If you set a New Year’s resolution this year to improve your life, you’re not alone. About 40 percent of Americans vow to improve their lives or stop a bad habit when the New Year rolls around.
Unfortunately, the odds of sticking to a resolution are somewhat low. Research shows that less than half of people follow through on their New Year’s goals.
However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take meaningful steps to improve your life in 2020. The start of a new year and a new decade are perfect opportunities to make positive changes.
The benefits of goal-setting include improved focus and better mental health. The key is to set the right kind of achievable goals.
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15 ways to Improve your life in 2020
Why you should set achievable goals
Setting achievable goals will tremendously improve your life. Lofty goals might seem inspirational, but the reality is that most people fare better when they start small and work their way up to bigger accomplishments.
For example, if you’re new to mountain climbing, you probably want to start with some hiking trails rather than setting your sights on Mount Everest.
Starting small doesn’t have to mean copping out. Just because you set achievable goals doesn’t mean you’re lazy. Rather, it means you can celebrate realistic milestones as you work your way up to bigger and better things.
For example, instead of committing to losing 100 pounds in two months, aim for five pounds a month.
Or if you want to spend less money and put more in savings, don’t vow to cut out all frivolous spending. Instead, start with eliminating fast food lunches when you’re at work. As you start seeing the savings, you’ll be motivated to cut out other types of unnecessary spending.
Why practicing gratitude is good for your brain
Thanksgiving isn’t the only time of year to celebrate the things you’re thankful for. Noticing little gestures of kindness and simple pleasures can be a great way to improve your life, mental health boost your mood and your attitude.
One idea is to think of three things you’re grateful for each day. It can be something as simple as the beauty of nature, the joy of petting a friendly dog, or the scent of baking bread.
There are plenty of things to be grateful for, and dwelling on the positives helps motivate you to overcome the negative. There are many people living in hospitals and healthcare facilities, who would give anything to be in your place.
Suffering, loss and grief are apart of life, they date back thousands of centuries. The key is to understand that life does not stop for anybody, and time heals wounds. Many times it seems like life has no meaning, maybe it doesn’t, but you can not find all the answers to this puzzle called life.
Practicing gratitude will teach you empathy, help you relish good moments, improve your self esteem, mental health and build you stronger relationships.
How reading improves your mental health
“Libraries are our friends.” — Neil Gaiman
Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body – Richard Steele
The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. Dr. Suess.
Reading will introduce you to a lot of information, develop your thought pattern, vocabulary and thinking, analyzing skills and imagination, and improve your writing abilities.
Choose to read books about the topics that interest you, you will lower your stress levels. Reading newspapers may not necessarily be a good idea, since newspapers cover a lot of upsetting topics.
Is there any person you see as successful? Chances are that they wrote a book about their journey. Pick up that book, you will learn a few things.
Reading books opens your mind to other cultures and things you otherwise would not interact with in daily life.
Take advantage of dozens of resources for free and discounted books. For example, Amazon’s audible, has one of the largest collection of audio books. Simply sign up as a prime customer and get 1 credit every month. You will be able to download one book for each credit.
Libraries let you explore the literary world for free, and many library systems now offer free access to digital books via an app or website. If you have a long commute — or a lot of chores — audiobooks offer a wonderful opportunity to get your book fixed while you drive, work, or cook.
Bookbub offers a daily list of free and deeply discounted books from bestselling and indie authors. Freebooksy and Bargain Booksy are also two great sites for scoring free and discounted reads.
Why self forgiveness is vital to your mental health
Many of us find it more difficult to forgive ourselves than to forgive others. Beating yourself up for your past mistakes creates stress, anger, resentment and hinders you from going forward.
Focus on the things that you can change. Step up, take full responsibility, dig within yourself, confront the real reasons why you did what you did. Admit you messed up then write a heartfelt apology to the hurt party, – remember all you can do is genuinely apologize then move on.
You have no control over whether the other party forgives you. Have the intention to do better next time, when a situation that tests your integrity arises. ( these situations keep arising)
Jim Rohn once said that insanity is doing the same things over and over again expecting different results.
Why saying NO is sometimes Important
Make 2020 your year of setting boundaries. Defining clear boundaries in your life and relationships can improve your mental and physical health. In order for you to be honest with others, you need to be honest with yourself first.
Learn to speak up, say what you mean. This does not mean being rude and annoying neither does it mean being opinionated. State your intention firmly, be clear in your message, refraining from speaking in parables.
Not speaking up creates resentment and anger over time which takes a toll on your physical and mental health.
For example, do you always agree to take on a task even when you don’t have time for it? Putting too much pressure on yourself can hurt your physical and emotional well-being.
If you can’t commit to a work assignment or family request without overextending yourself, explain why you need more time and offer an alternative schedule or arrangement for getting the job or favor done.
Saying NO is saying YES to something more important.
Get Rid of Things You Don’t Need
You’ve probably heard of Marie Kondo’s tips for decluttering and living a better life. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to rent a dumpster and ransack your house from top to bottom.
Rather, commit to small decluttering steps. For example, tackle that corner of the basement stacked with old storage bins, or finally go through the clothes your children have outgrown.
Decluttering can free up space and make you feel more organized. You can also feel good about donating items you no longer need.
Pay yourself first
In his bestseller The Richest Man in Babylon, George .S. Clason explains why and how you can pay yourself first.
Automate 10% of every paycheck you earn. 10% is just a demo number, you can make it more or less depending on your situation. The most important thing is to start somewhere, work your way up as you get your finances in order.
This builds up your nest egg in no time, it teaches you discipline because building wealth requires consistency. You learn to live on less and it gives you a sense of financial security and improve your life. Use the accumulated savings to make large investments after a while.
Why it is vital to get out of debt
This can be the year you finally start tackling your debt. The average American has about $38,000 in debt, with credit cards making up around 25 percent of it.
If you’re committed to digging your way out of debt, one method is to start with your lowest debt. For example, pick your credit card with the smallest balance and start paying more than the minimum payment each month.
Once you pay off the first card, simply move to the next one. As you see your debt shrink, you’ll be motivated to keep going until you’re debt-free.
Set aside an Emergency fund
An emergency fund is a little safety net of money that you set aside for unexpected events like sudden loss of a job or your car or stove suddenly breaks down.
It is advised to set aside money that covers 3-6 or maybe 9 months of living expenses in case of loss of employment. An emergency fund saves you from raking up more debt when emergency strikes.
Track your spending
Tracking your expenses will show you where your money is going. Good old excel or Google spreadsheet works just fine; alternatively utilize the many money tracking apps out there.
Simply note down every dollar that is going out, parking ticket, coffee, chewing gum, etc. This will make you think twice before spending – because you will dread writing down your expenses.
This why it is good for you to learn a new skill.
Learning a new skill stimulates your brain. The more skills you have, the easier it will be for you to interact with other individuals with the same skills.
The more skills you have, the easier it becomes for you to adapt to changes. The idea that you need 10,000 hours to learn a new skill is a myth. Not all skills need that much time.
Leverage the skills you have, chances are that someone out there is looking for someone to teach them the skills you have. This is a great way to increase your income.
Are you good with math, or any other subject? Many students are willing to pay for help students with their coursework, good at crafts? Make crafts to sell locally, Do you have a passion for painting pictures? Paint pictures to sell at fairs and other busy places.
You only have one body to live
There’s a good reason why “exercise more” is a top New Year’s resolution. After the indulgences of the holidays, many people want to start the year off by practicing healthier habits.
You can achieve this in small steps by making basic changes to your lifestyle. For example, commit to taking one 10-minute walk each day. This is a great way to get outdoors and get your heart rate up without paying for a gym membership.
Ditch Your Phone for an Hour
Do you have nomophobia? If you’re reading this on a mobile phone, you just might. This is the term many psychologists use to describe the growing problem of smartphone addiction.
A portmanteau of “no mobile phone” and “phobia,” it refers to people who become anxious when forced to go without their phones.
In fact, 84 percent of people worldwide say they couldn’t go a full day without checking their phones. Additionally, many people say the first thing they do in the morning — even before getting out of bed — is reach for their phone.
If you find yourself constantly scrolling through your phone or checking for texts or emails, try spending some time away.
The next time you’re at dinner, for example, keep your phone in your purse or pocket. Instead, commit to being in the moment, whether it’s paying attention to a companion’s conversation or simply enjoying some people watching while you enjoy your meal.
Do a 30-day Challenge
The appeal of a 30-day challenge is you know precisely when it’s going to end. If you keep a household or personal calendar handy, you can make a habit of checking off each day as it passes, bringing you one steady step closer to your goal every day.
There are an almost endless variety of 30-day challenges out there, from eating more vegetables to doing a certain number of squats each day. Here are 30 examples of 30-day challenges you can try.
Drink this much water a day
Want to lose weight and look younger? It’s as easy as increasing your daily water intake. Our bodies are made of 66% water, in addition to other benefits of staying hydrated, including plumper, more youthful looking skin, clear thinking patterns and a lower risk of kidney issues.
The ideal water intake varies from person to person, but the average daily recommended intake is 100 ounces (12.5 cups) for men and 73 ounces (a little over 9 cups) a day for women.
Why your contribution to society matters
Being more generous can help connect you to your community and improves your life and most of all your mental health. Whether it’s giving to charity or volunteering your time, there are many ways to give back. Here are some ideas:
- Coach a children’s sports team
- Offer to shelve books at the library
- Contribute to a community garden
- Volunteer at a food pantry or soup kitchen
- Walk or play with the animals at a local humane society
- Knit hats, mittens, or scarves for children in need of warm winter clothing
- Tutor children at your local library or school
- Bake treats or healthy snacks for the local police or fire department
- Offer your time to a nearby hospital
- Get out the vote by volunteering to canvass for a political candidate
Be More Rested
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 3 Americans don’t get enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recommends between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night for most adults.
One way to motivate yourself to get the rest you need is to make your bedroom a sleep oasis. The NSF has several tips for creating the ideal sleep environment.
Whether it’s a New Year’s resolution or just a commitment to improve your life, adopting good habits, setting achievable goals is a positive step toward living a healthier, more fulfilling life in 2020 and beyond.