30 Ways to Change Your Life in 30 Minutes or Less
Life coaches, personal trainers, and career experts show you how to do a 180° in 30 minutes or less.
Overhauling your life is no easy feat. It takes a whole lot of time, effort, and tenacity. However, all major changes begin with a few small adjustments, and there are tons of tiny things you can do every single day to improve your physical and mental well-being. If you're wondering how you can change your life today, you've come to the right place: We consulted life coaches, personal trainers, and career experts to come up with 30 brilliant ways you can change your life in 30 minutes or less. A new and improved you begins now!
Sitting for hours on end—as we all tend to do—can wreak havoc on your body and your life in the long term. But all you need to do to combat that damage is to stretch it out. "Discomfort, muscle pain, and mind-numbing redundancy can all be avoided by taking the time to stretch while breathing properly for 30 minutes," explains licensed medical acupuncturist and life coach Jamie Bacharach. "Full-body stretching will not only protect your body, but it will keep your mind fresh and offer tremendous life improvements when done consistently."
Correct your posture.
Hunching over can cause back pain, make you more prone to injuries, and even result in breathing issues. The good news? The American Chiropractic Association says that "conscious awareness of your own posture and knowing what posture is correct will help you consciously correct yourself." Aim to spend 10 to 15 minutes a day working on correcting your posture using the organization's guidelines for sitting properly, standing properly, and lying down properly.
Call an old friend.
It doesn't take that much time out of your day to phone a friend. And according to Bacharach, doing so can give you a serious mood boost.
"Often times, depression and its related symptoms stem from feelings of loneliness or a lack of purpose. By calling an old friend, you will remind yourself that there are in fact plenty of people who care about you and would be happy to hear from you," she explains.
Or make plans with a friend.
Of course, actually spending time with family and friends takes much more than 30 minutes. However, making plans to meet up is something you can do in a short period of time. Simply having something to look forward to will instantly elevate your mood and make you more motivated to get through mundane tasks.
Lend a helping hand.
It's not all that time-consuming to do one or two acts of kindness every day. And as motivational speaker Len Saunders notes, "the art of 'giving' is always a great step to making oneself a better person." Whether you're holding the door for the person behind you, getting your elderly neighbor some groceries while you're at the store, or dropping off old clothes at a shelter, doing at least one selfless thing every day will help you feel—and actually be—better.
Take a nap.
Taking a nap can help you feel refreshed and reinvigorated. And according to the National Sleep Foundation, all you need is 20 minutes to see benefits like improved energy levels, enhanced concentration, and a more positive attitude. When it comes to napping, less is more, seeing as shorter naps "keep you in the lightest stage of non-REM sleep [and make] it easier for you to get up and go after your snooze session," the foundation notes.
Or take a bath.
A very relaxing way to improve your life in 30 minutes is with a warm bubble bath. "Hot water has amazing health benefits, both physical and mental," explains licensed professional counselor and yoga instructor Elizabeth Schuler. "Not only will a bath ease your sore muscles, help you relax, and reduce inflammation in your body, but it can also combat depression."
Hit the gym.
One of the easiest ways to change yourself from the inside out is with exercise. "The natural endorphins from exercise can radiate positivity into your mind, body, and spirit," explains personal trainer Scott Thompson. And you don't need to spend hours at the gym to see mental and physical results: In a 2012 study published in the American Journal of Physiology, men who exercised for 30 minutes a day saw the same benefits as those who worked out for an hour a day.
Take a walk outside.
"Walking is one of the most beneficial activities to us humans," explains practicing physician Nikola Djordjevic, a medical advisor at HealthCareers. "Our skeleton and muscles are made for walking, and various research shows the different kinds of benefits—from physical to mental—that walking provides." One 2019 study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, for instance, found that walking outside for just 20 minutes a day can significantly lower your levels of cortisol, the so-called stress hormone.
Or just spend some time in nature.
Whether you're picnicking in the park or playing frisbee on the beach, try to get outside for 30 minutes a day. "The vitamin D and endorphin jolt you'll receive by simply breathing in fresh air and taking in the sun's rays can make a tremendous amount of difference," explains Bacharach. In fact, in the same 2019 Frontiers in Psychology study, participants who spent time in nature saw some serious stress-busting benefits, just like those who went for walks.
When you're feeling stressed and overwhelmed, a short meditation session can help you keep calm and carry on. In fact, a 2014 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that just 30 minutes of meditation can have the same impact on anxiety and depression as antidepressants. "You don't have to be in a meditation pose—just in a position in which you're comfortable," says life coach Amy Riordan.
Create an outcome card.
An outcome card is a strategizing tool created by social entrepreneur Dave Mason, co-author of The Size of Your Dreams. It has three components: the goal you wish to achieve; the date you hope to achieve that goal by; and the steps you will take to achieve this goal.
"To make it work, you want to go over your outcome card three or more times per day, including first thing in the morning to set your intentions for the day, last thing at night to really program it into the subconscious, and at least once in the middle of the day," Mason explains. An outcome card is an easy way to keep your life on track—and reading it over a few times a day takes well under 30 minutes.
Do the four-quadrant exercise.
Another life-changing activity you can do in under 30 minutes is what therapist Jacob Kountz calls the "four-quadrant exercise." Here's how to do it:
- Take a piece of paper and draw two lines (one going up and down and the other going across from left to right).
- In quadrant one, write out where you see yourself in five years under the headline "Five-Year Goals."
- In quadrant two, write out what needs to occur in order to achieve your five-year goals under the headline "One-Year Goals."
- In quadrant three, write out what needs to occur in order to achieve your one-year goals under the headline "Three-Month Goals."
- In quadrant four, write out what needs to be completed in order to get closer to your three-month goals under the headline "One-Week Goals."
"If you are willing to take 30 minutes a day to work toward the smaller goals you've planned out, it's much easier to achieve those big five-year goals," says Kountz.
Write down the things you love about yourself.
Whenever you have some time to spare, think about what you like about yourself, suggests career consultant and fulfillment coach Tricia Sitemere. Then, write down some of the traits you love about yourself on Post-it notes, and leave them around the house to find later. "The moment your sticky notes begin to 'blend' in to your surroundings, it's time to go back to your list and write out a fresh batch," Sitemere says.
Incorporating reflection into your day can help you get clarity and peace of mind. "Not only can a journal allow you to get everything out and onto paper, but it can bring you straight into realizations that would otherwise go unnoticed," explains Riordan. Taking a few minutes to write down your thoughts and feelings every day will help you learn, grow, and heal emotionally.
Create a bucket list.
Having things to strive toward makes life all the more bearable. That's why creating a bucket list is one of the best ways to totally transform your life in a short period of time.
"Take 30 minutes to sit down and make a list of everything that you want to accomplish in life," suggests Riordan. "Dream the biggest dreams and the smallest dreams—and keep everyone's opinions out of it. When your list is finished, you'll know exactly what you're searching for. It's a personal roadmap of the future."
Put your phone away.
In one 2013 study of college students published in Computers in Human Behavior, cell phone use was associated with increased anxiety levels, so putting your phone away in increments could seriously help your health in the long run. Sure, it can be hard to detach from your devices, but putting your phone and computer away for even just 30 minutes at a time will do wonders for your well-being. "Leave your phone at home before you go for a walk, out for a meal, or to run an errand," suggests success coach Lisa Michaud.
Even if you don't have hours to completely clean out your house, spending 30 or so minutes on a small space can make a difference. If you're not sure where to start, Keyser suggests beginning with your workspace. "It's scientifically proven that clutter causes stress, and work is stressful enough without the visual of a messy desk," she says.
Recognize negative thoughts.
If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts, take a few minutes to reflect on how you're feeling. "When life becomes stressful, it can dampen happiness and peace of mind," explains licensed counselor Erica Wiles, mental health writer at Compare Life Insurance. Learning to recognize intrusive thoughts and stop them in their tracks is "helpful in gaining perspective" and in order to avoid falling into a dark place.
Take time to reflect when you get home.
Take a few minutes once you get home to really reflect on your day—it doesn't have to be a full 30 minutes, either. "Ask yourself what you appreciated about the day, what you learned or realized, and how you could have made your day even better. Celebrate any progress you made and what you're proud of," says Michaud. "Let go of the negative and remember: Tomorrow is a fresh start."
Talk about the things you're grateful for with friends and family members.
A little bit of gratitude can go a long way. In fact, according to entrepreneur Lisa Swift-Young, author of Pause 2 Praise, "a great way to make your life better in just three minutes is by forming a gratitude circle with two or three of your family members or close friends." This circle doesn't have to be literal; Swift-Young notes that she and her adult children send gratitude texts to each other every day. "It's super simple and a great way to stay in touch with loved ones," she says.
Take up gardening.
If there's any hobby you should fill your free time with, it's gardening. Yes, tending to a small patch of flowers, vegetables, or herbs for a few minutes a day can help you heal from the inside out. One 2013 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that gardening reduces one's risk of a heart attack and stroke by as much as 30 percent.
Give yourself a scalp massage.
When you're feeling tired and need a quick energy boost, go ahead and give yourself a scalp massage. "It will give you a pep in your step and [in your] mind," says San Diego-based health and wellness coach Lisa Yee. She recommends using essential oils like eucalyptus or peppermint, both of which have been recognized for their calming and regenerative effects.
Learn a new language.
As a 2014 study published in Annals of Neurology notes, learning a new language is a great way to keep your mind sharp. And with apps like Babbel that offer 10- to 15-minute-long sessions, becoming bilingual is more possible than ever these days. You can do your daily class during your morning commute, before bed, or while you work. Within a few weeks, you'll find that your memory is sharper and that your language skills have improved immensely.
Practice mindful eating.
During mealtime, try not to eat inattentively. According to intuitive nutritionist Emily Van Eck, "mindful eating can make a huge difference in your relationship to food." While you eat, spend a few extra minutes really "paying attention to the flavors, textures, aromas, and tastes," she says. "This allows you to tune in to your inner fullness and satiety meters instead of following rules about how much to eat or how big your portions should be."
Drink some water.
Revenge Body trainer Corey Calliet says drinking water is "one of the simplest things you can do to improve your body's vitality." To be specific, the Mayo Clinic suggests about 15.5 cups of water a day for men and about 11.5 cups a day for women, so aim to take a one-minute water break every hour or so.
"The positive effects of being properly hydrated set in almost immediately," Calliet adds. "Aside from keeping the body running smoothly, getting your recommended intake of water aids in the recovery, detoxification, and elimination processes within the body."
Update your LinkedIn profile.
If your improvement goals are tied to your career, then good news: There are ways to set yourself up for success in under 30 minutes. "If you spend 15 or 30 minutes tuning up your LinkedIn profile, recruiters can find you," explains career consultant Maureen Crawford Hentz. Some things she recommends doing to get noticed include joining groups, adding keywords to your profile, following companies you like, freshening up your headline and summary, adding links to your profile, asking for recommendations, and getting endorsements.
Go to sleep 30 minutes earlier.
Every minute of shut-eye counts, and so going to sleep just 20 or 30 minutes earlier than usual could make you both stronger and healthier. "Your body heals and recovers during sleep. It may seem counterintuitive to 'sleep' on your goals, but without adequate sleep, the body cannot recover," says Calliet.
And create a relaxing bedtime routine.
How you get ready to go to bed is just as important as when your head hits the pillow. So what should you be doing with your final 30 minutes of being awake? "Dedicate that half-hour to winding down with a book, music, or meditation," suggests empowerment coach Julie Wood. "As you prepare to fall asleep, review all the positive things that happened during the day or repeat positive affirmations to yourself. This is a powerful thing to do before falling asleep because it imprints positivity into your unconscious and subconscious mind as you sleep."
Wake up earlier and build some "me" time into your morning routine.
What you do first thing in the morning sets the tone for the rest of your day. So, if you want every day to be pleasant and peaceful, Wood recommends waking up 30 minutes earlier than you currently do to "do something you enjoy."
"Practice meditation, do yoga, exercise, write, draw, or read an inspirational book," she says. "This sets you up to be centered and inspired for your day."