Think back to a year ago, a month ago, or even a week ago, and ask yourself one question:
"Am I better off?"
It's human nature to have the urge to better yourself and strive to live your "best life," but what exactly does that mean? Your best life won't be the same as someone else's so it's important to acknowledge that while it might take you a few months to reach your fullest potential, it may take a few years for the person standing next to you to be in the same spot. Progress isn't competitive, remember that.
Reflect on the kind of person you were, the one you are, and the one you want to be. Use this as framework to help establish goals and checkpoints along the way. However, you can't move forward by staying stuck in your unhealthy tendencies. By asking yourself if you're "better off," you can recognize toxic behaviors and mindsets and be able to improve after learning from them. With every obstacle and decision you encounter, find your "best yes." We can often become overwhelmed and feel the need to commit to everything that may present itself to us, even if it may hurt us in the end. By finding your "best yes," you eliminate the things that won't be beneficial in the long run and allow yourself to take a breath.
Evaluate the people in your life; are they helping you on this journey? Or are they simply anchored, dragging you down to their level because they don't care to see you rise? We tend to believe that just because we hold someone dear to our hearts, they would never do anything to harm us. We can unfortunately become blinded by that unconditional love and fail to see the cracks within our personal relationships. Surround yourself with individuals who not only root for your success, but are there working alongside you.
After spending a weekend at a retreat for my university, I was advised to take some time out of my day, journal, and make a list of three things I was grateful for. We were taught that those who followed this plan tended to have a better night's sleep and have less stress in their life, so what did I do? I opened up a notebook and thanked my lucky stars; my friends supporting me throughout my various freakouts, being able to make others laugh, or even having the chance to go to college at all. Disconnect from the constant buzz of the world and just look back on not only all the amazing opportunities you've had, but the bad and unfortunate times as well. Be thankful that you can move past failures and utilize them to help shape rather than break you.
If you could live by one phrase for the rest of your life, "Move forward" wouldn't be a bad place to start. More than enough we hold on to past anger and allow it to boil, slowly transforming us into someone we can’t recognize. We're all guilty of being passive-aggressive or petty and sometimes we ENJOY doing so, but are we gaining anything, or actually just losing? These common traits place us farther and farther away from that future self we envision. Are you fine being stuck in constant resentment, or would you rather come up for air and start fresh? Nothing is accomplished through holding grudges, allow the past to settle and move forward, focus on YOUR actions and decisions rather than someone else's. Mistakes are bound to be made, but they don't justify the poor reaction to them.
So the question still stands: "Are you better off?"
No one can answer that for you, and sometimes we can barely respond to it ourselves, but seeking an answer in itself proves that you're heading in the right direction. There's a plethora of things to take into account when working towards your "best life," hundreds of tiny details to change and hold to a higher standard. Just know that right now, you are enough. Don't compare your success to others, know that everyone is wired for the world in a different manner and that they're probably just as nervous as you are.
Being "better off" isn't predictable, it isn't something you can set a date for or schedule, it happens based on you and you only. The more you work towards developing a mindset that keeps you open to learning and growing, the greater you will feel. Strive to be at least 10% better than the day before, let that 10% guide you to see that this is YOUR life and it can be wonderful and great, but it all starts with just one question.