Either you left 2016 believing it was a great year or a pathetic one. Whichever it may have been for you, it's over and done and the new year is here. With that comes endless opportunities for personal change and growth--the possibilities are plenty and options are endless. As we welcome 2017, try to implement the following steps to brighten your life and ensure an incredible year.

1. Take the time to learn and educate yourself on important issues.

Whether it's a class at college you think looks interesting, or a topic you want to feel well-versed in, do it. Research everything. Take responsibility for initiating knowledge in your peers and others around you. Racial injustice, white supremacy, women's rights, global warming, and everything else under the sun--where do you stand and why?

2. Invest in yourself.

You'll never regret taking the time to create a better you.

3. Find a hobby.

Maybe it's an old hobby you want to rekindle. Maybe it's something you've always wanted to try but have been too afraid of in the past. Find something proactive to put your time and energy towards and you'll reap the benefits.

4. Save more money.

Not even for anything specific, but save just to save. You'll feel more stable. Create a budget and set yourself up for a successful and financially sound future. Even $20 per month makes a difference in the long run.

5. Set realistic and attainable goals.

There's nothing bad or negative that can result from making goals (big or small) for yourself. Anything to help drive you that much closer to your dreams is worth the energy and effort in 2017.

6. Take care of your mind, body, and spirit.

Go to yoga. Read a book. Get a massage. Sweat it out. Go to church. Light a candle. Relax.

7. Live your life for you--not for anyone else.

How many times have you ended up doing something not because you wanted to, but because someone else wanted you to? Or because you knew it would make someone else happy--even though it didn't make you happy? Cut that out. It's time to put yourself, your needs, and your desires first.

8. Love your body in all its stages and forms.

Self-hate will never be trendy. Take a long hard look in the mirror and remember that you are more than just the body you see in your reflection.

9. Eliminate negative people and energy from your life.

If they aren't making your life better, get rid of them. Don't give your time to people who bring you down. Free yourself from negative people and you'll notice a sure difference.

10. Spend more time outdoors.

Have you ever taken a moment to just look around you? Take in the green grass and blue sky and have it take your breath away? Appreciate the beauty around you. Bask in it and soak it all in.

11. Make the effort to reach out to family and friends more often.

Taking the time to send your grandmother a quick text saying you love her isn't hard nor time consuming. Take a moment out of your busy day and let your loved ones know they're on your mind.

12. Be more in tune with your emotional and mental needs.

Talk to yourself. Be aware and ask yourself why you're upset, why you're hurt, or why you're angry. Pinpoint the cause of your emotions and learn how to take positive steps forward to reach solutions. Solutions lead to break-throughs and break-throughs lead to life changes.

13. Take risks.

Scare yourself. Growth doesn't happen in your comfort zone.

14. Put yourself in situations that stimulate growth.

Get uncomfortable. Don't be afraid to mess up, fall over, and fail. You will learn more by putting yourself in uncomfortable situations than staying safe in your bubble. To stay the same, or to grow?

15. Be more patient with yourself and others.

You're not perfect, and neither is anyone else. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Give everyone the time they need to grow, heal, learn, and prosper. We are all traveling through life on our own timelines.

16. Take a step toward becoming a healthier you.

Buy a gym membership, eat more fruits and vegetables, and drink more water. Baby steps still count. You can create goals and chase them down through your commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

17. Be a good human.

Just do it, it's not hard.

18. Be real with yourself and others.

At the end of the day, your honesty will earn the respect of others. Instead of telling them what they want to hear, tell them what they need to hear. Same with yourself.

19. Don't sweat the small stuff.

Keep perspective. Don't let things that don't matter control your mindset or your life. Will whatever you're worrying about matter one year from today? If not, great. If so, take it one day a time.

20. Eliminate self-sabotage.

Don't be your own enemy. Don't stop pursuing your dreams and goals out of fear. Nothing can take you down.

21. Be a beacon of light and positivity.

Who doesn't love to be around someone with a smile that brightens an entire room? Be someone others love to spend time with because of your spirit and positive energy.

22. Make effort to break a bad habit.

Commit to making a change that's going to benefit you. Spend three weeks putting effort toward breaking a habit that's detrimental to your health or mindset--that's all it takes.

23. Pray--to anything, or anyone.

And if you don't want to, that's okay too.

24. Adjust your attitude.

Are you a glass half-full or glass half-empty kind of person? Take a moment to evaluate how you view the world and what happens around you.

25. Be more grateful.

Say "thank you" more often. Focus on the people and things you're blessed to have. Appreciate them without taking their presence for granted.