You get approximately 525,600 minutes to make the most of each year, and that number just decreased as you read this intro.
But let’s not focus on what you’ve lost. You still have 525,599 minutes left to make better choices than you did last year. What will you do? Where will you go? What changes will you implement?
It’s okay if you don’t have the answer to all — or any — of these questions just yet. It takes time to carve out your self-improvement plan, but try to include some of the 5 ideas below.
Right now, some of you are confused about why this item is even on a daily to-do list, and that’s okay. Skip on down to suggestion #2 if you don’t need a reminder to shower or soak in the tub.
As for the rest of you, I’ve seen your knotted hair and smelled the body odor you thought you masked with several layers of deodorant or body spray. Sometimes depression interferes with personal hygiene, and parenthood can also make it difficult to shower daily. It’s easy to get sucked into the demands of the professional world as well, especially if you telecommute or do freelance work.
These things happen, so I’m not here to judge your bathing habits. I just want you to remember that you deserve clean skin and hair that shines from a moisturizing shampoo instead of your scalp’s excess oil. You are worthy of these things, even if you’re exhausted or feel like your life is hopeless sometimes.
Think about how much better you feel after a hot shower, then jump in the tub and envision life’s troubles floating down the drain as the water hits your body. This is a gift you can give yourself each day in 2021 and beyond.
2. Take 5 Minutes for Yourself
Some of the stay-at-home parents are shaking their heads right now, but trust me: You can find 5 minutes for yourself, even if you have to hide in the closet with a candy bar for 3 minutes and pretend to check the mail for the remaining 2 minutes.
If you’re not a stay-at-home mom or dad, carve out some time for yourself at work or school. This may mean pretending to poop for 5 minutes just to get some peace or taking the stairs instead of the elevator when you drop off some files. It may entail parking at the back of the lot when you arrive at the grocery store or dentist, then using your extra trek time to mentally regroup.
Find a way to sneak in some time to do whatever you want each day, even if you can only set aside a few minutes.
3. Contact a Friend
Sometimes friendships suffer when you’re busy with life’s demands, but staying in touch with your pals is great for your mental health — and theirs, too. You may not have time to meet up in person for dinner or a trip to the mall, but you can pound out a quick “hello” text or call a friend for a few minutes. If you’re not up for conversation, send a meme or a link to an article that resonated with you.
The pandemic has made in-person hangouts a bit tricky for some people. If you can relate, try scheduling a FaceTime call or do happy hour over Zoom with your pals. You can also plan some ideas where social distancing is possible, like a parking lot dance party with a few buddies.
Want to make some friends? Devote a few minutes each day to activities that support your goals, such as RSVPing to local events or searching for like-minded adults on Meetup. Join a Bible study group at church, or sign up for the employee baseball game at work. There are tons of local groups on Facebook as well. Friendly people are everywhere, so don’t let your nerves or ego prevent you from forming connections.
4. Perform an Act of Kindness
Do something nice for someone else each day, and do it because it’s the right thing to do — not because you want good karma or something else in return. I’m not saying you need to pay for the $8 drinks of every customer at Starbucks — though you certainly can if you feel compelled to do so. I just want you to do something nice for others, whether you let someone ahead of you in the school pickup line or leave a dollar bill in the candy aisle so someone can get a sweet treat.
Compliment a stranger on his shoes. Tell a random mama at Target that she’s doing a great job. Pick up a piece of trash that doesn’t belong to you and throw it away.
Offer to babysit your niece for a few hours so her parents can have a well-deserved date night. Ask an elderly neighbor if he needs help raking leaves or shoveling snow. Offer to volunteer at your kids' school, or see if the local pet shelter needs some donations.
The world has enough anger and sadness, so do your part to spread joy each day.
5. Eliminate One Bad Thing
We’ve all got bad habits, but let’s be honest: New Year’s resolutions almost always fail. In fact, research indicates that most resolutions don’t even survive past January 17th.
So let’s forget about making resolutions this year and just try to eliminate one bad thing each day. Don’t quit your bad habits cold turkey; just give up one unhealthy behavior, food, or substance on a daily basis.
If you usually smoke 3 cigarettes before bed, try smoking 2 instead. If you spend the drive to work texting from behind the wheel, put your phone away and crank up the radio until you arrive. Replace your midday candy bar with a granola bar, or order a salad at McDonald’s instead of a Big Mac.
Ignore one crazy text from your ex instead of responding. Recycle one piece of paper on your cluttered desk. Throw away one memento from a toxic relationship.
Small changes add up over time, and by the end of the year, you can be a happier, healthier version of yourself.