Forget the New Year: My Top 10 Resolutions for a Happier Life

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Happy 2020, everyone! I feel particularly hopeful this year. Maybe it’s because of the lessons I’ve learned, the progress I’ve made, or the goals that I’ve gotten clear about. Maybe it’s because I’m reaching my quarter-life celebration (NOT crisis!) in 2020, which feels extra special. Regardless, this year I didn’t want to make resolutions that are only applicable in 2020. New Year’s resolutions generally feel a bit empty to me because inevitably, life changes and things don’t necessarily work out the way you expect.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to share my resolutions for a happier life – not just for the new year. I hope they can be helpful for you as well! Here we go:

Get Financially Healthy

This first resolution involves every area of your financial life: credit card debt, savings, investments, retirement accounts, insurance, and more. Part of becoming a fully-formed ~adult~ includes setting yourself up for success and security in the future, and there’s no time like the present to start creating good habits.

If you’ve already made some not-so-great financial decisions, don’t beat yourself up! That’s unproductive and won’t help you get out of the situation. Instead, determine what you can learn from your situation and create incremental goals to improve. For example, if you have debt, make a plan to start making small payments based on your current means. Then, research ways to earn some extra money on the side to eventually increase those payments.

When it comes to savings, retirement accounts, investing, etc. it’s best to start as early as you can for longevity. Just like with debt, if you can only afford to save or invest a small amount per month: simply go with that small amount. A little is better than nothing, but creating the habit now will ensure you are creating a healthy financial situation for the present and future.

Give Back, No Matter How Much You Have

This one might seem tricky if you’re struggling with finances at the moment, but there’s a concept when it comes to philanthropy + wealth: if you don’t learn to give $1 out of every $10, you won’t know how to give $1 million out of $10 million.

Now, you may not plan on being a millionaire in this lifetime or being that generous (to each their own!), but the principle is still relevant: it’s great to get into the habit of giving with whatever you have now, so that you can carry that mindset forward as your wealth grows and you’re able to give more.

That said: if monetary donations just do not feel feasible for you at the moment, I encourage you to get creative and see what else you can give. Do you have clothes, shoes, technology, or furniture that you don’t use anymore? Do you have some time in the evenings or on the weekends to volunteer your time? Giving something is better than giving nothing, so work within your means.

Be as Kind to Yourself as You Are to Your Friends

We all have that internal voice that loves to berate us for the slightest mistake – right? Well, it’s time to take back control and not let that voice beat us down so much!

Whenever your good friend messes up or gets something wrong, your first instinct isn’t to insult them or make them feel bad (at least, it shouldn’t be). Instead, you focus on reassuring them and reminding them how awesome they are. If it’s so natural to do this for our friends and loved ones, why do we fail to do it for ourselves?

This year (and every year), I challenge you to really tune in to that negative voice when it kicks in; and I want you to stop it in its tracks. Then, strive to create positive self-talk in order to have a healthier mindset when you have an issue or mess up. We all do it, but we need to give ourselves the grace to learn and grow without being our own worst enemy.

Learn What an Instinctive “Yes” and “No” Feel Like; then Trust Your Gut

This one is definitely easier said than done, but not impossible. The concept of getting in touch with your intuition can sometimes sound “woo-woo”, but it’s an important skill to develop for all areas of life. An old friend of mine once gave me the advice of how to start developing that instant Yes-No instinct. Here’s what she suggested: Take things in your daily life that are definite, and practice asking yourself Yes-No questions.

For example, consider a traffic light. Assuming you’re on the road and able to see color, you know immediately by looking at the light whether it’s green or red. So when you pull up to a traffic light, ask yourself if it’s red (or green) and answer Yes or No accordingly. You can also apply this concept to less visual aspects such as your parents. Is this my mom? Is my name XYZ? And so on.

Once you get better at identifying an immediate Yes or No feeling, you can apply this to crucial decisions and situations. Your intuition is usually spot-on, but you have to learn to trust it!

Make Time for Alone Time

Ah, alone time. For some reason, so many of us shy away from it (especially if you’re an extrovert by nature). We fear being alone; or we mistake the act of being alone with being lonely.

Here’s the thing: it is in these quiet, solo moments that we have the greatest chance of getting in touch with our true feelings and desires. Learn how to enjoy being alone, and you’ll learn how to enjoy being yourself.

When you are able to shut out the outside noise and judgments from the world, you’ll be better equipped to tune in to your higher self and create the life that you’re dreaming of.

Get Comfortable with Discomfort

Just like the aspect of learning to enjoy your alone time, you can experience immense learning and growth when you embrace discomfort. What do I mean by this? Well, I’m talking about situations that you avoid out of fear; but might help open your mind, advance your goals, etc. I’m certainly not talking about any life-threatening situations though, nor am I suggesting that you go against those instincts that we just discussed.

Rather, I am talking about when you know you want to do something, but right as you’re working up the courage, you suddenly love your resolve. Maybe you can’t always put your finger on it, but often that feeling stems from discomfort or fear of the unknown. And let’s face it: who among us has accomplished great things by staying comfortable? The comfort zone will only keep you in familiarity, not growth.

With this in mind, I encourage you to seek out opportunities that will challenge what you know and how you think. Book that flight for your first backpacking trip. Reach out to that person who would be a great career connection. Get on that dating app and put yourself out there. We all need to grow more comfortable with the idea of discomfort and failure, because there is always an opportunity to learn through both.

Find a Workout Routine that You Enjoy

^ And even more importantly: appreciate your body throughout the entire journey! As a woman who struggled with body dysmorphia for a good portion of my college and young adult life, I certainly understand how hard it is to appreciate the mere mechanics and ability of your body. I also know how tempting it is to compare yourself to what you see framed as desirable in society and social media.

However, this type of thinking is unproductive at best; and dangerous at worst when it can spiral into an ED. Instead of crash dieting and doing insane workouts to try and reach a certain standard, I have decided that this year (and going forward) I am going to focus on making healthy and enjoyable lifestyle changes. This includes doing workouts that I genuinely enjoy – while sprinkling in challenges occasionally – and finding joy in eating food that is good for my body.

Believe me: when you’re constantly picking yourself apart, it’s nearly impossible to appreciate the simple fact that your body is WHOLE and capable and carries you throughout your entire day. Isn’t that in and of itself something to be grateful for? I certainly think so. Be kind to yourself, and do your best to appreciate the journey.

Eat Mindfully and Happily

Expanding on the previous resolution, I have decided to aim for consistency in my eating habits versus crash dieting, yo-yoing in my weight, binging, and other unhealthy behaviors that I’ve previously engaged in. Honestly, the results of these methods never truly last; and you usually wind up unhappier when you gain the weight back or mess up your diet.

Instead of falling back into these unhealthy patterns, I am committing myself to creating an overall healthy eating plan (I don’t consider it a diet!) while indulging a bit when I want to. The key word to strive for here is moderation. If I have a very healthy breakfast and lunch, then I won’t make myself feel bad for having some less healthy snacks in between. Just listen to your body and do your best to feed it good things.

Adhere to the Four Agreements

You might have noticed that I’ve said “do your best” quite often here. Well, it’s a phrase that I’ve prioritized more and more in my own life thanks to a certain book called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. Here’s a link to the book if you’re interested in checking it out, but I want to at least share the basic idea of each agreement below:

1. Be Impeccable with Your Word

Basically, try to be as honest as you can and avoid speaking ill of others. I know this can be tricky, especially if someone is really bugging you. But the idea is that words have power; so yours are better used to promote positivity rather than focus on negativity.

2. Take Nothing Personally

I’ll admit, this one is really hard for my Pisces self. It’s a great consideration to keep in mind though. However someone chooses to treat you, respond to you, or think about you, is out of your control. If that seems counter-intuitive, consider this: when someone makes you feel angry, do you have the power to decide how big or small your response is? Yes? Well, the same goes for everyone else!

3. Make No Assumptions

Again, I’ll fully admit that I struggle with this agreement, but if you can master it, then it’ll change your life. It’s a bit similar to the previous one, but this applies to life in general. Don’t assume the worst of people or situations, don’t assume that a decision was made because you failed in some way, don’t assume what others are thinking. Just be open and remember that it might not even involve you. And, when all else fails…

4. Do Your Best

This agreement is my absolute favorite because it’s the simplest thing to do. Plus, whatever your “best” is will be different from the next person. Focusing on your own personal best helps to reduce the tendency to compare your progress to someone else. In the end, all we can do is our best. Even when we feel like our best might not be enough, it’s all we can do. So, aim to do your best in all things; and claim peace for yourself by knowing that no one else can define your best for you.

Learn to Live for Yourself

My last resolution is one that I’ve been working on since I embarked on my self-employment journey two years ago. I don’t know about you, but I tend to be a people-pleaser without even meaning to. For anyone who likes astrology, my moon sign is Leo – so perhaps that explains the Type-A, competitive behavior. 😉

But in all seriousness, let’s be frank here: no one else can live your life for you. If you’re living a life that’s based on pleasing your parents, spouse, boss, friends, or whomever, that will not sustain you. I don’t want to get morbid here, but people come in and out of your lives in various ways. Plus, you will never please everyone; and you may very well fail to please the person that you’re living your life for, no matter how hard you try.

In the end, we have to live with our own decisions. You decide how content you are with your life when you go to bed each night and wake up each morning. Are you living a life with purpose that makes you excited for each new day and opportunity? Or are you barely pushing through, feeling miserable and trapped? Empower yourself to perform this act of self-love: be 100% honest about what you want out of life. Understand what you do and don’t want to compromise. Then, have the courage to pursue a life that you will fall in love with.

Truly, you have to learn to live for yourself to fulfill your dreams. No one else can do that for you.

~

I hope that these “life resolutions” have inspired you to think of some ways to improve your quality of life for the foreseeable future, instead of just the new year! Do you have any resolutions that you didn’t see in this blog post? If so, please share them in the comments as I’d love to read them.

Wishing everyone a prosperous and fulfilling 2020!

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