You’re already amazing. But you’re looking for how to better yourself. Here are 100 doable ways to improve your relationships, and better yourself financially, physically, and mentally this year.
If you are looking for ideas or motivation on how to better yourself this year, this post is for you. There are 100 simple ideas on how to better yourself physically, how to better yourself mentally, self-care ideas, how to improve your life quality, how to improve your relationships, how to better your health, and more!
I love the idea of trying different things or challenging myself to learn and grow.
I never had a fear of heights growing up. Then years ago I was in a ski accident in Vermont. Another skier ran into me on a run and we tumbled down the hill. As we fell I got kneed in the head, giving me a concussion.
From that day on I have struggled with a fear of heights, or more accurately a fear of falling.
A few years ago I decided to try indoor rock climbing, to work with (conquer seemed too ambitious) my fear. I was looking to improve my life quality, to hopefully not be as terrified of heights.
Setting self-improvement goals: small steps
I chose small goals to set myself up for success.
The first goal I worked toward was climbing to the top of an easy route at the local climbing gym. I rented equipment, and went with a friend to make it more fun, and for support. The route was twenty feet high; I panicked halfway up and had to be lowered down.
But I kept trying.
That night I got to the top of that route, and I was hooked. So I kept coming back and climbed once or twice a week. I made new friends. I met a guy, a climber, we started dating. Now he’s my husband.
Good things came out of me pushing myself.
Though this might sound like a perfect story of how to better yourself, there is no perfect story. Only a real one. I still have a fear of heights. It’s something I work with and is much more manageable now.
I learned how to take care of myself emotionally in the face of fear. It’s so worth setting self-improvement goals, whatever yours may be.
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How to Better Yourself: 100 simple and practical ways
Let’s dive into the 100 self-improvement ideas to improve your life quality. I have organized these ideas into four categories with 25 ideas in each category: better yourself financially, physically, mentally, and in a relationship. You can jump to the section you want to focus on, or you can read through the whole list.
This isn’t meant to be a list of 100 things you “should” do. It’s a big list simply to give you lots of ideas and hopefully you’ll find something that resonates with you.
How to better yourself financially
1. Track your finances.
You need to know your money situation before you can improve it. Personal Capital is a simple and 100% free way to track your income, expenses, investments, debt, help you set up attainable goals, and much more. Sign up for free here.
2. Start eating more home-cooked meals.
After housing and vehicles, food is the next biggest expense for a household. Cut down on this expense by preparing more meals at home and eating less takeout. This tip will also help you take care of yourself physically as you can make healthier meals and portions at home than most restaurants. If you need ideas on what to make, meal planning will help. Sign up here to have a free 14-day trial of the $5 Meal Plan – an inexpensive and simple way to know exactly what to cook.
3. Pay off debt.
If you are in debt, there is a way out. Read this for 10 Practical and Mindset tips for getting out of debt.
4. Find a new way to save money.
5. Try a no-spend day.
If that goes well and you built your confidence to try more, try a no-spend weekend.
6. Do your own taxes.
You will save around $200 by doing your own income taxes. Tax prep software makes it pretty simple to follow even if you’re new. I have been doing my own taxes for many years (I use Turbotax), and now I do my husband’s taxes too, saving us money. If your situation is complex or you think there’s a good chance you’ll mess it up, it’s worth paying to get someone to do it. But otherwise, try it yourself! It’s also a great way to see exactly what money came in (and left!) in the previous year.
7. Embrace DIY.
Save money by doing more things yourself. Paint your own nails, dye your own hair, cut your own hair (or have your spouse do it if you trust them with your hair!)
8. Put aside money for your kids.
Look into starting an education savings fund for your children. You can contribute lump sum amounts when you have them or you can set up monthly transfers to come from your account to the education account.
9. Save money with a virtual personal assistant.
Trim is like a free fairy godmother for your finances. Trim works in the background to save you money in such ways as canceling old subscriptions, setting spending alerts, checking how much you spent on ride-sharing apps the previous month, negotiate your cable bill, and more. Check out Trim here.
10. Have family money meetings.
Since our daughter is only three, we won’t be inviting her to these meetings at this point, but if you have older kids, it would be great to include them. You could hold these meetings once a month and make them fun. If it’s just you and your spouse, have a glass of wine and order a pizza after the kids go to bed. Talk about things you want to save for together, things you think you could improve on, what you’re doing well, what you’d like to change.
11. Start investing your money.
Don’t just save money, invest it so it grows. I invest in a variety of ways but one of the best ways (especially for beginners) is index funds. Lower risk, built-in diversity, and relatively hands-off. You can read 9 easy steps to investing in index funds here.
12. Ask for a raise.
If you are an employee and haven’t had a raise in a while, ask for one. This is something people forget to do or put off because it can be hard to do. If you’re not getting regular raises, then you are actually getting paid less from year to year to do the same job. Your raises should at least be keeping up with the rate of inflation.
13. Put bonus money to good use.
If you get unexpected money, a bonus from work, a gift of money from a relative, don’t just spend it on things you won’t care about in a year. Put it in an emergency fund, use it toward paying off debt, or invest it.
14. Wait before you buy.
If there is something you want to buy that is a “want” as opposed to a “need” (a winter coat is a need in the winter; a third winter coat is a want), wait on it. Leave the store, close the browser, wait until the next day, and see if you still really want it. Some of the time you’ll completely forget about whatever it was you wanted the day before.
15. Increase your income with a side hustle.
There are lots of side hustles you could try depending on your preferences (if you like dogs or cats, petsit with Rover), if you have a degree (search engine evaluation or teaching English online), if you want something easy you can start right away (take surveys), if you want flexibility with high income potential (sell on Amazon).
16. Start earning cash back on purchases.
If you shop online for clothing, books, hotels, airfare, electronics, food, and much more, you’re probably leaving money on the table by not using a cash back site. Sign up for Rakuten here (it’s free) and get a $10 welcome bonus.
17. Cancel extra monthly expenses.
Cancel all the subscription services you don’t get enough use out of – cable, Netflix, subscription boxes etc.
18. Invest your change.
Use Acorn to have your purchases on things like coffee and groceries rounded up and the change invested. It’s a painless way to save and you won’t miss the extra change. Even small amounts of money grow by compounding and it will be fun to watch your change grow. Sign up for Acorn here and get $5 just for registering.
19. Read a personal finance book.
Reading personal finance books is a great way to better yourself financially by exposing yourself to different ideas. The personal finance book that made the biggest impact on my life is Your Money or Your Life.
20. Take advantage of free money.
If your employer offers matched contributions to a retirement account, use them! This is free money! Do what you can to put together the contribution you need to get the money.
21. Start an emergency fund.
If you don’t have one started already, work on putting aside a bit of money here and there. You don’t have to wait until you have an extra $50 or $100 to put aside. Save $5. Save $2. Start with what you can.
22. Get cheap life insurance.
Life insurance is one of those expenses that is not fun to think about or spend money on, but it is so essential to think of the future and protect your family. Bestow is an insurance provider that offers VERY affordable life insurance, and best of all, the entire process is done online! No exams, no in-person visits; all 100% online. You can get a free quote here.
23. Limit fuel.
Set a dollar amount of how much you will spend on fuel for your vehicle(s) this month. Try to walk/bike/carpool when you can for a month.
24. Turn down the temperature.
You can save 10% a year on heating by turning your thermostat down by 7-10 degrees F from its usual setting (source). A good guideline is to set your thermostat to 68 degrees F (20 degrees C) while you’re awake, and lower while you’re sleeping. This will save you lots of money on heating. Put on an extra sweater, get under a cozy blanket, or cuddle someone you like. We keep our house at 66 degrees F (19 degrees C). It took a bit of getting used to for me because I get colder than my husband (and our 3-year-old never gets cold!) but I’m used to it now and I like the savings.
25. Share your money.
If you are in a position financially, one of my absolute favorite places to contribute money is through Kiva. It is a site that organizes microloans around the world. I have loaned money for many years through Kiva, to entrepreneurs in countries or situations that would never get loans otherwise. You can choose if you want to fund female or male entrepreneurs, business owners from a specific country, a food business or a craft business or many other things.
How to better yourself in a relationship
1. Have more dinners together.
I realize this won’t be possible for everyone, and not all of the time. You could try to increase the number of dinners you have together by one dinner a week, and go from there.
2. Have phone-free time.
Whether this is after work, during dinner, or before bed, have a time every day when you’re not on your phones.
3. Speak your gratitude.
If you appreciate something your partner did, don’t keep it to yourself. Tell them.
4. Share your happiness.
At the end of each day share with the others you live with something that made you happy that day.
5. Get comfortable saying I’m sorry.
Whether that’s to a spouse, or your child, it does so much good in a relationship to apologize when you hurt somebody. It doesn’t show weakness or make you less of a person, it shows your strength.
6. Say I love you often.
Life is short and we aren’t in control of the time we have. Share “I love you” regularly instead of just keeping it in your head.
7. Remember the beginning.
Think back to what made you fall in love with your partner. That part is still there.
8. Don’t give your worst to your partner.
Many people give their best selves to their bosses, colleagues, and friends. Then they get home and let it all hang out (figuratively…well, sometimes literally too). Save some of your best (behavior, affection, smiles, attention) for your family at home.
9. Assume the best.
If you’re not sure of the intention behind something your partner said or did, assume the best, not the worst, and ask them what they meant.
10. Lower your expectations.
No I don’t mean putting up with being treated poorly, or settling. I mean, be realistic with what a partner can give you. Sometimes we put too much pressure on a spouse to be everything.
11. Play together.
Be silly, giggle, dance, wrestle. We grown-ups can get so serious in our relationships and one way to better yourself in a relationship is to remember to have fun with your partner.
12. Hold hands.
My parents have been married for a long time; they were high school sweethearts. They still hold hands when they walk down the street together. Though no couple is perfect, I love the symbolism of holding hands. You are literally walking side-by-side; one person isn’t ahead of the other person.
13. Avoid getting hangry.
Try to pay attention to your own hunger cues so you’re not just feeling mood swings from a drop in blood sugar and taking it out on your partner.
14. Do your own thing.
It’s not only fine, but it’s healthy to have your own interests. If your interests just happen to completely intersect, that’s fine too. But your partner doesn’t love you any less if they don’t go with you to everything.
15. Take a weekend to reconnect.
Especially if you have young kids, this is great if you can swing it. If you have any relatives who can have a sleepover with your kids, have a staycation with your partner.
16. Get help.
If you and your partner are really stuck, get help from a marriage counselor, or even go on a couples retreat.
17. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
This saying is tossed around all the time and with good reason. Some things are so small in a relationship that they are not even worth a mention. If it’s small, let it go on your own. Life will throw you enough truly big stuff to deal with.
18. Keep up with your own self-care.
Taking care of yourself will make you a happier person and you will bring that happier person into your relationship.
19. Date each other.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been together for a while, it’s still so important to have regular dates with each other. This one is a big work in progress over here. We do so many things as a family of three. When we do have a night out just the two of us, we have a lot of fun and say we need to do it more often. (But then time passes…working on it!)
20. Have other friends.
Take care of your friendships outside your relationship. That way you won’t put as much pressure on your relationship to be your everything.
21. Heal yourself.
If you have any deep-seated issues or traumas from your past, get help with your own healing. Bringing your healthiest selves to a relationship makes a stronger relationship.
22. Calm yourself first.
If there is something that’s bothering you, or you feel angry about something your partner did or said, don’t talk about it right then when you’re all hot and bothered. Calm yourself down first so there’s a better chance of a less heated and more civil conversation.
23. Give your partner attention.
It sounds so obvious but it’s easy to get distracted and tune out when they’re speaking. Try being present and making eye contact when they’re talking to you.
24. Be patient.
Ooh, this is a hard one after a long day away at work or a long day with the kids. Try to be more patient and less snappy with your partner. This makes for a safer feeling relationship.
25. Support your partner’s dreams.
One powerful way to better yourself in a relationship is to be your partner’s biggest support for following their big dreams. People want to feel uplifted, not held back in a relationship. Be in your partner’s corner, especially about their big goals and dreams.
How to better yourself physically
1. Start where you are.
It’s okay to take baby steps. If it has been a long time since you’ve been active or you have never been active as an adult, start exactly there. It doesn’t need to be all or nothing, try increasing the amount of movement you do in a day and go from there.
2. Get more sleep.
One in three adults doesn’t get enough sleep, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). If you have trouble sleeping like me, practice different sleep tips to help improve your sleep.
3. Drink more water.
Water gets rid of waste, keeps your temperature normal, lubricates and cushions joints, and protects sensitive tissues (source). If you struggle to remember drinking enough water through the day (ahem, many of my family members…), here are 5 apps that will remind you.
4. Eliminate unhealthy routines.
If you are stuck in a habit like staying up too late or eating too much while you’re watching t.v., first start noticing the habit. Bringing attention to the unhealthy routine is the first step in changing it.
5. Find exercise you like.
Don’t punish yourself by doing exercise you think you should be doing, or exercise that is trendy. Listen to your intuition, try different things, and go with the type of movement that makes your body happy.
6. Switch to red.
If you drink alcohol, choose red wine. It might lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
7. Track your movement.
Use a Fitbit or a free app on your phone. Tracking goals can really help some people stay motivated to keep moving.
8. Get regular checkups.
Going to the doctor doesn’t cause you to GET a certain condition. You already had that condition, you are just doing your body good to get it figured out and treated.
9. Work out your brain.
Challenge your brain by learning a language, doing crossword puzzles, or learning something new.
10. Eat a good meal.
Plan some healthy meals for a week to get yourself into the habit of eating healthy.
11. Stop eating when you’re satisfied.
Don’t eat until you are full, eat until you are satisfied.
12. Find a workout buddy.
If you have regular fitness dates with a friend, you might be more likely to work out regularly because you have that extra person counting on you.
13. Stop eating 3 hours before bed.
I started doing this a few months ago because of stomach issues I was having and I absolutely love how this health tip makes me feel. You will feel comfortable going to bed, not overstuffed, and comfortably hungry when you wake up in the morning. It did take me a few weeks to get used to a longer break between eating at night and breakfast, but I did get used to it and now love it. This is a mild version of intermittent fasting.
14. Walking counts as exercise.
Not everyone will be into training for marathons or doing crossfit (or mom and baby crossfit like I did when Miss O was younger!). My husband walks to and from work every day, rain, shine or snow. His walk to work and back home takes him an hour at a brisk pace. He gets 5 hours of brisk walking in a week and it keeps him in good shape.
15. Find your ideal diet.
And by diet I don’t mean weight loss (but it could include that if you want/need). I mean find the foods that feel the best for YOUR body. I don’t at all believe that there is one perfect diet that will be best for every person. Some people might do great on a keto diet, but that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. Other people will feel their best physically on a vegetarian diet. Take some time to really tap in and figure out what foods work best for you.
16. Stand up straight.
It is SO easy to slouch (says the blogger who works at her computer a lot…). It’s better for your body, your back, and your neck if you try to stand up straight or sit up straight when you notice yourself slouching.
17. Eat without distractions.
Although my family is certainly distracting and I eat with them, I mean eat without the T.V. on. You will be more aware of your hunger and fullness cues if you are not multitasking at meals.
18. Try online exercise.
19. Morning stretches.
Before you get out of bed in the morning, spend just a minute or two doing some stretches to work the sleep out of your body. It will feel delicious!
20. Think about what you carry.
If you have unexplained back or neck pain, it’s possible that your purse is too heavy. Ideally you could remove some things to lighten your load, or use a backpack to distribute the weight better. My husband is totally going to call me out on this point when he reads the post – he’s always saying how heavy my purse is. This is one of those “do as I say, not as I do” tips that I’m trying to work on too!
21. Take a nap.
If you are feeling run down and can swing it on the weekend, take a guilt-free nap. (Note: this tip will probably not apply to any parent with little kids!)
22. Choose the harder way.
We don’t always need to choose the easiest way. Skip that parking spot that’s close to the store, take the stairs even if you’re slow, use a shopping basket instead of a cart at the grocery store to work your muscles.
23. Cuddle your kid or your pet or your spouse.
Cuddling releases oxytocin, which lowers the stress in your body, and lowered stress is good for your bod.
24. Try water first.
If you feel hungry, there’s a chance you might actually be thirsty instead. Drink a glass of water and wait a few minutes to see if that helped your feelings of hunger.
It’s amazing how much my 3-year-old smiles and laughs in a day. Amazing and inspiring. Adults smile much less than kids do and there are so many benefits of smiling. It can make you feel better, increase your confidence, relax you, and even act as a pain reliever (source).
How to better yourself mentally
1. Learn to say no.
If you do nothing else on this list, this will make a huge difference if you’re wondering how to improve emotional health. We have finite time. You can’t do everything. Choose how you want to spend your precious time. If you’re tired, broke, needing an at-home day/weekend/week, take it. Say no to invites you don’t want to attend, things you don’t want to spend money on.
2. Quit trying to please everyone.
I know it can feel scary to do or say something that others might disapprove of, but you owe it to yourself to be true to who you are. Let people know who you truly are deep down, even if not everyone will approve. As adults, we don’t need to have everyone like us. I say this as a recovering/recovered people-pleaser who just wants everyone to get along 🙂
3. Let go of guilt.
None of us will be perfect at this, but make efforts to let yourself off the hook. This doesn’t mean you’re going to run rogue and wreck people’s lives. You can still have regret for choices you made or things you did, but this is different from guilt. Guilt does nobody any good. It doesn’t make the wronged person feel better and it will add a noticeable weight to your life. Put down that weight.
4. Ask for help.
We can’t do it all alone. Whether you’re struggling as a new mother, or you’d like some extra help from your partner, or you need to talk to someone professional, it’s not a failing to need help. Sometimes we help people, and sometimes we need help. One is not worse than the other, it’s how things cycle.
5. You’re not perfect and that’s okay.
Don’t be embarrassed to make mistakes. Nobody is expecting you to be perfect so take some of that pressure off yourself.
6. Multitask less.
It’s not really possible in the world we live in to say never multitask. But when it’s possible, try to do just one thing at a time. If you’re washing the dishes or loading the dishwasher, just do that. Don’t also watch T.V. or listen to the radio or a podcast. Do one thing at a time.
7. Notice your own signs of burnout.
Start paying attention to when you’re taking on too much, or not taking care of yourself enough. Your signs might be insomnia that kicks in (if that’s the case you need these tips on sleep), or it could be sleeping for more time than you usually do, without feeling rested. If could be eating more and gaining weight, or the opposite where you have no appetite and lose weight. We all have different warning signs. Start noticing yours and take little steps to help yourself feel better before your burnout gets worse.
Not only will this better yourself physically but will improve your mental well-being too.
9. Take a news fast.
Watching the news can be so incredibly stressful. We actually don’t need to know in detail the amount we find out in the news, even if it feels like we need to. Being informed can be positive, but it can also be an addiction. If you want to keep up with the news, limit yourself to only weekends, or only mornings, or whatever you decide is best for your emotional well-being
10. Use your sick days.
If you work for an employer, occasionally take a sick day as a mental health day.
11. If you hate your job, brainstorm what else you could do.
Life is short; it’s worth spending your time doing something you love. You’re worth that. BUT I’m all for thoughtful risks, so don’t just quit your job and take on tons of debt to switch careers. Develop a plan first, squirrel away some money. If you are feeling called to do something different, something else, but you’re not quite sure what that is, you can take this free 8-day mini course to help you figure out the perfect career direction for YOU.
12. Trust yourself.
Go inside. You know what you need and what you want. You can run by decisions with other people but ultimately get quiet and listen to the little voice that’s inside you. That little voice will become clearer the more you listen to it.
13. Spend time outside.
Try to spend time outside every day. Whether that’s a bike ride, hike, or a simple walk to the store or the library, try to spend at least a few minutes outdoors. It’s good for you physically and good for your well-being. With jobs and side hustles, and a preschooler who is not in daycare, for us this looks different from day to day. Some days we spend tons of time outside, and other days it feels forced and like a huge annoying effort. But after we’ve been outside, always without fail our moods are better and we are more peaceful.
14. Put your phone away at night.
If you use your phone as your clock on your bed side table, it’s so easy to pick it up and start scrolling or typing. If you can, keep it out of the bedroom completely so the bedroom really is for rest (well, and other things).
15. Live more intentionally.
If you want to live more intentionally, the Ultimate Productivity Bundle will help you build simple routines for you and your family, get organized, reach your goals, learn practical tips to overcome obstacles, and shift your mindset to make this your best year ever. (Also it includes planners!)
16. Stop overthinking.
Oh self, this one is for you. My brain likes to churn and analyze all the different options and outcomes. Think about whatever-it-is for a while, then act on your decision, and let it go. Ruminating does not make you feel better, you are not a cow (wait, that’s a ruminant).
17. Start noticing your self-talk.
Pay attention to what you say to yourself inside your head. If you drop something do you tell yourself you are so clumsy? Do you tell yourself you are bad with money or will never lose weight? These are things you wouldn’t say to your friend so treat yourself with the same kindness and respect you would give your friend. Even start talking to yourself like you would a much-loved pet (“Hi sweetie! Are you sleepy, do you need a nap? Do you need a snack?”) Sounds silly maybe, but how is talking to yourself unkindly better than this?
18. Consider trying the Complaint-Free Challenge to increase your happiness.
This challenge is to go 21 consecutive days without complaining. The consecutive part is the big challenge. If you complain on day 11, you have to start all over again from the beginning. You can read about my experience with the Complaint-Free Challenge here.
19. Appreciate yourself.
Keep a list of the things you like about yourself. If you are feeling low, refer to your list to help boost you up.
20. Let yourself cry.
You don’t need to stifle the tears. Tears are a natural human response to physical or emotional pain. There are even benefits of crying including reducing pain and promoting a sense of well-being. (source)
21. Try meditating for three minutes a day.
Twenty minutes or ten minutes might not seem manageable to your life, but three minutes is likely doable. If you find you can incorporate three minutes into your day and you’re starting to see positive effects of less stress, a calmer mind, you can always increase the time. These are popular meditation apps, and this meditation site is my absolute favorite.
22. Keep a gratitude journal.
Write down five things from your day that you are grateful for.
23. Stop “shoulding” on yourself.
Shoulds add pressure that you don’t need in your life. Either you are going to do something or you’re not. Keep it that simple and don’t add the extra weight of whether or not you “should” do it.
24. Let your kids see your emotions.
If you’re frustrated or sad or upset, while you absolutely do not want to dump it on your kids, you don’t need to shelter them from your different emotions. It’s good for them to see different moods. If you can also explain to them at a kid-level what they’re seeing in you, this will help your kids develop their emotional intelligence. And you will feel better as you let yourself express your true feelings.
25. Do something kind for someone else.
Science shows that doing something positive for someone else increases our feelings of happiness and well-being too…it’s win-win!
What are your best tips on how to better yourself?