The reality is that there is no magic formula for achieving the best version of you. But we can bring ourselves closer to the mark by living in alignment with who we truly are in life. When we act and live authentically, we can unmute our inner voice and live a happier and healthier life.

Admittedly, it’s not always easy to unlock your better self and to listen to that inner voice. But fortunately, there are some steps you can take to get moving in the right direction.

Ask for what you want.  If you don’t ask, you won’t get! Understand that folks are not mind readers. When you make your wishes known, you make yourself accountable. A recent study found that four out of five women find it ‘extremely difficult’ to express concerns and make clear, concise and straightforward requests.

The reality is that advocating for our wants, needs, and ambitions falls squarely at our own busy feet. So, if you find yourself feeling frustrated, resentful, or overwhelmed, take 100% responsibility for addressing whatever is weighing you down. And if the thought of asking for help makes you feel guilty, consider that the more requests being made of you, the more you need to make of others. Making your own needs a priority is the most loving thing you can do…FOR YOU! So, enough with the guilt. Your needs are no less important than anyone else’s, so make them known!

Get rid of life distractions. Life distractions are everywhere. Being the best version of you involves ignoring or getting rid of those things that derail you. We need to tame as many distractions as we can. A distraction-free mode — an ideal environment in which to hunker down and focus on your most important, complex tasks, is a great first step in a positive direction. Work to create habits that signal to yourself and to those around you, that you’re in distraction-free mode. Close the door to a room you frequent. Put on noise-canceling headphones. Turn off your phone or silence it.

Kick stress to the curb. African-Americans tend to face more life stressors than other ethnic groups. Reducing or managing stress may minimize the risk of heart disease and stroke among our community. Feeling stress takes away your ability to focus on the tasks at hand. Stress makes you feel overwhelmed, frazzled and tired. Your thinking becomes muddled and impaired when you can’t zero in on the things you need to do. Get stress under control and you can move on to life’s next levels. Find ways to calm your mind and relax your body to reduce the body’s stress response. Make sure you get enough to eat and sleep. Get regular medical checkups to stay on top of physical ails. Find ways to contain your anxiety. Try exercise to maintain your overall health.

Dream big. Just because you are over 50 does not mean life is over. You can still dream BIG! Research has shown that older adults can be as successful as younger people in achieving their goals and pursuing new endeavors. So, don’t let age hold you back from chasing your dreams. We learned valuable lessons over the years and can use them to our advantage now. It’s time you realized that, too. If you’re using your age as a reason to stop dreaming, to stop setting new goals, and realizing new potentials, well, that’s not a reason; it’s an excuse. The hardest part about making your dream a reality is finding the courage to do so. Once this is done, nothing can stop you, not even age.

Challenge yourself.  On the road to self-improvement as a person and to become your best self, you must challenge yourself constantly. Try to do things that are out of your comfort zone to push yourself forward. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small challenge or a big one that takes a year to accomplish. It’s still a challenge. The challenges you take on can test your stamina, grit, and shake up routines. They aren’t supposed to be easy and accomplished without any effort. Challenges help you discover new skills, jump into new experiences, and boost your well-being. If you’re feeling stuck in life, embracing new challenges gives you a real chance to grow.

Prioritize self-care. We all eat, sleep, work, and move every day and self-care is just a question of how you can consciously do these things in a positive way. Think of it as building blocks. You can start with a single block like taking a 15-minute daily walk, meditation, getting a dental check up every six months, or adding a meatless meal to your diet once a week. Once your healthy changes become natural, you can build on them until you have developed an overall healthy lifestyle repertoire.