Sam Holstein

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5 Easy Changes That Will Make 2022 the Best Year of Your Life

How did 2021 go for you? Was it an easy year where you achieved everything you wanted to?

Probably not. For most people, 2021 was a challenging year. A year when even getting out of bed was harder than it should have been.

You didn’t mean for 2021 to go this way, but it did. You can’t change the past.

The great news is, you can change the future. And it’s surprisingly easy. Making a few small changes to how you talk to yourself and behave today can set you up for some significant improvements in your life in 2022. The greatest rewards often come from surprisingly easy changes.

Here are some easy life changes you can make that will set you up for a fantastic 2022.

#1: Stop Making Excuses, Start Taking Responsibility

Whenever we don’t do something we meant to do, our natural temptation is to make excuses for why it didn’t happen.

For example, in 2021, I started and ended the year weak and unable to run even a mile without exhausting myself. I’m not happy about this. My mind immediately comes up with plenty of excuses about why this happened. For instance, I started in 2021 as a patient in a mental hospital. I subsequently spent most of the year locked in a battle to the death for my mental health.

As far as excuses go, those are pretty good excuses. But no excuse can change that I would have the fit and strong body I crave if I’d prioritized exercise.

Taking responsibility doesn’t mean beating yourself up—no calling yourself lazy or stupid for failing to achieve something. I’m not lazy because I didn’t exercise much this year. Exercise wasn’t a priority for me, and that’s OK. All I’m saying is this: if exercise were a priority for me in 2021, I would be fit and strong today. The only person I have to blame for that decision is myself.

Taking responsibility also doesn’t mean ignoring challenges. It’s important to acknowledge the challenges we face to come up with practical solutions… or decide to put off facing those challenges until later, if that’s what’s right for you. My mental health was a big challenge preventing me from exercising. If I’d prioritized exercise, I could have come up with ways to cope with my mental health so I could make it to the gym.

But it’s not enough to explain why something didn’t happen. We also need to plan action to overcome our challenges next time.

What’s the difference between an excuse and an explanation? Children ask this question all the time. As an adult, I know the answer: An excuse is an explanation that places all the blame on outside forces and includes no action plan for next time. It’s your life. No one is more responsible for how it turns out than you.

#2: Follow Your Dreams With One Small Daily Habit

There are so many people in the world who are barely making any progress toward achieving their dreams. People who want to start podcasts who don’t spend any time recording, people who want to become published authors who don’t spend any time writing, people who want to become marathon runners who never visit the gym, you know what I mean.

A lot needs to happen for your dreams to become a reality, but none of those things will happen if you don’t work.

To become a famous bestselling author, a writer needs to sign with an agent, attract a publisher, have a good message, get their timing right, and many other things. Sometimes a lot of luck is involved too. But none of those things can happen if the writer never writes! You can’t get lucky and write a bestselling novel if you don’t write a book in the first place.

Start making daily progress toward your dreams. You don’t have to make tremendous progress every day. That’s not how you accomplish dreams anyway. You make progress one small step at a time. So start taking small steps.

Commit to writing 1000 words a day. Walk or jog around the block every day. Start recording small snippets for your podcast, a few minutes every day, to get comfortable with the recording process. Put $10 a day in a savings account for travel. Cook one small meal for yourself every single day. Visit the local library, pick up a book that will teach you how to make your particular dream come true, and read ten pages every day.

The list of small habits you could start is endless. All you need to do is pick one and do it.

#3: Turn Off Your Screens an Hour Before Bedtime

You have trouble turning your mind off and sleeping soundly at night. During the day, troubles race through your head at the speed of a formula one roadster. You’re stressed and want to experience peace and relaxation for once in your life.

You can achieve all these goals shockingly quickly by turning off your screens at night.

You’ve heard what I’m about to say before. Screens disrupt our circadian rhythm and throw our sleep schedule totally out of wack. Our monkey brains can’t tell what time it is or what day it is, or what the hell’s going on, and they release stress hormones like cortisol day and night to cope.

You may know the science already, but you don’t truly understand the damage this does to your body, or you would already have programmed your devices to turn off an hour before bedtime already.

Since configuring all my devices to shut off automatically at 9 PM, I’ve enjoyed the following:

  • Turning my screens off signals to my brain that my stressful day has come to a blessed end. Every evening, a deep feeling of peace settles over me when I pull out my daily journal and gratitude journal to do some unstructured writing.
  • Screens-off time allows me to tidy up and prep for the next day, so everything is right where I need it the following day. Waking up to a tidy home is so much more relaxing than waking up to chaos and clutter.
  • I’m always comfortable and ready for bed because I have the time to brush my teeth and put a glass of ice water on my cleared end table. (The water is crucial when I wake up gasping from dehydration thanks to Ohio’s northern winter climate.)

Turning your screens off an hour before bedtime is an excellent keystone habit. It reinforces your habit of sleeping at the same time every night, bolstering your health and cognitive function. It strengthens positive mental health habits like journaling and slowing down for the evening. It reinforces your morning productivity and lessens your dependency on caffeine. If you adopt this habit, you’ll inevitably see positive changes in your life.

The past few days, I’ve skipped screens-off time and stayed up playing a video game I borrowed from the library until midnight. I regret it. Now I’m exhausted, and my productivity has fallen through the floor. It will take me days to overcome the consequences.

I could spend all day talking about how beneficial this one little habit has been for me, but you won’t truly understand until you experience some benefits for yourself.

So experiment. Try turning your screens off an hour before bedtime every night for two weeks and see what it does for your mental health. You can debate pros and cons all day, but you’ll never know until you try.

#4: Make Reading Nonfiction Books a Priority

There is so much knowledge at your local library. You can teach yourself mathematics, engineering, and astrophysics using nothing but library books. Or you can use library books to educate yourself about how business works and start a million-dollar company. You could do both and become a real-life Tony Stark. Or you could become Hawkeye instead, teaching yourself archery and fitness using library books. You can read library books and improve your marriage or finally kick that addiction you’ve been struggling with for years.

The solution to every problem you’ve ever faced, and ever will face, you can find on the inside of a library book.

Yet, most people don’t take advantage of this incredible resource. Most people read fewer than five books a year. It’s not surprising life seems complicated when you’re not looking for answers in the right places.

Nonfiction books are the reason I am where I am today. They’re the reason I could start a company when I was 15 and overcome a severe mental illness without a therapist.¹ There’s a reason billionaires like Bill Gates talk so much about the power of reading.

You may say something like, “That’s great, but I’m not a nonfiction person. I like reading fiction.” Or you may say, “Reading isn’t for me.” But reading isn’t necessarily something you’re born loving. Reading nonfiction is a skill like any other. It’s challenging and unrewarding at first, but the more books you read, the greater the rewards grow.

The first fifty nonfiction books I read were hard for me to read. I didn’t learn much from them. But now, I’ve read over 500 nonfiction books. I’m good at reading and have learned a ton about the world — which means reading and integrating the next book is as easy as pie for me now.

Because I’ve read over 500 books, I challenge myself by reading 600-page monster books like Stephen Pinker’s work. If you haven’t mastered the habit of reading, don’t pick up his books. Start with easy books if you’re starting to read nonfiction for the first time. Pick shorter books with more accessible language. Self-help is a great place to start.

Don’t pick anything by a philosopher or academic. These big books are valuable but also tough to read. You won’t have the reading skills you need to make it through these big books for the first year or two. If you force yourself to try and read one, you’ll end up hating it and quitting. This will happen even if you have advanced degrees. Starting with more accessible books you know you’ll enjoy doesn’t make you stupid. It makes you wise.

If you want an idea of where to start, read books written by your favorite Medium writers. Most Medium writers have also published books of their own. Medium’s own

 recently published his book 4 Minute Millionaire.

 is the author of Real Help and two other titles. I’ve written Work Less, Finish More. These books are great places to start.

#5: Start Seeing a Therapist

You read articles like these because you want to learn more about life and see the world in new ways. Even if you have no particular goal in mind, you want to improve yourself and enjoy a better life. One of the best people to consult on a journey like that is a therapist.

Most people think therapy is for when you have an acute problem. Depressed people go to therapy until their depression is cured, or anxious people talk to therapists to work on their anxiety. But that’s the wrong way to think about therapy.

Think of a therapist like a coach. Therapists help you learn how to think and act at a higher level to get more of what you want in life. If you can identify a way you want your life to improve, therapy can help you make that improvement. And everyone can name a way they want their life to improve! More money, more free time, better relationships, you name it, a therapist can help you get it.

Therapy also helps you uncover what you aren’t aware holds you back. You may think your life is hunky-dory, but unless you’ve already had a few years of therapy, you probably have all kinds of baggage you’re carrying around that you don’t even know about. Faulty beliefs that hold you back lie in wait in your subconscious. Therapists help you catch and exorcise these demons before they unexpectedly ruin your life down the road.

Because health insurance companies cover therapy, you can get therapy for a bargain. A $30 co-pay for a session is a steal. They are even worth it if you have to self-pay $150 per session.

More problematic is finding the right therapist. You will probably have to try seeing a few different therapists before finding the right one for you. It’s like dating; you’ll know it by the feeling. The wrong therapist will feel like a waste of money and time. With the right therapist, things will quickly fall into place. Then you’ll experience one breakthrough after the other. You’ll be glad you put the time and effort in to find the right one.

Getting set up with a therapist can be annoying. It takes time to call different therapy offices and make intake appointments. Figuring out what your insurance covers can be a headache. But the brief headache will be more than worth it.

In Conclusion

Your life will never improve all at once. There is no million-dollar deal or lifestyle change that will improve everything for you in one sweeping moment. You do the hard work of improving your life one day at a time.

The good news is, it doesn’t take that many days. You can completely turn your life around in a few short weeks if you make the right changes and stick with them long enough to take effect.

Pick even just one of these changes and start today. If you don’t know where to start, begin by turning off your screens an hour before bed. As I said, screen-off time is a keystone habit. You can use your newfound time before bed to read a hardcover book from your library or practice personal responsibility by journaling about your life.

Remember to strike a balance between being hard on yourself and making excuses. Whatever gets you closer to acting instead of contemplating acting is something you will benefit from embracing.

So go out there and make some minor changes to your life. Wait a few weeks. Then enjoy the significant improvement.