Show Up Every Day: 12 Valuable Steps to Real Change

We all have wishes about who we want to be.

Recently, I read an article in which a young woman told how she and a friend watched the YouTube video of another woman sharing "a day in the life" at 8 months pregnant.  The friend said, "I'm going to be one of those cute pregnant women who does yoga."  And the author of the piece remembers thinking, "If you don't do yoga now, why would you start when you're 20 pounds heavier and growing an entire human being?"

Don't we all have ideas about what we're going to do someday?

  • "When I'm pregnant I'm going to start doing yoga."
  • "When I get my kitchen remodeled, I'm going to start cooking every night."
  • "When the kids are older, I'm going to write a book."
  • "When I retire, I'm going to take up painting."

What are we waiting for?

pregnant yoga


This way of thinking keeps us stuck.  If something has to happen before we take a step we say we want to take, we can postpone that step indefinitely.  Even if the event we say we're waiting for happens, we may come up with another reason not to take action.  "Oh, this morning sickness is more like all day sickness.  I can't possibly do yoga now!"

Sometimes we don't actually want to do the thing we say we want to do.  We just like to imagine ourselves being different than we are.  After all, cooking every evening is a big commitment.  Writing a book also requires consistent effort.  Doing yoga, gaining proficiency on a musical instrument, learning to speak French like a native – I'm pretty sure these all take daily practice as well.

You can't fulfill a fantasy by wishing for it.  Sorry.

The truth is, "someday" never comes.  We only have today.  What will we do with it?

Here are 12 changes you can start making today that will make a significant difference in your life.  You don't need a new kitchen, grown children (or soon-to-be-born children), or a different job to do them.  You can take the first small step today, without any change in your circumstances.  

You are going to change.

12 things to do today that can change your life

1.  Declutter

Want more peace, focus, space, time, and money?  I know you think you're too busy to declutter, but you're really not.  You just have to start.  Find my 10-Minute Declutter Method here, or take the plunge and throw a Packing Party.

2.  Get active.

Start small.  Do just five minutes of stretching, take a walk around the block, take the stairs.  Ride your bicycle to work, or check out a fitness class.  Believe me, you are getting older, and all of this will be harder to start later than it is today.

3.  Start practicing.

Is there something you want to master?  Not just talk about it, but really do it?  Watch a video tutorial today (there are millions) or sign up for a class.  Is there a local group that does what you're interested in (community orchestra, photography club, adult tennis league)?  It can be scary to take the first step, but breaking free of inertia gives you access to energy and momentum.  Just start.

4.  Create freedom.

It's much harder to start something new if you're carrying a load from the past.  Today, decide that you're going to resist shopping for stuff you don't need.  Figure out exactly how much you owe, create a budget that accounts for every dollar, and commit yourself to paying off debt.

5.  Create security.

If you want to stay out of debt, you need an emergency fund.  This money isn't for "emergencies" like the auto registration fees or Christmas shopping you should have budgeted for.  It's for the unforeseen, such as an emergency room visit, storm damage to your home, or unexpected travel in a family crisis.

Of course an emergency fund won't happen overnight.  But today's the day you can start implementing one or more savings strategies.

6.  Read a book.

Reading is one of those things that people claim they have no time for, even though they say they'd like to do more of it.  But a little less scrolling, a little less binge-watching, and a little less online shopping could give us the time we need.  Please don't leave this post, but plan to pick up that book you've been "meaning to read" today.


7.  Set digital boundaries.

Have you been telling yourself you need to get a handle on your mindless scrolling?  The average smartphone owner unlocks their device 150 times a day.  That's once every 6-7 minutes that we're awake.  Don't waste your time berating yourself, just do something today to make it harder.

  • Delete some of those time-sucking apps.
  • Silence notifications except for calls and texts.
  • Set up a screen lock passcode instead of fingerprint or facial recognition.
  • Decide to make mealtimes screen-free.
  • Swap digital tools for analog ones (such as the alarm, calendar, and notepad).
  • Create a phone-use zone – the one place in your home you're "allowed" to use your phone (don't choose your bedroom).

8.  Choose healthy foods.

Of course we care about our long-term health.  We remind ourselves of that as we pick up some fast food or guzzle down a Frappuccino.  "I'm in such a hurry today – I'll eat better tomorrow."  "I'm just craving some French fries today – I'll eat better tomorrow."

Tomorrow is just theoretical, friends.  Choose healthy food today.

  • Add a fruit or vegetable to each meal.
  • Add legumes.
  • Choose whole grains over processed grains.
  • Choose grilled or roasted over fried.
  • Choose water over soda.
  • Skip the junky snack.

9.  Drink more water.

Millions of Americans are chronically dehydrated, and that might include you.  It's a condition which can cause dizziness, headache, brain fog, irritability, and more serious health issues.

Now, I love my coffee and tea, but I've decided to drink a glass of water for every cup of coffee or tea I consume.  If you drink alcohol, the same should apply.  And to quote Dr. Kendra Frazier, a Chicago primary care family physician, "Juice is not water.  Pop is not water.  Coffee is not water.  We are meant to drink water throughout the day to rehydrate."

10.  Practice a morning ritual.

Take 3 minutes every morning to cultivate positive thoughts, release negative ones, and choose a focus for the day.

11.  Connect.

There are people you love – do you take the time to deepen those connections?  I don't mean likes and emojis on social media.  How about a phone call, a video chat, or (gasp) a letter?  Do you give your smartphone more attention than the people you supposedly care about?  (Be honest.)

12.  Revisit your goals.

How long has it been since you reviewed your life goals?  Perhaps you've been on auto-pilot for a while, so now's the time to remind yourself of what you want to accomplish with your one life.  How do you want to be remembered, and does the way you spend your time, energy, and talents reflect that?

Show up.

If you're thinking that these behaviors sound too small to change your life, think again.  Every big change starts small.  For example, eating an extra 100 calories every day can have long-term negative consequences (100 x 365 days = 36,500 extra calories ÷ 3,500 = 10.4 pounds gained in one year).  In the same way, cutting 100 calories (or exercising to "burn" them) every day can have long-term positive results.

The key is that long-term consistency, every. single. day.  There's just no substitute for showing up.

Start one of these changes today, and make your wishes come true.


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