Even if today sucks, that doesn’t mean tomorrow has to. Here are seven things you can do right now to make tomorrow a better day.
Some days suck. This is true no matter who you are, where you work, how much money you make, or how many good relationships you have in your life. Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do to control or manage your state of affairs to recover the day, and you’re left riding out the bad day until it’s over. You can’t change the past, and there’s usually not a lot you can do to change your present circumstances, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that you can’t change how tomorrow will play out.
If you’re having a bad day, or if you just want tomorrow to be even better, there are seven things you can do right now to make it happen:
1. Reflect. Stop what you’re doing and take 15 to 20 minutes to reflect on your day. Turn off or get rid of any distractions that might interfere with your ability to think clearly and deliberately, and isolate yourself if necessary. Don’t judge your actions harshly or let yourself slip into negative thoughts like “today was the worst.” Instead, think back on everything that went wrong–as well as everything that went right. Appreciate what went right, and try to analyze what went wrong. What can you do differently tomorrow? What should you do the same? Again, your goal here isn’t to reward or punish yourself–it’s to direct yourself to better actions tomorrow.
2. Meditate. While you’re isolated and distraction-free, set aside some time to meditate–it’s simpler than you might think. Your goal here is to free your mind of any wandering thoughts, distractions, and general clutter that can stress you out and reinforce your negative feelings. Any time a new thought enters your mind, visualize yourself letting it go and return to a state of mindfulness. It might take some practice, but the physical and mental benefits are numerous. You’ll feel better, you’ll think more clearly, and you’ll be less stressed–all of which should carry over at least partially into tomorrow.
3. Exercise and eat healthy. Hopefully you still have at least one meal and some spare time left over in your day. Choose healthy, nutritionally-rich foods for the remainder of your meals–including whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Fruits and vegetables are always good choices. This will give you more energy and a better mood to start your day with, giving you a huge head start. Exercise too, even in the evening, can help you relieve stress and give you more energy. It will also help you sleep better, which means you’ll wake up tomorrow morning feeling more refreshed and more fully rested.
4. Prioritize. Sacrifice some time tonight to dedicate to work items. You don’t have to actually work on anything–instead, your job will be to prioritize things for tomorrow. Make a short list of everything you have to do, everything you hope to do, and everything that might be nice to do; these will serve as your three main priority categories. Then, decide what you’re going to start on first, and how you’re going to arrange your day for the remainder of your tasks. Be sure to leave some time for unexpected new assignments and responsibilities.
5. Establish break and silent times. Your mind needs periods of rest to decompress and relieve itself of stress. Otherwise, you’ll work yourself to the brink and end up feeling terrible–even if you squeeze in an extra hour of work time. Right now, schedule at least two breaks for yourself, and make them a high priority. Don’t let yourself work through them or sacrifice them for any reason. Those will serve as your decompression time, giving you something to look forward to and giving you a chance to keep yourself in a healthy frame of mind all day. “Silent time,” with no active forms of communication running in the background, is also valuable.
6. Set your alarm. Plan to wake up early tomorrow, and set your alarm accordingly. Starting your day even 15 minutes earlier than you normally would will give you more time to get ready, less trouble with traffic during your commute, and a greater sense of control over your life. If you can get up an hour early or more and dedicate some time to meditating, exercising, or making a healthy breakfast, do it–but set a reasonable goal for yourself. Trying to get up early and failing can be a stressful and frustrating way to start the day, leaving you feeling rushed and defeating the purpose of the exercise.
7. Commit to having a better day. This is far more important than it seems. How you feel about and react to the world depends largely on your frame of mind when experiencing things. If you’re feeling impatient, angry, and like you’re having the worst day ever, a traffic jam is going to seem incredibly frustrating. If you set out thinking that the day is beautiful and that nothing can keep you down, a traffic jam might seem like a good opportunity to listen to that new album you’ve been meaning to hear. Make a commitment to yourself, right now, that tomorrow will be a better day, and invest in that belief. You’ll be amazed what an impact it has on your outlook.
Don’t procrastinate these items, or you’ll either forget them or lose the opportunity to accomplish them. With the right attitude, a solid plan, and the right tools at your disposal, even a chaotic day can become manageable. Don’t let one bad day ruin the rest of your week–take action now to make sure tomorrow becomes a better day.