bullies like to prey on the weak, the defenceless, those who are easy targets and this type of behaviour doesn’t go away in life. People carry with them the trauma of what happened to them in their 5th grade their entire lives, reliving and reimagining different outcomes. Treat yourself with dignity, speak up for what you believe is right.

6) Set goals for yourself

Every successful individual we’ve ever met in this life has goals set up for themselves from an early age in their lives. Almost all of them still do this despite having millions in their accounts. Goals determine your direction in life. When you set a goal for yourself, you know that in order for you to achieve it, certain actions will need to take place. Just by setting a goal, your life improves, it becomes a filter for your actions. Goals help you to become a better person and knowing this in your youth with definitely guarantee you a successful and prosperous future. It’s never too late to set goals even in your later stages in life. The best time to start setting goals is now.

7) Quality over quantity

If you grew up in a poor or lower middle class family, you know very well that your parents didn’t throw anything away, in their words “You never know when you need them” which is why you probably have some clothes or items from many years ago, which you haven’t used and will probably never use again but just can’t get rid off. Poor people associate wealth with abundance, which is why they buy a lot of low quality items. Low quality means you don’t get a lot of pleasure from them and they also break a lot quicker. The truth is, cheap is expensive!

Imagine a low quality handbag which starts cracking after a few uses compared to a genuine leather handbag which can potentially last you a lifetime, even if you have to give it away to someone less privileged, it is still better value for your money compared to the poor quality bags which you will need to keep buying because they wear out easily and will cost you more than the genuine product.

Same goes for all other things in life, invest in a good quality, minimalistic lifestyle rather than piling up cheap poor quality items which will cost you more. When you understand the difference between value and price, you are well positioned to invest your money wisely when making purchases.

8) Challenges are part of the process.

Life is not going to be a bed of roses. At some point you will have to suffer a heartbreak, a job loss or business failure. Prepare yourself to never be scared of hardships in life. If you have been privileged to have your over protective parents around all your life, all your relationships are vetted by mommy, etc, but what happens when they are no longer around?

Pain just part of your development process, and EVERYONE regardless of their station in life, goes through challenges. It is through challenges where we gain knowledge and wisdom - when you touch an open flame as a child and it hurts, you will no longer put your hand over fire. Even the most tragic moments in your life have the benefit of teaching you something about yourself and the world that you didn’t know before. That’s what they mean when they say “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. It’s not necessarily strength but definitely wisdom.

Prepare yourself to not be scared of hardships in life but teach yourself to develop inner strength to overcome challenges no matter what you face.

9) Choose your mentors wisely

This might sound harsh, but unfortunately it’s the truth - Poor people cannot teach you how to be rich, the same way unhappy people cannot teach you how to be happy. Knowing this earlier in life will help you reach your life goals better and faster.

Before you get advice for any topic, investments or a trade, get it only from someone who is a proven expert and a high achiever in that industry. Same goes for relationships, find couples that are happily married for good marriage advice instead of getting it from unhappy people.

Also, there comes a point in your development when you surpass your parents, either through education or through the passing of time, a point in your life when their advice is no longer valid. The best thing you can do is to know when that time has arrived, and find new guiding lights to help you grow even further.

10) We all have our own timing

Its’ easy to look at everyone around you and think you should make an effort to keep up. This will put unnecessary pressure on your life and potentially derail you from your goals. It is important to know that “Not every popcorn kernel pops at the same time”. Just because someone popped before you, doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you, neither does it mean they are better than you. Your time will come when the conditions are right. Remain focused on your goal and continue on the path you set for yourself. At the same time, don’t get carried away, postponing everything too far into the future. If you want your life to bloom like a flower garden, you better start watering the seeds.

Even the longest night, eventually turns into a day.

This is one of those pieces of advice that has been said in many ways: “The light at the end of the tunnel”, “If you’re going through hell, keep walking” and so on. The valuable lesson here is that pain is temporary. There is hope and there is happiness and love on the other side of whatever unplanned darkness you may face at any point on your life. Knowing this earlier in your life will help you to become more resilient, develop a winning mindset and soldier on through challenges until you make it.

11) Choose your life partner carefully

Life gets better if you share it with the right people. Choosing the right partner is essential for your progress. Most of us have made a lot of mistakes trying to choose a partner for your life before you develop a full understanding of who you are.

We all make the mistake of falling for looks without checking whether we share the same values etc.

Before making a lifetime commitment with the wrong person based on looks alone, take time to see if you share the same values, if you have a shared vision and life goals. There are things you MUST sacrifice in order for you as a couple to achieve these goals. Find out if he / she is willing to compromise so that you can both meet your goals. The truth is the wrong partner in your life can derail you and block you from reaching your goals. Listen to him / her and see if they have the brains to go with you on your life journey

12) Not getting what you want is often a blessing in life

When you learn at an earlier stage to trade with the future. The concept of delayed gratification could be the most valuable lesson in your life.

If you do what everyone else is doing, you will end up like everyone else.

You need to figure out early in life who you are, what you are passionate about. What you like, what your strengths are and then add some fuel to it. Develop your skills and motivate yourself

13) Get used to letting people down.

You are never going to be able to please everyone, sure it’s nice to be liked but this can’t come at the cost of your values or drive you to burnout. Find balance and realise that meeting other peoples mark only matters if you’re happy with yourself first.

Never try to please other people for self validation. In the same vein, not everyone is going to like you and that is okay. If you know who you are, what you believe in and what is important to you, then when people don’t like you, you’ll able to identify that it is not you the person, but rather it’s about what you stand for or do, and it just won’t matter as much. When you figure this at a younger age, you’ll have a much happier life ahead.

 14) Understand that You attract what you put out.

No matter who you ask, from Jesus to Elon Musk, they will all agree that we attract what you put out into the world. Our inner man wants us to do well so walking around with doom and gloom is not going to let that flow of energy into your life. When you think positively, you find opportunities you take chances and try harder to realise those goals. “The harder you practice, the luckier you get”. Figure this out earlier on in life and you will achieve anything.

15) Develop good money habits

Getting a good credit score is the first step in getting your finances in order. Get a good credit score and maintain it. When you need a good credit score for an important loan, it’s the wrong time to start working on it, but maintaining a good credit score form a young age opens up a lot of opportunities. Of course a good credit score isn't all that matters when applying for a loan, but it is something you can pretty easily control. There is no one way to calculate a credit score, it’s a mathematical algorithm applied to the information on your credit report, and even these algorithms vary between banks and lenders.

To get a credit score in South Africa, you need some credit, that means getting a credit card, an overdraft of getting a store account. To get a good credit rating, you need to make sure you don’t default on paying everything on time without missing a payment. Use an app to track how much money you need to pay at the end of every month so that you take your credit balance back to zero.

16) Free yourself of addiction

Rather than break bad habits, allow yourself to start positive and energy affirming actions. Forming new habits will create positive changes in your life. In the case that something negative is creeping into your life, get on top of it early. It only takes an average of 3 days to stop a bad habit. 3 mornings of not scrolling your phone as you wake up until it feels normal. 3 Nights of not having a 5pm drink until you don’t long for it anymore. Use the 21 / 90 rule if you want to make something a habit. It takes 21 days to make a habit and 91 days to make a permanent lifestyle change. It’s good to know you are only 3 days from stopping something you don’t like, and 3 weeks from keeping going at something you do.

17) Learn to develop a habit of taking care of yourself

If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of other people and so many of us have a sense of worth taking care of others. We feel great taking care of our family, our parents, wives, kids and we forget to take care of ourselves. Some of you take care of your companies, your vehicles way better that we take care of our own bodies. Decide today to take care of this most important asset and that is your body.

18) Plan for the future but enjoy the journey

While you’re out there making money moves and planning your future, don’t forget to live in the now. The future is always uncertain, so be mindful of the the moment and enjoy the moments. Don’t miss out on important family events because your too caught up making money for your kids future but you miss their whole childhood. You must remember, all you have is now, that this is what you have control over now so treasure it.


Life is a continuous trade between being happy and sacrificing the moment for future gain but be careful. If you continuously trade the present for the future, at some point, you run out of future because time has run out on you. Enjoy the present and use some of it to make sure that tomorrow is better than today.

 Knowing these basics earlier in your life will enable to lay a better foundation for your life. By the time you hit 40, you would have made major accomplishments in life and will be guaranteed a better future. Let us know in the comments if you would like to add more points to our list.