1. Do something nice for a friend who needs help, without them having to ask for it.
Most people won’t ask for help, because they don’t want to be a burden. So just take the small step and do something that will make them feel better. They’ll return the favor when you need it.
2. Work your ass off when you’re at work, then go home and forget about work. (No work emails, calls, ya know — NOT working.)
Cell phones are a blessing and a terrible, awful curse. Because you can often check work emails on them, even when you aren’t at work. Not making time for yourself and really maintaining a good work-life balance can lead to fatigue, poor health, and even more work (think about it: if you’re working all those hours, your job will think that’s your normal, and add more to your plate). So do yourself a favor and put your phone in a drawer when you’re home — the work emails will be there and waiting for you in the morning when you’re back at work.
3. Forget the word “diet” and just focus on feeding yourself good and healthy foods.
Fuck diets. Bury them in an unmarked grave and never look back. A UCLA study found that diets don’t even work — so just make smart food choices (come on, you know what those are), and live your best life.
6. Start journaling. Write down what happened in your day, what you hope to accomplish, and what’s going on in your world.
The American Psychological Association found that journaling boosts memory function and can help you to better cope with stressful situations. BRB, buying a new journal.
7. Say “no” when someone asks you to do something you very much don’t want to do.
Learning to say “no” doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you someone who knows what they want. Whether it’s saying no to that co-worker who keeps trying to delegate, or deciding you aren’t going to spend $600 on a plane ticket to an acquaintance’s wedding…just say no.
8. And FINALLY stop talking to the people who only seem to try and tear you down.
Life is (hopefully) long. And while it may seem like you only get one group of friends, that’s just not true. Maybe you needed that friend who loved to party when you were in high school, but now that you’re older you’ve become a homebody. And that’s OK! It doesn’t need to be dramatic — just start opting out when hangouts arise.
9. Read at least one really amazing book this year. (If not more!)
Look, I’m not your schoolmarm here to tell you you’re a bad person because you haven’t been reading. And statistically speaking, you’re not alone — 42% of people will never read a book after they graduate from school. That’s almost half of all people! But studies have shown that reading actually helps your brain in the short and long term, so do something nice for yourself and pick up a book (or Kindle, whatever).
10. Be a decent human being and embrace people who are different from you. Seriously.
Have you ever felt good after commenting on a friend’s political Facebook post and telling them they’re a moron? Even though they may very well be a moron, chances are you telling them that won’t make them feel more empathetic. Live your truth, but don’t be a fucking asshole in the process.
11. Actually make a plan to save money over the next year — whether it’s cutting out buying a daily coffee, or squirreling away more in a 401(k).
Apps like Moni or Spendee track what you’re spending so you can be more aware of your habits. Or you can use Digit, which saves money for you so you don’t have to think about it. Regardless, saving money will help ensure you have enough when there’s an emergency (or when you just need to pay rent).
12. And spend SOME of that saved money on a trip to a place you’ve never been before, even if it’s just a town away.
Not only do your eyeballs get to see a new and exciting place, but research has also shown that even after a day or two of travel your stress levels decrease. And long-term benefits of traveling include a decreased risk of heart attack. Time to pack a bag, friend-o.
13. Really take the time to learn a new hobby you’ve always wanted to try.
No more “I’ve always wanted to learn, but…” sentences. Instead, pick something — maybe knitting, or cooking for the first time — and be realistic with yourself and your time so that you can get it done. Plus, studies show that engaging in hobbies almost immediately relieves stress and lowers your blood pressure.
15. Put sunblock on every day. Don’t be a dumb-dumb, take care of yourself.
Not only does sunblock help prevent skin cancer, but it also lowers your chances of getting wrinkles and all manner of skin damage. Just put it on so you don’t look like a shriveled walnut someday.
16. Celebrate the small and big accomplishments you have this year (and yes, growing a year older is a damn accomplishment).
“You only live once” is a cliché, but it’s also a very true one. You won’t look back on your life and think, “Oh, thank the gods I didn’t treat myself to champagne when I got promoted.” What you will remember are the little moments when you did something out of the ordinary to remind yourself that you’re a badass boss.
17. But above all: Just try and do the very best you can each day.
Hell, agreeing to do even one of these things is something to get excited about. And being mindful, according to loads of research, will make you a happier and healthier person in the long run. So, anyone want some champagne to celebrate this small victory?!
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