Looking back on certain times in our lives we all can probably imagine that we hoped we had done certain things differently. There are changes we wish to make and chances we'd like to take. Often this time when people consider making life changes occurs around the new year. But any time of year is a good time to make changes, so why wait?

There are a variety of ways to make your life the way you want to live it, and it's up to you to take the initiative to make it that way! Whether you make small changes or big ones, change can be one of the best aspects of life no matter how terrifying they may appear at first. Changes can help you get out of your comfort zone or help you live a happier, healthier life that you didn't realize how much you wanted until you had it.

Going to college is a massive life change! And with it comes a lot of new independence and decisions where we find out more of who we are and what kind of life we want as well as need to live. So, as each semester becomes another, take time to reflect on what went well before and helped you find your bit of "home" away from home and what didn't, then act on it.

Already going into my second semester of college I have realized a lot about myself and my lifestyle that I love and that I need to tweak. I'm sure I'm not the only one that has trouble adjusting to new situations, and with the change of the semester, it will take me a while to get back into the swing of things. Here are just some of the things I'm changing going into this semester and easy changes you could even apply to yourself:

1. Be optimistic and enthusiastic about classes!

It's difficult to become engaged in classes you find no care or meaning for, so when scheduling classes for a new semester think about finding a professor you think you'd enjoy learning from, classes with topics you're interested in, and/or scheduling classes with times that won't lead to stressful weeks. A big thing for me with this point is to become less pessimistic about classes before I get into them. Many people start stressing from looking at a syllabus but don't get the full picture or fully grasp how the class will work and will assume the worst.

So my advice (which I'm trying to listen to as well) is to take a deep breath and wait to see how the class starts. Focusing on at least one aspect that highlights a positive aspect of the class already puts you in a better mindset for a good semester instead of dreading a class you have two or three or even four times a week! Being positive and optimistic doesn't have to stop at your classes, it can involve the people in your life, your mindset. Do what you need to do to surround yourself with good vibes and get rid of the negativity that drags us all down!

2. Stay organized.

Having a planner seriously can save you - highly recommend! Don't be that student that forgets about homework assignments, quizzes, or test dates because you didn't write them down! It is so helpful to be able to see all your work for the week and be able to plan around how much homework you're expecting on certain days. Also, isn't crossing things out just so satisfying or gratifying after a long day?!

3. Plan time for yourself!

Life has a way of taking over. College has a way of taking over. Don't become so consumed by working and focusing all your energy on a class that you forget to live and do things for yourself! Take time to relax a bit each day or enjoy one of your hobbies or find new hobbies! Becoming wrapped up on a tight schedule of classes, homework, studying, repeat can make life stressful and exhausting. Shake it up every once in a while and go live! Maybe stick to some of your New Year's Resolutions for a change!

4. Stick to a workout plan.

Working out is a great way to keep a happy and healthy life. You don't have to go crazy and become a gym-junkie, but find a couple times a week to go for a run or do yoga or join a group. It's a fun way to take a break from school - and life - stress and it makes you feel good afterward too.

5. Get out more!

This change is something I'm working on most. It's easy to be caught up and worry so much about school that your routine traps you into doing the same thing and going to the same places and seeing the same people every day. It becomes monotonous. It can become boring. While I'm not very outgoing, I still enjoy socializing and actually engaging in human life rather than being stuck in a small room. So my advice: find a study spot outside of your room, or your dorm for that matter, just to get new scenery, and spend more time hanging out with friends or meeting new friends to make the semester go by less painfully. Not only getting out more and exploring campus but get out of your comfort zone a bit more!

6. Show some spirit!

Going to school events are a fantastic way to embrace a new community and find some entertainment to bond over with friends all while supporting fellow students and your school! Go check out some sporting events (volleyball has become a recent favorite). Go see a theater production (trust me you won't regret it).

7. Less screen time.

This point goes hand in hand with many of these other changes. Just spend less time on your phone - go live in the real world, go find out more about yourself. Aside from staying in touch with others, spending hours daily on your phone or watching various shows aren't doing much for us.

8. Read before bed.

Reading before bed has so many benefits and, as a reader, I cannot stress this point enough. I actually started this change at the end of last semester. By reading for an hour before going to bed instead of being consumed by technology, sleeping is more enjoyable. Your mind is more ready to go to sleep and you get the satisfaction of reading throughout the semester instead of letting homework prevent you from being able to read during the semester. Just allows set aside that time for reading - it doesn't even have to be for an hour. But do your body and mind a favor by shutting down from technology and opening a book before bed.

9. FaceTime friends and family more!

It's always a good idea to keep those you love and miss close, especially being hundreds or thousands of miles away from them for months on end. I could ramble about this point forever, but long story short, I miss my people so I'm going to bug them!

10. Use less plastic.

It's easy to get in the habit of taking meals from the dining halls to-go and eat in your dorm, but it adds up. All the plastic and trash that compiles from processed foods and take out containers are easy to fill trash bags from campus dining halls. I quickly became aware of how much I was using nonrenewable products from my food and it didn't seem right. So eating more in the dining halls with their washable plates and silverware is an easy fix, or even having your own reusable bowls and silverware in your dorm can easily reduce the amount of plastic you're using on a daily basis. And recycle what you do use! Not only should we make our own lives better, but we can help make the earth better too.

11. Drink more water!

Shouldn't we all do this more?! This is a constant life change I try to make. It's more challenging than it seems, though self-explanatory.

12. Enjoy the good weather!

Soak up all the sunny days when they visit! I know I spend too much time inside when it is a perfectly nice day out. We all need to become more comfortable in nature. Go get some Vitamin D. I miss those days as a kid literally spending every waking minute playing outside or being outside enough that I had to be forced to come inside.

13. Take everything one day at a time!

New changes and a new semester can be overwhelming! Don't stress too much about the future. Live in the moment more. Make mistakes and be okay with not being perfect. Be okay with being perfectly imperfect! When we always focus on planning for the future we miss out on living in the present and embracing the little moments we get each day to truly enjoy ourselves!

All these changes can easily be applied to any lifestyle, you don't have to be a college student like me! It's all in the little things that make life the best, so why not make some small changes to make your life even better. Go out and thrive because it's your life, so to quote Hannah Montana: "Life's what you make it, so let's make it right!"

(And to all college students: Good luck this semester!)