A lot can change in just a year. Some of these events are out of your control but there are so many things that are within your control that you can work on and see massive improvements as a result.
Whether you’re struggling with perspective, self-love, a sense of purpose, debt, your career, love life, or all of the above, there are a number of small but impactful actions you can take to change your life for the better in just a year. Here are 14 of those little things you can do starting today.
1. Make taking care of yourself a habit.
Above all else, take care of both your mental and physical health. Make that doctor’s appointment you’ve been putting off. Go to the dentist (this is me yelling at me). See a therapist and unpack all of the things that are holding you back from living the life you want. Eat more fruits and veggies. Exercise regularly in a way that you both enjoy and can commit to.
When you make taking care of yourself a habit, you invest in yourself. You prioritize your well-being. The best way to change your life is by caring about it and for it.
2. Seek out positive content as opposed to negative.
While it’s absolutely imperative to be informed about what’s going on in the world, constantly doomscrolling and clicking on every scary headline you see on Twitter won’t stop the pain or help anyone or anything about the situations you’re obsessing over. It will just make you jaded and exhausted.
Instead, seek out positive content online that shifts your perspective and grounds you in the present moment as much as possible. Unfollow influencers that make you feel like shit about your life. Subscribe to email newsletters that lift your spirits. And, when all else fails, make your social media presence a breath of fresh air.
3. Get involved in one cause you care deeply about.
While it’s important to stay as positive as possible, completely ignoring the bad shit that goes on isn’t exactly productive either. Instead, pick one cause you care deeply about changing and get involved. Find organizations that support it. Donate. Volunteer. Research. Educate yourself. This will help the greater good which will also give you a greater sense of purpose and meaning. A win-win.
4. Let go of the relationships that only leave you feeling drained.
Relationships are meant to rejuvenate you, bring you joy, offer support, and create deep feelings of connection. If a relationship does not do that for you, what is the point? Let go.
5. Get real about your financial situation.
Take a hard, honest look at your financial health. Are you in debt? Do you have an emergency fund if something goes wrong? Are you investing? Are you living within your means? Figure out where you stand and then make a series of goals based on that standing.
For example, if you have credit card debt, make an action plan to combat the debt such as paying an extra $100 towards the balance each month. Finances are stressful but finding ways to mitigate that stress by taking charge where you can will make a world of difference in your quality of life. Not to mention, improving your finances also gives you more options for living a life that feels like your own.
6. Seek out more discomfort.
Despite popular belief, discomfort is actually a good thing. This is not to say you should seek out pain and suffering, those things are different, but finding ways to push your limits and improve your tolerance for feeling uncomfortable will increase your discipline and resilience.
For example, find a challenging workout routine that you can barely finish the first time you do it. Commit to doing it once a week and feel yourself gradually get stronger and better with each workout.
7. Spend time alone with intention.
Spending time alone just to say you spent time alone isn’t necessarily the most effective. Instead, spend time alone by being intentional with how you use those solo hours. Maybe commit to learning a new skill, journal about your feelings, listen to podcasts about topics that interest you, etc. Essentially, learn to enjoy your own company and bond with yourself.
Whatever you like. Just. Fucking. Read.
9. Practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the practice of grounding yourself in the present moment, taking things as they come without judgment including events, emotions, and thoughts. Incorporating mindfulness into your daily life will help everything fall into place more smoothly.
10. Commit to quitting just one bad habit.
Be honest with yourself: what habit is holding you back the most from living the life you want? Or at the very least making it harder to achieve? Is it plopping down on the couch at the end of your 9-5, pouring a glass of wine, and watching three hours of New Girl before calling it a day? Is it overspending? Smoking? Gossiping? Whatever the bad habit is, choose one and work to eradicate it. By only focusing on one, you’ll be more likely to kick it to the curb rather than overwhelming yourself with too many goals and abandoning the mission altogether.
11. Decide if you want a career (or just a job to pay the bills).
Both are worthy endeavors, so long as you do what you actually want to do. Be honest with yourself about what you want out of your work-life. Do you want a vibrant but demanding and bustling career? Or would you prefer a job that you can leave at the office as soon as it hits 5 PM? Whatever your answer may be, make it happen this year.
12. Set strict boundaries with technology.
This year is the start of your Do Not Disturb Era. Turn off your social media notifications. Vow to ignore the Slack messages that come in after hours. Sleep with your phone outside your bedroom. Your mental health will thank you.
13. Write a list of your values and then explain how you’re living according to them (or not).
Have you ever stopped to consider what your values are? If not, today is the day. Write a list of everything you value and how you live (or don’t live) according to those principles. For example, if you value family, how much time do you spend with your own? Do you value authenticity but find yourself constantly bending to fulfill everyone else’s wishes? Figure out where you’re succeeding and falling short when it comes to your values and adjust accordingly.
14. Live as though you’re already the person you want to be.
If you want to be the person who wakes up at 6 AM, start setting your alarm for 6 AM. If you want to be the person who is emotionally healthy, do the things you would need to do in order to achieve that. Action comes before motivation. Live as though you’re already the person you want to be and watch yourself become them.