5 Things You Should Always Prioritize in Life

CC BY 2.0. Niko Dimo

Think of them as personal investments that guarantee fabulous returns over time.

Life is full of small decisions, like what you're going to eat for dinner, whether or not you go the gym later, and what time you go to sleep. On their own, these decisions seem minor, but added over time, they amount to a lifestyle that can make or break you.

In a thought-provoking article for The Mission, writer Srinivas Rao outlines what he considers to be 5 essential investments every person should make in themselves. When these five things are prioritized, it affects every aspect of your life for the better, resulting in greater happiness, health, work performance, and more.

1. Physical Health

This is the first thing most people think of, but it encompasses far more than just going to the gym on a regular basis. Getting enough quality sleep and eating well are just as important. If you hate working out, Rao recommends developing an athletic hobby, like surfing, snowboarding, yoga, or gardening. Make exercise less of a chore and you'll grow to like it more. (I didn't set foot inside a gym until I was 25, and it became a highly unexpected addiction.)

2. Mental Health

Your mental state has an impact on everything around, from your job to your relationships to creative output to physical wellbeing. Surround yourself with positive influences (your primary relationship has a huge impact on everything you do), foster a habit of gratitude, get a therapist, practice meditation, establish a productive routine. I'd add spend time outside. Being outside has an incredible uplifting effect on one's mood and creative performance.

3. Education

Education should not stop with a diploma or degree; it's an ongoing, lifelong process. Thanks to the Internet, there's a world of valuable information at your fingertips, if you have the determination to access and absorb it. Rao thinks books, courses, and podcasts are all valuable investments, as long as you actually do them.

4. Professional Development

There will come a point where you cannot get any better doing something on your own. Know when to hire a trainer, a coach, a mentor; form a Mastermind group; or seek professional guidance in some other way. This may require a significant financial outlay, but you may very well learn more in a 2-day workshop than you'd teach yourself in a year.

5. Your Environment

The state of your surroundings affects your mental health and productivity. Staying tidy, organized, and well-dressed goes a long way toward fuelling inspiration. Choose a place to live that is conducive to becoming your best self. Perhaps that means moving downtown so you don't have to commute, or choosing a place that allows you to bike to work, or downsizing to enjoy greater financial freedom.

I liked this list because, as an adult, there is a tendency to feel like the 'personal formation' period of my life is somehow over. I know that's not true, but now that I have kids running around the house, they have become the next focal point, the ones I need to raise to maturity; but that shouldn't mean that my own development stagnates in the meantime. Every adult can benefit from actively pursuing learning, wellbeing, and physical prowess, regardless of their age.