photo: iStock

I’ve learned that life can be easy or difficult, depending on how you view it. You truly have the power to shape your personal life and to attract positive things in your path. Times indeed get tough and challenges tend to sprout up along your journey, but if you take a deep breath and arm yourself with the right dose of good stuff, you’ll start to see that your life will change for the better. This happened for me. Here are five habits that have made a noticeable difference in my life:

Gratitude: I start and end each day by expressing gratitude. I first light incense. I usually use the patchouli scent. It’s known for helping to uplift your mood and making you feel relaxed. Some people use it for attracting money, fertility, and protection, which are also pluses. Once the incense is lit, I say "thank you for today" out loud. 

Sometimes I even go through a list of things and people I’m thankful for — like my family, friends, and career, or even just having the basics like food and a place to live. It really sets the tone for the day and helps me not to take things for granted. At night it’s the same and it helps me fall asleep fast. 

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Exercise: Whether it’s long walks with my dog, blasting hip-hop and dancing for an hour in my apartment, or hitting up a group workout, I make sure to exercise daily or at least — when I’m in a crunch — every other day. It helps release stress and it gives me so much energy. I make myself go in the mornings because I know I’ll try to avoid it in the evenings. Besides getting in shape, it also helps you sleep better and feel better. 

Make a goal list: I make a goal list every week of what I want to achieve on a personal and career level. It can be something as simple like trying a yoga class to creating a business proposal and sending it out to prospective clients. Usually I write my goals in a journal, in the notes section of my phone, and lately I’ve been typing them up and putting them up around my apartment so that I have reminders everywhere. I check them off as I go, and I'm patient, which is key. Whatever doesn’t get done is moved onto the following week. Overall, it helps you stay on top of your dreams.

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Spend time with friends and family: Everyone is so busy with their schedules, but that’s not an excuse not to spend time with loved ones. Pencil it into your calendar and keep your appointments. It’s important to dedicate at least one day in the week to doing something with them whether taking a yoga class together or going to lunch. Life is better with friends and family by your side. 

Make “me time": The person we often end up neglecting the most is ourself, so it's crucial to make "me time." Whether it’s pampering yourself with a manicure or treating yourself to a luxurious massage, investing in yourself keeps you happy.

It’s been five years since I started implementing all of these rituals in my life and they've impacted me on so many levels. For starters, I used to be a freelance writer and had to teach middle school to make ends meet. I wanted to have my own business for so long, where I could be creative and write, setting my own schedule and traveling. I didn’t know how it was going to happen, but I wrote it down and it manifested. Today, I’m living my goal, and you can too. 

Annie Vazquez is a Founding Creator and fashion blogger. When she's not writing for, you can find her at