52 Ways to Be Happier, Healthier and Enjoy Life More

Here it is. The list to end all lists. In fact, throw all those other lists away because this one is the only one you’ll ever need. I’m giving you 52 personally and research-proven ways to be happy, get healthier, and enjoy life more than you ever imagined possible!

I know what you are thinking, “Alli, that sounds like a lot of work! Aren’t you the person always telling us to stop being so busy?” (Yes, that’s me. Calm down.) I am definitely not saying you have to add fifty-two things to your daily routine. Who wants more work? Not us, My friend. Not us.

This is not about more work. It’s about shifting our mindset, seeing things in a new way, making one new habit or adding an action step every week for the next year.

Join me, and I promise you that next year you’ll be happier, healthier and enjoy life more.

Sign up here to have each week’s idea with an action step emailed to you personally. You’ll be glad you did at the end of those 52 weeks! 

1. Assume The Best In Others 

A key to being happier in life is to make the decision to assume that the people around you have good intentions, they are operating to the best of their ability, and they mean you no harm. When you decide to err on the side of assuming others have good motives, you protect yourself from living with a negative mindset.

2. Talk To Yourself As Nicely As You Would Talk To A Friend

We use language and phrases about ourselves that would be completely unacceptable for us to say to anyone else. Make a rule, starting today that you will talk to and about yourself the same way you would talk to and about your dearest friend. Doing this is one of the most important key ways to be happy every day. 

3. Focus On Your Faith

What many of us already know by experience has been proven by research. People of faith are much happier and find more sustained happiness in life. Start dedicating a little more time for prayer today!

4. Spend Time With People Who Build You Up

When we intentionally choose to spend time with those who are supportive, positive, and encouraging, we acquire a positive mindset and are happier. When we find ourselves surrounded by people who are negative, critical, and hurtful, it steals our happiness and our joy.

5. Be Yourself

Allow yourself to be the person you were created to be, and surround yourself with those who love you for who you really are. Scientists have studied those at the end of their lives, the most comment regret is, “I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

6. Look At Your Failures As The Fertile Ground Your Future Successes Will Grow In

From the time you take your first wobbly steps as a toddler, and all the way to adulthood, you will fail as a natural part of learning. Learning to see your failures as steps along the path to success will change how you view your failures and how you live your life.

7. Give Your Dream A Chance And Go For It

I believe God plants dreams in us just like he gives us certain talents and gifts. If you have a dream that just won’t go away, and that dream will in some way make the world a better place, start making plans to achieve it. Write out exactly what your vision is, and find people who can help you achieve it.

8. Change One Habit At A Time For Long-Term Success

I started thinking about getting healthier, and pretty soon I was planning how to grow my own non-GMO wheat in the backyard and bake my own bread. I had to reel myself back in and focus on one actual change!

Instead of drinking a Diet Dr. Pepper every day (I know, I know, I’m going to grow a tail from the artificial sweetener!), I just allow myself one as a treat when I go to the movies. Baby-steps without the backyard wheat plans!  

Don’t try to change everything all at once. You’ll feel much more accomplished and more likely to set and reach other goals.

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9. Let Go Of Toxic Relationships

Some people are emotional black holes. They just can’t get enough praise, attention, control, or love. They often start out very charming when you first meet, but over time you realize your interactions with this person are negative and more harmful than beneficial.

As my Grandma used to say, ”Don't let sick people make you sick.” Let go of unhealthy relationships so you can enjoy life. 

10. Be Open To New Friends

(Yes, I’m putting this right after “Let go of toxic relationships” for a reason.) Sometimes, after we have ended a painful relationship, we close ourselves off and don’t want to risk going through the pain again.

Research shows that the quality of our relationships is the most significant factor in our overall happiness during our lifetime. It’s worth it to find and invest in great relationships.

11. Practice Being Grateful Every Day

When I tuck my younger children in bed at night, I ask them, “What three things made you happy today that you’re grateful for?” It’s a simple, low-pressure question but it’s my way to instill the discipline of gratitude to my children.

Identifying three things that we’re grateful for at the end of every day is a simple way to reduce anxiety, increase happiness, and set the tone for a great day tomorrow.

12. Focus On How Far You’ve Come

It’s easy to focus on how much work we have to do and how far away our big goal is, but it’s equally important is to celebrate how far we’ve come. Taking time to celebrate our progress, even if we are celebrating baby steps, keeps us feeling accomplished and not overwhelmed.

13. Turn Off The TV And Get A Hobby

My granddaddy used to say, “Don’t sit, soak, and sour, girl. Get up.” Doing something we love that requires us to move a little is great for our brain and our happiness level.

Take up photography (“Hello brilliant iPhone camera!”),  plant an herb garden, learn archery, become an expert in dolphin mating habits.  I don’t care what you do, find something that you love and run with it!

14. Get Outside And Get Some Fresh Air

I’m preaching to myself this one. I tend to work way too many hours on my laptop and forget that there’s even an outside world. The research shows that just a few minutes out in nature boosts your mood, increases happiness, and reduces stress.

15. Complain Less

Have you ever listened to someone complain and thought to yourself, “This is so helpful. I always feel so uplifted when I hear people complain?” Of course not. It has a negative effect on you and everyone else who is listening (including the complainer).

Make the decision today to complain less and compliment more and be happier instantly. 

16. Overcome Fear And Anxiety By Identifying Your Level Of Control

On any given day, there are a gazillion things I could worry about. Identifying real concerns (not perceived ones) and then releasing what is out of my control, keeps me from being overcome by fear.

17. Don’t Be a Victim

Always believing others are at fault for the negative things that happen in your life can become a habit. It’s called having a victim mentality and is a very negative mindset, with very negative and isolating results.

It can often take a professional counselor to train someone how “not” to view themselves as a victim. Don’t be afraid to seek help if you need it, and practice #1 to daily change your perspective.

18. Make The Decision To Be Happier

Have you ever just made the decision to be happier? Most people haven’t. But it’s much easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking than it is to think yourself into a new way of acting.

You can tell yourself you are going to learn how to ice skate. You can read all the books, watch all the videos, even buy yourself a fancy pair of skates. But until you strap them on and actually start skating, you aren’t going to be a skater!

Telling yourself you are going to be happier doesn’t work. You have to take actions that will actually make you happier.

19. Forgive Those Who Have Hurt You

When we carry around hurt and anger, it festers and grows into a spirit of bitterness and offense. When our hearts become bitter and offended we live life wounded and see every interaction through the lens of that pain.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that the betrayal is okay. It doesn’t mean what the person did to you is okay. Forgiveness is a gift to yourself, not a release of guilt to the offender. It sets you free from the weight of carrying around all that hurt and anger.

20. Nourish The Relationships You Want To Flourish

This concept is applicable to so many things in life, but specifically for this example, I want to focus on relationships. Study after study has shown that the biggest predictor of happiness in our lives is the quality of our relationships.

It’s key to invest our limited time and emotional energy and the people who we love the most. What you nourish will flourish.

21. Tell Imposter Syndrome That You Are The Real Deal 

 The imposter syndrome is a common and well-documented phenomenon. It’s even more common among professionals, entrepreneurs, and high achieving individuals. In short, it means in any situation you feel like you don’t really belong, that you’re a fraud, and eventually everyone will notice and realize that you have no idea what you’re doing.

And get this, as people’s success levels increase, the imposter syndrome increases with it.

 The key to getting rid of the imposter syndrome is to simply be aware because when you know it’s there, you can take away its power to affect you.

22. Get The Help You Need

 My whole life and business changed when I decided to get serious about spending my time and my money to get the skills and wisdom I needed to move forward with my dreams for my business.  What dreams do you have that you could take steps this week to achieve?

23. Be Someone Who Is Always Learning

Again I’m totally preaching to myself here!  It is so important to focus on what you can learn from others instead of assuming that you know everything. When you learn something new, it makes you feel accomplished and successful. Leaders are learners.

24. Overcome The Tendency To Self-Sabotage

I see this all the time with people who dream of starting their own business, writing a book, or launching a ministry or nonprofit.  Instead of taking the course they need, hiring the coach or advisor they need, or working step-by-step to get from point A to point B, they self-sabotaged by saying things like, “Oh maybe I’m not ready.” Or,  “It all feels too overwhelming right now,  maybe I’ll do it one day.” The problem is, “one day” rarely ever comes.

By deciding that your dreams and goals are worth it, and moving forward even when it feels scary or uncomfortable, that’s how you avoid self-sabotage,

25.   Understand That The Comparison Game Is Always A No-Win Situation

There’s so much to say about this one, I wrote a whole article about here. Check it out but don't forget to come back and finish the list and sign up for your weekly prompts! 

26.   Let Yourself Rest

This one is relatively self-explanatory. Get some rest people! You would think the easiest of the 10 commandments to follow would be to take a Sabbath, but most of us don’t do it. Allowing yourself to rest reduces anxiety, increases happiness, and protects your body from illness.

27.   Get A Back-Up Brain

My husband and I have five kids, which means I’m keeping up with information about seven humans, not including all of the data and information from my business, research for upcoming books, and little things like flight schedules and vacation planning.

That's just way too much to keep organized in my brain.

Nothing stresses me out more and steals my joy more than being overwhelmed and worrying I will forget something. That’s why I use an app called Evernote as my second brain. I wrote a whole article about it here.

28.   Learn To Let Your Values Drive Your Choices

Making choices that don’t align with your core values will always leave you feeling discontent. This is as important in your personal life as it is in business.

There have been many times through the years where a company has wanted to hire me as an advisor, or an individual entrepreneur has wanted to hire me for coaching, but I couldn’t make peace with the product or the service they were selling.

Yes, the money was great, but we all know money doesn’t make you happy. Saying no was the best choice for my own personal happiness. Living life in a way that doesn't align with your values and beliefs never leads to happiness. 

29.   Develop A Zero Tolerance Policy For Drama

Ever met someone who tells you often how much they hate drama, yet they always seem to be in the middle of it? Some people just simply thrive on drama while never realizing they are the cause of it.

Developing a zero tolerance policy for drama will greatly reduce the stress in your own life because you won’t be sucked into other people’s crazy.

30.   Have A Framework For Making Smart Decisions

In Breaking Busy, I shared a detailed five-step decision-making framework, designed to help you make decisions you won’t regret later!  If you haven’t yet read Breaking Busy, I would love for you to go through the free Breaking Busy course here.

31.   Think In Terms Of A Growth Mindset

There are two common types of mindsets: fixed (meaning you believe that your intelligence and abilities are set and unchanging) and growth (meaning you believe these things can and will grow).

When you have a growth mindset you believe that you can change, grow, learn and develop into the person you have been created to be. The way you think about yourself will help you grow or stay stuck. Don’t limit your own potential by not recognizing it!

32. Learn to Accept Your Looks And Your Body

All of us are unique, but we all have one thing in common- there is something about our looks or our body that we don’t like. But here’s the truth- No one, and I mean no one is out there preoccupied with your appearance and judging your looks. I promise.

Challenge yourself to give up hating on your appearance for one week and see how life changing it is!

33.  Allow Yourself Not To Be Cool

 Now that I have turned 40 and have people in their 20’s working for me,  it’s come to my attention that I’m not cool anymore.  I have it on good authority from my teenage sons that if you’re not genetically gifted with the “cool gene” and you try too hard to be cool, you won’t be.

My point is to be your own awesome self, no matter what age you are, being who you are and not trying to fit into some idea of how you "should be" is what brings real happiness. 

34.  Celebrate That Your Life Isn’t A Pinterest Board

I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest.  I love how visually beautiful everything is, and I’m a sucker for a great tutorial. But when we subconsciously compare our real-life to the perfectly planned, propped, and prepared images on Pinterest, it can steal our happiness. Remember real life is awesome.

35. Give Yourself Permission To Disappoint Others

This one is easier said than done. I shared in Breaking Busy that even Jesus disappointed other people. Disappointing others is just a fact of life. Accepting that we are going to both disappoint others and be disappointed by others reduces our unrealistic expectations, ultimately making us happier people.

36. Devote Time Daily Things That Bring You The Most Joy

I love to sing, to worship, to snuggle with my family, and I love a big cup of hot tea and a great book. I don’t spend hours a day doing these things, but I do spend “some time” every day doing things that bring me joy.

You don’t have to carve out hours a day doing the things that you love, but intentionally building in time will protect your happiness and joy from the stress of daily life.

37.  Focus On Finding Win-Win Solutions

We’ve all heard this concept in business. Finding win-win solutions in every relationship will strengthen and protect your friendships and your family relationships. Learning to compromise and truly working to reach the best possible decision for everyone involved leaves everyone feeling happier and less stressed.

38. Outsource And Automate The Little Things In Your Life That You Don’t Enjoy

 Life is too short to do things you hate (mostly). There are so many ways to automate the little things in life that seem to suck the life out of you. For me, online bill paying, shopping for almost everything via Amazon Prime, and online grocery shopping are some of the best inventions of the 21st century.

If you haven't discovered the joy that is Amazon Prime (free fast shipping, unlimited photo storage and more) Click here to sign up for a free 30-day trial. 

39. Identify Your People

Find the three people who have earned your trust and whose own lives bear good fruit, then let those people become your trusted advisors.

40. Make Peace With Unpredictability

Plans change, cars break down, movies sell out, flights get canceled. In fact, the only thing predictable about life is that it is unpredictable. Learning to go with the flow will go a long way in reducing your stress level.

41. Define Your Personal Boundaries And Defend Them

You know your life better than anyone else. You know what you can handle, what you have time for, and what types of things push your buttons. Setting your boundaries allows you to be in control of what you say yes to. I defend my boundaries with humor and humility most days, and in doing so, I feel stronger and happier.

42. Get Enough Sleep

When I turned 30, I realized that I could keep staying up until 2:00 a.m. every night and sleeping five hours a night, but eventually it was going to catch up with me. And by “catch up with me” I mean I would be a terrible human being to be around. Research showed it would cause weight gain, anxiety, and premature wrinkles (now that got my attention).

43. Focus On How You’re Making The World A Better Place

I heard a pop psychologist on TV say, “Wake up every morning and ask yourself how you can make someone else’s day better.” The truth is, when we serve others, our family, our friends, our coworkers, the stranger whose cup of coffee we buy, we are happier people (and so are the people around us). Imagine if we all asked ourselves this question every day and then acted on it.

44. Start Out On The Right Track The Night Before

Because I’m not a morning person and my brain doesn’t even work before I have my first cup of coffee, I set myself up for success the night before. The coffee is ready to brew, the little kids school uniforms are all laid out for them, and I take care of any little things that need to be done first thing in the morning. (This could be a permission slip for a field trip, a check I need to write, etc…)

A dedicated five or ten minutes every evening saves a lot of stress and hassle the next morning.

45. Remember That Feelings Aren’t Facts

Just because we feel something, doesn’t necessarily make it true. Some days, when I’m overly tired, and I’m facing battle after battle professionally, I feel like everything’s terrible. It’s a valid feeling. But just because I feel like everything is terrible doesn’t mean it is.  

If we wait to send that fiery email reply, or that negative social media comment, or that mad emoji-filled text until we have stepped back and looked at things a bit more objectively (with fresh eyes), we can often see that things weren’t quite as bad as we thought.

46. Set Yourself Up For Happy Surprises

Have you ever found a $10 bill in the pocket of the jacket when you put it on? Didn’t that make you so happy? I intentionally try to leave myself little surprises all the time. Sometimes it’s money in the bottom of a purse I’m putting on the shelf until next season. Sometimes it’s a sweet drawing from one of my little kids in the pocket of a suitcase.

With my full life, it’s not difficult to forget they are there, so when I find them, voila! Instant happy!

47. Don’t Insist On The Best All The Time

If there’s one happiness lesson in parenting I’ve learned, it is that good enough is just fine, especially when your kids are young. If you can survive the day without something broken, something thrown up on, something without a bloodstain, or a day without a broken heart, it’s a total win.

48. Get Some Exercise

Isn’t it funny how many of the things we are supposed to do to make us happy are all things our moms told us to do our whole lives? Turns out, research backs up our mom’s wisdom.

Research shows that getting exercise improves your happiness,  your health, and your life. Whether it’s going outside for a walk and getting some fresh air, or using something as simple as the seven-minute workout app on your phone, moving your body will always make you happier.

49. Practice Smiling (no, seriously)

In the words of Buddy the Elf, “I like smiling. Smiling’s my favorite.” One of the best decisions I made as a mother is to smile (most of the time) when one of my children walks through the door.  Not a forced smile, but a big old goofy smile that makes the corners of my eyes crinkle up. It’s an investment in the happiness and security of all of my children and in my relationship with them.  

The power of a genuine smile, research has shown, not only makes you happy,  but it makes those around you happier as well.

50. Let Yourself Love Anyway

People are people, and no matter how much we try to protect ourselves from being hurt, at some point, we are going to be hurt anyway. If we wrap ourselves up in bubble wrap and hide in a closet, we might not get hurt, but we will be miserable and lonely. If people hurt you, forgive them and let yourself love anyway.

51. Know What Real Success Looks Like

Success is God's department. Faithfulness is our department. To me, success is being faithful to take care of the things God has entrusted to me; namely my husband, my children, my family, my calling, and the precious friends He has given me for this lifetime. Fame and fortune aren’t the real indicators of my success. How well I love and am loved is.

52. Notice The Perfect Even In The Imperfect

Did you know that a four-leaf clover is imperfect? It’s a mutation of sorts. And yet, when we find one, we believe we have found something special. That is the best example I can give you of noticing the perfect even in the imperfect.

When one of my sons writes a sweet note, I don’t criticize the misspelled words, I treasure that his words are on paper. When my mom comes to visit, I don’t complain that her plane arrives at 10 p.m.; I celebrate that she’s there! With practice, noticing the perfect even in the imperfect helps us celebrate the good things in our lives.

 

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52 Weeks of Happy 

You made it! You read all 52 ways to live a healthier, happier, and more joy-filled life. So what now? How do you actually go about starting to live the life you want to live?

Sign up today and I’ll send you a weekly tip and some encouragement every Sunday afternoon for the next 52 weeks.

This time next year, we are going to be some healthy, happy, joy-filled people!

xo,

Alli 

 

 

PS. If you love research and want all the research that I mentioned above, be sure to sign up for the weekly emails. I'll include links to the research as well as action steps. :) 

 

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5 Ways to Overcome Disappointment

What you need to know when you are feeling disappointed

Disappointment is a fact of life.  

The good news is we don't have to suffer from disappointment longterm.

Even though we know it is going to sneak up on us, we don't have to be victims of it. 

Disappointment can come from circumstances beyond your control.

Sometimes it comes from your child or your spouse or a friend that has hurt you. Sometimes disappointment is from a situation at work or from being stuck in trying to grow your business. And sometimes disappointment is in yourself (which can be the worst kind).

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about disappointment. My 15-year-old son tore his ACL during basketball season and had to have a complete ACL replacement surgery. His injury and treatment meant a long and painful recovery. For a 15-year-old boy, a nine-month recovery period seems like an eternity. To put it lightly, his disappointment was heavy.

Watching him and helping him process his disappointment made me start thinking about what the steps are that we all can take to overcome disappointment.  

Today I want to share with you five strategies to overcome disappointment, and the exact steps you can take to go from present hurt to future happiness.

 

1. Accept the Pain You’re Feeling

Pretending you aren’t disappointed is like pretending you didn’t step on a tack. You can tell yourself all day long that it doesn’t hurt, but your actions are going to tell a different story.

It’s okay to be disappointed and to feel the loss and pain in your situation. You didn’t get what you hoped for. Maybe someone let you down or betrayed you. Disappointment is real and in a way is a form of grief. You have to feel what you feel if you’re ever going to heal. Acknowledging the disappointment is the first step to overcoming it.

You have to feel what you feel if you’re ever going to heal. <- Click to Tweet
 

2. Ask What You Can Learn From This Experience

We learn something from every experience we have in life, both good experiences and bad ones.

While asking, “Why me?” is a valid question, it’s not a particularly helpful one. Asking, “Why me?” puts you in the role of the victim and nothing healthy or positive comes from that. It’s true you can’t control what happens to you in life, but you can control how you react to the situation. You are not a victim.

Instead of asking, “Why me,” try asking, “What can I learn from this experience?” 

What you nourish will flourish. If you nourish a negative, victim mentality during your disappointment, that’s what will flourish. But if you nourish an attitude of growth, you will flourish.

What you nourish will flourish. <- Click to Tweet
 

3. Reframe the Pain

In the middle of a crisis, one of the best tools you have is gratitude. It allows you to reframe the pain. I use a fairly unconventional way to arrive at being grateful for the disappointment in my life. I make a list of all the ways the situation could be worse.

Let’s be honest; almost every situation could be worse. Focusing on the ways that things could be worse is a great way to trigger our minds into counting our blessings, and believe it or not, it adds a little humor to the situation. (Remember, laughter is the best medicine!)

For me, I also use prayer for insight. I ask God, “Is there anything in this situation that I can be grateful for even though things are not turning out as I hoped?” Both methods help me learn to focus on what I still have and the things that are still working in my life.

 

4. Find Your Battle Buddies

We weren’t created to “go it alone” anywhere in life. When you are in the deep valley of disappointment, reach out to your battle buddies, those few friends who have proven they genuinely care for you.

Your battle buddies will not only validate the pain of your disappointment, they will care enough to lock arms with you and drag you out of that pit (or out of the pantry if you’re at all like me)! They’ll help you find perspective and walk with you as you battle to overcome your disappointment.

 

5. Focus On Your Future Self

In my book, "Breaking Busy” I talk about using the 10-10-10 method to solve problems. This allows me to think of good things in my future— where I want to be, how I want to be feeling.

Depending on your situation, you may hope that your “future self” is recovered from an illness in 10 days, or in 10 weeks your “future self” has repaired and restored a broken relationship, or your “future self” has launched the business of your dreams in 10 months.

When you focus on the good, on future possibilities, it helps you start taking the steps you need to get there. Sometimes when we are in the middle of the storm, when the pain is so intense, it’s great to have a little distraction and something to look forward to. I love asking myself, “What does future Alli think about this situation?”

 

You can’t change the past, but you can walk with courage intentionally into your future.

 

At some point, we all deal with the pain of disappointment. It’s simply part of being human. But you don’t have to stay stuck in that pain. You can and you will get through this.

By changing your thoughts and your mindset and by surrounding yourself with a couple great battle buddies, you will get through your disappointment and come out stronger and wiser on the other side. 

 


 
 
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7 Questions To Ask Yourself To Make This Your Best Year Ever

7 Simple Questions that can transform your life, Your business and your future in the new year. 

7 Simple Questions that can transform your life, Your business and your future in the new year. 

 At the beginning of each year, I ask myself seven simple questions as an exercise that is absolutely crucial to my growth and success in the new year. I’d love to share my questions (and my answers) with you and maybe you can use the seven questions for the new year as well. Ready? Here we go!

1. What was the biggest milestone or accomplishment this year?

Sometimes identifying the biggest milestone win of the year helps us to focus our energy for the next year. Recognizing the accomplishment that made you feel the most fulfilled helps you stay true to your passion in the future. 

 Breaking Busy hit the shelves, and I had the honor of hearing from thousands of women who said they finally learned how to get off the hamster wheel of busyness and performance.  It helped them lead more purposeful and happy lives.  It just doesn’t get better than that!  I dreamed of writing that book for 10 years, and now I look back and 10 years feels like nothing. It was worth every hurdle I had to jump over to get it done. 

2. What challenge did you overcome this year?

Sometimes looking back on our challenges and struggles can give us a chance to remind ourselves just how strong we are, and it can serve as an encouragement that when hard times happen in the future (because we know they will), they will not consume us. 
 
My husband Mark has a chronic illness, a very severe form of adult onset asthma, that started in 2013.  We spent almost half of this past year with him very sick. Just one of our boys bringing a little cold home would turn into a two or three-week serious illness for my husband. We spent months trying to get the exact combination of medicines to keep him breathing and healthy. He’s doing great and on the other side of it now, but this experience definitely shaped our year. Through the experience, we learned to prioritize what was really important in our family. 

3. What goal did you have that you didn’t reach?

This goal may be professional; you may have hoped that your business had more revenue, that you had more time, and had less stress. Or maybe the goal isn't work related; it could be related to your personal life. 

 Like so many others I went into this year planning to start exercising and eating healthy. But I tend to eat way too many Reese's peanut butter cups and feel like not getting off the couch.  I didn’t prioritize my health, and here I am a year later… I’ll revisit this in my goals for this year later. :)

4. Is your business where you hoped it would be?

If you find yourself at the end of the year wondering why your business hasn’t grown, why you are busier than you’ve ever been, and why you are still having trouble getting your team to do what you need them to do- you aren’t alone. 

I’m happy to report this year professionally has been great. My role at Propel Women is amazing, writing books (I turned in book #2.. more details on that coming soon!) where I get to go into the step-by-step practical details of how to live life well is a joy, and I began coaching a select number of clients again. All three of these things bring me so much fulfillment.  At age 40, I can finally say I’m not waiting for the next big thing around the corner, and it feels wonderful.

If you’re not where you would like to be in your career or business today and could use a guide to walk on the journey with you- apply for coaching with me now. 

5. Who did you surround yourself with?

Whether you are 15 or 45 the people, you spend your time with have a huge effect on your happiness, your future, and your sanity. 

This year I made some hard choices to spend as little time as possible with people who are critical and negative by nature. I still love them, but I woke up in the last few years and realized I was giving too much of my time and happiness to people who had a toxic effect on my life.  This past year I focused on those friends who brought out the best in me, who were encouragers, and those who love me enough to give me that kick in the pants truth-talk when I needed to hear it. There’s nothing as valuable as a good friend who speaks the truth in love. 

6. How did you spend your time?

To have any growth in life, we have to dedicate time to it. For spiritual growth, we have to dedicate time for worship, prayer and reading the Bible. For physical health, we have to dedicate time to prepare healthy meals and exercise (I know, I know… it’s on my list for next year.)  And for the health of our business, we have to devote time and focused attention on working to build our business, and not get lost in the details of running our business. 

 At the beginning of 2016, I started tracking how much time I spent watching news shows, listening to current events radio, podcasts and reading news articles online. It was shocking how much time I was spending on this. Some weeks it was up to 15 hours.  Sure I was "well-informed" but it wasn’t a good use of my time. And even worse, it was a little bit depressing.  I changed how I consumed news and limited it to about an hour a week. I'm still informed, but I'm now way happier. (The bonus is that I missed out on 95% of all the crazy during this election year.)

If you haven’t yet read Breaking Busy and would like to learn practical tips for getting your life, time and happiness back order today. You’ll get a bunch of great freebies that I developed with it, too!

7. What are your three big goals for next year?

 Sure we can have 20 goals if we wanted to. But I love to simplify and love things in threes. Every week I identify the three most important things that I will work on as my priority. Every morning when I start my workday, I identify three things I need to focus on above all else. So every year I also like to find three big priorities for my life in that year. 

1.     Get healthy-  Every year at my annual physical it shows that I’m in great health, but man oh man, I am so tired half the time. I wish there was a magic pill to fix it. But I know I just need to exercise and eat healthier food.  My goal isn’t to lose a bunch of weight, I just want to feel good and have more energy. 
2.     Help more women thrive in their businesses-  I love coaching others for success, building brands, developing strategic plans and helping others bring out the best in their teams.  With each product launch, revenue target reached, and task delegated, I celebrate with my clients just like it’s my very own success. I love it and look forward to helping more business owners this year. 
3.     I’d like to be even more intentional with my family this year. This year is my oldest son's last year in high school (*sniffs*).  He goes off to college in the fall. I hope that our family makes lots of great memories during his last few months at home. 

 What are your three big goals for next year? 

 I hope that you found these seven questions that I ask myself at the end of each year helpful. If you use them in your life, I’d love to hear from you.  Feel free to send me a note on my contact page or Facebook here
Happy New Year!

Love,
Alli 

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Life Lessons: 40 Lessons in 40 Years

1. People will argue for their own limitations in life. Don’t limit yourself because you believe you can’t achieve your dreams. Your everyday attitude will determine if you reach your potential.

2. Sometimes it is best to keep your mouth closed. It is always tempting to try to talk sense to people who are spouting nonsense. It could be the Mom at PTA who is bragging about how her son has developed a cure for cancer out of old lollipop sticks, or a blog post I disagree with, or someone’s political rant on Facebook. I’ve learned that I should just stay out of it. The risks are too high that I would look like a jerk (because it would be jerky, right?) or that I would look like a bully. It's best to avoid silly drama and waste emotional energy.

3. Happiness really is a choice. It is less about what happens to you and around you and more about who you are and how you decide to view life. We all see our present lives as either worse than we expect or better than we deserve. That perspective determines everything. 

4. No one spends their days judging you or criticizing you but you. Your worst enemy is your own critical voice in your head. This is the voice you listen to 10x more than any other. The constant thoughts that you aren’t good enough, you failed and things will never be better will steal your passion and your joy. Learning to silence, or at least ignore, the critical inner voice is key to happiness.

5. The day you look at other women and celebrate their strengths instead of think of them as competition is the day you go from a girl to a woman. 

6. Confidence is only gained by taking action. Try, fail, try again, fail again, try again, fail less, try again, sort of get it, try again, get it, try again, success. That's the only recipe to gain confidence. 

7. You will make mistakes and you will fail. That’s how you learn, it’s how you grow and become a better person of yourself. Take the bruised ego and hurt pride out of it and you will grow, you will flourish and be better than before. 

8. No one feels completely capable and has unlimited funds, time and energy to achieve their goals. And everyone is terrified of failure, looking foolish, and letting others down. Once you know you aren't the only one, life gets easier. 

9. Judge others by their actions and never by words, or worse, “good intentions’ alone. As Maya Angelou famously said, “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

10. You can’t change anyone’s behavior, their brand of crazy, their perspective, or their opinions. People are complex, and have years of ingrained beliefs and a lifetime of experience that makes them who they are. Expecting change and getting upset when it doesn't happen is a recipe for misery. 

11. The world doesn’t owe you a single thing. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Never be that person with an inflated sense of entitlement. I’ve learned time and time again that pride really does go before a fall every. single. time.

12. We live lives of constant activity and noise. Busyness is a weapon to keep us from the life we are created to live. It keeps us on the hamster wheel of striving to be good enough, to feel good and it steals our joy. 

13. Everyone is consumed with the tornado of their own lives. When someone doesn't reach out, assume their life is full and be the one to make the effort. 99.9% of the time they will be overjoyed to hear from you. 

14. It's easy to look at the perfectly sanitized lives on Facebook, but behind everyone's smiling pictures and well-decorated front doors is often a world of struggles and pain. It's safe to assume we are all living the same life behind the scenes and we all only share the happy moments. 

15. Life is better when you are open to new experiences. Go to every conference you can. (Oh, How I LOVE conferences big and small. I never regret going, learning new things and meeting great people!) Adopt a dog, take those lessons you always wanted to take, or take the time (and risk) to invest in a new friendship. Say yes to the things that will make your soul come alive. 

16. Out-of-control emotions often reflect out-of-control expectations we put on ourselves. When you find yourself snapping at those you love, crying more than normal (what? Everyone has a normal cry level!?), and feeling out of control it normally is an indication you are too busy and living life over capacity. 

17. When you finally submit to the one who created you and learn to humble yourself, God will do things to you and through you that you could have never imagined.

18. Once you love God he will never let you stay where you are. You can’t hide and you can’t stay away for long. He will lovingly call you back time after time.

19. God’s plan is so much better than anything you have planned. It sounds so trite (I know, I know!) but it’s true. He takes our messes, rearranges them and makes something beautiful every single time.

20. "God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle" is flat out bad theology. Lots of situations will be more than you can handle, but God will help you be strong, be courageous and get you through them. 

21. The best life advice sometimes seems so simple that we don't take action. We want a long, complex way to work our way out of something. Most of the time we just need to do something easy and simple. Just taking that first step will create huge change in our lives.

22. Seven hours of sleep is a must. Without enough sleep you'll get wrinkles and you'll get grumpy. 

23. The decisions that determine your happiness and success are: your spouse, your close friends, and your mentors. Choose them well. Friends who celebrate your successes, support you when you make dumb mistakes, and love you enough to tell you the truth even when it is uncomfortable are a treasure. Never take them for granted. Tell them often how much they mean to you.

24. You should treat your spouse the way you want your kids’ future spouses to treat them. The marital relationship you model will stay with your children for a lifetime. Remember that next time you need to vent and your spouse is a handy target. (I'm preaching to myself here!

25. Being offended is ultimately a choice. Learning to see the situation through the other person's eyes takes more patience than Job and more strength than Samson but it’s worth it.

26. With kids, who you are is as important as what you do. Don't bother forcing them to learn how to play piano if they don't want to, just model how to be a responsible, loving human to them daily and they will be set up for success. 

27. Everyone thinks their children are above average. Actually, most people think their children are exceptional geniuses full of charm and blessed with good looks. It's just how we are wired. As my grandaddy said when I was bragging on how handsome my first baby was, “Every crow thinks theirs is the blackest.” I laughed and knew his country humor was spot on.

28. Parenting is hard.  All the exhaustion, the constant going-going-going, the neediness, and the noise wears on you. The worry that you aren’t doing a good enough job gnaws on your peace of mind. Remember to take care of yourself while you parent. You can’t give from an empty cup. Seek things that fill you up and help relieve stress. (But parenting, despite how soul-suckingly hard it is at times, is the most rewarding and joy-filled experience of our lives. It's such a paradox!)

29. Your kids will respect you if you are strong enough to occasionally 'be the bad guy' and keep them in check. No child, or adult for that matter, is happiest when given free rein. Too many choices and freedoms too early lead to dangerous mistakes. Give kids what freedom and space they have earned according to their level of maturity and by their behavior. When they mess up, rein them back in a little. You can do it and your kids will appreciate not being able to bulldoze you.

30. Sometimes you can do everything right and they will still behave like little jerks. You will take it as a personal reflection of your worth at first, but then as your kids get older, you let go of the illusion of control and love them through the ups and the downs. 

31. Holding on to unforgiveness and hurt will only steal your joy. Forgiving someone else doesn't absolve them from guilt. It doesn't mean what they did is acceptable. It means you are leaving it behind and moving on. Learning to leave the past in the past, and look to the future with an anticipation of good things, is the way to move on. 

32. If it seems too good to be true, it usually is. Delayed interest payments, easy lines of credit, ever increasing real estate prices, are all a ticking time bomb. Also, student loans are a millstone around your neck. Avoid them.

33. Thanks to the Internet we live in an age of unprecedented access to technology, information and freedom to create. The gatekeepers are gone and we don’t have to get anyone’s permission to be successful. Some people use this freedom to build their dreams, to educate themselves and create a new life. Others use this for candy crush and youtube. The choice is yours.

34. If you have even the smallest amount of ability, healthy ambition and a great attitude you will be successful. (Click to tweet that) Talent is overrated. You can have all the 'natural gifts' in the world, but if you don't work your tail off, they will go to waste. Emotional intelligence will take you farther than intellectual ability ever will.

35. You will never regret over-preparing. When you know something by heart, have planned for all the ways it can go wrong and how you will respond, you can relax and go with the flow.

36. Build relationships with people because you value them, not because you value their network. Relationships you build to help others will take you so much farther in life than ones you build to help yourself.

37. The one thing that will sink your business and your life faster than anything else is your ego. (Click to tweet it!) A bruised ego will cause more damage than a puppy in a shoe store. An overinflated ego will leave a path of destruction. Stay humble, work hard, love others and you'll be successful. 

38. You have to have systems for everything. A system is just a plan for managing lots of tasks, information and responsibilities. Sure, no one wakes up in the morning excited about systems, but without them you are destined to fail.

39. Everyone needs a coach- from the Olympian, to the corporate leader, to the author and the small business owner. You’ll never regret spending the time and money with someone who can walk the journey with you, share their knowledge and be invested in your success. Successful people all have coaches.

40. Great leadership requires a constant willingness to be transformed into the person we were created to be. (Click to tweet that) Leading well comes down to living well. Great leaders are made, not born. 

And one to grow on.. 

You can change the world around you by simply smiling when others enter the room, choosing encouragement over cynicism and saying, "I love you" more often than you do now. 

If you loved this list and want to add your own life lessons, share this on Facebook and add some of your favorites. Let's keep it going! 

xo 


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7 Secrets For Balancing Life

 "How do you balance it all?" That's the question I get asked more than any other. Sure, my life is full, I'll admit it. (I'm not exactly relaxing everyday on a beach eating peeled grapes.) With five sons, my work as Executive Director of Propel Women, sharing Breaking Busy and the normal craziness of life- my secret is great systems and amazing technology. 

Today I'm sharing some of my favorite tips, tricks and strategies on work productivity and life balance with you. 

1. Use Your Calendar to Make Time For What's Important

I'm obsessed with Gcal. I not only put all my appointments in it, I use it to schedule my life. I realized that if I want to actually live on purpose, I had to dedicate time to my priorities. I learned to schedule blocks of time for prayer, Bible study, for exercise, for paying bills, even to call a friend.

We have to make time in advance for things that are important to us and things that bring us joy.

If we fill up our calendars with busywork we won't make time for what makes us happy.  (Click to tweet that)

2. Cut Out Errands & Save Money with Amazon Prime

What did we do before Amazon Prime?! Basically it was the dark ages. If you aren't an Amazon Prime you can try it out for 30 days FREE. Click here to try it.

Not only do I order all my home office supplies from Amazon (OK, if I'm honest 90% of everything I buy comes from Amazon) I even get everything from vitamins, groceries, to mascara auto-delivered every month. This saves me from running to Target and buying twice as much as I need because it's cute and right in front of me. :) 

3. Set Three Achievable Goals Per Day

We all love our to-do lists and have the habit of listing 20 things we want to get done in a day. Most days we accomplish five of those things and beat ourselves up over the rest. Instead of listing out everything, look for the three most important things for the day and focus on those. 

For more help on how to identify and achieve your goals everyday check out this article. 

4. Make Decision-Making Painless

In Breaking Busy, I shared the '5 F's of Decision Making' (click here to download the free downloadable printable) and my favorite part of the framework is focusing on the future version of yourself.

 I ask myself "What will 'Future Alli' say about this decision next month or next year?" It helps me say no to new obligations, pass up opportunities, and make decisions without worrying that I'll regret them later. 

5. Find Peace by Thinking in Terms of Seasons

When I face a big project, a time of busyness for the family, or even struggles in my own energy level I try to remind myself to think of life as a series of seasons. In some seasons I may have to work longer hours (for book writing, it means I lock myself away for 6 months of Saturdays to write).

In some seasons with the family we are just flat out going to be more stressed. Between activities, sports, and the constant desire for less parental rules (ahem)- Mark and I keep perspective (and our sanity) by reminding ourselves and each other that it's a just a season. 

6. Beat Digital Clutter Once and For All 

Digital clutter is the worst. The stress caused by wondering where that article you wanted to reread is, where that shopping list went, and where your files are can be overwhelming. The key to reducing stress is to keep everything organized in one place. 

I use Evernote to organize my whole life. It's like my extra brain. Here's a whole tutorial on how I use Evernote. 

7. Work Towards Ongoing Growth Not Perfection

We all know that nothing is ever really perfect. There's always an issue, a problem, a small flaw somewhere. If we aren't careful we can allow ourselves to focus on little issues and get stuck. I say, "Done is better than perfect" and strive for growth, not perfection. 

Hope you enjoyed these seven strategies I use to achieve more and stay sane while juggling a full life. If found this article helpful please share it with your friends on Facebook. 


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