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5 Life-Changing Tips for a Better Year

I always get nostalgic around holiday time—not only about family memories and celebrations, but also about what this year brought (and didn't bring).

2015 started off with a bang for me—a huge, internationally-recognized bang that I'd never have believed should someone have predicted and informed me about it last year. I took that stroke of luck, that serendipitous event, to heart. I will make this year positive, productive and great, I told myself. This year will be better than years before (not that the years before have been tragic, but, you get me.)

And I did my damnedest to keep that promise. Yes, some of my most favorite things that happened this year were pure luck, but let's not forget that saying about how people are capable of creating a certain amount of luck for themselves. A lot of luck lies with making choices. (Right?) Here's how I made this year better for me.

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1. Step away from certain people

I consciously stepped away, backed off and left ample room between myself and associates, colleagues and friends that brought any kind of untrustworthy activity, negativity and/or drama—that made me doubt my own honesty, intentions and legitimacy. None of these folks are bad (in fact, they're really nice people), but sometimes a mama's got to take a step back and assess. Once I did, it was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders, which then left more room for positive thought, actions and results on my part.

2. I said "no" when things weren't convenient

There's nothing to feel guilty about. You can only do so much.

"I'm sorry, I can't bring cookies that day." "It's not a good time to meet up." "I can't write a 1000-word article for you for free." Say yes to saying "no" (we know this ladies), but do not forget that you also must say "no" if feelings of guilt try to intercept your assertiveness. There's nothing to feel guilty about. You can only do so much. Everyone can live with it and will understand.

3. I revisited old hobbies from my youth

One thing you might not know about me is that I am a big musical theater nut. BIG. Like, I performed musical theater professionally for a number of years before jumping into media and television. Thanks to my awakening this year, you can now find me listening and singing semi-obnoxiously to musical theater soundtracks of all kinds when I clean my house, cook dinner and goof off with my girls. I'd forgotten how happy (and young!) it makes me feel. And the more happiness bits you can smash into a week, the better for anybody.

4. I threw things away

All those weird toddler trinkets tucked away in purses (things my girls have forgotten about), random T-shirts I got for free from events (that I've never worn, and never will wear), things I didn't even know I still had shoved deep in my dresser drawers (how many white tanktops do you really need?) ... gone. Tossed 'em. Chucked 'em before I could invent a reason why I'd need to keep them. I started to feel the chi flowing.

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5. I wrote down specific goals involving home, self-care and career

Before kids, I'd make whimsical bucket lists and deliberate to-do lists like nobody's business. With kids, I mostly punch random notes on my smartphone and hope I remember to check them. Creating conscious lists of goals, and palpably seeing those goals on my computer and sticky notes prevented me from getting sidetracked or saying yes to things that didn't feed those goals.

This year was better. Here's to making next year better, too. Hell, I might even try to make what's left of December better.

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