Feeling stagnant or stuck or want to improve yourself? These are signs that it’s time to Do Something Different (DSD). And the first stop is to ask, what would I like to improve?
Maybe you are looking to improve your skill-set like how to communicate better. Or improve your computer or time management skills. Or it could be something more personal, such as how to take constructive criticism or improve self-esteem and self-talk.
Want to Improve Yourself?
Wanting to improve yourself is like asking the dreaded job interview question, “What is your biggest weakness?” The answer is to find areas in your life that you want to improve. It doesn’t mean that something is broken, it’s just that you want to do better. Self-improvement is not saying to yourself that you have a weakness. In fact, it’s a strength that you want to find out what areas in your life could be improved.
And isn’t about beating yourself up and making you feel less than or not capable. Searching for self-improvement proves that you are brave and want to not just do better, but be better. It’s not about comparing yourself to others, but about doing your personal best, whatever that looks like to you. For some, that’s the area of your inner self and others, it could be relationships, business, economics, or spiritual.
“Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Do not bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” ― William Faulkner
For me, it’s about health, energy, and balance. After being sick for a month ending in a sinus infection, and not having much energy, I want to improve my health. That looks like eating better, moving more, and spending time on what’s important and letting go of what’s not.
Do Something Different
Change is uncomfortable. It’s stretching yourself past your comfort zone of what you already know and do something different. Some days change is hard and it can feel like you are birthing a baby. And maybe you are. Birthing a new you. It can hurt, be raw, and it can be unbelievably emotional. Sometimes to the point you don’t think you’re going to make it. Change can be challenging, mistakes will happen, and you might have emotions appear, such as insecurity, anger, fear, worry, or disappointment. And yes, they may be tears. Even though change is hard, it can bring in healing, growth, and triumph. Sometimes something must end for something else to bloom. But remember, you don’t have to do it all right now. Small steps taken every day can move you in the direction to where you want to be.
Ideas to Improve Yourself
1. Expand your knowledge. Read books, listen to podcasts, take classes, go to conferences to learn more.
2. Build a routine around habits that make you feel good. If you don’t enjoy doing something, you won’t do it for long.
3. Be mindful of your thoughts. If you think “I can’t” then you probably won’t be able to.
4. Take time for meditation or solitude. There is valuable insight in the stillness.
5. Be grateful for how far you have already come. And be grateful for the opportunity to improve yourself.
6. Create a list of SMART goals—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. And don’t forget your why. Specific: This is the what, why, where. Ex: I want to walk to the park to improve my health. Measurable: this is the how long and/or how much. Ex: 30 minutes a day 5 days a week. Achievable: Make sure it’s realistic. Ask yourself, can I fit this in my schedule? If not, what can I change to fit this in? Relevant: Does this goal matter to you? Is this the right time to do it? Time-bound: Develop a time frame. What can I do today? Next week? Next month?
Self-Improvement is About Self, Not Others
One thing I want to say about self-improvement: Do it for yourself, not others. Sometimes I notice people wanting to improve themselves because others want them to. Or worse, they think it’s what someone wants and they are wrong. Self-improvement is not the time to be a people-pleaser because if it’s not your goal, you won’t do it long term.
When you want to improve because someone else wants you to, you put on a false-front and then you are not being true to yourself. I’ve seen this when someone starts a relationship. Sometimes they become a different person and end up doing things they don’t even like to do. Eventually, the truth comes out and disappointment or resentment can set in. Self-improvement is about self, not others.
A Better Self
Know that self-improvement is not about becoming perfect. There is no such thing as perfection and we shouldn’t be striving for it. That goal will just make us unhappy. Self-improvement is just wanting better for yourself, not anyone else. It’s about feeling confident and whole. Yes, we will make mistakes along the way and that’s okay, because the mistakes can give us valuable insight into who we truly are and what we want.
Finally, know that you can change your direction. Nothing is set in stone. Life is always evolving and what you thought you wanted yesterday, you realize you no longer want. New insight, information, and experiences bring in new wants. That’s great. Accept the change, let go of the old, embrace the new, and move on. Isn’t that what self-improvement is about? Finding the new and do something different to make us better.
I am passionate about learning, so I know I will always work on improving myself. Whether that’s in my work, my relationships, my life, I want to work on being a better me. Not someone else, but a better version of my own true self. One that is living authentic, happy, fulfilled, and full of self-love. These four things are my end goals for self-improvement. What’s yours?
Photo by Diana Schröder-Bode on Unsplash