New year, new you! With the new year at our finger tips, now’s the time to start implementing small changes, ie easily duplicatable habits of successful women and men, to yield big results. I’m not talking about a laundry list of resolutions to start and give up by February; I’m talking about moderate lifestyle tweaks that’ll positively affect your personal and professional lives, as well as your health and wellness. If all 35 are intimidating at once, that’s totally okay! I’m starting with the first 3-4 habits of successful women per month and growing from there. I encourage y’all to do the same!
1. Wake up at the same time every day.
Why does it matter to wake up at the same time every day? VeryWell.com explains, “Think of your wake time as the anchor to your day. Our bodies follow a circadian rhythm and this relies on consistency. There are many things that you do at about the same time every day, not the least of which is sleep. Anchoring your wake time in place is a cue to your body about when you should be awake and when you should be asleep.”
It’s important to take time out to calm your mind every day. Breathe in and out, clear your mind of your thoughts, and just be present. Download a useful meditation app like Headspace or Buddhify (check out a full list of the best meditation apps for 2016 from Heathline) to start with guided meditations and then graduate to whatever works for you.
3. Drink MORE water.
The truth is that water goes on a long journey before it reaches our faucets. Along its path from source to treatment center through miles of decaying pipe, and then to your tap, contaminants have many opportunities to enter the water we drink. PUR is dedicated now more than ever to giving consumers options to ensure they are drinking healthier, cleaner water from their taps. Invest in PUR Ultimate, PUR Advanced and PUR Basic products to ensure that you actually know what’s in your water.
Also, clean water isn’t restricted to drinking. The multiple usages of water include: drinking (obviously), making coffee and tea, making homemade broths or sauces, washing fruits and veggies, mixing formula, and filling up water bowls for pets. These are all reasons why investing in the PUR faucet line is a necessary expense! Plus, getting clean water is more affordable than you’d think. The PUR Basic starts at $24.99, the PUR Advanced starts at $34.99, and the PUR Ultimate starts at $44.99. To put that in perspective, one year of PUR is more affordable than a month at a fancy gym, two months of bottled water, a ½ hour hot stone massage, three weeks of lattes, and/or a single dog grooming session.
4. Recite affirmations daily.
Repeat 3-5 positive affirmations in the mirror every day. This will dramatically start improving your relationship with yourself through CBT, aka Cognitive Based Therapy. An example for me would be, “You are loved. You are worthy. You are enough.” If you have trouble coming up with things to say, make a list of all the things you like about yourself next time you’re feeling particularly proud or accomplished and refer to it in times of self doubt.
5. Draft a professional mission statement.
Inc.com explains, “Personal mission statements are an important component of leadership and personal development. They force you to think deeply about your life, clarify its purpose, and identify what is truly important to you. Personal mission statements also force you to clarify and express as briefly as possible your deepest values and aspirations. It imprints your values and purposes in your mind so they become a part of you. Integration of your personal mission statement into your weekly planning is also a way to keep your vision constantly in front of you.”
When I worked in finance, I read a book called Tested in the Trenches. Ron Carson stressed the importance of knowing your “why” and recommended printing out your personal mission statement and putting it in visible places all over your home– vanity mirror, shower (laminated obviously), refrigerator, etc. For my birthday, my boyfriend had my personal mission statement printed and framed through a shop on Etsy, and now it sits prominently on my desk, as well.
6. Develop SMART action plans for your goals.
Making an action plan is the number one secret to effective goal setting, regardless of what your goal is. Entrepreneur magazine advises, “Break your plan down into baby steps and attach a realistic deadline to each step. Determine how to measure your progress; these measurements will be your reality check. Then, define your investment. How much will each step cost, in terms of dollars, time, research and energy? What resources can you draw from and what additional resources will you need to acquire?” Also, ensure that your goals are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely), and frame your plan in a way that allows you to measure your progress, track activity, and stay on top of deadlines.
7. Keep a journal.
Document daily or weekly reflections in a feelings journal or diary. Since the start of the new year, I’ve been using 52 Lists for Happiness for weekly journaling inspiration (I completed The 52 Lists Project last year). You can do it any time, just try to make it a ritual during the same time each day. When you’re feeling lost or confused, re-read the entries where you felt proud or at peace for comfort. Re-read entries for business ideas or to re-ignite a passion that may have dwindled out of tribulation.
8. Plan out your day in advance.
We all know the old adage– if we fail to plan, we plan to fail. Effective planning is super important, and contrary to popular belief, doing more isn’t always better. Quality of tasks will always outrank the quantity of tasks. Pick the top three most important tasks you need to accomplish in a day, and focus only on those three things. If you happen to finish your list, you can start working on other items. If you don’t, put the remaining tasks on your list for tomorrow. Designate your tasks the night before, so there’s no thought involved when you sit down with your coffee in the morning. Just get to work. If you need help finder a great day planner, click here for 16 of the best planners for 2017.
9. Set specific times to check and answer emails.
Oh, email– the silent time killer. Since most of us communicate professionally through email, we can’t simply shirk the responsibility altogether. Set designated times (ie thirty minute slots at both 9AM and 4PM) to check and respond to urgent emails. It’s easier than it sounds, since I’m personally tempted to check my inbox for important messages multiple times every hour. However, this restriction is a change I’m devoted to making in the new year, since my productivity really takes a toll when I’m not responsible with my email time.
10. Use apps to block distracting websites.
Just like emails, Facebook and Twitter literally suck valuable energy of our workdays. Stay focused with a productivity app that’s designed to keep you on task by blocking tempting websites during designated work hours. My boyfriend Kyle is a writer, so he signed up for WriteRoom and F.B. Purity a few months ago. He loves it. Other alternative apps (recommended by Mashable) are Freedom, Anti-Social, RescueTime, and Dark Room.
11. Cook your own meals at least one night a week.
Similarly to committing to using and drinking clean water, remember that you are what you eat. If you want to feel you best, you need to eat food that makes you feel your best. Commit to eating fresh food at least once a week. You can always expand from there. If you’re anything like me, you may find cooking much more therapeutic than you ever thought possible!
12. Give “Meatless Monday” a try.
You may have heard of Meatless Mondays, and it’s actually not just an un-researched internet fad. Studies show that reducing your red meat may lower your risk of cancer and heart disease. According to their website, which you can judge for yourself, going meatless once a week can also fight diabetes, curb obesity, and improve the nutritional quality of your diet.
13. Create weekly meal plans.
We have enough stressors in our daily life. Don’t make food one of them. Every Sunday or Monday (or whatever day you designate), plan your meals for the week. Make a grocery list and get all the ingredients in one fell swoop. You’ll save time, energy, and the most valuable asset of all, your sanity.
14. Find a workout buddy.
Add some accountability to your workouts by committing to a workout buddy. Not only will exercise be more fun with a friend, but it’ll make you re-evaluate all your sad excuses for a sedentary lifestyle. Plus, you’ll have to justify yourself to a 3rd party every time you want to skip a workout, which is more difficult than it sounds.
15. Go for a 10-15 minute walk every day.
Spending time outdoors is a natural antidepressant. Whether it’s in the morning or on your lunch break, commit to spending time in fresh air and outside of your stuffy office.
16. Make socializing a priority.
As a hermit with deeply ingrained introverted tendencies, I can confirm that failing to interact with friends or family for more than a few days at a time makes me feel unsettled. We’re humans, and we all need some form of social interaction. A study conducted by Psychology Today actually confirms that everyone feels happier when they socialize, introverts included. If small talk makes you uncomfortable, that’s okay. Have meaningful conversations. Pleasant chit-chat with the grocery clerk notwithstanding, research suggests that the happiest people have twice as many substantive conversations (and engage in much less small talk) than the saddest.
17. Network with people outside your industry.
One of the best lessons I learned from my five years in the finance industry is to never underestimate the power of a referrals. Making connections in other industries only broadens your horizons and exposes your business to potential new clients or client referrals. If you’re a blogger, make friends who are web designers, marketing executives, or even professionals in un-related fields like law or accounting.
18. Write more handwritten notes.
The tactful art of the hand-written “thank you” note was lost long ago, but you (specifically your business) need to bring it back in 2017. There’s no better way to show appreciation than with a note addressed to a specific person, not a company or department. Think about how many emails you receive from retailers thanking you for your business or patronage. Are any of those impressive to you? Do you think more of the retailer for sending an automated message? No. Set yourself apart from the masses by adding a touch of class and gratitude to your correspondence.
19. Skip all screens an hour before bedtime.
Stop being a slave to insomnia. According to Business Insider, “Studies have shown that being exposed to the blue-and-white light given off by phones, laptops, and other electronic gadgets at night prevents our brains from releasing melatonin, a hormone that tells our bodies it’s nighttime.” For more tips for getting more and better sleep, click here.
20. Trade in nighttime TV for good books.
As a continuation to #19 of habits of successful women, trade in your TV re-runs for a good book. Not only does reading stimulate your mind, but it’ll also help you fall asleep at night.
21. Get more sleep.
As yet another continuation to #19 (and #20) of habits of successful women, make sleep a priority. Insomnia and sleep disorders are largely out of our control, but set the mood by getting in bed an hour earlier. Lower the temperature, turn off your phone, and pull out a good book. For more tips for getting more and better sleep, click here.
22. Invest in your home.
Your home should be your safe haven, so make it a place you want to be. Allow yourself to buy fresh flowers every week, light a candle every night to unwind, hire a maid to avoid spending time on monotonous daily chores– do whatever you need to do in order to feel relaxed in your space. This is especially important for those of us who work at home.
23. Check your credit card and bank statements regularly.
I, for one, had some serious financial stressors in 2016. I had my identity stolen and spent weeks (not hours or days) sifting through documents in order to protect myself. Be prepared by preemptively remember how prevalent identity theft is, sign up for Lifelock or a credit monitoring system like Equifax automatic fraud alerts, and check your credit card and bank statements every month.
24. Donate items you don’t use to charity once a quarter.
Clutter is one of the easiest ways to not want to spend time in your home. You don’t need to become a minimalist, but purge your closet of items you haven’t worn in the past year. Not only will you find and consequently utilize items that’ve been lost in the shuffle, but getting rid of old things will make room for new things to come in to your life! Also, giving back can reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose. Even donating the most trivial items, like every day period products, can sincerely help others in need.
25. Sign up for automatic debits to your savings.
Catastrophes happen; be prepared for them. Pump up your savings account by signing up for automatic debits. Transfer what you can each month, and if possible, manage your savings account at a different bank than your checking in order to avoid easy internal transferring (you know, when you really need a $500 handbag but don’t have enough in your checking account).
26. Practice accepting compliments with “Thank You.”
I also included this on my list of 25 ways to practice self-love. It’s healthy for both you and your relationship(s)– romantic, platonic, and professional– to accept compliments with a simple “thank you” instead of an “OMG, no way. My hair looks horrible today!” This will not only improve your own self-esteem, it also will make those giving the compliments feel as though their feelings are recognized and validated.
27. Take time off.
None of us are the Energizer Bunny, and having a solid work-life balance is crucial for success. We aren’t programmed to work seven days a week for twelve hours each day. As a full-time blogger, I understand the difficulty in closing your computer and refusing to post on social media for an entire day. After a while, it becomes habitual– and if it’s how you get paid, it’s all-the-more challenging to give up. For your mental health, though, commit to giving yourself at least one day off each week. If you realistically cannot take an entire day off, give yourself Sunday morning off or Saturday evening. Set aside time to relax and disengage from your work.
28. Learn new vocab words.
Real titans of industry know how to communicate. It’s one of the most undeniable habits of successful women. Yes, some of us are blessed with natural charisma and Debate Club level articulation. Most of us aren’t. One of my favorite things I did in 2016 was subscribing to Merriam Webster’s Word of the Day notifications. It’s a fun little fact I (still) get each day that brightens my morning and improves my vocabulary simultaneously!
29. Identify your personal and/or professional role model– and reach out to them.
Studies show that most people who succeed in business have or have had a mentor. According to Forbes, this is because they’re inspiring in the right ways, they can walk you through the right doors, and they can become a legitimate source of anxiety relief. They also know what it takes to succeed in your field. So, identify who your professional role model is and reach out to them. Today. For example, if you want to be in politics, the sky’s the limit. Even if it takes her two years (or never) to respond, write to a female politician who’s personally inspired you and ask for some advice. Once you’ve cultivated enough of a dialogue, ask if she would consider being your mentor. The worst she can say is no– and if she does say no, ask if she knows of anyone in your field who may have the time to be your mentor.
30. Watch more TED talks.
While you’re searching for your personal mentor, get inspiration when you need it by watching different TED talks that interest you. Listen, learn, and get inspired in anywhere from seven to thirty minutes. If you need some recommendations, Inc.com shared a list of 10 inspirational TED Talks by young people in 2016 here and Elite Daily curated a list of 10 TED Talks all millennials should watch for inspiration here.
31. Keep a list of your best ideas.
Your ideas are wonderful and unique, so you shouldn’t lose them in the shuffle of everyday life. Chelsea Jones, founder and CEO of Chelsea Jones Shoes, says, “Each day, write down your ideas, any and all ideas that come to mind, and keep them all in one place. Sift through and edit your ideas every month or so, and put the best ones at the top.” If you’re not a fan of maintaining notes on your phone, Wunderlist is a great (and free) mobile-friendly app that can help organize your ideas and To-Do lists in one place.
32. Display your bucket list and vision board proudly.
There’s an entire science behind the value of creating vision boards. It helps you to visualize your dream life and all you hope to achieve while living it. Similarly, posting you bucket list in an easily accessible place, like your fridge or bathroom mirror, keeps you abreast to your long-term goals.
33. Celebrate milestones.
It’s absolutely okay (and healthy) to self promote and share your joy/progress/accomplishments with others. Whether that self promotion includes calling a friend to tell them about a big deal your just landed on or popping a bottle of champagne with friends in honor of your awesomeness, it’s all kosher. Levo League suggests that you, “Give a gift to yourself or celebrate with a friend. This will generate support and encouragement by others which only give your more fuel to keep going.”
34. Research nearby counselors or life coaches.
Not all of us have an unwavering support system, and the process of self-improvement can happen through the guidance of clinical therapy or counseling. This growth, and maybe even healing, can help you discover who you are and identify what obstacles are standing in your way. This is key because, at the end of the day, you are the most important person in your life. If you’re not happy, you deserve a chance to change it.
35. Eliminate toxic influences.
Unfriend, unfollow, or delete whatever contacts you need in order to channel positivity and garner support. Value your mental and emotional health by identifying stressors and cutting ties with those fair weather friends or romantic interest(s) who find joy or comfort in bringing you down or by being unnecessarily dramatic.