Sometimes, it is the simplest of life’s lessons that can be the most life-changing. In the busyness of life, we can sometimes lose sight of the things that make us truly happy or the things that will deliver the best results for our future.

Here are seven simple lessons that can get you back on track for the new year.

Stop comparing yourself to others
This can be one of the most demoralising and futile habits to fall into. We all come from different backgrounds, have different opportunities, and are faced with different challenges in life, so holding yourself to someone else’s standard is a waste of precious time and energy.

It can be easy to fall into the trap of looking at someone who is your age and seems to have achieved more success, have more possessions, or who takes more vacations than you, but this seldom equates to them being happier. Focus on what makes you happy and pursue those activities; work towards goals that are important to you. In other words, forget about keeping up with the Jones’ and enjoy being a Smith!

Turn your dreams into plans
Having dreams that give you spark and motivation to move forward in life are vitally important, so now is as good a time as any to take things a step further and make plans to bring your dreams into reality. For instance, work out what you need to do to make that career change, commit to saving a specific amount toward a key goal every week, or put down on paper some home improvement priorities. Remember: the longest journey begins with a single step!

Never stop learning
Learning new skills and possessing knowledge is a big part of giving yourself a sense of accomplishment and growth. It stimulates curiosity and enjoyment of life, so make a point of learning something new this year. It could be something related to your job, a new sport or hobby, or just an area of interest that you want to delve into. Whatever it is, do something positive about it — read a book, take a course, surf the net, or ask someone who is an expert in that particular field.

Cherish those most important to you
Life is too short to live in regret or to miss out on opportunities to share with those closest to you. Of course, it is human nature to get distracted by superficial or selfish things, but that doesn’t need to be the case. Take time to evaluate — or reevaluate — what’s important to you: invariably it will be the people you love, so let them know you value and cherish them.

Treat an old friend to lunch, book a weekend escape with a sibling or spouse, volunteer your home for the next family gathering. No one ever died regretting that they spent too much time with the ones they love, so take the initiative now for better relationships.

Gain control of your finances
Money worries can be the biggest time-waster and source of anxiety, but there are some simple things you can do to get in control of your finances right now. Make a plan to really pay down that credit card debt. Get that budget down on paper and make an effort to stick to it. Talk to a financial adviser about getting your retirement plans in better shape and your investments more productive.

These are just a few of the things that you can do that will give you a real sense of achievement and get you on the road to financial freedom.

Take a leap into something new
Are you bogged down in your comfort zone? Are you getting bored with the routine of life? Why not step out and experience something new? Doing something completely out of the ordinary that you have never experienced before can renew your zest for life and invigorate your sense of adventure.

Don’t use age as an excuse; your willingness to risk something new and stimulate the senses is what keeps you feeling young and alive. So, whether it is booking that dance class, joining a bushwalking club, or learning to surf, do it today!

Make money your servant and not your master
It’s easy to fall into the trap of letting money take over your life. Pursuing money for its own sake is futile, and using money as the sole yardstick of success and happiness is dangerous. Of course you need to be responsible, and make sure bills are paid and the necessities taken care of, but start framing your financial life to serve what is really important to you. Understand your priorities and be conscious of what you really enjoy doing.

Once you have a greater sense of what you value the most, you will be better equipped to plan your finances to serve those goals. Money will become the means to a more worthwhile end, rather than being the end in itself. If you feel like you are struggling to break the shackles, talk to a financial professional who can give you an objective view.

What is your favourite life lesson? Let us know in the comments below.

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