Life can sometimes be tough, and January can bring that out in spades. Little things--like this morning I walked my son to school at 7:45 and it was still dark out. Talk about depressing. While we can't convince our families that we should spend six months of the year in the northern hemisphere and six months in the southern, there are a lot of other things we can do to make life a bit easier. Sometimes, it even turns out, you're doing things that make yourself miserable. You don't have to. Here are 10 ideas of areas you can fix.

1. Listening to your boss.

So many people simply ignore their bosses when the boss tells them her preferences. Somehow we categorize the "small" things as "not important things." This can make your boss annoyed, and hence your life more miserable than it has to be. Make a goal to actually listen to what your boss says and follow her cues. Suddenly, you'll be the favorite.

2. Money, money, money.

Remember that old saying: Spending $50 more per month than you earn equals misery and spending $50 less per month than you earn equals happiness? This is true. Finances are tight for a lot of people, but going into debt makes you more miserable. If you don't have the money today, what makes you think you'll have it tomorrow? Don't buy it if you can't pay cash. (The exceptions are a house, reliable transportation, and an education that will bring you more income than you would get without it.)

3. Time to forgive and forget.

Do you hold a grudge? Let it go. People often confuse forgiveness with needing to be friends with the person again. That's not the case. You can forgive someone and never speak to that person again. Stop making yourself miserable by letting someone take up space in your head.

4. Stirring up the drama.

Do you have friends that post things on Facebook like "I hate all the drama," and then go on to say something gossipy or drama oriented? Yep. Participating in the drama creates more drama. Have a slacker co-worker? Ignore her. Have a boss that is nitpicky? Do what she says. See Bob and Sue eating lunch together? Assume it's a business lunch. Gossiping and looking for the bad in people only makes life worse.

5. Clean your proverbial sink.

FlyLady tells people to get their houses in order by starting with their kitchen sinks. Once that's done, it's easier to clean up everything else. Does your life have a messy area that needs to be cleaned up? It may well be your kitchen sink. It might be your email inbox. It might be your relationship with your mother. Whatever it is, not cleaning it up is making you miserable and impeding your ability to get the rest of your life in order. Go! Clean it up.

6. Plan.

Feel like you're stuck in a rut? Want 2016 to be different? Then make a plan. A lack of a plan means you go where others push you. With a plan, you go where you want to go. Write it down. Figure out how to get there. One good way to accomplish your plan is to find a mentor who is currently where you want to be. Want to create your own startup? Talk to people who have done this. Want a promotion? Set up an informational interview with someone who is doing what you want to do. Want your marriage to be happier? Talk with someone who has been married for 40 years. See what they did to get to where they are. Ask specific questions.

7. Health.

We talk a lot about wellness programs, and lots of businesses implement them. But what are you doing about your own health? Today is probably the biggest day of the year for people to start diets--the first Monday of the New Year. Be a cliche and jump on the wagon. Don't say "I'm going to run a marathon, lose 50 pounds, and eat only perfectly balanced meals made of food exclusively purchased from Whole Foods." First of all, you'll blow that money thing (see above). Second, you'll overwhelm yourself. Pick an area you need to improve in and start on that. Maybe it's adding more protein to your breakfast. Maybe it's cutting back on caffeine. Maybe it's going to the gym twice a week. You'll feel better.

8. Honesty.

Are you hiding things from others? Talking behind people's backs? Lying to your significant other, friends, or co-workers? All this dishonesty, which started because you thought it would make your life easier, has backfired on you, and now your life is a complicated mess. Try honesty. It might be a bit difficult at first, but it will make your life much easier in the long run. (Hint: Being honest doesn't mean walking up to people and telling them they should lose weight or that you never liked them. That falls into the drama category.)

9. Help someone out.

Remember how grouchy Ebenezer Scrooge was? Of course you do, because you watched A Christmas Carol just a few weeks ago. He was miserable because he thought only of himself. Start thinking of other people. Offer to mentor someone. Buy someone's groceries. Do the dishes when it's your spouse's turn. Donate to a worthy cause. Be nice! It will bring you happiness.

10. Find something beautiful each day.

January can be particularly hard if you live in a cold climate. Dark, cold, gray, blech. Look for the positive every day. There's something out there that is beautiful. Perhaps it is Christmas lights still hanging. Perhaps you notice flowers in someone's windowsill. Perhaps it's watching someone tie a child's shoe. Look for those things. Once you start looking, you'll see more and more of them, and your miserable day will become a happy one.

Published on: Jan 4, 2016