12 Small Changes to Make for a Better 2016

December 30, 2015

11:00 am

You may have been working on your list of New Year’s resolutions for months. Or maybe you’re the type who doesn’t make resolutions, either because you’re already perfect or you just assume you’ll break them. Regardless of your opinion on resolutions, the dawn of a new year is always a good time to reflect on ways you can improve professionally and personally (unless you are already perfect, then please disregard everything written here).

In order to be a better person – to live a healthier, happier, and more productive life – you don’t necessarily need to make huge alterations to how you’re already going about living. It can often be accomplished by making a series of small changes, and by committing to them and making them an integral part of your day-to-day life.

Here is a list of 12 small changes you can start making right now (or wait until Jan 1 if you must) to change for the better. Just keep in mind that every human being is a constant work in progress and real change takes time. Maybe incorporate one small change a month (there are 12 here, so that makes it easy) over the next year. Even if you only manage to stick with one of these changes, it will do much more good than harm.

1. Avoid Negative Thinking and Speaking

Negativity can be toxic. It’s completely detrimental to use phrases such as “I can’t,” “It’s impossible,” or “This won’t work.” Make a conscious effort to not use those kinds of words when talking to others or to yourself.

2. Take Lots of Deep, Calming Breaths

Meditation might not be your jam, but everyone can benefit from taking some deep mindful breaths every single day. It helps improve oxygen and blood flow to your whole body, not to mention relieve tension.

3. Celebrate Even the Smallest Victories

Starting a new venture can be a roller coaster. There will be failures, that’s a given, but there will also be lots of little victories as you chug along towards achieving your goals. Every little success should be recognized and celebrated. You don’t have to treat your team to a steak dinner every time you hit a milestone, but there are lots of little and inexpensive ways you can show them how much you appreciate their hard work. Here are a few suggestions from other entrepreneurs.

4. Redefine Failure

As I just mentioned, failure is going to happen. But how you define it makes a huge difference in how successful you will be in the long run. It helps to define failure as something within your control. Phrasing it as “failing to take action” puts failure (and therefore success) in a different light. It will help you to handle it in a more positive way.

5. Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

Seriously (or not), you have to be able to laugh at yourself. Serious people are intimidating. Being able to laugh at your quirks and foibles makes you more attractive and influential to others. It will also make you a happier person.

6. Drink More Water

You’ve heard this a million times. Even a tiny amount of dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired. If plain water isn’t your favorite thing, any liquid (as long as it’s not alcoholic or contains a ton of caffeine) can count towards your intake.

7. Keep a Gratitude Journal

We hear time and time again the importance of gratitude. Even if you think don’t have time to keep a journal, you still have time for a gratitude journal. Every night before bed write down the best part of your day and what made it so great. This will enforce positive thoughts before you drift off.

8. Take Responsibility for Your Emotions

You are ultimately in charge of your attitude and your emotions. There are things in this world that are beyond your control, but how you react to them is completely up to you. Remembering this can make tough situations easier to handle.

9. Set Measurable Milestones

Breaking down your goals into smaller chunks or milestones makes them less daunting and more manageable. Not to mention, the smaller you break them down, the more achievements you have to celebrate (as I mentioned in tip #3). These milestones help you become more confidence and stay motivated.

10. Stretch Daily

It’s unhealthy to stay stagnant as much as we do these days. Even if you manage to fit in some cardio every day, it’s just as important to make time to stretch. Even just 5 minutes a day (you can fit it in at the same time as your deep breathing exercises) can help you maintain optimum health.

11. Turn Off Background TV

I, for one, benefit little from background noise while I’m trying to focus. Aside from being a distraction, background TV noise can send some strong subliminal messages. If TV is one of your guilty pleasures, make your TV time intentional and as a way to relax and reward yourself after a productive day.

12. Take Time to Plan and Prioritize

Even the most Type B, go with the flow person, gets stressed out when they feel that they have too much to do and not enough time. Everyone can benefit from taking some time every day to plan out and prioritize their day. If you don’t know where to start, pick one thing that you would most like to accomplish that day and do it first. After that, everything else will come easy.

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Kristin is an aspiring entrepreneur who is enthusiastically navigating her way through the DC startup space. She has an unending passion for learning and is never satisfied with the status quo. During the day she is an ops, biz dev, and marketing maven for Fission Strategy

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