Our twenties are a tumultuous time for lifestyle changes — everyone you know is at a different life stage, and you feel simultaneously pressured to have things figured out and certain you’re the only one who doesn’t.

Maybe you’re watching your friends land dream jobs, seeing your classmates start families, and sighing over social media posts about others’ world travels.

You may feel like you haven’t found your place, or you may know where you want to end up, but have no idea how to get there — either way, it’s okay! Here’s what no one really tells you — you don’t need to have a plan. And if you do, you don’t have to race to the finish line. Life is a journey, not an end goal, and if you’re not enjoying the ride now, then what makes you think you’ll be happy down the line?

Finding peace, purpose and — most importantly — perspective is about learning to appreciate the now and take things one step at a time, and it all starts with how you live your everyday life. Here are a few small, manageable lifestyle changes to build better habits and find balance — not just for the future, but for the now.



1. Establishing a routine can be one of the most important lifestyle changes

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Everyone thrives when they can stick to a set routine. Right now, COVID-19 may be giving you more free time than usual, or maybe you need to readjust to working from home. Whatever your day-to-day looks like, do your best to set a few small goals you want to accomplish each day. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself — just focus on achieving little things that will benefit you mentally or physically. For instance, you could strive to wake up before 9 a.m., work out for 30 minutes and read one chapter of a book throughout the course of the day. Simple, right?

If you normally follow a schedule, consider how you can improve your current objectives. Maybe skip those post-work drinks and refuel with water instead. Fill your routine with straightforward tasks that aim to promote wellness, and you’ll begin to feel more organized, motivated and mindful. When things return to normal, keeping a daily routine is just as important.


2. Set long-term goals

Without goals, we couldn’t work towards our dreams — or figure them out. Self-development, personal growth, and lifestyle changes are crucial to moving forward in life, because only you can figure out where you’re going. When you focus on yourself, not only do you remove yourself from an anxious or uncertain mindset, but you take clear action towards a better version of who you are now.

For example, say you dream about moving to another city or country, but you feel stuck where you are. What actions can you take to make that goal a reality? You may need to look around for roommates, save up some money or look into secondary income for a bit. The whole picture can seem overwhelming, but if you break it into small steps, you can work towards a long-term goal at a steady pace, without feeling burdened.



3. Make mindful meals

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When you’re on-the-go, busy or just craving comfort food, it can be hard to pass up easy meal options, but did you ever stop to think about how your eating habits affect the rest of your lifestyle? A poor diet can lead to depression-related symptoms, amongst other issues, and it can also take away the wholesome nature of preparing and enjoying food.

Taking the time to prepare healthy, mindful meals at home helps you stay physically healthy, but it also allows you to take care of your mental health, choose the right nutrients for your brain and body, and connect with what you’re putting in your body. Make eating a slow, deliberate event, as well — sit down and savor your food, don’t inhale it in front of a screen. Being more mindful of your meals is one of the simple lifestyle changes that helps you become a better version of yourself.

Do your best to start each day with a nutritious breakfast. If you don’t have time to whip up a full course meal, prepare a make-ahead recipe — like baked oatmeal or a smoothie — before bed. Then, be sure to set aside time for lunch and a snack. Unless you need to catch up on work, eat away from your desk, TV or workspace. Round out your day with a wholesome dinner. When you order takeout, choose options with lean proteins and vegetables.



4. Learn Something New

Whenever possible, try to make it a habit to learn about new topics or skills. You don’t need a degree to discover different ideas, and it’s vital to keep your brain stimulated by learning whenever you can. Listen to a podcast, watch a TED Talk video, download a language app or read a book. Try to explore other worldviews through international news outlets, too.

You don’t want to overindulge, because you may feel overwhelmed by too much information, but you can make it a goal to focus on learning one new thing at a time. Plus, you’ll never feel bored or useless when you’re always focused on expanding your mind.

Seek out topics you already enjoy, and don’t be afraid to venture into new territory, either.



5. Prioritize Self-Care

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It’s easy to forget about ourselves when life feels like it’s all about work, relationships and goals. And while personal progress is important, it’s not possible without taking time out for personal care. Each day, set aside some time to relax and reward yourself with something that helps you feel well-rested, peaceful and rejuvenated for tomorrow.

Self-care looks different for everyone — maybe for you, it means doing half an hour of yoga, or maybe it means taking a warm bath with a scented candle. Perhaps sitting down with a book and a cup of tea is how you rejuvenate, or maybe you need to spend some time in nature by taking a walk. A little self-care goes a long way, and taking time for yourself is crucial to feeling balanced.



6. Get Some Fresh Air

While you should sweat a little every day, it’s not always possible to find time for exercise. Even when you can’t work out, make it a point to head outdoors and get some fresh air. Sit on your front porch with some reading material, start a garden planter on your balcony or take your dinner outdoors. Around 15-20 minutes of sun exposure three times a week supplies enough vitamin D to keep your body functioning well, and breathing fresh air helps with wakefulness and nourishment. Connect with nature as a calming act, and take the benefits with you into your other activities.



Big Changes, Little Steps

You might not know where you’re going next month or next year — but you know where you are now, and you can make progress today by pursuing a more balanced, beneficial lifestyle. Sometimes the biggest improvements start with the smallest steps, and working towards tomorrow is all about living today.


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