“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” —Steve Maraboli
2020 is finally in the rear-view mirror, after introducing a new reality that threw everyday life for a loop. In addition to the health scare caused by the pandemic, many people had a hard time adjusting: they felt out of control of their own lives.
It’s a new year, and a new opportunity to decide how our lives will be. Granted, we won’t be able to control everything, but there’s plenty that we can—including our mindsets, our health, and how we live our lives. It’s up to you to make it great, and being proactive instead of reactive can make all the difference.
So make 2021 your year! A good way to start is by setting personal, SMART goals for yourself each month. It will provide something you can eagerly anticipate and give you a better sense of power over your life.
Making Home a Haven
Dorothy Gale may have best put into words how we feel about where we live: “There’s no place like home.” But, as many have discovered, having too much of a good thing can turn negative at times. The best way to return your home to a place of respite is to take each month and decide how you will make it your own, which these tips can help you achieve.
This is usually the time when the holidays get packed away, so take advantage of it. Try a new way of organizing your holiday items that’s more efficient (such as using twist ties on lights and labeling containers), and consider rearranging your living space.
Being in the dead of winter, this month is the perfect time to start decluttering your home by grouping items into keep, donate, and trash categories. Also put into motion similar minimizing plans for the rest of the year.
In honor of spring’s return, give your home a fresh start by spring-cleaning and adding a fresh paint color to at least one room. It’s also a good time to check and replace smoke alarm batteries and schedule an HVAC inspection.
It’s all about curb appeal. Do at least two outdoor-related projects: plant something new, try composting, clean up your yard, wash your car, or pressure-wash your sidewalks, patio, or deck.
With warmer weather and more plans on the horizon, now’s an ideal time to consider rearranging furniture to maximize light, reorganizing your garage or shed for the warmer-weather projects ahead, and cleaning and prepping your grill.
Plan your decor for the outdoors. If you haven’t done so, buy patio furniture or bring existing furniture outside to take advantage of summer’s glorious return. Also think of fun DIY or outdoor ideas you and your family can do in the coming summer months, such as making a time capsule.
Do some midsummer maintenance, especially on outdoor items that have been heavily used at this point, such as your grill and lawnmower. Likewise, take advantage of the cool indoors by giving your kitchen a thorough cleaning, including the fridge and pantry.
Make a battle plan for closing out summer: start making room in your shed for storage and if you have a pool, start prepping for its closure. If need be, get your home ready for school (and have fun doing it) by making a turntable homework station.
As the classic song aptly states, the days grow short when you reach this month—so take advantage of the dwindling daylight. Plan fall projects, such as staining your deck before leaves begin falling and getting your HVAC unit winterized.
With cooler weather arriving, make your bedroom a cozy haven. Give everything a good clean, and replace your lighter sheets with thicker ones and a comforter. You may want to add some dim lighting, too, such as candles or fairy lights.
Put your home plans in motion for your holidays: How will furniture be rearranged? Will any need to be stored? Will you need to prepare a guest room? The more planning you do, the more stress you’ll avoid!
First and foremost, enjoy the moment. But things get chaotic and time flies during the holidays, so keep your home tidy by designating a room for present storage and wrapping, and start formulating your holiday and postholiday housekeeping plans as early as possible.
Being the Best You
Creating a happy home environment is vital, but ensuring that you’re taking steps to make you happier is even more important. The suggestions below can help you get there.
Try something new, such as taking up an instrument you’ve never played. Read a book from an unfamiliar author. Have a conversation with someone you might not normally speak with.
Jot down ten simple things that make you happy, and then figure out how you can make them a regular part of your life.
Plan for fun. Consider where and when you want to go on vacation this year, and plan your excursions, whether they are long getaways or simple day trips.
Expand your world by limiting or getting off social media. Use that time to go outside for at least fifteen minutes per day, even if it’s just sitting in the open air.
Focus on a positive self-image. Brainstorm for five to ten minutes about your own awesomeness. Make a collage using great photos of you and others.
Revel in the joy of music and what it brings to your life. Make a playlist of entirely new songs, including ones from genres you’ve never listened to.
Declare your independence from something. What, you ask? You decide! Examples could include a bad habit or negative thoughts.
Embrace thoroughness, and reject procrastination. Dedicate yourself to doing something completely every day, even a task as simple as brushing and flossing or cleaning up your bedroom (including making your bed to start the day).
Emphasize positivity. Follow the adage that if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all (which may be tougher than you think). Use social media for good, too—find old friends so you can tell them how much they mean to your life.
Eat better. Do what experts say: limit sugars and processed foods, and add more fruits, veggies, healthy carbs, and proteins to your diet. And drink plenty of water!
Try to live in another person’s shoes. Volunteer time at a food pantry or consignment shop. Eat gluten-free or go without TV, the internet, or your phone for a week. It will make you think.
In perhaps the busiest month of the year, make sure to carve out extra “you” time and space. Reflect on how you did this year, and give yourself credit for both big and small victories.