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The average person gets 25,915 days over the course of their life.

It has become cliché to tell people to “make the most of every day.” We see the term plastered onto billboards, standing out from glossy magazine covers, and spoken at us from the pages of self-help books.

But too often, we don’t take this idea seriously. We labor under the illusion that we are immortal, that we’ll make the most of tomorrow. But as we wait for tomorrow to come, we forget that our bank of 25,915 chances is slowly running out. It isn’t until that number has dwindled into the hundreds that many of us begin trying to make our days all that they can be.

But if you start now, while you still have thousands of days rather than hundreds or tens, you stand to have so much more joy in your life. You can make the most of each day by living intentionally, by making conscious decisions that take you—and others—toward happiness.

Here’s how.

Wake Up Early

To make the best of your day, you need to first make sure that you have a day.

Some of us are night-owls, true. There’s no denying that it can be nice to hide away within the night, when all is quiet and calm and there is no one to pester you. But this should be the exception rather than the rule.

Life happens during the day, and it’s important that you’re there to experience it. This is when many of your friends and family are awake, when big decisions are made, when businesses are buying and selling. This is when you can participate in daily human life, interacting with those you love and care for.

And that is what life’s all about.

Set Small, Daily Goals

Many fail to make the most of their days because they operate without a plan. Or, just as bad, they operate with too big a plan.

They key to getting the most productivity out of your days is the setting of small, manageable goals. If one of your goals is to become a published author, for instance, your daily goal shouldn’t be “Finish my novel.” That’s way too big, and you’ll be overwhelmed and discouraged in no time. Instead your goal should be “Write one chapter.” That’s manageable, and once you achieve it, you’ll be motivated to keep going the next day, and the next, and so on.

Once you’ve broken your goals down into small, manageable chunks, write them down. Don’t leave them hanging in the air like nebulous clouds—they’ll evaporate! Make them visible. Post them on the wall.

Keep your goals small, written-down, and right in front of you, and you’ll achieve more each day than you might expect.

Be Present

Most people misspend their allotment of 25,915 days because they simply aren’t present. When they’re in day 15,000, their minds are in day 18,000, or stuck on some event from day 10,000. This means that they cannot enjoy or participate in the present day.

You can remedy this by intentionally being present, which is nothing more than the act of living in the moment. This means saying no to those traumatic past events which tend to monopolize your present. It means saying no to those potentially tragic events of the future that are taking up your time. You don’t live in the past or the future. Your loved ones don’t live there. Your passions don’t live there.

Why should you?

When those thoughts break down the doors of your mind and rush in, get rid of them by intentionally switching to another topic. Focus on something in your immediate area—the texture of a pillow or the click of a pen. Focus hard on that one thing, and let it bring you back into the present.

Next, start thinking of all the things you are grateful for right now. List them out on paper, if it helps. This will not only help you to remain present, but it will help you to remain happily present.

Living in the moment can change your life. Make an effort to be present.

Prioritize in a New Way

“I don’t have the time,” has become the frustrated refrain of millions.

It’s also a lie.

The way we prioritize our lives determines how well we make the most of our days. While many of us cling to the above phrase, there is a better way. When you come across an activity you’d like to do, but feel you can’t because of time constraints, try telling yourself this, instead.

“It’s not a priority to me.”

Instead of placing the blame on something outside of your control, you’re owning your decision. It’s not that you don’t have time to exercise. It’s just not a priority for you. You don’t lack the time to spend with your kids. Your children aren’t your priority.

Feels different, doesn’t it? By changing this one phrase, you can live more intentionally by reminding yourself that you choose what you do and do not have time for.

Now that you know, choose carefully.

Follow Your Passion

People will tell you what you can and cannot do. But you’re going to stop listening to those voices that limit you.

There are two main regrets that the dying express, and one of them is that they wish they had maintained the courage to live a life true to themselves, rather than living the life others expected of them.

We each live in a web of expectations, but we are not those expectations. We are us—unique individuals with wildly differing life paths. Just because your parents were lawyers doesn’t mean that’s your path, too. Just because your friends think that it’s unwise to move across the country and start a new business doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t.

It’s up to you to assess the risks of pursuing your dreams and passions, and to act on them as you see fit. Don’t let your days begin to run out before you decide to start a family or go after your dream job or tell that one special someone how in love with him or her you are.

Do it now. You may swing and miss, but you at the very least, you’ll learn from the experience, and won’t live with the regret.

Express Your Love

Do you know what the other biggest regret of the dying is? It’s that they wish they had stayed in touch with those they loved.

Sometimes, we let friends, family, and even spouses drift away over time—we stop making them a priority, allowing things like work and hobbies to take first place in our lives.

But those things aren’t the point of life. Human existence is about love, and the mutual expression of it is, above all else, what makes the most of our days.

So don’t allow yourself to drift away from those you care for—tell them how much they mean to you. Do it every day, in one form or another. This can look like a simple text or phone call to a friend, or like a beautiful home-cooked dinner for your spouse. There are many ways to communicate love.

Love the people in your life on every one of your 25,915 days. That’s what makes them worth living.

Living Well

Whatever you might think, you’ve got a lot to live for. There are people who love you. There are dreams to go after. There’s a whole world to explore.

Take what you’ve learned here and make the most of it all. It’s the most important decision you’ll ever make.

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