Tangible Changes You Can Make

With 2015 in full gear, I’ve been reading all sorts of things online (Facebook, blogs, Instagram captions) about this whole to New Year’s Resolution or Not to New Year’s Resolution. From my very unscientific research, it seems like it’s an even 50/50 split. I really don’t know how I feel about them in general and do agree, if you want to make a change, you don’t need to wait until the new year.
But here’s the thing. Regardless of whether or not it’s January, you could decide to implement some change into your life. With this, I thought I’d share some changes I’ve made in my personal life over the years that legitimately changed my life.
1. Read every day
I. Love. To. Read. I didn’t always used to be this way, but I’m a firm firm believer in it now. Reading has to be one of the best hobbies you can pick up. Even if you’re “not a reader” I think you can teach yourself to become one. While I love to purchase books, I was frequent flier at the library throughout college. The key to reading, in my opinion, is to read what’s interesting to you. Don’t worry about picking up classics if you don’t like classics. Reading is reading and even brain candy like teen lit can open the door to other genres. Just start somewhere. If you want a great book to get you going, here are my BEST recommendations. (Also, Harry Potter. The first book is very elementary and a breeze to read and then it’s like, whoa. I didn’t read the series until I was a senior in college and it’s SO good.)
Besides books, I think keeping up with the news is also one more “reading” element that should be a part of your daily routine. I personally love the NY Times. This is something that I tried to do every year, but it wasn’t until the past few years that it really stuck firmly. Signing up for their daily emails and following them on Twitter helped get me in the habit of reading a couple of articles a day and now I have to limit the amount of time I spend reading articles every day!

2. Walk every day
Putting “working out” on a resolutions list for me would be setting myself up to failure. Maybe one day, but right now I just can’t get myself to do it. However… I do find that walking is a major source of relaxation for me. Living in NYC you basically have to walk more than usual, but ever since I got Teddy, I’ve been walking quite a bit. It’s not like I’m preparing for a marathon or anything, however I feel so much better when I walk in the morning. And breaks? WALKING. Because it’s so cold now, I’ve swapped a longer morning walk for a post-lunch walk and think it might stick throughout the year. It’s the best way to keep my mind active while still giving myself time away from the computer. Teddy is a trooper and (of course) loves the extra 30-40 minutes outside every day. Sometimes I call my mom if I need to vent or talk something through and other times I just pound the pavement. (Literally, I focus on every single step and feel my energy through my heels and toes.)
If you’re like me and can’t get yourself to work out, I highly suggest adding walking into your daily routine.

3. Travel more
I have to put my airport and packing anxiety aside to fulfill this one. Traveling more has been such a blessing. I never thought of myself as a traveler and I don’t think I’ll be backpacking across a continent anytime soon, but traveling has been a huge source of personal growth for me. I always learn something new about myself while traveling in addition to learning about new places. Traveling is definitely expensive, but I want to commit to doing more of it with every passing year. (I’ve been talking myself out of a number of purchases with the “that’s half a plane ticket to Paris” thoughts.)
One thing I need to work on for traveling is getting better about planning. Both in the sense that I need to commit to dates and trips ahead of time instead of thinking or assuming it will happen on its own (news flash: it won’t) and in the sense that I’m not the best itinerary maker on the planet. Any resources/recommendations are more than welcome in this department!!!

4. Try new things
I mentioned this in my 2014 recap. Trying new things has to be one of the BEST things I’ve ever done for myself. It’s made me work on my perfectionism, stretched my comfort zone out a ways, and taught me some new things that I actually like! (Not everything I try I end up liking, but it’s worth trying to find that one thing I really do enjoy!)

5. Have a weekend
Why have I never had weekends before?! Yes, Saturday and Sunday were always a part of my week. But I also had regattas and study sessions and group project meetings and legitimate work to do. Taking the two days “off” (I still work a few hours, but it’s nowhere near the hours I used to log…) has given me a whole new outlook on life.
Sleeping in is great and so is waking up early for an extra long walk in a still-sleepy city. Having no plans is freeing and so is packing in a quick 48 adventure. Spending time alone with your own thoughts is rejuvenating and so is catching up with in-town friends. Weekends are simply the best! There’s a quote I saw somewhere (probably Pinterest) that goes, “A Sunday well spent brings a week of content.” I couldn’t agree more. I wish I could rewind time and figure out a way to enjoy all the weekends that I have missed in the past.

6. Be happier

Look, this is a hard one. I definitely used to not be a happy person. It wasn’t even that I was not a happy person, I was an unhappy one. Partly due to this book and partly due to just DECIDING (really) to be happier, it happened. Every day, I would come across things that would frustrate me, sadden me, or even anger me… and I would have to find it within myself to change my thoughts. (This is where walking and reading play a big role for me personally.) Sometimes it would feel like I was awkwardly convincing myself that I was happy even if I didn’t completely feel it in my core, but after a bit, it came more and more naturally. In fact, it felt like I was exercising my happy muscle and I feel much stronger in that department now. My personality is certainly not one of Little Miss Sunshine, but I am, without a doubt, a happier person today than I think I ever have been.
Right now, I’m working on getting rid of judgmental thoughts and this is more of a work in progress. (One that I’ve been working on since around October… I don’t remember exactly when I started.)

Have you made a resolution or change in your life that you would recommend others do the same too?

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I absolutely love this post! I'm not quite sure about new years resolutions but these goals are amazing. My favorites are "having a weekend" and "being happier." I think taking time to myself will be my biggest goal for 2015 🙂

Annie Belle

Michaela Fisch

This is a really amazing post. You are so real and honest and that is why you are one of my favorite bloggers! This year I decided not to make resolutions because I always ended up disappointing myself but little things like you suggested can make a huge difference. I need to check out that book – I need to work on being happy as well!

Enter to win $50 dollar of store credit to White Plum today on the blog!

Michaela || The Monogrammed Midwesterner


Great post as always! I love that you suggest to read more (love reading too!) and to walk more. Walking is so so important. However, I also struggle with walking enough. But I am trying to improve. That would probably be my new years resolution.



I really enjoyed this post! We have very similar personalities, so these tangible changes are things that I can totally see myself working on. Thanks so much for the practical ideas!


Sarah Murphy

Love these! It's always good to get out and try new things. The best memories are when you've tried something new and have stepped out of your comfort zone (i.e. I'm learning ballet with a friend of mine — who knew at 26?) Happy 2015!

x Sarah

Anna Roberts

I love how you didn't just make resolutions, you set goals! This year I really focused on the small steps that I can incorporate into my daily routine to slowly work my way to the bigger picture… this way they become habit! My biggest hurdle, Getting Organized!



Yes to all of these – and very much so!!! Leisure reading is a big one I hope to work on this year… I used to carry stacks and stacks of books home from the library, but then college and textbooks and blogs came on the scene, and leisure reading of books kind of went out the window. Definitely want to get back into this again!


Great post! I love that you included reading (I'm a librarian)! It's so important. I was terrible at reading the newspaper/keeping up with current events until I found The Skimm. It's a daily email that sends you important news highlights. I love it for its convenience and the way they write. It's great.
Happy new year!


Hey Carly!

I'm not one to usually post comments on a blog, so here's to stepping out of my comfort zone (I am a perfectionist at heart as well). While reading this post, I thought of two things in regards to your "reading more" and "travel more" resolutions.
1. If you really like reading the news and current events, I would HIGHLY recommend theSkimm. It is a daily email blast that contains current event highlights that are easy to understand so you can get an idea of what is happening in the world. They always hyperlink to the actual story so you can read more in depth information. BONUS: theSkimm was founded by two women!!
2. Ideas for traveling: Like you, I want to travel a ton this year but am not a very good planner. I recently subscribed to Travel & Leisure as well as their daily email blasts. Their email blasts are great for fun lists of how/when to buy plane tickets, best hotels in the country/world, anything travel planning/execution you could want. I HIGHLY recommend them! I have used their suggestions for some planning for an upcoming roadtrip to Charleston, SC with my two best friends and I couldn't be more excited to see how it all works out!


Brie Alexandra

I love the first two. Reading and walking everyday sound like such trivial objectives at first but they're so, so important. I love unwinding every night – during the school year especially – with a short visit to the gym's treadmill and then a chapter or two of my latest novel pick-up.
Fantastic list!


I started crying when I read "be happier" because that's my biggest struggle of late. Being happy is really difficult when you have so many thoughts floating around in your head. You are a complete inspiration…seriously, one of the biggest inspirations in my life and I'm so grateful that you share posts like these that really resonate with me.

Thank you!

Taylor Stellhorn

You rock, Carly! I love reading your posts and this one was such an inspiration. You're an excellent writer and I thank you for being so down to earth with your posts!

xo Taylor

Emily Fuller

I absolutely love this post! I'm usually all for making resolutions, but this year I haven't felt so up to it. I've been thinking more about concrete goals I can make, and these are some perfect things to think about throughout 2015. Thank you Carly for another wonderful post!


I really love this post Carly!

I've never been one to make New Year's resolution, mostly because i can never keep them! Setting realistic goals in order to better yourself all year long is a lot more effective! Deciding to be happier and to have more positive thoughts is something that I will definitely work on in 2015!



Reading is reading like you said, but please don't insult "teen lit" as brain candy. I have read many YA that are complex and worth reading.

Jordan Arrigo

I love this post Carly! I think it's smart to not only make resolutions and goals for the new year, but to also reflect on what you did well in the past! I'm definitely guilty of being an unhappy person and plan on reading the book that you recommended in hopes of becoming more positive as I head into my freshman year of college next fall. I also want to get into walking and running more, I really should be walking my dog more anyways, and it seems like a great way to clear the mind!