Life is truly a gift, but even when you know this deep down, sometimes it can really get the better of you. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out and are steering a happy course, life takes control of the wheel and swerves you down a dead end. This tumultuous turn can jolt you from a positive place to a dark and often uncertain one. In times like these, we are left asking ourselves one question: How can I turn things around? The good news is you can, and you can do it today.
We understand how simple (and even a little naive) this might sound, but it’s true. Change is possible—that is, if you want it. The trick is to establish what those life adjustments are and divvy them into short- and long-term goals, then take a very systematic approach toward making them happen. Continually question yourself along the way too: What is my end goal? How do I want to feel? What do I want from life? To get you started, we listed some very straightforward steps you can take toward making positive changes in your life. Go on—you deserve the best.
With the working hours slowly exceeding our personal ones, it’s easy to get caught up in the “cult of busy.” It becomes a crutch for our negative behavior and dismal outlook on life. But in reality, there’s always something to be thankful for. Maybe it’s your health or something as simple as the roof over your head, even the fact that you have a job is something to appreciate. Life doesn’t have to be a Rihanna song of “werk, werk, werk, werk, werk.” Take a mental break from the hustle and reflect on the things you are grateful for; then write them down. We promise it will inspire happiness and good vibes even on your worst days.
If you need some help finding gratitude, then try this simple experiment. Researchers found that when you spend five to 10 minutes writing about events that went “really well” each day, you can significantly reduce stress, boost happiness, and even improve relationships. “By intentionally noticing good things you can overcome the gravitational pull into thinking about what can or did go wrong,“ Samantha Boardman, MD, wrote for Psychology Today.
Nothing feels as good as venting does, right? But there’s a big difference between getting something off your chest and participating in negative behavior. We liken it to the Pringles effect: Once you start, you can’t stop. While you might label this conduct as an emotional offload, science suggests there are serious flaws in this theory and that “expressing negativity is bad for your mood and the moods of the people you are complaining to.”
Once you dip your toes into “the swamp“ of negativity, it can quickly drag you down like quicksand. Just ask Ruth Zukerman, CEO and co-founder of FlyWheel. “Colleagues who spend a lot of time together can easily fall into this trap when things might not be going so well,” Zukerman told MyDomaine. “It breeds negativity in the culture, and this kind of communication becomes unproductive. It’s a common business casualty when there is a lot of familiarity, and it sabotages any chance of problem solving and improvement.” Challenge yourself to stop complaining for a day. It will heighten your awareness around this practice, and you’ll soon realize how much it’s affecting your health and happiness.
We know this isn’t the first time you’ve heard of this ancient practice, but there’s a reason everyone bangs on about it. Meditation has a myriad of positive health benefits that can improve your mental state, outlook, energy, and lifestyle. And the good news is you only need 10 minutes a day to see a difference—here’s how to get started. One study led by the University of Massachusetts Medical School taught mindfulness to a group of people with clinical levels of anxiety and found that 90% experienced significant reductions in anxiety and depression.
Not only that, but meditation has also been found to improve insomnia, decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, relieve pain, enhance relationships, and increase your productivity. So if you're serious about turning your life around, meditation is a good place to start. And don't get hung up on 10 minutes either. Start small and work your way up. Even if you only manage 2 minutes, it's all about developing a practice that suits you and your body.
Need a mental escape from the stresses of modern life? Feel like your life is too much to handle? Put a brush to canvas or a pen to paper and get creative. Science has proven that creating art can significantly lower stress hormone levels, and you don’t need artistic talent to get started. Tap into your inner child and unleash the creative within. If painting intimidates you, then try watercolor or pick up an adult coloring book. You’ll be surprised at how much better you feel.
If your life is spiraling out of control and it feels like someone else has taken over the reins, then it’s high time you let the universe know what course you want it to take. All successful women do this one thing at the beginning of the year: Write down your goals. Why? It sets a crystal-clear direction and acts as a guide you can refer to along the way to keep you on track. So start writing them down, all of them, no matter how big or small. Just ask our CEO Katherine Power.
“The key is to check in with your list 1x per week,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “What are you starting today? What do you want to make happen this year? You have 361 days left, make each one count. Today could be the start of something great.” Turn your life around and finally realize your dreams.
Now that you’ve written down your goals, it’s time to achieve them. Attaining your dreams isn’t as simple as jotting them down on a piece of paper; it also takes a physical process of manifestation and action. It’s time to craft your future (literally) by creating your very own vision board, aka mood board. Designers regularly use them to collate their ideas for a project before presenting to a client or to fashion their concept for a collection before it hits the runway.
A huge part of your inner transformation is in the very act of creating this board, and once designed, it will play an essential role in making your intentions come to fruition. It also doubles as a beautiful piece of artwork for your office or home too. Model Ashley Graham agrees.
"Seeing what my goals, dreams, and desires are keeps me in check daily," she wrote on Instagram. "Take the time to map out what you want. You can have it.?
Breaking up is hard to do, especially when it’s your best friend, but when a relationship turns toxic, there’s no other choice but to end it—here's a step-by-step approach. You could continue on, but like anything in life, ignoring it isn’t the answer. Besides, negative friendships are draining, exhausting, and bad for your personal health. Why would you want to waste what little time you have in life for social outings with someone who makes you feel bad and drags you down? Can’t you just hear your parents’ voice? That friend of yours is a bad influence.
It’s hard to realize when you’re in it, but the weight of these friendships is a heavy burden to bear. It’s not until you cull them that you understand. You’ll feel so much lighter without the tension and hostility. Over time, this can really take its toll on all aspects of your life. It can even negatively impact your other relationships. Toxic people are controlling and manipulative, and let’s be honest: Ain’t nobody got time for that.
When it comes to making a change in your life, the struggle is real. Sometimes you just have to trick yourself into it. How? Design morning and evening routines that become so habitual they turn into rituals—this psychological trick will not only make you highly productive but also “establish a momentum toward consistent positive results.” Set something in motion that’s achievable and then make tweaks along the way until it’s so automatic you don’t even notice it anymore. You will maximize your time and minimize stress. It’s a win-win.
Now that you’ve made some small changes and feel your life moving in the right direction, it’s time to take it one step further and change the world around you. How? Take the simple 30-day Most Important Person Challenge. Before you click out and groan in annoyance, hear us out. This doesn’t require any physical effort, just a simple switch in perception. All you need to do is “treat every person you meet, without a single exception, as the most important person on earth” for 30 days. Okay, so maybe it isn’t as simple as it sounds, but challenging yourself to be a better, more caring, and kinder person will benefit not only others but you, as well. The key is to keep the benefits of this challenge front of mind, especially on the days when you just don’t feel like being nice.
This post was originally published on August 11, 2016.