When people reach a certain age, often just before or after turning 25, they start to think about the future. Topics that never occurred to them before suddenly become important, including long-term responsibilities and concerns like saving for retirement, staying healthy, being financially stable, staying in good health, getting enough sleep, not taking unnecessary risks, avoiding overwork, and avoiding excessive stress. The goal behind it all is to create a better quality of life.

Too many college and graduate school students live from day to day or week to week, focusing on the next exam, grade, semester, or job interview. It’s part of life’s transition from adolescence to full adulthood. But after the dust settles, diplomas are hanging on the wall, and paychecks start coming in regularly, it’s only natural to start looking at the long game. Here are the core concerns for adults who are just starting to get serious about what it means to achieve and maintain a rewarding lifestyle.

1. Save Money Early and Often

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Saving money, or simply learning how to create a savings habit, is perhaps the central feature of a comfortable life. For new graduates in their first jobs, it’s essential to set aside a fixed percentage of income as money comes in. If paychecks are weekly, then savings should be weekly. If they’re bi-weekly, then your savings account should get a deposit every two weeks, and so on.

The percentage is not nearly as crucial as the habit and regularity. Even tucking away one percent of after-tax income is an acceptable way to build the all-important savings habit. Later, when income increases and life becomes a bit more stable as you head into your mid-30s, it makes sense to up the percentage and considers placing some of the money into the stock market or into government-backed bonds.

2. Keep an Eye on Health

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There’s no need to become obsessed about health, but it makes good sense to have regular check-ups and be vigilant about your overall physical condition. If you notice unusual aches, pains, skin rashes, or mobility problems, it’s usually a good idea to get professional medical advice as soon as you can. The internet can come in handy if your primary care provider offers video conference wellness sessions. And when it comes time to order prescriptions or medical devices, simply visit one of the hundreds of web-based pharmacies or equipment providers. In fact, your home-based PC is possibly the best health resource of all.

For example, many residents of U.S. states where medical marijuana (MMJ) is commonly prescribed use websites like NuggMD to get MMJ cards online. Not only do applicants avoid having to drive to dispensaries, but they also avoid standing in line and wasting an untold amount of time. For Pennsylvanians and residents of other MMJ-friendly states, obtaining a card online is quick and easy. It’s just one of the many ways people can keep close tabs on their health, get the medications they need, and not waste precious hours doing so.

3. Avoid Unnecessary Risks

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Do you like to go sky-diving, rock climbing, or hang-gliding? Those activities are a lot of fun, but they carry a high level of risk. Indeed, you’ll have a tough time purchasing life insurance if you take part in any risky sports like them. Does that mean responsible adults can’t have fun? Of course not. It just means that commonsense has to come into the equation at some point.

This principle is especially pertinent if you have a family. Spouses depend on each other, and children depend on their parents to be there in times of need. People who risk their well-being for the sake of thrills don’t tend to make good parents or spouses. Life comes with enough risk and built-in danger as it is; there’s no need to add more, particularly when you’re heading into middle-age and trying to support a family.

4. Don’t Become a Workaholic

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Earning money is the backbone of a stable, secure, rewarding life. However, people who carry that philosophy to an extreme tend to work too hard, focus too much on their jobs, and end up neglecting their families, their own health, and their long-term happiness. Workaholics are often mocked for their single-minded dedication to making money and getting ahead. Some people even revel in this sad state, much to their detriment. The fact is that working too much and too hard can mean a short life or one that is interrupted by all sorts of physical ailments.

5. Avoid Air Pollution

Some of the world’s biggest, most glamorous cities are air pollution nightmares. If you live or work in the downtown sector of these giant beehives, there’s a good chance you’ll be breathing some pretty awful air. And you don’t need to be a scientist to see the evidence before your eyes. Turn on the car radio and listen to the pollution report in a typical metro area and you can hear the warnings: high ozone levels, dangerous particles, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and more. If you value clean, breathable air and consider air pollution as a negative factor in the quality of life equation, then stay away from downtown areas of big cities.

6. Minimize Daily Stress

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There are all sorts of personality types, some of which can tolerate more stress than others. Even so, you can do your lifestyle a huge favor by consciously working to minimize stress levels. Of course, some stress can’t be avoided, but a lot of it can with careful planning and sincere dedication. For example, if you suffer major stress from being crowded stadiums, or packed movie theaters, choose not to go to those places. What you gain from the decreased stress will more than offset missing a few live sporting events or films.

Another option is to take a stress-reduction class or sign up for a meditation seminar. Whatever it takes to remove, minimize, or redirect stressful situations is worth the time and trouble. Here again, the internet is an excellent resource. Check out one of the many self-hypnosis sessions that focuses on inducing a state of total relaxation

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