When the journey of self-betterment begins, we are always looking for ways to improve ourselves. It is a constant journey where we must be honest and open to change. Often we find improvement advice can be too metaphysical and theoretical. As a passionate advocate of growth, I’m continuously looking for ways to self-improve. I’ve compiled 28 of my best tips which might be helpful in your personal growth journey. Some of them are simple steps which you can engage in immediately. Some are bigger steps which take conscious effort to act on.
- Maintain a positive attitude.
Positive thinking is at the forefront of every great success story. The mind must believe it can do something before it is capable of actually doing it. So be aware of your mental self-talk. We all talk silently to ourselves in our heads, but we aren’t always conscious of what we’re saying or how it’s affecting us. Start listening to your thoughts. If you hear negative thoughts, stop for a second and replace them with positive thoughts. As the Dalai Lama once said, “The way to overcome negative thoughts and destructive emotions is to develop opposing, positive emotions that are stronger and more powerful.”
- Be kind to yourself.
If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend? The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others. You must love who you are or no one else will. How to Embrace Yourself.
Meditation helps to calm you and be more conscious. I also realized that during the nights when I meditate (before I sleep), I need lesser sleep. The clutter clearing process is very liberating.
- Overcome your fears.
All of us have fears. Fear of uncertainty, fear of public speaking, fear of risk… All our fears keep us in the same position and prevent us from growing. Recognize that your fears reflect areas where you can grow. I always think of fears as the compass for growth. If I have a fear of something, it represents something I’ve yet to address and addressing it helps me to grow. How to Let Go of Fear
- Create an inspirational room.
Your environment sets the mood and tone for you. If you are living in an inspirational environment, you are going to be inspired every day. In the past, I didn’t like my room at all because I thought it was messy and dull. A few years ago, I decided this was the end of it – I started on a “Mega Room Revamp” project and overhauled my room. The end result? A room I totally relish being in and inspires me to be at my peak every day.
- Help others when you are able.
In life, you get what you put in. When you make a positive impact in someone else’s life, you also make a positive impact in your own life. The more you help others, the more they will want to help you. Love and kindness beget love and kindness.
- Wake up early.
Waking up early (say, 5-6am) has been acknowledged by many (Anthony Robbins, Robin Sharma, among other self-help gurus) to improve your productivity and your quality of life. I feel it’s because when you wake up early, your mindset is already set to continue the momentum and proactively live out the day. Seth recently wrote a waking up early series which you should check out to help cultivate this habit. Morning Meditation Routine: Simple Way to Kick Start Your Day
- Start your life handbook.
A life handbook is an idea I started 3 years ago. Basically, it’s a book which contains the essentials on how you can live your life to the fullest, such as your purpose, your values, and goals. Sort of like your manual for your life. I started my life handbook since 2007 and it’s been a crucial enabler in my progress.
- Make your own needs a priority.
Stop putting your needs on the back burner. The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too. Yes, help others; but help yourself too. If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, that moment is now.
- Learn and practice one new skill every week.
Self-reliance is a vital key to living a healthy, productive life. To be self-reliant one must master a basic set of skills, more or less making them a jack of all trades. Contrary to what you may have learned in school, a jack of all trades is far more equipped to deal with life than a specialized master of only one. And besides, learning new skills is fun.
- Write a letter to your future self.
What do you see yourself as 5 years from now? Will you be the same? Different? What kind of person will you be? Write a letter to your future self – 1 year from now will be a good start – and seal it. Make a date in your calendar to open it 1 year from now. Then start working to become the person you want to open that letter.
- Stop procrastinating.
Start taking action and making changes. Action and change are often resisted when they’re needed most. Get a hold of yourself and have discipline. Discipline is choosing what you really want over what you want right now. Putting something off makes it instantly harder and scarier. What we don’t start today won’t be finished by tomorrow. And there’s nothing more stressful than the perpetual lingering of an unfinished task.
- Get out of your comfort zone.
Real growth comes with hard work and sweat. Being too comfortable doesn’t help us grow – it makes us stagnate. What is your comfort zone? Do you stay in most of the time? Do you keep to your own space when out with other people? Shake your routine up. Do something different. By exposing yourself to a new context, you’re literally growing as you learn to act in new circumstances.
- Forgive people and move forward.
Don’t live your life with hate in your heart. You will end up hurting yourself more than the people you hate. Forgiveness is not saying, “What you did to me is okay.” It is saying, “I’m not going to let what you did to me ruin my happiness forever.” Forgiveness is the remedy. It doesn’t mean you’re erasing the past or forgetting what happened. It means you’re letting go of the resentment and pain, and instead choosing to learn from the incident and move on with your life. Remember, the less time you spend hating the people who hurt you, the more time you’ll have to love the people who love you.
- Identify your blind spots.
Scientifically, blind spots refer to areas our eyes are not capable of seeing. In personal development terms, blind spots are things about ourselves we are unaware of. Discovering our blind spots help us discover our areas of improvement. One exercise I use to discover my blind spots is to identify all the things/events/people that trigger me in a day – trigger meaning making me feel annoyed/weird/affected. These represent my blind spots. It’s always fun to do the exercise because I discover new things about myself, even if I may already think I know my own blind spots (but then they wouldn’t be blind spots would they?). After that, I work on steps to address them.
- Identify the lesson in every situation.
Everything is a life lesson. Everyone you meet, everything you encounter, etc. They’re all part of the learning experience we call ‘life.’ Never forget to acknowledge the lesson, especially when things don’t go your way. If you don’t get a job you wanted or a relationship doesn’t work, it only means something better is out there waiting. And the lesson you just learned is the first step towards it.
- Express gratitude.
When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value. Kinda cool right? So basically, being grateful for the goodness that is already evident in your life will bring you a deeper sense of happiness. And that’s without having to go out and buy anything. It makes sense. We’re going to have a hard time ever being happy if we aren’t thankful for what we already have. The Power with Gratitude and Appreciation
- Savor the joy of simple pleasures.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the best things in life are free. They come in the form of simple pleasures and they appear right in front of you at various locations and arbitrary times. They are governed by Mother Nature and situational circumstance and captured by mindful awareness. It’s all about taking a moment to notice the orange and pink sunset reflecting off the pond water as you hold hands with someone you love. Noticing these moments and taking part in them regularly will bring unpredictable bursts of happiness into your life. Things that Make Me Happy
- Stop caring about what everyone else wants for you.
Unfortunately, just before you take your first step on the righteous journey to pursue your dreams, people around you, even the ones who deeply care for you, will usually give you awful advice. It’s not because they have evil intentions. It’s because they don’t understand the big picture – what your dreams, passions and life goals mean to you. They don’t understand that, to you, the reward is worth the risk. So they try to protect you by shielding you from the possibility of failure, which, in effect, also shields you from the possibility of making your dreams a reality.
- Make small, positive changes every day.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. The same philosophy holds true for making changes in your life. Making small, positive changes – eating a little healthier, exercising a little, creating some small productive habits, for example – is an amazing way to get excited about life.
- Keep an open mind.
Someone else doesn’t have to be wrong for you to be right. The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know. We all have our own unique path and feelings. When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.
- Embrace change.
If nothing ever changed there would be no sunrise the next morning. Most of us are comfortable where we are even though the whole universe is constantly changing around us. Learning to accept this is vital to our happiness and general success. Because only when we change, do we grow, and begin to see the world we never knew was possible. And don’t forget, however, good or bad a situation is now, it will change. That’s the one thing you can count on. So embrace it, and realize that change happens for a reason. It won’t always be easy or obvious at first, but in the end, it will be worth it.
- Choose to smile more often.
A smile is a choice, not a miracle. Don’t wait for people to smile. Show them how. A genuine smile makes you and everyone around you feel better. The simple act of smiling sends a message to your brain that you’re happy. And when you’re happy, your body pumps out all kinds of feel-good endorphins. This reaction has been studied since the 1980’s and has been proven a number of times. Bottom line: Smiling actually makes you happier.
- Let go of the past.
Don’t let the past steal your present and future from you. Accept the fact that the past in not today. You might not be proud of all the things you’ve done in the past, but that’s okay. The past is not today. The past cannot be changed, forgotten, or erased. It can only be accepted. We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.
- Be proud of yourself.
Being proud isn’t bragging about how great you are. It’s more like quietly knowing that you’re worth a lot. It’s not about thinking you’re perfect – because nobody is – but knowing that you’re worthy of being loved and accepted. Boost your self-esteem by recognizing your accomplishments and celebrating them. Acknowledge your positive qualities, and when you come across a quality in yourself that you aren’t proud of, don’t sulk in your sorrows, proactively work on correcting it.
- Be attentive to your stress level.
Slow down. Breathe. Give yourself permission to pause, regroup and move forward with clarity and purpose. When you’re at your busiest, a brief recess can rejuvenate your mind and increase your productivity. These short breaks will help you regain your sanity and reflect on your recent actions so you can be sure they’re in line with your goals.
- Let go of regrets.
Follow your heart. Be true to yourself. Do what makes you happy. Be with who makes you smile. Laugh as much as you breathe. Love as long as you live. Say what you need to say. Offer a helping hand when you’re able. Appreciate all the things you do have. Smile. Celebrate your small victories. Learn from your mistakes. Realize that everything is a lesson in disguise. Forgive. And let go of the things you can’t control.
- Commit to your personal growth.
I can be writing list articles with 10 ways, 25 ways, 100 ways or even 1,000 ways to improve yourself, but if you’ve no intention to commit to your personal growth, it doesn’t matter what I write. Nothing is going to get through. We are responsible for our personal growth – not anyone else. Not your mom, your dad, your friend, me or BayArt. Make the decision to commit to your personal growth and embrace yourself to a life-long journey of growth and change. Kick off your growth by picking a few of the steps above and working on them. The results may not be immediate, but I promise you that as long as you keep to it, you’ll start seeing positive changes in yourself and your life.