1. Had a portion of my paycheck go automatically into savings. Because Lord knows manually transferring it rarely happened. I think saving would have been a lot easier had I never seen the money in the first place rather than feel the pain of watching it go “away.”
2. Stopped mulling over the past so much. I think it’s human and productive to look backward in order to move forward and not repeat past mistakes (aka why I’m writing this article), but the past is no place to live. It’s not somewhere we should visit constantly and beat ourselves up over things we wish we hadn’t done or had done differently.
3. Eaten out less, and committed to learning to cook more foods than pasta and scrambled eggs. Attempting to cook copycat recipes of the food I love eating out would have saved me money and probably helped prevent gaining as much weight as I did. Ah well. You live and learn.
4. Had more confidence at work. I wish I had recognized the value I brought to the team and that I know more than I think I do. I wish I had trusted my decision-making capabilities and made more calls without checking with my supervisor for everything.
5. Spent more time alone, especially when I was feeling bad/out of control. I’m someone who is very influenced by those around me and tend to turn to the people in my life to help lift my spirits. While I know there is nothing bad about seeking support from the ones you love in difficult times, I wish I had become more dependent on my own company for support and comfort. I wish I hadn’t been afraid to spend time with just me to come to the conclusions I needed and to find the answers I desperately sought. I know this would have improved the relationship I have with myself, as well as increased my confidence.
6. Never opened a credit card for the reasons I did. None of which were building credit. I had pretty much zero emergency fund. I justified getting a credit card for “emergency” situations. Turns out, I didn’t end up using it for emergencies all too often. Instead, temptation got the best of me, and I would swipe the card for things I definitely didn’t need. I ended up using way more than the recommended 30% credit utilization and have been trying to pay it off ever since. Looking back, I wish I had never opened the card and waited until I was more fiscally responsible to be able to handle it.
7. Been kinder to myself. Because negative self-talk doesn’t do anything for anyone, let’s be real.
8. Committed to developing an exercise schedule that made me feel fit, happy, and healthy. Rather than obsessively browsing Fitsagram, feeling like shit that I didn’t look like Kayla Itsines, and feeling defeated before I even started. Rather, I wish I had approached fitness in a way that was exploratory and fun rather than out of a place of self-hatred. Now, at 26, I’ve lost 14 pounds by treating diet and exercise as a form of self-care, taking it on my terms rather than trying to work out and eat like everyone I see on the BBG hashtag.
9. Drank less coffee. Sounds silly, but this one is true. It makes my anxiety a whole hell of a lot worse and doesn’t help my productivity like I’d claim it did. I’m down to one to two cups a day.
10. Made creating an emergency fund a priority. Because when a personal emergency did strike this year, I was totally and completely unprepared and the big thing I wish I had was a solid emergency fund.
11. Stopped treating YouTube influencers as having accessible lives. I’m an educated, intelligent woman, and would still find myself feeling like shit after watching a very produced and contrived morning routine. I think taking these videos with a grain of salt is important. Borrowing bits and pieces of them as inspiration is fine, but to remember that this is someone’s job to sell a lifestyle. We can’t all meditate, go for a run, drink a green smoothie, play with our dog, and then go to work every morning. And that’s totally okay. But also…
12. Adopted a morning routine that made sense for me and helped keep me on track and organized. Because I admit, I’m someone who does best when I have a routine. Mornings tend to be hectic for everyone, and I never really solidified a morning routine to make sure I got everything I needed to get done in the morning complete. Every morning felt rushed, scattered, and stressful, with me constantly scanning my brain to figure out if I had gotten everything done that I needed to get done before my workday. Now that I’ve been experimenting with a few different routines, I’ve found my morning to go much smoother, I can concentrate better at work, and that my stress levels have decreased.
13. Understood that healing isn’t linear. I wish I had recognized that setbacks don’t negate any progress made and that it’s all part of the process. I had a hellish 25th year, and bouncing back from everything that hurt me will take time and trial and error. That’s just life.
14. Made self-care a priority. And I’m talking actual self-care, not Instagram self-care. When I’m stressed out, self-care tends to fall on the backburner. This, of course, makes being a functional, productive human a lot harder. I wish I had taken a step back when things got hectic to just breathe and take care of myself. This would have made handling these situations much better.
15. Gone to the bar less. I would have saved money, taken better care of myself, and also maybe developed more hobbies than seeing how fast I can chug a bottle of Miller Lite.
16. Experimented with different types of budgeting to find what worked for me and my goals. Everyone is different, and budgeting is not a one-size-fits-all model. We all have difference expenses, live in different areas, have different incomes, etc. I wish I had figured out different strategies to help me live within my means without feeling stifled.
17. Not been ashamed of having to move home to save money and regroup. Rather, I wish my initial mindset about moving home to my parents had been that of gratitude that I have two people who will welcome me back with open arms. Sometimes, we just need a minute to regroup, and that’s okay.
18. Recognized everything I was doing right rather than being so hell-bent on focusing on my shortcomings. Self-awareness goes beyond realizing everything you lack. It’s also about being cognizant of your strengths. Figuring out what you do well can help you bolster those areas of yourself and stand out more in your career and your life.
19. Not been so cruel to myself about gaining weight. Because the truth is, it fucking happens, and I can lose it to become healthier. Weight doesn’t define you.
20. Disconnected from work a little more. I started a new job in September and am obsessed with it. I love it so much. The problem with this, though, is that I have trouble unplugging. They don’t expect me to be constantly checking in, and taking time away from your work is important for not only your career but also your sanity.
21. Taken better care of my skin. AKA stopped falling asleep with my makeup on, used eye cream, and drank more water. I’ve recently started toying around with creating a skincare routine of my own, and I already notice a difference in my skin texture and clarity.
22. Dressed the part. Currently, I work remotely, which makes it incredibly easy to stay in my PJs all day and work from my bed while my dog cuddles at my feet. It’s all very comfortable and grand. However, I have read countless times that dressing up for work can help increase productivity. I actually tried it for a few days, and found that this was absolutely the case.
23. Let the people go who had already let go of me. Because there’s nothing more painful than hanging onto to those who are no longer there. It lowers your self-esteem, self-respect, and prevents you from moving forward. I wish I had realized this sooner.
24. Understood that sometimes it’s okay to build your skillset before your wallet. I took an internship in September after working a full-time, salaried job. This meant a huge pay decrease. However, it was in the field I’ve been working towards for years, and in the months I’ve been at this position, I’ve seen extensive professional growth. (I do understand that I am lucky in that I was able to move home to my parents to be able to take this opportunity, and this is not something everyone is able to do.)
25. Known you truly can have fun without spending a ton of money. All you truly need is some amazing company, be that your friends, family, or yourself.
Molly is an assistant digital strategist by day and a writer by night. She drinks way too much coffee and can be found on Twitter here.
Image via Unsplash