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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lessons :: 5 Simple Changes to Improve Your Life in Big Ways

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If you've been a bloggy friend of mine for awhile now, then you'll know that I'm a busy lady. I work 11-hour days, 5 days a week at a corporate job; I work out for an hour 3-5 times per week; I spend 2-5 hours on blog-related duties every day; I've recently begun modeling; and yet I still have time to cook and clean, hang out with my girlfriends, see my boyfriend and have just-for-fun hobbies. I used to stress about having the time and money to 'do it all' but over the years I've gradually got it down to a science. Back in March, I thought I had to give something up completely (so I chose this blog) but then I realized that with a positive attitude and a healthy balance, I didn't have to sacrifice a damn thing.

This post is a great start for those of you who are ready to make changes and begin to live life louder than ever. Here are 5 simple things you can do this week!

ONE. Buy a planner. I just purchased a brand new pin-up girl themed agenda for 2014 and I'm so excited to start using it. I remember back in middle school we'd receive planners for free and most of the kids ended up losing or forgetting about them. As for myself, I wrote down every little homework assignment and extracurricular activity, and I ended up continuing that habit through high school and beyond. I still keep track of everything and take my agenda everywhere I go! When I forget it at home, I feel naked and confused, like when you lose your phone. If you don't already make lists and plans on paper, it's time to start. You'll feel more confident, organized, and in control of your time. Bonus tip: Schedule outings with friends in advance. Gone are the college days when we could just show up at each other's dorm rooms! As adults, my friends and I all have completely different schedules and live in separate neighborhoods, and if we don't plan stuff ahead of time it doesn't happen at all. Call a friend today and set something up!

TWO. Purge your closet. I do this at least once every season, sometimes more often depending on how claustrophobic looking at my wardrobe makes me feel. It's both a blessing and a curse to have too much stuff, and the status of my belongings usually reflects my life; the messier my room is, the messier my mind feels. Put on some music, grab a few garbage bags and get down to business. Figure out what you want to donate, what needs to be washed and what you could give away to pals. Get rid of anything that you don't absolutely love, no matter who got it for you or how long you've kept it. Bonus tip: Rearrange your bedroom furniture. This is another small task that clears my head and helps me remain sane.

THREE. Find a hobby. This may sound counterproductive because a hobby could take up time and money. However, if you spend most of your hours working and the rest of it out on the town, you'll go crazy. I know this because I've been there! Find an activity that you enjoy simply for the fun of it and not because it'll bring you money or popularity. Today, @jessee_artschooldropout happened to reveal via Instagram that she loves taking pictures of signs. She's collected over 1000 in the past 16 years! I personally enjoy anything Disney -- Disney movies, Disneyland, stuffed animals based off of Disney characters, etc. It might be silly, but it's my escape and we all need one, as much as we might love what we do on a daily basis. Bonus tip: Ask your significant other or a friend to join. Is your hobby something two can tango with? If you like yoga, bring a guest to the class. If you like reading, head to the local library with a buddy. You're relaxing, being social, and enjoying a guilt-free activity all at the same time!

FOUR. Fill your fridge. If you think you don't have the time to go grocery shopping, cook, and then clean after, you're probably wrong. Sorry to disappoint you! Making meals at home is healthier and usually cheaper than eating out. I go on one or two big shopping trips per week and then cook a bunch of food in advance. That way, I have stuff to bring to work for lunch and even heat up for dinner over the next couple days. This entire process only takes a couple hours. Plus, it's another form of escapism that can help you relax and unwind after work. Bonus tip: Share cooking and clean-up duties. If you reside with roommates or family, discuss sharing groceries, meals and chores. I'm currently living with my man and two other dudes, and when it comes to the kitchen we share pretty much everything. It saves time and money and it's more convenient for all!

FIVE. Just say no. I'm not talking about sacrificing something you love. That would be contradictory to this entire post. I'm saying you should say no to the little things that you truly do not want to do. Say no to the piece of 700 calorie cake, the new dress that only looks okay, the party a night before you have a big presentation. If you're a 'yes' person like me, then saying 'no' is so healthy and invigorating! Take control of your life. You only have one. Fill it with things you're completely passionate and head-over-heels in love with. Bonus tip: Cut anything from your life that doesn't bring you joy. Now, I'm talking about the big things. The boyfriend that degrades you, the city that bores you, the job that kills you. If something is making you seriously depressed or even suicidal, it needs to go. Now! Don't wait. It might feel like a difficult decision, but in the long run, it will make your life easier. And happier. And louder than you ever dreamed possible...

*Photo by Mary Tap. You can also read my take on how to be happy, how to be single and how to be a better friend.
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