When events and daily tasks and responsibilities push against you, you can’t help but get caught up in the whirlwind of life. With so much going on every day, it can be challenging to step back and glance at the big picture once in a while.
You can treat yourself to smarter living by taking care of certain things once a year. By doing these five things, you’ll know where you stand in every aspect of your life. With that benchmark, you can continue throughout the year without worry and focus your attention on the small details to improve your life for the better.
By tackling these few tasks annually, you will feel better prepared for the rest of your year and better able to focus on more important matters, like having fun with your family.
1. Declutter Your Home
A clean home means more space for sentimental items. By going through your items and designating areas for them, you’ll have more storage to accumulate things that mean something to you over the years as your family changes and you grow as a person. You don’t need to keep items that serve no purpose for you anymore.
Try out the KonMari Method: finding what sparks joy and giving away items that don’t make you feel happy or add value to your life. Tidying up is a process with its own set of rules, and you can do it with clothes, papers, clutter, and more. Marie Kondo believes that once you truly tidy a home following her KonMari method, you’ll only need to do it once.
A great way to determine which clothes are still useful to you is to place all of your hangers backward in the closet at the beginning of the year. When you wear something, turn the hanger around. By the end of the year, you should know which clothes you wear most often and which are just taking up space.
2. Evaluate Your Budget
If you aren’t yet financially stable, you may need to evaluate your spending more than once a year. However, if you’re in a place where you know your needs will be taken care of every month without fail, you likely need to do a full audit of your expenses when the situation calls for it, at least once a year.
Check where your money is going. Are you spending your hard-earned money on something that no longer suits you, like subscriptions to magazines you don’t read, or streaming services you don’t care about? Cancel those subscriptions as soon as possible, and you’ll find extra money in your account.
Review your insurance policies. It’s important to note if anything has changed and adjust your plan accordingly to ensure you and your family are protected in case of an emergency. Life insurance policies, in particular, need to be changed if you’ve had a major readjustment to your family, like another child or a separation or divorce.
Pour any extra money you find into your savings account or let it impact your life in a genuinely helpful way. Maybe something in your house needs to be upgraded, or you could perhaps add a little more to your child’s college fund. Putting your money back into a practical and valuable place allows you to use that money in a worthwhile way rather than blowing it on something you don’t need.
3. Check Your Health
Everyone wants to have a clean bill of health when they see a medical professional, but sometimes that feat isn’t possible. Instead of dealing with the problem head-on, many people ignore it and hope it vanishes. You should know that this behavior isn’t sustainable. Make appointments with any professionals you need to see for the year.
You should go to the dentist for a regular checkup because you might find issues you never knew about. It’s best to get a dental visit out of the way when you discover problems so your oral health doesn’t continue to deteriorate. Going to the dentist once every six months can help you prevent the onset of gum disease, a significant detriment to your overall health.
Similarly, you should make a doctor’s appointment to check on your health and get a benchmark of how you feel. The doctor should tell you if you need to make any adjustments in your daily life — preventing something from happening is easier than fixing it.
Additionally, even if you don’t wear glasses, you should go to the optometrist to get an idea of your ocular health. It can help you learn of things you may need to look out for or that are prominent in your family’s history. Of course, any other appointments you need to make for your health should also be considered.
Don’t forget your furry family members! Make sure your pets see the vet at least once a year for a checkup as you do. Older pets, just like older humans, may have to visit their doctor more often to ensure they’re in peak form.
4. Take a Vacation
Visiting new places can allow you to expand your worldview. In addition to providing you with new experiences, taking a vacation — whether at home or abroad — can improve your physical and mental well-being.
Though you may be tempted to stay up later, try to get enough sleep. Getting around 8 hours of sleep allows you to function correctly. Plus, it’ll help you adjust back to work more quickly once you return from your vacation.
5. Invest in Yourself
It’s important to cultivate habits that help you improve yourself and your skills. Going back to school or getting a certification in your field is a great way to invest in yourself and make the improvements you strive for. Learning something new, like playing an instrument or speaking a second language fluently, are also commendable ways to prioritize your betterment.
Working on something that improves how others view you can help you quite a bit when looking for another job or seeking out a raise or promotion at your current job. You should set goals every month for yourself if you want to be diligent about investing in yourself because growing year by year affects your daily life, too.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
Once you get a feel for which things you should prioritize doing only once a year, you can go about your daily activities without worry. Ideally, if you cover the items listed above when you reevaluate yourself at the end of each year, you’ll be able to see how much you’ve changed. Then, you can implement new changes to reflect that growth.
By creating new strategies and continuing to audit yourself as the years go by, you’ll live a life with less stress and more time for the things you love to do.