Can you believe it’s almost 2024? It feels like just yesterday we were setting our resolutions and making plans for a fresh start in 2023. Now, here we are; a year older, wiser, and perhaps even a bit jaded from the struggles of this past year. But have no fear with some thoughtful planning, hard work, and dedication to self-improvement, you can be well on your way to making life better in 2024!
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I don’t believe in making New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I prefer to make simple lifestyle choices that will make a difference in my life at any time of the year. However, as we approach the new year, many of us will start to reflect on the year gone by and ask ourselves how we can make life better in the next!
If you are one of those people then you have come to the right place! Whether you want to make some healthy New Year resolutions or you just want to implement simple lifestyle changes that will make life better in 2024 these recommendations will defo give you a good place to start!
40 Ways to make life better in 2024:
One of the most important steps you must take to make life better in the future is to get in control of your finances! If your finances are not kept in check you’re at risk of living above your means, resulting in unwanted stress and anxiety, which can ultimately affect your health and welling!
Create a budget – The first step in controlling your finances is to understand what your income and expenditure are and then create a realistic budget that you can stick to. By creating a budget you can shed light on bad spending habits and ensure that you have enough money to live on. Following a budget will also help you pay off debt and save for the future.
Pay off debts – If you have a lot of debt, you should make a plan to pay it off as quickly as possible. I found that being in a lot of debt made me feel like I was carrying a rock around my neck for several years. However, when I finally faced my debt and made plans to pay it off quicker I started to feel a lot less burdened!
First off, you need to create a budget and figure out how much you can put aside for extra debt payments. If you do have a lot of debt, start paying more of the higher interest-rate debts first. This way you will also save money on interest payments. Also, if you can, concentrate on paying surplus money off one particular debt at a time. As you pay off each debt you will feel a sense of achievement, which will spur you on to continue until you are finally debt free!
Even if it feels like a mammoth task, paying off debts will do wonders for your mental health and well-being! Your future self will defo thank you for it later!
Don’t waste money – How many of you spend a huge amount of money on things you don’t need or want? I used to constantly waste money on all sorts of things, most of the time buying things completely on impulse.
However, after getting divorced several years ago I found myself in quite a bad financial situation. So much so that I had to face my financial problems head-on and look for ways to reduce my outgoings. When I finally sat down and looked at where my money was going, I realised that a big chunk was just getting wasted! I was spending a fortune on takeaway coffees, snacks and expensive canteen dinners at work!
So instead of spending nearly £20 a day at work, I started doing my own lunches and buying a reusable cup and making coffee at work. This saved me an absolute fortune and had a big impact on my ability to pay off my debts!
Now you may not have any debts that you need to pay off but implementing a few changes to your spending habits can help you save a huge amount of money! How much better would you feel paying for that new car or luxury holiday if you could just pay cash instead of using credit cards or finance options?
Don’t use credit cards – I hate credit cards, I used to have several, however after paying off all my debts I now prefer to save up and buy in cash instead.
Credit cards can be beneficial especially for emergencies, however, they can also be a too tempting option when feeling impulsive and lacking in self-control. Now, if you’re someone who uses credit cards and pays them off in full or utilises interest-free offers then that’s not too bad. Unfortunately, though, the vast majority of people end up spending far too much and end up with spiralling debt!
Research also suggests that buying things on credit leads to more spending! If you think about it, you buy an expensive laptop and all you need to do is sign a receipt, you’re not really thinking of the cost implications. However, if you saved up the same amount of money, how differently do you feel about the transaction? If like me, most people will usually think harder about buying a product in cash as you see this money physically disappear from your bank account making it feel much more real!
It’s also quite satisfying knowing I’ve saved up and bought something with my own money, without the need to have to pay for it in the months and years ahead.
Have an emergency fund – Having an emergency fund is essential! None of us knows when some unexpected expense is going to wreak havoc on our lives! Whether it’s an urgent trip overseas, medical bills, a car breakdown or a leaking roof, you can guarantee these things usually happen when you least expect it! By having an emergency fund, you can relax knowing you have the funds already covered.
An emergency fund also gives you freedom, if your relationship breaks down or your job becomes unbearable, it can give you the means to do something about it. You will have savings to pay for a deposit on a new home if you need to move out quickly or allow you to leave a job whilst you look for another.
Learn to meal plan – One way I have found to make life better is by meal planning! Not only will you save money, but it can also save you time as well as make meal times so much easier and far less stressful.
By spending an hour or so at the start of the week I can plan out the week’s meals in advance. No more getting home from work and rummaging through the fridge freezer trying to decide what to have for tea. Those of you with a big family or picky eaters will find this makes meal times so much easier. Just remember to get the whole family’s input before you start, that way everyone knows what to expect!
When looking to make your life better, assessing your professional life and what you want in your career is vital. We spend so much of our time at work and what we earn plays a huge role in the life we live. Therefore we should do a job that we enjoy, pays adequately for what we do as well as offer us mental stimulation. It doesn’t mean that we all have to be career crazy but for those of us who want to be successful in our professional lives, we must take steps to make it happen.
At the end of the day, there is nothing worse than having to face a job that you despise! I know, I’ve been there! You may not be able to leave a bad job straight away but by making plans you can at least look forward to a better more enjoyable professional future.
Reach your goals – Without making goals how will you know what you need to do to reach your true potential? Setting goals gives you a long-term vision with short-term motivation. It focuses your mind on what you want to achieve and provides a road map of how to achieve it!
I used to be in a job that I hated! Even though I had wanted to become a registered nurse for many years, I never made a plan on how I could make this happen. Instead, I wasted years plodding along in a job that made me miserable.
Eventually, after my marriage breakdown, I was forced to re-evaluate my life and I made myself a 5-year plan to become a qualified nurse! Only 4 years later I graduated from university with a first-class honours degree in Nursing and started my dream job!
If you want to change your life for the better, get that promotion or start a new career all you need to do is make a plan and follow it! Create the main goal and then split that goal into smaller achievements that over time help you get to the finish line. It may not be easy and you may come across obstacles along the way but if you have a proper plan in place then you will eventually get to where you want to be.
Setting goals isn’t just for building your career, you can use them for all aspects of your life. Whatever you want to achieve both professionally or personally setting goals will help you get there!
Take risks – Far too many of us stay in our comfort zone afraid to take risks due to the fear of failing or looking stupid! However, most successful people will have taken several risks at some point in their lives.
Without risk we don’t fail, however, failure gives us a chance to grow and learn giving us the experience to see first-hand what works. Taking risks also allows us to stand out and present ourselves as a leader.
It doesn’t mean that you have to live recklessly! It means that we should sometimes take a leap of faith, believe in our abilities more and think outside the box. Of course, we may fail, but we may also succeed and if we do fail we can learn from the process, which may even give us new perspectives or opportunities.
Have a morning routine – By having a positive morning routine you can set yourself up for a more productive mindset, promoting positive feelings and thoughts!
Getting up early ensures you have the time to get ready properly, have a healthy breakfast and spend some time focusing on the mind and body for the day ahead.
Without a good morning routine, you are setting yourself up for failure and unnecessary stress. I’ve lost count of the number of times I was too lazy to get out of bed in the morning, only to eventually get out of bed at the last possible minute and then rush around like a mad woman trying to get ready and get to work on time! This left me stressed and anxious even before my day had even started! Does this sound like you?
I started using my self-care morning routine a few months back, at first I found it hard to get up earlier but I kept at it. Today I’m much more of a morning person and love my morning routine. I feel so much more energised and productive which has even been noticed by colleagues. Give it a try, what have you got to lose?
Think more positively – Negative thinking gets us nowhere except giving us plenty of self-doubts! Not the best mindset for success is it?
Instead, we should try and think more positively, however it is not always as easy as it seems. We have so many thoughts running through our minds, the negative ones are sometimes easier to believe! This is especially true for those of you who have had negative relationships or toxic people around you thus making it hard to overcome.
However, to make life better for ourselves you must have a positive mindset that encourages and motivates you to achieve your dreams. Without one, you are likely to be met more often than not with failure further damaging your self believe!
If you are struggling with negative self-beliefs and self-doubt, I suggest focusing more on the positives in your life, write down your achievements, what you are good at and what you are thankful for. Start to tell yourself that you are capable of achieving your dreams, use positive affirmations, surround yourself with positive people, and read and listen to positive podcasts or books. The more positivity you see the more you subconsciously start to believe!
Say no – Learn to say NO to those situations, events or anything at all that makes you feel uncomfortable.
In the work environment, we tend to take on far too much, leaving us feeling unmotivated and a failure. If you know that you don’t have time to complete something or if it’s something outside your ability, say so or delegate it to someone who can.
At the end of the day, we’re not robots and can only complete so much at a time. Don’t be tempted to work late or take home work when you aren’t getting paid for it, understand your worth! After all, the more you try to do, the more you are likely to be put upon! It’s a surefire way to end up stressed and anxious when all you need to do is say no in the first place.
Saying no also works wonders in your personal life as well. Stick to your guns, if you don’t want to do something, say so!
Say yes – On the other hand, don’t be afraid to say yes too!
Sometimes we put off things due to looking stupid or having feelings of anxiety especially if it involves trying new things or meeting new people. But by moving out of your comfort zone you will be surprised at what you can achieve!
Being healthy is an important aspect when thinking about making your life better. After all, if we aren’t healthy how can we make life better for the future? Of course, some of us will already have illnesses or chronic conditions that won’t just go away by being healthier but by looking after ourselves better we could make those conditions less debilitating or help our bodies less susceptible to developing such conditions in the first place.
As a nurse, I see far too often how an unhealthy lifestyle can hurt people’s lives. A poor diet alone can lead to an increased risk of some cancers, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular conditions and even some mental health conditions. Plus a sedentary lifestyle, smoking and excessive drinking can also contribute to other serious health conditions.
So, if you want to live a longer active life, having a healthy lifestyle is essential!
Eat better – Food is what fuels the body, so what you put in is generally what you get out of it. Good proper nutrition provides the body with all the nutrients and energy that it needs to function properly. Without it, we can feel lethargic, run down and susceptible to illness and disease.
You don’t have to completely transform your diet, instead pay attention to portion sizes and gradually start to increase the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables that you eat daily.
You should also try limiting the amount of red meat, processed, fried and calorie-rich foods such as takeaways and fast food that you eat. Most of these items contain huge amounts of saturated fats as well as excessive amounts of salt and sugar which are all known to contribute to ill health.
By filling your body with the correct foods you will start to feel more energised, and focused as well as have better younger-looking skin and hair quality.
Start the day with a healthy breakfast – One of the best ways of fuelling your body for the day ahead is to start the day with a healthy breakfast.
Start with some delicious porridge oats or muesli with some wholemeal toast, some fruit and fruit juice to swill it all down. Not only are you getting some of your recommended 5 pieces of fruit and veg portions a day, but you’re also filling your body with energy-rich nutrients that will keep you going until lunchtime.
Other options I love include poached egg on toast, fruit and oat smoothies for when I’m in a rush or some delicious overnight oats!
Exercise more – Regular exercise alongside a healthy diet is important for keeping weight under control and lowering the risk of certain diseases and conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure as well as reducing the risk of early death by as much as 50%.
Exercise also helps strengthen bones, build muscle, give you more energy as well as help with relaxation and aid in better sleep quality.
To stay healthy, adults should aim to be active every day with at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week. For most of us, something as simple as walking or cycling instead of taking the car is the easiest way to get more exercise.
However, it’s not as simple as just getting a bit more exercise each week. Modern life means more and more of us are living a sedentary lifestyle. For most of us, work-life means we are sitting for up to 7 hours a day behind a desk, then getting home and sitting in front of the TV. This means we are moving around less and less burning less energy and gaining weight more than what people used to.
Instead, try and move about more throughout the day, take the stairs instead of the lift, take regular breaks from the desk, walk about or do some stretches. You could also reduce time watching TV or social media at home and use the time more productively around the house or start going out for nightly walks.
Drink more water – Many people don’t understand the importance of drinking more water. Our Bodies are made up of around 60% water and without adequate supply, we are in danger of becoming dehydrated and suffering the detrimental effects associated with it!
Dehydration occurs when you lose more fluid than what you take in. It can make you feel thirsty, dizzy and light-headed, give you headaches and make you feel tired and lethargic. In extreme circumstances, it can even lead to seizures, urinary and kidney problems and the need for urgent medical attention!
The average adult needs to drink around 7-8 glasses of fluid a day to maintain fluid balance, even more, if exercising or in hot weather. This amount includes milk, flavoured drinks, sodas as well as tea and coffee. However, we should be mindful of the types of fluids we are taking. Most sodas and flavoured drinks contain huge amounts of sugar, even fancy coffees can contain sugar-rich syrups!
As part of a healthy diet, we should all try and replace some of these calorie-rich drinks with water. Not only is water good for us, but it’s also cheap and easily accessible.
Get enough sleep – Getting enough sleep is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Whilst we sleep our bodies can heal and repair and give us some much-needed rest. It is recommended that adults have around 8 hours of sleep each night.
Any less than this means you will likely wake up feeling grumpy, tired and unable to focus properly. Regular poor sleep also puts us at risk of developing serious health conditions and mental health issues and lowering the immune system.
If you want to make life better, getting adequate sleep is a must! To help aid better sleep try to make your bedroom a comfortable and relaxing space, have comfortable bedding, no noise or light disruption and introduce some calming scents such as lavender which is renowned for its sleep-promoting properties.
Other tips for getting a better night’s sleep include avoiding bright lights such as mobile phone screens, limiting caffeine intake, and cutting back on sugary and refined carbs before bedtime. You should also take time to wind down, disconnect from social media and instead listen to some relaxing music or do some light stretches or yoga.
Keep stress in check – Stress is one of the major factors responsible for developing serious health conditions.
Stress is the body’s biological response to a perceived threat or situation. Normally this stress response can help us get through the normal demands of home, work and family life. however, when stress hormones are activated in the body regularly, it can take its toll on your health.
Symptoms of stress include irritability, anxiety, depression, headaches and insomnia.
Experiencing a lot of stress over a prolonged period can also lead to physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, otherwise known as burnout!
If you want to get the most out of life and make life better you need to keep on top of this stress and incorporate ways to reduce it and its effects. There are lots of ways to reduce stress such as exercise, meditation, making time for self-care, listening to music or spending time with family and friends. However, the important thing is to find something that helps you.
Stop smoking – The dangers of smoking are well known, although as a past smoker I know how hard it is to break the habit. For those of you who want to make life better for the future, now is the time to give up! Not only will it be beneficial to your health you will also save yourself a huge amount of money!
For help giving up smoking check out the NHS’s 10 self-help tips to stop smoking.
Reduce alcohol intake – Just like smoking drinking to excess can have a detrimental effect on your health. The NHS recommends drinking no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, equivalent to six pints of beer or seven glasses of wine.
Smile more – Smiling even if fake can trick the body into lifting its mood. This is due to the body’s physiological response to smiling, it sends a signal to the brain to release endorphins triggering positive feelings, lowering stress levels and improving your mood.
Stop worrying about what others think – If you want to perform at your best then you need to stop worrying about what others may think of you. In today’s world, our fear of other people’s opinions may be holding us back.
Instead, focus on what’s important to you and the person you want to be, this will help you care less about needing external validation. Remember you can’t control what others think and how they react to you so why let it control what you do with your life?
Watch less TV – Instead of wasting your day or evening watching the same old rubbish on the TV, do something more productive. Not only will it be better for your health you can concentrate on doing activities that are good for the soul, maybe indulge in your favourite hobby or even find a new one. You could also find time to learn something new, do some exercise or spend the time writing a journal.
Be thankful – You only have to read a newspaper or turn on the TV to be bombarded with sadness and bad news. In today’s world, it’s far too easy to get wrapped up in all the unpleasantness in the world and forget that there is still so much still to be thankful for.
Many of us reading this will have been born into a privileged world, with freedoms, access to healthcare, free of persecution and the ability to live a prosperous life. These are all things we should be grateful for and we should always remember how lucky we are that we were born into such circumstances.
Even daily, it is so easy to get wrapped up in the smaller things that go wrong in our lives instead of focusing on the things that have gone right. However, practising gratitude can help us all have a positive outlook and make better life decisions.
Spending time each day to think about what we are grateful for can help us handle stress, improve overall health and well-being, make us feel more secure and keep you inspired!
Each day, write down what you are grateful for, and the good things that have happened throughout the day. Keep it in a gratitude journal or write each item on separate pieces of paper and pop it into a gratitude jar. For days when you are feeling down and demotivated, you can then read back all the things you are grateful for, helping to refocus the mind.
Be kind to others – Often one act of kindness leads to another. Being kind to others not only benefits the recipient but also helps us feel better about ourselves. Why not take this thought one step further and do some random acts of kindness, maybe donate your time to a charity or check in on your elderly neighbours?
Don’t let life pass you by – Life can move pretty fast! How many of us reach a certain age and wonder how we got there so fast? We spend so much time working and looking at other people’s needs such as children or relatives that we forget to make the most of our time and live the life that we want. Now, I’m not saying we should forget all our responsibilities, it’s more about using our time more effectively doing things we enjoy.
Instead of spending our spare time watching TV or playing video games, spend quality time doing something you love. At the end of the day, you only live once! So why not make the most of it before you get too old or frail to do all the things you ever wanted to do?
Get out into nature – Getting out into nature has been proven to help reduce stress and anxiety and make us feel calmer. Getting outside in the winter months has also been linked to helping reduce the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
When outside in nature the body produces endorphins which naturally make you feel good, help you have better quality sleep and enhance overall cognitive function. Studies also suggest that getting outdoors in nature helps us shrug off social pressures, allowing us to focus more on what’s important to us.
Spend quality time with loved ones – For those of you who spend time with family regularly, how many of you can say it’s quality time? Is spending every evening sitting in front of the TV watching soaps quality time? I would say no! Instead, try to plan activities that get the whole family involved. Perhaps have a group cooking session, a movie or a games night. It doesn’t have to be expensive just something that can get you all interacting together and enjoying each other’s company.
I currently live with my parents and at the start of the lockdown, we decided to start a cook-from-scratch challenge. We take turns each Friday to cook a full meal including sides and dessert from scratch, have a few drinks and watch some movies. It’s now become a bit of a tradition and something we all look forward to each week.
Don’t keep up with the Joneses – Stop wasting time buying or doing things just to look good. I see it so many times, people spending money they don’t have on things they really don’t need just to impress friends. The same can be true for what we put out on social media. I know so many people who are in bad relationships and are unhappy yet portray relationship bliss on the internet.
Instead of focusing on what other people think of you, focus on what matters in your real life. If you haven’t got the money or don’t need something then why buy it? If you’re in a bad relationship, ask yourself why? What can you do about it, how can you make it better?
Read more – Reading not only improves your language skills and knowledge it can also give you mental stimulation, improved memory and stronger analytical thinking.
Reading can also transfer you to another world, giving you a way to escape the constant demands of everyday life. A good book can keep us amused and entertained as well helping us develop life skills at the same time.
Write a journal – Journaling is writing down your feelings, thoughts and experiences about a particular subject. There are lots of different types of journals such as travel, bullet, dream, pregnancy or self-development. However, there are no rules and you can write about anything you want.
Many people choose journaling as a way to understand their thoughts and feelings, both negative and positive. Writing down the day’s experiences, help us to understand how we felt about a particular situation, a way of reflecting and learning coping strategies for the future.
Meditate – Meditation is well known for relaxing the mind and reducing stress levels. Try meditation for a few minutes a day and see how you get on.
Practice regular self-care – One of the best ways to make life better for yourself is by managing stress levels and looking after YOU! Practising regular self-care is one of the best ways of doing this.
Many self-care techniques alongside small lifestyle changes can help manage many mental health symptoms and keep stress levels down, which can also help stop physical illnesses from developing or getting worse. Taking time to enjoy some self-care activities can also give you a much-needed boost, especially after a bad day.
Create a bucket list – Just like the way setting goals is essential for reaching our full potential. Making a bucket list works in just the same way, focusing on what we want to do, and keeping us motivated and driven.
Make a list of all your dreams and desires, essentially anything in life that you want to see or do. Once written down on paper, you can start to make these dreams become a reality.
Try new things – All too often the fear of the unknown holds us back, trying new things not only helps us dismiss those fears it also helps us grow and learn new things. If you really want to make life better, it’s time to commit to trying new things and engaging in fresh experiences that reinvigorate your life with energy and excitement.
Become more organised – Make life easier for yourself by becoming more organised. The more organised you are the more productive you become and the less likely you are to waste time searching for items.
Spend less time on social media – How much time do you spend on social media? Research suggests that the average person wastes around 400 hours a year on social media! What else could you do with these spare hours?
Declutter – Having too much stuff can weigh a person down. Clean and tidy homes help create a relaxed atmosphere and are proven to reduce stress, improve happiness, and even improve your eating and exercise habits. Make the time to get rid of unwanted stuff, organise storage and make your space less cluttered.
As the old saying goes tidy home, tidy mind!
Let go of the past – Have you been beating yourself up over something you have done or not done in the past? If so, it’s time to let it go! Accept that you can’t change the past, learn from your mistakes and move on. Spending time dwelling on the past isn’t beneficial to anyone and will only give you unnecessary stress.
Plan days in advance – Instead of wasting free days or annual leave on having lazy days at home, make plans in advance to do something different. This could be as simple as visiting your local park or as exciting as doing a bungee jump. It is up to you!
Spend time alone – Most of us are social butterflies that love nothing better than spending time with loved ones and friends. Even though this is important for our well-being, spending time alone also has its benefits.
Choosing to spend time alone can make you feel rejuvenated, and inspired as well as build mental strength. If you aren’t used to spending time alone start off small like going out for a walk or visiting a museum. Eventually, as you start to feel comfortable in your own company you may even want to take things further such as travelling somewhere solo.
Travelling solo offers even more positive benefits such as being able to rely on yourself, decision making and building self-esteem and confidence.
Resolutions shouldn’t necessarily be things that you wish to stop doing, they should be changes that can help you embrace a new positive mindset. Yes, dropping negative habits is good, but we should be focusing more on what makes you happy and how you can get there!
I hope some of these ideas have made you think about what you want to achieve in the year and months ahead and given you a little nudge in the right direction. After all, it is only YOU that can make life better no matter what time of year it is!