1. Buy yourself a good pair of shoes. A really good pair of shoes. A could walk around the city for 8 hours and feel okay pair of shoes. A matches everything you own real leather well fitted did the song and dance of shopping around and trying on and evaluating style and fit and durability pair of shoes. The initial money you put toward them will actually amount to a lot less than you’d waste replacing the crappy pairs you buy in the interim (and a few extra dollars are worth sacrificing for general daily discomfort.)
2. Write down a list of things you didn’t think you’d be able to get through and then did. We usually just forget about the issues we spent weeks and months and years panicking over and creating our lives around – because they resolve naturally, or end up only having been issues we made up. So the next time you’re absolutely heartbroken, remember the last breakup you were certain you wouldn’t get over. (You did. You will. This too shall pass.)
3. Make a pilgrimage. Go on a trip where the travel portion is just as crucial as the event or destination. It can be a long drive, car ride, train, flight, cross country road trip – whatever. Go have a blast along the way, make it insane. Kill a guy in Reno just to watch him die (that is a Johnny Cash reference and not a legitimate suggestion, please kill a cheeseburger in Reno instead).
4. Listen to CDs you forgot about, songs from 2007 or your junior high dance. There are few things as small, inexpensive and absolutely THRILLING as your favorite 90s song playing in the background as you complete your menial tasks of the day, and there’s nothing as oddly entertaining and perplexing as listening to the songs you did in high school, or even last year. It induces that weird nostalgia that makes all the crappy stuff gently watercolored and faded into something you really think you miss for 30 seconds.
5. Rearrange your space. Even if it’s just moving the TV or changing the orientation of your bed, a shift in the layout of the room you spend the most time in actually does change the way you perceive it. Rooms absolutely carry energy, and a lot of that is dependent on what’s in them, where and for what purpose.
6. Reflect on what you have consistently felt as though you’ve wanted more of – romantic love, appreciation – whatever. Decide how you’re going to actively give that very thing to others, it will come back twofold. Perceiving lack from others is usually a reflection of what we aren’t giving enough of in the first place.
7. Sign up for a subscription service that either makes your life easier or ever so slightly more enjoyable. Amazon Prime if you’re still spending all that money on standard shipping (it’s free and two-day on anything.) BirchBox or NatureBox or even your favorite magazine. The possibilities for bringing structure and ease into your life are endless, and there are so many small, relatively inexpensive ways to come home to something new to read or try or snack on, you’d be remiss not to even invest in one.
8. Purge. Your wardrobe, your desktop, your contacts list in your phone: get rid of everything you don’t need, anything or anyone that’s brought negativity or unnecessary anything into your life in the past year. Bring the clothes you haven’t worn/don’t want to an organization you care about (and be mindful of where you donate to in general.) When you get a new phone, only transfer the contacts you need and want to talk to each day, if you can. (Pro tip: keep a “maybe” pile for anything you’re uncertain about. Sleep on it, then if that thing is lingering in your mind, reflect on why you still need it. You might learn something surprising about yourself and what you really want.)
9. Clean out your inbox. Unsubscribe from email alerts and websites you’re receiving ads and promotions from too frequently. Make folders for the messages you want or have to keep. Permanently delete messages from the people you just have to be entirely done with. You’ll experience an almost instantaneous feeling of relief. It’s cool. Try it.
10. Make a list of the things you value, and then next to that, a list of ways you’re going to make those things priorities more often. If you care more about your best friend’s feelings than you do your temporary, petty frustration, prioritize that. If you care more about living peacefully with your roommate than fighting over another dirty dish, prioritize that. Decide what matters more to you, and how you’re going to resolve your issues in ways that don’t interfere with them. The way you get over anything is simply to start caring about something else more.
11. Take yourself out to dinner. Eating alone is, by contrast, often very calming (if you can get past the cultural notion that you should always eat with somebody, and I’m not saying you shouldn’t!) But eat dinner by yourself, at a restaurant, at least once. You’ll see what I mean.
12. Visit a new city. Even if its small and only 30 minutes away, do what you can manage. See what hole-in-the-wall bars and small town diners and quirky coffee shops exist in places you wouldn’t have thought to look.
13. Visit your hometown. Even if its just to visit your childhood best friend for the day or pass by the house you grew up in or spend a holiday with your extended family. Stay for as long as you can tolerate, let yourself be reminded of how far you’ve come.
14. Take somebody on a date. A real date. A I made reservations here’s the dress code I will pick you up at 7 everything else is a surprise date. A plan for two weeks and get your hair cut and bring flowers and wine date. Everybody deserves to have that, and everybody should know how much time and effort and care it takes to execute. (It makes you appreciate it when others do it for you that much more.)
15. Finish the books you bought and forgot about. If you’re that bored or disinterested, at least note why, and then give those books away. I know it’s appealing to collect a sort of library in your home, but how much more appealing is it to realize you could be handing somebody the book that incites a revelation, as opposed to selfishly letting it sit unopened on your shelf for the next five years.
16. Write down a list of things you’re proud of. Things you’re really, sincerely proud of. Things you never thought you could accomplish and have. The kind of gratitude that comes with appreciating what you’ve done for yourself is unmatched. Let yourself keep surprising yourself. Make your own case for why you should trust yourself – then listen. And keep going.
17. Decide on one way to streamline your day-to-day life, and then invest in that, or make a conscious effort to improve. Recently, mine was washing every dish as soon as I dirty it.
18. Learn to cook something new, and then make it for somebody else. (Once you’ve gotten it past the point of having a questionable, 50/50-will-this-be-edible outcome.)
19. Evaluate the common denominators of your mindset(s). I read somewhere that we will actually have most of the same thoughts today that we had yesterday, and if nothing probes us to change, we’ll have the same ones tomorrow. That is to say, we tend to think about the same crap over and over again. Figure out what your crap is and which parts you’d like to adjust, before something more unpleasant forces you to.
20. Do something surprising and unbelievably kind for someone who will not expect it (send flowers to a random friend, Paypal someone $100 for a massage, buy someone you love a really nice, special dinner). Something that is so generous you couldn’t possibly do it regularly, but that would make somebody else’s year complete, to know that somebody cared enough about them to do something at that level.
21. Read through your receipts, get an annual bank statement, sign up for a financial service that breaks down your spending into percentages, and see what you waste the most needless money on – and why. You can say you want to stop spending on clothing, but you’re not going to actually stop if the drive behind it is an insecurity about the way you look, or a consistent desire to change yourself.
22. Next time you’re out shopping, even if you went with the intention of getting something for yourself, buy a gift for somebody who really needs it. Something that is so them they’d cry just realizing that somebody knows them that well.
23. Send a long email or card or pay a phone call to someone you lost touch with but didn’t really want to. Tell them that you’ve lost touch but didn’t really want to. Ask them how they are, tell them about all the things they’ve missed, figure out how you’re going to make more time for each other going forward.
24. Buy yourself a new set of your daily basics: makeup, white v-neck t-shirts, a French Press coffee maker, a more comfortable and utilitarian daily bag. You will thank yourself for this.
25. Make a list of the things you’ve irrationally worried about in the last year. It will be embarrassing and uncomfortable and that’s the point. Realize how often those concerns ever actually came to pass, and more importantly, see if you can yet understand what the root of those fears were. (They’re usually pretty far based from reality.)
26. Maybe on your birthday, make it a point to review your year. Make time to pore over and reflect on everything thats happened — journals, photos, videos, posts on social media — all the parts that combine to show you how far you’ve come. Celebrate your progress and note where you still need work. It’s a beautiful thing to be self-aware enough to take your past and present into account when considering the future.