Everyone wants to live their best lives, but that’s especially true when a new year rolls around. This year, it might sound unattainable for living your best life yet, but it is 100 percent doable. Setting attainable goals and taking steps to achieve them while also making time to support yourself and your wellness is key. Set yourself up for success by taking the time to reflect, reevaluate and make adjustments throughout the year.
1. Identify what matters most to you
If this past year has taught us anything, it’s the value of what truly matters. It doesn’t take a near-death experience to reconnect with what matters most. Sometimes, just a few moments of asking tough questions can help you do the same thing.
What matters most to you? If you learned you only had a limited time left, what would you want to do with your time? Ask yourself this often to make sure your priorities are truly getting the attention they deserve.
2. Consume mindfully
Does what and who you follow online bring you joy? If not, delete, unsubscribe, unfollow and be done with it. Even the things that you think bring you joy can sometimes create negative underlying feelings. And I think it’s important to evaluate if the shows, news, accounts and more bring you more stress than happiness. There’s nothing wrong with a little entertainment, but make sure that what you’re consuming feels good to you, and doesn’t leave you feeling more stressed out or upset. What you consume is your choice, so choose mindfully.
3. “Things That Went Well” practice
“Things That Went Well” is an end-of-the-day practice, that helps you reflect on the positive elements of the day, no matter how small or few between they may be. Some days it’s hard. However, if you actually commit to doing this one, you train your brain to seek out the good parts of your day — however big or small.
4. Talk less, listen more
The next time you are in a conversation with someone, make it an intention to be fully attentive and listen when they talk. Notice the voices that go on in your head as the other person is talking. So often we spend our time “listening” actually preparing what to say next. When our own voice is rattling off in our head, it can be hard to really listen to others. Don’t worry about what you are going to say or how to reply, just listen as much as you can. The more you practice this, you will notice those voices start to get quieter.
5. Drink water 90 percent of the time
One of the simplest and most effective ways to build a better life is to drink plenty of water. People who drink a glass of water as soon as they wake up, then drink one every other hour throughout the day, have been shown to have higher levels of energy and more positive emotions than people who don’t drink as much water. Cutting back on coffee, soda and alcohol and replacing them with water may sound daunting and unenjoyable, but once you commit to it, you’ll feel addicted to the benefits.
6. Spend regular time with people smarter than you
Set up a recurring call or make a standing coffee date with someone who is ahead of you, in at least one dimension of their life, once per week. If you’re working on your career, you should chat with someone who is a few steps ahead of you professionally. If you’re working on your health, have a conversation with the person who is crushing their wellness. If you’re learning something, talk to someone who has done it before.
7. Balance your “checkbook” daily
Not many people still use the register in the back of their checkbook to track their expenses and deposits. But bookkeeping is the key to financial wellness. The more hands-on you are with your finances, the more aware you’ll be of your current fiscal standing. Far too many people have an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality when it comes to their finances, but this is the worst thing you can do. Track everything that goes in and everything that comes out. Use an app like PocketGuard or a spreadsheet to make it easy.
8. Identify and acknowledge your bad habits
Start eliminating or mitigating them slowly. You might not even be aware of the amount of time you spend in front of TV or scrolling mindlessly on Instagram. You may not realize how often you grab a midnight snack or how often you skip your daily walk. Observe yourself first. Then work on eliminating at least some of the habits that squander your time, energy, creativity and health.
9. Do what you can with what you have
How many times have we said, “If only I had XYZ, I would…” How about starting from where you are? How about using what you already have? You don’t need a fancier camera. You don’t need the newest running shoes. You don’t need the latest and greatest to get started and get moving. How often we pine for the newest phone/camera/game/course/book/shoes forgetting about the ton of stuff we already have? Grab the camera that you have, put on your running shoes, explore your neighborhood, do something interesting today. Fancier gadgets won’t make you better. Action will.
10. Worry only about the things you can control
Worry only about the things that are in your control, the things that can be influenced and changed by your actions, not about the things that are beyond your capacity to direct or alter. This rule summarizes several important features of ancient Stoic wisdom — features that remain powerfully suggestive for modern times. The key to resisting the hardship and discord that intrude upon every human life, is to cultivate a certain attitude toward adversity based on the critical distinction between those things we are able to control versus those that are beyond our capacity to manage. In other words, while we cannot control all of the outcomes we seek in life, we certainly can control our responses to these outcomes and herein lies our potential for a life that is both happy and fulfilled.