When I woke up on New Year’s Day last year, I felt mentally, physically and spiritually bankrupt.

When I rolled out of bed on January 1st, I was alone, hungover (from drinking at a party for one) and jaded. Pure jealousy coursed through my veins as I stared at my Instagram feed that morning. I instantly compared myself to my friends and mentors sharing inspirational quotes and goals. I felt so behind.

I yearned for the desire to want to create my dream life and resolutions. After having a particularly tough year (in romantic relationships, business ventures and with my health) I felt like I couldn’t get ahead. I felt like I was plagued by breakdown after breakdown. So on the first day of the new year, I felt like I had to start my life again. 

Luckily, I had done just enough personal development work in the past to remember the quote, “you breakdown before you breakthrough.” Since I felt like I had literally nothing to lose, I was open to learning and testing out new ways of living. Through trial and error, in the past year I’ve discovered two free tools for completely upgrading your life.

Today, I am truly living my best life as a sober minimalist vegan. I am in the best shape of my life (including becoming a brown belt in Krav Maga), my acne prone skin has cleared up, I no suffer from hangovers, everything I own can fit into two suitcases, and perhaps most excitingly, I have fallen in love with an amazing man. Truthfully, sharing this feels just like the tip of the iceberg.

So if you’re looking to make lifestyle changes in the new year, I’d love to share with you how I did it.

Create Monthly Challenges

Taking on monthly challenges has been my #1 tool to change my life. My first challenge that I truly committed to was #MeatlessMarch. I spent the month choosing to focus on a plant-based diet, and learning as much as I could about the vegan movement. After the challenge was over, I didn’t switch to veganism right away. My curiosity was piqued, but it took two more months of research and testing out if I could sustainably live this way before making the switch in May. I did take on a challenge every month though two of my other favorite challenges were #SoberOctober and #NoCoffeeNovember. Sober October became a lifestyle change, though the day after my coffee challenge was over, I started drinking it again – only this time only on weekends. When you take on a monthly challenge, I recommend starting with something you’re genuinely curious about. Do not force a challenge on yourself. Your challenge can be about food, sleep, meditation or exercise, or anything that helps you feel a little bit better.

Use Social Media to Your Advantage

I’ll call a spade a spade: I’m addicted to the ‘gram. Instagram has been one of my greatest teachers this year, as well as one of my best accountability partners. When I took on monthly challenges, I always shared and blogged about them online. This lead to people in real life, asking me about my challenges and getting curious about why I was doing them. The ultimate advantage was that I found the people in my life were holding me accountable to what I said I was going to do. No matter how lofty your challenge is, sharing your progress will start to build your confidence and create results. For example, weight loss is a big goal for millions of people in the new year. In a recent study published in Translational Behavioural Medicine, participants who shared their weight loss progress on social media lost more weight than those who kept their progress private. Sharing publicly can feel scary and vulnerable at first, though it soon becomes fun when you start to experience results!

Start 2018 the Right Way:

Only 8% of people achieve their new year’s resolutions (according to Forbes), so why not set yourself up for success this year by creating challenges that build momentum, instead of pressure-filled goals that create high expectations? 

With low expectations (in the form of a challenge) and ensuring the changes you want to make are fun, you may just completely revolutionize your life.