New year, new you, right? That is often how we approach things.
You don’t have to wait for a new year to make changes in your life.
Even though I am writing this at the end of a year, it can be applied any time and help improve your life.
Here are 10 tips to improve your life this year.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.
1. Increase Income and Reduce Expenses
Money makes the world go round and while we don’t want our whole lives focused on money, the fact is we need it.
The cost of living increased drastically recently but wages didn’t. As such, more people are struggling to simply survive, let alone thrive.
To get out of survival mode and be able to improve our lives, financial security is crucial.
There are multiple things you can do to increase your income and financial security while also reducing your expenses.
On The Thrifty Issue, I shared 24 ways to make money in 2024 that are all above $25hr (Australia’s minimum wage). As well as 8 tips to double your income.
If you are struggling with your income vs expenses, check out how to live with champagne tastes on a beer budget wage.
2. Change Your Perspective
This one can be tough but it is worth persisting with.
My kids and I have experienced a lot of trauma in their short lives which at times has left us feeling resentful.
We’ve felt things should be a certain way and got quite depressed or angry because it wasn’t.
Whenever we felt that way, life was significantly harder, opportunities seemed to dry up and we did not enjoy our lives in the way we normally would.
Similar to finances, when I have a scarcity mindset and am scared about not having enough money, we seem to never have enough.
Yet, when I have a positive mindset about money, opportunities and money flow easily.
This might sound a bit too ‘woo woo’ for some, there is research in how our thoughts impact our actions though.
Changing your perspective on something in your life can have a profoundly positive effect. This is why in therapy, often things causing issues are reframed and dealt with differently.
For me, the major ones were regarding where my career should be at this point vs where it is.
With no childcare, significant traumas and much of my time being taken up with various things for my kids, extended family and others, I was burnt out, resentful and drowning.
Once I stepped back, set and stuck to boundaries then focused on finding things to be grateful for as well as being present in the moment, and finding joy in the small things, everything changed.
I’ve been through this process before and can say with certainty that life is much easier when we can focus on the good, heal from the bad and take action for a better future.
3. Set and StIck to Boundaries
I’ve been a people pleaser most of my life and it has cost me dearly.
My religious upbringing impressed various values on me that didn’t feel right but were so deeply ingrained I struggled to break away from them.
As a result, people used me, walked all over me and I stayed in situations for months or sometimes years longer than I should have.
Once I got firm with my boundaries, I saved so much time, energy and money.
Instead of allowing people to continue to use me, I stood up for myself, cut people out of my life who no longer deserved to be in it and started to heal.
It is not easy to do this if you’ve grown up as a people pleaser, it is possible though. Read How To Do The Work and People Pleasure Guide for help in this area.
Also consider therapy to help you develop the skills, practice them and have someone to support you through this.
4. Focus on Healing
You might not think you have anything that needs healing and that’s ok.
When you look at how much has changed and what has happened the past few years, I think we can agree there is some trauma there.
A focus on healing can mean different things to different people.
For me, it’s a few things including healing from traumas throughout my life, physically healing from my pregnancies (including my core muscles and overall strength) and improving my nutrition to heal my gut health.
Mental, physical and spiritual healing are all part of my focus moving forward.
When you look at your life, what areas do you need to heal in?
It doesn’t have to be trauma, it could be you’re not eating or sleeping well and that is hurting your overall health.
A focus on healing will give you a higher quality of life and hopefully a longer one too.
5. Seek Joy and Express Gratitude
Seeking joy and expressing gratitude aligns with the perspective shift.
I’ve always tried to write 3 things I am grateful for in my journal every day and maintain an attitude of gratitude.
But seeking joy and being present wasn’t always a high priority in my life.
In fact, I have spent too much time worrying about the future, various scenarios and what ifs, trying to control things I cannot control etc.
Once I decided to be more conscious and present, life became easier, happier and I saw the difference in my kids too.
Whenever my toddlers would ask me to play or show me something, I’d stop what I was doing and be present with them.
The sheer joy in their faces when I took an interest in their Star Wars book or danced to the songs in Frozen was amazing.
Those little moments add so much joy if we take the time to be present and experience them instead of thinking about everything else.
Where in your life could you be more present to experience more joy?
One of the things that helped me take more time with my kids is recognising and appreciating the fact I can have them.
Not everyone can have children, I was told at 17 I wouldn’t due to some medical issues, as such, I am extremely grateful for my 4 kids.
6. Audit Your Network
There is a definite shift I am seeing where people no longer feel the need to keep family in their life simply because they are related.
Nor do people feel the need as much to keep childhood friends or people in their life they no longer align with, connect with or who are toxic for them.
Take the time to review your relationships and if they give you energy and improve your life or if they drain you and cause trauma.
This was difficult to implement but my kids have commented repeatedly this year how much better our life is since doing this.
Our home is happier, more relaxed, we all sleep better and the people we stepped away from don’t even live with us.
The shift in energy happened within us once I stood up for us and audited who we spend our time with and how we do that.
Doing so gave my kids permission to do the same and it changed everything for us.
7. Create Habits and Systems
I have always set goals and had a plan to make them happen. Most of the time I achieved a lot and was happy with how I did it.
In the past few years, I learned about Atomic Habits, creating systems and focusing on the small steps that add up to big change.
Previously, I’ve been one to try to overhaul my entire life at once and while it often worked for me, it’t not a method that works for everyone.
When creating habits and implementing systems in my home, I reviewed what helped my kids as well since we are neurodivergent.
Making small changes to help stick to the habits we wanted to develop made it easier to become the people we want to be.
Building on those habits and continually changing our environment as we grow enabled deeper change than specific New Year’s resolutions.
As an example, we knew taking specific supplements would help with a genetic condition we have.
Getting pill containers where we put in each week the daily dosage and sit it where we have breakfast ensured we stuck to this habit easily.
Simple things add up.
8. Streamline Life
How much of our life can be streamlined to make things easier?
A focus for me the past year was finding ways to make things easier because I had so much to juggle.
Automating finances, outsourcing things, creating systems with my kids for the household chores etc all made life easier.
Check out 13 ways to make life easier by streamlining it to see what we changed.
9. Live Your Vision Not Others
I realised recently I spent most of my life trying to fit into a specific box I was told to from when I was a kid at Sunday school, yet it never suited me.
Our parents, teachers and other influential adults all have a view of us and what we could be which can be strongly impressed upon us.
Add to that, the community you grow up in, expectations from those in the society surrounding you etc and you might find yourself living a life they want instead of the one you want.
Releasing those expectations and giving yourself permission to live life your way will ease stress and make your life more meaningful.
I removed social media from my phone, distanced myself from people who pushed their own agenda and instead am focused on the life my kids and I want.
What is the vision you have for your life? What do you want to be remembered for? Are there specific memories you want to make with your kids/significant other/friends/family?
How can you make changes so your life aligns with the vision you have instead of the one you were taught to have?
10. Review How You Spend Your Time
How you spend your time shows what matters to you.
I will acknowledge that sometimes in our lives we have to work a lot or sacrifice some of our time for things we don’t want to do or don’t value.
This was especially true for me when I was a single mother trying to get custody of my kids.
However, reviewing your time still matters.
Looking at how you spend your time, where it is getting wasted, what drains your energy and what gives you energy will help you make changes to improve your life.
Years ago I know I watched too much TV so I went without it for a month. I know other people have done similar with things such as alcohol.
At the end of the month I realised there was nothing on TV I missed or really wanted to watch or catch up on.
Even now, there isn’t anything I feel the need to stream. I do watch things occasionally but in general, I do not feel as though I am missing out because I haven’t seen something.
I’d rather spend my time with those I love or doing things I love and create a life of meaning.
When reviewing your life, if you see an area you spend more time than you want to, think about how you can change that.
For example, go without it for a month. Or if you are working more than you want to be, can you find ways to increase your income as mentioned in tip 1, reduce your expenses or pla to retire sooner?