One of the best ways to keep growing as a person is by focusing on self-improvement, and doing more for yourself on a regular basis. This might mean taking steps towards reaching a goal. Or simply adding a few things into your day that make you feel good, such as reading more often or learning something new.
While the idea of “self-improvement” can seem daunting, the good thing is it’s an ongoing process, and not so much about pressuring yourself, or meeting deadlines. In fact, “we oftentimes think that accomplishments lead to our happiness, but it simply isn’t true,” Julie Holmes, a New York City-based life coach, tells Bustle. “While you may feel good after an achievement, the feeling isn’t sustainable. It’s important to always be learning and growing in life for happiness that’s lasting.”
Once it’s become a habit, it’ll keep you from ever feeling stuck or bored, since you’ll always have an eye out for new and exciting ways to grow. And it doesn’t even matter what your goals are, as long as they’re moving you in a positive direction. To get started, consider some of the tips listed below, which experts say can get you started on the road to focusing on self-improvement, and maybe even reaching a few goals.
1. Imagine Yourself In The Future
One of the best places to start on the road to self-improvement is by envisioning your future self, and how you might like to feel years down the line. And from there, beginning to live life from that perspective, Holmes says. So go ahead and imagine an ideal older self. What are they doing? How do they feel? What’s their daily routine look like? This can help you get a better idea of what “self-improvement” might look like, and the steps you can take to get there.
2. Figure out where to start
If you’re feeling goal-less, it can also help to think about the five areas that pretty much everyone needs to keep working on, which include “health, relationships, finances, career, and spirituality,” Holmes says. “Spirituality doesn’t need to mean religion or believing in anything particular, it can mean self-love — doing what you need to do to make yourself happy, instead of worrying about what everyone else thinks or needs.”
If any of these areas need a little attention, let it serve as a jumping off point. You might, for example, realize that your career could use a little attention, which may inspire you to look for ways to expand, and see what else there is to learn.
3. Check In With Yourself regularly
The thing about goals is they’re bound to change over time, so don’t fret if you start down one path, and then change your mind. Instead, “always have visions of where you want to be and how you want to improve,” Marianna Strongin, PsyD, clinical psychologist and founder of Strong In Therapy, tells Bustle. “This makes the journey more clear.” And if your current path starts to feel wrong, you’ll be able to adjust.
4. Talk To yourself in a caring way
The process of reaching goals or making changes can be overwhelming, especially if you’re being tough on yourself, or expecting it to all happen overnight. So check in with your thoughts, and assess how they make you feel. “Are they critical? Are they motivating? Are they pushing you forward or backward? In order to achieve momentum you must first change your thinking,” Strongin says. “Be kind to yourself. Your thinking voice should resemble a cheerleader.”
5. Be All About That Daily Journal
In order to improve thyself, you’ll need to stay in touch with what you want. And this is where daily journaling can come in handy. “In terms of working towards goals, keeping a daily journal can be helpful because writing down your goals helps to increase accountability,” Dr. Brooke Wachtler, a licensed psychologist and the president/founder of BEW Consulting and Training LLC, tells Bustle.
It’s also a habit that can keep you dedicated. “Using your journal as a way to assess progress, and then brainstorm what to do if you’re hitting roadblocks,” she says, “will help you to stay on track in working towards those goals.”
6. Be Specific
When it comes to reaching a specific goal, it can help to define “your goals in a way so that they are measurable,” Wachtler says. So, instead of saying “I want to go back to school,” be more detailed and say “I’d like go back to school and learn more for my career, so that I can then do XYZ.” As Wachtler says, this will help you know exactly what you’re working towards, if you’re making progress, and if you’ve achieved your goal.
7. Call In A Friend
Change can be difficult, and going about setting goals can be challenging, so don’t hesitate to ask for support from friends, family, a partner, or therapist. After all, “no one does it alone,” Lisa Michaud, a success coach who specializes in helping women find balance, tells Bustle. “We all have days when we need to bounce ideas off people, or get reminded of how far we’ve come. And, letting someone know your specific goal and what you’re working on significantly increases your chances of accomplishing what you want.”
8. Consider how you’ll reach your goals
Trying to reach your goals all at once means you’re lessing likely to do them well — if at all. So take a look at all the things you’d like to accomplish, create a few solid goals, and then come up with a plan that approaches it in smaller chunks. “This may include thinking about people who can help support you, or resources that you will need,” Wachtler says. “Planning ahead also includes thinking about potential roadblocks to success and proactively thinking about how you will overcome them.”
9. Celebrate your Successes
When you get home in the evening, take a few moments to be grateful for whatever you accomplished, or whatever went well that day. And if you reached a big goal, take time to celebrate. “Too often we make progress, achieve some success, and immediately think about what’s next,” Michaud says. “If you don’t celebrate and look at how far you’ve come, it’s pointless. You’ll be just be chasing the ‘next’ thing, and never feel the way you want to feel.”
That’s why it’s important to be aware of your progress, and pat yourself on the pack every once in a while.
10. Do More Of What You Enjoy
Self-improvement isn’t always about reaching goals; it can also be about doing more of what you enjoy, and focusing more on yourself. In the process, you might learn something new, and you’ll definitely grow as a person. But that doesn’t have to be your main goal. So if you have a stack of books you’ve been meaning to get through, or an instrument you’ve been neglecting, pick ’em up. Find time in the day to make your hobbies a priority, and you’ll likely feel better for it.
You can also push yourself out of your comfort zone, as a way to “discover what lights you up,” career coach Stephanie Thoma, tells Bustle. “Never tried ceramic-making? Or long-distance running? Or fencing? There’s no time to start like now.”
11. Remember It’s A Process
Whatever your goals may be, it can be frustrating when they don’t all come together right now. So give yourself plenty of time. “Remember that life is a journey, not a destination,” Holmes says. “Don’t wait until you get where you want to be to allow yourself to feel happy. Enjoy the process. That’s why you’re here.”
If you can do just that, you’ll be well on your way to your next level of awesomeness. And when you reach that, remember to keep up the good work.