We have a new year, a new start and an opportunity to improve habits in our daily lives. These 15 successful habits to begin for the New Year can help make your life easier. Many of these habits we know are good for us, but implementing them on a daily basis takes practice.

For myself, managing my time is tricky. They say it takes 21 days to successfully begin a new habit, or to stop a negative one. Many times I am good with the first few days or week and then some of my old habits begin to creep in and before I know it I’ve lost momentum. This list includes small yet significant changes that can provide better balance and emotional health in our lives. If we can truly start to implement and live by them, we will be able to handle anything that may come our way in the coming year. Remember, the success of our lives and how we navigate through each and every day is within our control. The key is to realizing what is our responsibility and what is not. Once we can accept that life is truly what we make of it based on our attitude, the better we can maintain balance and peace on a daily basis.

1. Begin Each Day with Time for Yourself

I used to stay up late and get up just in time to get dressed and go to work. After realizing my day starts off rushed and often ends with me being entirely exhausted, I started making myself get up early. Now my morning time is somewhat sacred to me – my time for silence. I have no children awake and I have time for me to think about my day. I use this time for prayer and meditation, but it can just be quiet time before the rush of your day, or even planning time to sort out your day. Each and every day I do this, my day goes so much better.

2. Question your Motives in All that You Do

I used to run my life based on my feelings. If someone upset me, I gave them a piece of my mind or immediately said the first thing that popped in my head. Those habits didn’t prove successful for me. I have since accepted my sole responsibility in life comes down to my actions and reactions to any situation and the words that come out of my mouth.  Be sure that whatever your response will be in any situation, that your motive behind why you are doing it is true to who you are and what you want. Make sure what you say or do is not something you might regret later because you did it out of anger, spite or revenge.

Sometimes just taking a moment to ask yourself what your motives are before you say or do something can be a way to keep yourself in check, especially if you are experiencing heightened feelings or emotions.

3. Remind Yourself of What You CAN Control

What can we control in our lives? We cannot control the weather or the company we work for suddenly deciding to lay people off through no fault of our own. We cannot change another human being, only ourselves. Before I tried to control others, and I failed miserably. Once I finally accepted that the only person I can change is me, it became kind of freeing. I can stop worrying about the other person or devising my next plan to try and get them to do this or that. Believe me I wish I could control my children, especially when they are having a meltdown at the grocery store but I cannot. What I can control is how I talk and act around them and the boundaries I set with them.

4. Don’t Take Anything Personally

This one is sometimes so hard to do. The truth is hurting people hurt other people. I have been that person at one point in time that hurt others. We need to accept that some people are in a place in their lives that causes them to lash out in anger or bitterness which means we can get the brunt of it. When we realize other people might be in a bad season in their lives and project their negativity towards others that don’t always deserve it, we can’t own that.

When I started accepting people for who they are and where they are in their life and not taking things personally, my anxiety and worry decreased. I can choose whether or not to have a relationship with that person. I can choose to set healthy boundaries. This can be the same in business as well. Others may get a promotion over you, the company may lay people off and you get the pink slip. It is a business decision that we can’t own or control. All we can do is accept it and move on to the next great adventure.

5. Embrace the Differences in Others

The world is so diverse. We have so many different people in the world which makes it way less boring. If we all thought the same, if we all believed in the same things, where would passion lie? Where would healthy debate go? There is a huge difference in being passionate about something you believe in and being arrogant or judgmental about your passion. This mainly lies with religion and politics or certain life issues. I have seen some hateful memes and posts when scrolling through my Facebook feed. I am almost saddened to see that some adults think it’s perfectly fine to chide, ridicule and make fun of someone they don’t like or agree with.

If it’s a political figure – go vote that person out of office instead of riling up others that don’t share the same opinion as you. There is a way to have healthy debates and be respectful of another person’s point of view but unfortunately that is not the norm. What happened to the golden rule? How did adults turn so childish in this area? Love and respect people no matter what they believe or whether you agree with them or not. Think before you post!

6. Be Encouraging to Others

We live in a world full of negativity, natural disasters, loss and sometimes plain hatefulness. Terrorism is a reality, race relations are still an issue and most everyday you turn on the news, it seems to get more depressing. We have the power to change what is put out into the world. Tell someone they did a good job today. Ask a co-worker if you can help do anything for them. Call up an old friend and see how they are doing. Tell your waiter or waitress you truly appreciate their service and leave a nice tip. Pay for the coffee of the car behind you in the Starbucks line. Kiss and hug your kids extra today. Meet your neighbors if you haven’t already and offer an open door if they ever need anything. We have the power to bring encouragement and love into this world. Why not start today?

7. Make an Overall Goals List

I did not want to make a goals list previously because I did not want to fail. The truth is, it was not horrible for me if I failed at my goal. It was horrible for me to never even try. Failure is a learning experience and there is no reason to fear failure. Statistics show that 50% of people who write down and set goals achieve them over people who do not set goals. If you write your goals down, you have something tangible and real once you make the list. Post it somewhere visible to remind you. Check back every month or so and celebrate even the small steps you have made towards your goals.

8. Clearly State your Wants and Needs

I used to expect people to read my mind sometimes, my body language and my attitude too.  I used to believe they were supposed to figure out what I wanted or needed. That attitude got me nowhere and I just ended up frustrated and confused. We have the right to express our wants and needs in any situation. If we do not ask for anything (or ask for someone to stop doing something) and then do not get what we want, that is on us. I used to care so much what other people thought of me, I wouldn’t ask for what I needed because I didn’t want to inconvenience the other person. Then, when my needs weren’t met – I blamed that person.

9. Practice Gratitude

I used to be a “Keeping Up with the Joneses'” person. I was focused on the next material thing that would make me feel better about myself. As time went on, I also started wanting what my friends had and sometimes resenting what I didn’t have in my life. It is a negative place to be, and I later did not feel good at all about myself. Once I started helping others – volunteering and seeing how some people live every single day without the basic comforts of home, my perspective changed. The more I started helping others, the more I realized that I am content and happy with what I do have. There are many online websites that can help you find a cause that is important to you and they will list numerous volunteer opportunities in your area.

10. Quickly Resolve Conflict

For many many years I avoided conflict. I didn’t want to hurt people’s feelings. I wanted everything to be easygoing and I wanted everyone to get along. Sadly, that is not reality. I avoided and ran away from sensitive subjects and internalized many situations because I did not have the guts to ask the hard questions to work out conflict with others. I still struggle in this area. Now, I am not as afraid of asking the hard questions or hearing the hard answers. I would much rather have a relationship based on honesty and truth rather than one with underlying tensions and issues. The sooner the conflict is resolved, the easier it is to maintain a positive relationship.

11. Own Your Actions and Reactions

“My brother made me do it”. These are statements I hear from my children often. They still live in a world where they believe others have the power to make them do something. They have not yet figured out personal responsibility. The sad truth is, as an adult for a long while I still believed others made me do things. I blamed others for my issues and problems and did not own up to my own actions and reactions. Taking responsibility for my part in my life assured that I became more honest about who I was and that I gained integrity in the process.

“Honesty and Integrity are both essential for success in life – all areas of life. The good news is that anyone can develop honesty and integrity”. – Zig Ziglar

12. Spend Time with Nature

There is something freeing and wonderful about witnessing an amazing sunset or getting up early enough for a unique and beautiful sunset. Just as when you were a kid, it can still be fun to go outside and run around in a summer rain shower. There is something magical about nature and the world around us. It’s easy to sometimes get sucked into the technical world with smart TVs, tablets, PCs and everything else that is electronic. Don’t forget to travel or spend time with nature and remember just how beautiful the world around us can be. It is an instant spirit booster.

13. Dream

Being a responsible adult is boring a lot of the time. It is surrounded by responsibility, work, paying bills and balancing budgets. It is super easy to get wrapped up in the day to day routine and lose your zest for life. When we were younger, we all had dreams of some sort. Don’t lose sight of your dreams. It could be something as simple as taking a trip one year to somewhere you always wanted to visit. It could be learning to play a new instrument or any of your ‘bucket list’ items. Think about some of your dreams, make a list and see if you can make any of them a reality. Not only will you have accomplished realizing that dream, you will be encouraged to dream a little more and to live a truly fulfilled life.

14. Laugh

They say that laughter is the best medicine. My daughter pointed out someone she occasionally saw and said “Mom, why does your friend never smile?” I have in fact seen my friend smile and laugh but not when my daughter was around. I grew up in a household where laughter was a big part of our lives, so I know for a fact it works. Comedic movies can do the trick, as well as close friends who have a great sense of humor. They are ones you do not want to lose. It is easy to laugh with children, as they just want to be silly most of the time. It takes way less energy to smile than frown and the result is much more positive when we laugh and smile.

15. Dance Like No One is Watching

I might be one of the most horrible dancers on the planet, yes possibly even worse than Elaine Benes from Seinfeld. I rarely used to dance unless I was not exactly sober or if someone put me up to it. Now, I dance often with my daughter because she loves to dance. I love seeing her happy and joyful so in a way I do it for her by overlooking my own insecurities and labeling of myself as  ‘a horrible dancer’. There are numerous videos out there of people getting down at the local wedding or caught on the video cam at a basketball game. Deep down we all want to dance, so why not do it like no one is watching? Who knows– you might actually bring joy to someone else’s day, even if you are a horrible dancer like me. Live your life for yourself, not based on how you think other people want you to live. Just be you. Once I learned that simple yet important fact, life kept getting better each and every day.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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