5 Simple Habits for a Happier + Healthier Life

5 Simple Habits

So I’m not exactly the poster child for being super healthy: I can easily sleep 12-16 hours a day, I’m perpetually broke, I constantly forget to take my meds, and 97% of my diet is made up of iced coffee, Red Bull, and Taco Bell. But despite my dumpster fire of a lifestyle, I’m also a starry-eyed optimist, and I believe that I’ll get the hang of this “responsible adulting” thing eventually.

When it comes to making changes or improvements, or fixing things that you hate aren’t so thrilled with about your life, I’ve learned that starting small is always best. I’ve had those moments when I look at myself and think, “Okay, I’ve got to get my shit together— I’m going to eat healthy and drink kale smoothies and do yoga and save all my money and lose fifteen pounds and write a book and…” Spoiler alert: none of those things ever happen, because trying to change absolutely everything at once just leads to overwhelm, disappointment, and burning out. Plus, let’s be real— kale is disgusting, I don’t care what form it’s in.

Change is good. Sustainable change is better. And sustainable change means starting small. Pick a few things about your life that could use some improvement, and go from there. Set simple, low effort goals to start with, like “I’ll walk for twenty minutes every day” or “I’ll drink three glasses of water every day”— and wording them specifically (i.e. “three glasses of water” instead of just “more water”) takes all the guess work out of how to make it happen.

Start by picking goals where you can track your progress each day or week; those small daily victories will begin to add up over time. If I’m trying to see how long I can go without giving into a craving for Chick-fil-a or Taco Bell, I’m marking off each successful day and before I know it I can’t even remember the last time I had a Triple Layer Nacho (…ugh, yum. Note to self: talking about food just makes me want it more. So stop it.) 

And honestly, I think I’m talking more to myself here when I say this, but please remember to be kind to yourself. New habits take time to build, and setbacks aren’t the same thing as failure. If you have a complete and utter wreck of a day, it sucks and it doesn’t ever feel good, but it’s still only one day. One day isn’t going to make or break anything (cue inspirational Shia LaBeouf rant here). If your entire day goes to hell, start again tomorrow and remember what’s worked so far and what hasn’t.

Okay, now let’s cut the bullshit.

Knowing how to make your life better in theory doesn’t mean a #$%&@ thing if you can’t put it into practice. Historically, I suck at putting it into practice. But I’m here writing this blog because I want to learn how to practice what I preach, and because maybe you suck at making positive changes for yourself too, and we can both be terrible at this together.

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So here are my five simple habits, and I’ll be checking in over the next 30 days to let you know how well (or not) I’m doing with them:

Drink water, tea, and coffee only. No soda, juice, energy drinks, or alcohol.

No fast food. None. Zip. Zero. Stop crying.

No withdrawals out of savings account. Bad touch. Leave it alone.

Take meds every single day. 

No spending money on clothes or makeup. Seriously, stop crying.

I’m going to be working on these for the next thirty days (let’s just say until the end of April; close enough, right?) and we’ll see how well I do with them. I’m not quite sure how I’ll survive without Taco Bell and Red Bull at first (do Hot Pockets count as home cooking?) but by the end of next month I’ll be a whole new girl. Maybe.

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So, I’m dying to know what some of your new habits are going to be. Leave a comment below and tell me all about them, or just help me mourn the impending loss of my favorite nachos. 

Goal Setting 101: Take Inventory of Your Life

Take Inventory

Goals aren’t hard to set. You can pretty much take any old dream or ambition and turn it into a goal, no matter how impractical or nonsensical. My goal is to someday be queen of my own small island and have ninety cats. Um, what?

Goals are easy. It’s setting realistic goals that’s the hard part. I will probably never own a small island, and ninety cats is a stretch even for me. But having realistic, achievable goals is the key to pretty much any kind of change or progress— you just have to know where to start.

When you’re starting at level one with anything you’re trying to do— losing weight, saving money, learning to macramé, whatever— it’s always helpful to have a solid idea of exactly where you stand. In general, taking a life inventory can help you pinpoint where you are currently in an area of your life versus where you would like to be. I like to think of it as a practical vision board: you can see everything at a glance, and start forming actual goals and plans from there.

My Life Inventory Worksheet

Since you’re awesome and I love you, I’ve created a Life Inventory worksheet to help you keep track of everything. You can download and print your own copy of the worksheet, and fill it out as we go along.

Download

Let’s Break it Down

The Life Inventory worksheet is split up into eight sections, and we’re gonna go over them all (so strap in!) Like any kind of self-reflection, there are no right or wrong answers here; while you’re working through your thoughts, go with your gut and ignore the urge to edit yourself too much. Be open and totally honest with yourself, no sugar coating or glossing over any of the not-so-great parts— you’re building a foundation, and you want it to be rock solid.

Mood

  • How am I feeling lately?
  • How do I want to feel?
  • How can I improve or maintain my current mood?

Health

  • Am I eating right? Getting enough (or any) exercise?
  • Am I getting enough sleep?
  • What small changes can I make to be healthier?

Finances

  • Am I spending my money responsibly?
  • Are there areas that I could be cutting back or saving more?
  • How am I managing my expenses?

Career

  • How can I be more productive?
  • Can I use my time more efficiently?
  • Do I feel valued for the work that I do?

Hobbies

  • What do I love to do in my spare time?
  • Which skills do I want to learn or improve?
  • What relaxes me? What makes me happy?

Relationships

  • Do I make my partner/family/friends feel cared for?
  • Do I spend enough time with my partner/family/friends?
  • Am I a supportive partner/friend?

Self Care

  • Do I take enough time for myself?
  • Am I nice to myself?
  • How can I treat myself better?

Life Goals

  • What do I want to achieve?
  • What does my ideal life look like? How do I get there?
  • What small steps can I take today to start working toward my goal?

Yeah, I know— these questions are suuuper generic and probably not mind-blowing. But we’re not out to unlock the secrets of the universe (yet); all we’re trying to do here is find a place to start from. Ask yourself whatever questions you need to have answered, and go from there. Once you’ve figured out both where you’re starting and where you want to end up, the “realistic” part about goal setting suddenly seems a whole lot easier. So go get ’em, tiger. 

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