Many people view the spring as a time for renewal and use the season as a metaphor for their lives. Impactful change doesn’t wait for the seasons, however. If you are looking to make life changes and reduce stress through organization, start today rather than putting the work off for a later date.
But, if we are to think of any time of the year as one for organization and improvement, winter actually fits the bill just as well as springtime—if not better. Here are some examples of how winter can be an ideal time for self-improvement, and how to take the first steps:
1. Make the Financial Stress of the Holidays Work in your Favor.
Some people work all year, saving to cover the expenses of the holiday season. Most, however, do the reverse — spending in the winter and working the following year to pay off bills. Commit this year to a more responsible, and less stressful holiday by setting a holiday budget that is based on your income and expenses. Limit spending to your savings, and start a savings plan so that next year you can spend a predetermined amount without having to stress or skimp as much on purchases.
Extend your budgeting ways into the new year and adopt a new financial perspective. Create savings goals and change your spending habits to encourage positive cash flow and growth. Some financial advisors point out how skipping takeout lunches and daily coffee runs can infuse your budgets with up to $2,000 over the year. To make this goal more palatable, instead of avoiding dining out and snacks, try cutting your habits in half. Scale back other unnecessary expenses, but don’t live an utterly sparse life.
Many people do not know where their money goes each month. Become fully aware of every penny that goes in and out of your wallet, and you’ll be able to reign in foolish spending and identify if you need to make more significant changes in your financial life. Prioritize how you spend so that your money goes towards things that truly bring you and your family joy.
2. Use the End of the Year to Assess Your Income and Total Financial Picture.
Take advantage of money-making opportunities now and in the new year. Has it been a while since your last raise? Businesses are booming with increased consumer spending and a healthy economy. Start making your case for a raise or increase in responsibility now.
If it seems that you have reached the maximum pay rate at your organization, look for other income-earning possibilities. The easiest way to turn the tide on debt is to outpace its growth with increased earnings. Making extra money has never been easier, with the gig economy thriving with opportunity. Pick up a freelance side job to supplement your income, help tame debt and save for next year’s vacations, holidays and other expenses.
3. Step Up and Face Your Financial Reality.
Don’t be afraid to get up close with your financial worries. They won’t go away without knowledge, communication and hard work. Ignoring debt and negative cash flow will make your problems multiply and worsen.
No matter what your financial situation might be, take the first step towards stress-reduction today by creating a workable budget and a plan for financial success. If you feel completely overwhelmed, reach out to an approved non-profit organization for help in recasting your financial future.
4. You’ll Be Indoors a Lot. Take the Time to Organize and Purge.
While you are working away at your financial affairs, get to work on organization. Often these two self-improvement topics go hand in hand. Get a head start on spring cleaning by eliminating unused items. Your unwanted or unneeded things, such as clothes and toys your children have outgrown, may be worth money or may be helpful to those in need. Turn old things into cash by selling clothing and toys in lots on eBay. You may be surprised at the value of things that you no longer use.
If you opt to donate instead of sell, save receipts for tax time. Organizations such as the Salvation Army and Goodwill stores will provide documentation of your donation for these purposes. Either way, your clutter has value.
Organization around the holidays is a natural fit, too, since you probably will be dragging out decorations from storage. This year, when putting away holiday decorations, toss anything broken and organize your storage areas. Devote a post-holiday weekend to purging and organizing closets, basements, garages or wherever you keep seasonal items.
5. Savor the Slow Time of the Winter to Provide Self-Care.
Making life changes is about more than just budgeting, organizing and cleaning. Take care of yourself, too. Reward your budgeting with a spa day, as the refreshing benefits will be worth the expense. Remember, too, that self-care doesn’t have to mean expensive treatments and gym memberships.
When you are cooped up inside, don’t waste time solely interacting with your smartphone. Read, meditate, practice yoga, and relax. These activities are mostly free, and when incorporated into your weekly routine going forward, they can add depth and joy to your life.
6. Don’t Forget to Address your Health.
Many people jump on the health bandwagon after the holidays. This year, don’t wait until after the festivities are over to make resolutions. Weight loss and fitness are not incompatible with holiday eating and drinking. Sustainable healthy living is all about balance.
If you live in a cold part of the country, you may feel the need to join a gym or forego exercise until the spring. Successful fitness doesn’t require expensive equipment or sunny weather. Embrace simple indoor workouts. These fuel sustainable weight loss and fitness.
While physical fitness is key to good health, so is an organized and proactive attitude. See your doctor for a physical. Face your health fears and develop a plan with your physician to tackle them this year.
7. Make a Plan For The Next Year.
When you are expressing thanks for the year, consider what you’d like to improve and make a plan. Whether it is a financial overhaul, a new organized you, or a fitter and healthier life, identify all the life changes you want to make for the year and start as soon as possible.
Start today. It’s easier than you may think, and once you determine where you want to be, you have already taken the biggest step of the journey.