13 Achievable Ways To Change Your Life

January, the traditional time for "new year, new you" posts. I always say I won't read them... but that obviously doesn't work out so well when they promise you so many wondrous things. Some of them can actually be interesting, but that's where my enthusiasm stops. Everyone wants to make you do everything, all the time, and I've discussed before how that's almost impossible when you're struggling.

As a general rule of thumb a habit can be formed in two months, and broken in one month... and yes this is just an estimate because studies on the subject vary from person to person... but it's an excellent place to start don't you think? What if you try to do, or not do, something for that long and see what happens?

It honestly does work, and would work for longer if you don't relapse into old habits... but that's not the point of what I'm suggesting you try. You only have to try it for one or two months. That's not so hard, right? After that time you'll hopefully see how much better it feels to be doing it... or not, you get the drift!

All of the suggestions below I've tried at some point, and they've definitely improved my life in one way or another. Some of them I still do and others have fallen by the wayside. But for the time I did those lost ones, my life was better, and having a "task" to concentrate on does distract you from something else that might be on your mind.



Photo by Katie Smith on Unsplash
Cut It Out


This is the easy one to explain... cut out something bad. Anything you like. One thing that you could stand to stop doing. Biting your nails... eating crisps... buying fast food... the list goes on. Replace it with a good habit you would like to have...


  • Nail biting - Paint your nails, you'll be left with something to be proud of and you won't want to ruin them.
  • Eating crisps - Stock up on healthier snacks. If you're like me and sometimes ignore what you have in the fridge, try stocking up on long life snacks, fruit or cereal bars are low calorie and stay fresh for months.
  • Buying fast food - Have something simple in the house to make instead. I keep jacket potatoes in my freezer (four for £1) and tins of tuna and beans in my cupboards. A handy idea is to freeze a bag of grated cheese to mix in as well. Or get some portion sized tubs and batch cook something you can reheat (this one will also come in handy a little later in this post). Not only are you having something that's probably a bit healthier, it's going to save you a considerable amount of money.


I'm going to make one sensible suggestion though. Don't cut out more than one thing at a time. Tried that... wanted to murder almost everyone in sight for the first two weeks. I went cold turkey on crisps, chocolate, biscuits, doughnuts, ice cream, and fizzy drinks. After a month though I honestly felt better, and really didn't fancy most of those things. I didn't eat crisps for another four months.

My friend brought me a Penguin bar in as a reward for making it through... I took one bite and physically hated the experience. I did however relapse into chocolate quicker than crisps. But for the couple of months I felt good being without them, but doing them all in one go was painful.

Since then I've gone off fizzy drinks several times and at this point I don't drink anywhere near as much as I used to. So no matter how it goes, you can get some benefits from it.

Down Time


Every day, don't do anything. Okay, not completely. That way madness lies. But for 10 to 30 minutes a day do something to relax.


  • Meditate when you get home from work to calm down after your day.
  • Read before you go to bed. Not only should you get through a book every couple of weeks just doing that, but you'll detox from technology before going to sleep.
  • Write or draw. Either get your day's thoughts down, or create a wonderful fantasy land that feels relaxing.


A lot of people I know feel guilty if they don't do anything, and that's fair enough, but they forget that if they don't stop every now and then they'll burn out. So just once a day take some time to just do one thing - nothing.

Exercise


Hahaha... this is me talking, if you want to go all out exercising then please do, but that's definitely not what I was going to suggest.

My name is Emma, and I'm lazy.

I'm so unbelievably lazy, I'm willing to admit that. I love walking, dancing and even going to the gym, but I have zero desire to do that most of the time. Which is ridiculous considering that I know I always feel exhausted, but better, after doing them. So here's my suggestion...

If you can walk it, do. That simple.

When I have letters to go in the post box I'll stop next to it on my way to work in the morning... but it's only at the end of my road, it's probably not even a three minute walk... round trip. So why don't I just walk it? I run out of milk, I've got a Tesco Express about a five minute walk away. So why don't I just walk it?

On days where I have to get the bus to work, I could walk. It's only 45 minutes there and a bus back... there's a giant hill right in the middle of the return journey... I'm not that stupid to do it home when I'm this unfit!

It could even be as simple as each time you have something to recycle you walk it straight out to the bin. All the little things add up.

Lunch Time


I'm terrible for wasting money on lunches. I looked at the last month of lunch times at work. I spend between £5 and £8 depending on where I go to get it. Over the space on a month that means I'm spending about £130 and I'm probably eating more than I need because of meal deals and impulse buys at the checkout.

At the weekend I made a batch curry. It made five portions. I had it for dinner that night and then had it over the next few days. If you want, you can freeze it (as I mentioned above) and take it out the night before so it's ready for lunch, put it with half a pack of microwave rice and you've got a great filling lunch. If you can't be bothered to cook then you can get some good ready meals that are healthy for a few pounds in the supermarkets.

Doing that is not only healthier for you (depending on what you get), but it takes you from £130 for a month down to under £60... and just think of all the wonderful things you could do with the money you saved.

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Make A Note


Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night after having a sudden idea strike me. If I don't write it down then I've just lost it.

I'm still haunted by the fact that over ten years ago I remember waking up in the middle of the night and having a fantastic idea for a children's book... it either had a giraffe or a chameleon in it. But I went back to sleep. And that is all I can remember.

Now I leave notebooks everywhere. The only place I don't have one is in the bathroom and that's mainly because condensation is a bitch. Scatter them around the place if you're forever forgetting things, you never know when they might come in handy.

You can even create something out of this idea that will make you smile.

When I moved into the house I put a notebook in the spare bedroom, a sort of guest book. I encourage my visitors to write something in there, anything they want... with the understanding that anyone else that stays might read what they've written. I still haven't read what's in there after two and a half years. At some point I'm going to have a really bad day. On that day I'm going to read what's in there... it's going to do one of three things, make me cry, make me smile, or make me realise that my friends and family are idiots. However it goes, I'm going to be reminded that there are good things in life.

No Worries


Life is too short to give a damn.

There are lots of things that have happened to me that make me physically cringe when I think about them. Even just putting that into words has made me remember about a dozen things I wish I could forget. But as they say, you shouldn't sweat the small stuff.

This one is two-fold really. First off, and this is directed to some of my friends... ladies, you'll know who you are. Sometimes it doesn't matter what you look like. I have friends who go to the gym with a full face of make-up on. They're the same ones that change out of jogging bottoms to nip round the corner for milk. It's liberating to just walk out of the house without having to spend half an hour doing your make-up or wondering what outfit goes better with the dairy section of Tesco.

The other, easier said than done, item in this section is the 5 by 5 rule. Some of you may already be familiar with it, but for the newbies it is simply this... If it won't matter in 5 years, don't spend more than 5 minutes being upset by it.

Really this whole section is just the art of not giving a shit. Mistakes happen. The world won't fall apart if you aren't perfect. Try not to worry.

Offline


Apart from accessing Messenger, I haven't properly used Facebook since before Christmas... and it's amazing! Sure, I missed someone I know getting engaged, and I would imagine that I missed a few more doing that at Christmas and New Year, but it's so much less stressful.

Sure I'm missing some significant posts about cats and puppies, but I can fill up on those on Pinterest were I don't have to interact with real life human problems.

I felt a strong urge to go back near the beginning, but the more posts about giant piles of Christmas presents I saw, and people getting stress out about articles and things the more I didn't miss it. We've all got our own problems to deal with, and sometimes not dealing with everyone else's is a blessing.

I spend a lot of time online, but more and more now I stick to things that are a little less personal. Pinterest is just lots of interesting and fun things to do and laugh at. Twitter, if you use it right, it fun and full of banter. Here on Blogger it's nice and quiet because I can just waffle and you guys come and go whenever you want to.

Every moment of our lives doesn't need to be lived out online... we all survived without memes back in the dark ages (20 years ago), we can do it again.

The problem with the digital age is that more and more of us have friends online, and that means we interact with more than we probably intend to because we use different platforms to stay in contact with them. Just once in a while though it's good for your sanity to tune some of it out. I'm a month basically Facebook Newsfeed free... and it feels great, as much as I'm interested by what some of my friends are up to, and what's new, it's a lot of extra information to process. At some point it's just an exercise on who can stalk who better.

Plan It


Having a day out can be stressful. If you're planning an event that's more than just a regular activity then take a look at everything before you go. For a lot of us, days out in new places or doing new things can cause real problems. Planning it before you go can't help relieve some of that.

Look at train and bus times, and how long journeys are going to be. Find out when places that you're going to open, and whether you have to get there early. Look for places for food and drink nearby. Tuck an umbrella in your bag if it looks like rain. Plan it well enough and you'll look like Mary Poppins every time something unexpected happens! "Wait a minute! I've got something for this!"

My friends laughed at me, but I spread sheeted Christmas... and it worked. With so many people to see, and only a week back home, I wasn't going to have them all faffing and not making decisions until the last minute. Some of the visits were fleeting, and yes I was a little exhausted, but I got to see everyone and not a single person had to moan... apart from me (but that was my own fault and not the fault of the spread sheet)!

P.M.A.


For those who aren't in the know, that's positive mental attitude. I have a horribly positive streak in me. I fake being grumpy and angry for comic effect a lot, but generally I'm always glass half full. It's annoying and I apologise. But you can do it too.

I'd love to say that being positive is easy. It's not. I know some people just aren't built for it, but it's something you can try.

How many times have you thought "I don't want to do this" when you think about something you're about to do, or the day ahead? Why not try having some faith in yourself and think "I can do this" once in a while.

Safe Haven


My life is cluttered. As I type this I'm surrounded with boxes of craft things and nerdery... but honestly, this is probably the only room with somewhere to sit and write that is remotely tidy. But I can layout my notepad, laptop and snacks, and I can be productive.

It's a space that is always clear in my house, if I want to get stuff done, this is where I come.

In my last home it was my armchair, with a pillow and a blanket, where I could curl up with a book.

Whether it's just as simple as the armchair, or anything up to your entire bedroom, having a space that you're not constantly having to tidy before you can do anything gives you two things: somewhere that doesn't cause you hassle, and something that doesn't leave you with an excuse not to get down to doing something.

Photo by Simon Maage on Unsplash
Thank You


This one has an added bonus... it will change other people too.

How many times a week does someone else do something for you? Hold a door... scan your shopping... serve you at a counter... let you out into traffic? How many of those times do you actually acknowledge them and say "thank you"? It's not that you're being rude necessarily, but sometimes when you're doing the same thing day in day out, you just forget to say it.

Those people, because they have to or because they want to, are doing something that helps you... a thank you isn't going to negatively impact your life.

You don't know what that thank you will do for them. They might be having a terrible day, a bit of gratitude can put a smile on their face that might redeem it from the brink. On the selfish side, seeing someone whose face you've put a smile on will put one on yours too.

That warm feeling inside that you get when that happens? That's all the reward you need.

Two Minutes


We did the 5 by 5 rule earlier, this one is a little easier to contemplate.

If you can do it in under 2 minutes, don't put it off. The more of those little jobs the ignore, the longer they will take to do in the long run.

What ones are you guilty of?

Me personally, there are probably too many to count. My worst ones though?

  • Not unpacking all my shopping bags when I bring them in. - I always unpack the fridge and freeze bag, but not the others straight away.
  • Opening my post. - Admittedly I know it's not interesting stuff, but still!
  • Putting my DVDs away. - Come on... opening the player, putting the DVD in the box, closing said box, and walking it the three foot to the shelf? Tiring!
  • Putting my socks in the washing basket. - When I go up to bed, my shoes come off and I step on the toes of my socks and pull my feet out... and leave the socks there. (I know, right? What a catch!)

But the sneaky side effect of the two minute rule? If you're up and doing one of those things, you might see something else you can do. Sure it might take you five minutes, but you're there doing something else anyway. So why not? Before you know it you're motivated!

Waking Up


My last thought before I stop my waffling...

Try getting up when you wake up.

On the days where I do this I feel great, but doing it every day is nearly an impossibility. I sleep terribly most of the time, and although this problem has got better it is by no means fixed. I wake up a lot during the night, but at some point going back to sleep becomes a daft idea.

My alarm is set for 6.15, and a significant amount of time I wake up around 6.03 and I feel awake. Instead of getting up, I close my eyes again. When the alarm does go off I feel even less awake and less enthusiastic about getting up.

I've worked out that if I go back to sleep after waking up anywhere from about 5am until my alarm, I feel terrible for the rest of the morning.

When I can face getting up like this I go to the supermarket, or head straight out to work. It's amazing how productive you can be before other people start bothering you!

Try it occasionally. I feel more energised for the day and I feel like I've already made a great achievement, that feeling is worth harnessing.



All of these things are achievable. I've done them, they work. So why not try one for a month? Why not try one each month? (I know we've got a baker's dozen, but that just means you get two new year resolution opportunities!) Who knows, some of them might stick and just think how that would change your life.

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