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Are you living up to your potential?
It’s frustrating to feel stuck in life, believing that you’re repeating the same cycle day in and day out without anything changing. What’s even more frustrating is trying so hard to change factors that are out of your control and never seeing results.
So when you don’t feel like you’re making progress toward reaching your goals, it’s empowering to make a conscious decision to work on yourself. After all, you are the only person you can change.
But where do you start?
Working on yourself is a continuous process, and there isn’t one way to go about doing this. However, there are some strategies worth mentioning that are sure to help you make progress.
So in this article, we will look at 11 things you can do to help kickstart your journey to bettering yourself.
But first, let’s look at why you may want to work on yourself and how doing so can improve your life.
Why Should You Work On and Better Yourself?
Living in a world that requires constant adaptation, it is critical to know how to work on yourself. If you only maintain the skills you have today, you will soon become obsolete, as society will continue to develop and grow whether you’re moving alongside it or not.
Maybe you want to learn new things, get rid of unhealthy or bad habits, work more efficiently, stabilize your emotions, or improve your sense of fulfillment in life. Bettering yourself can positively impact every aspect of your life, and each time you improve one characteristic of yourself, you will elevate your overall sense of contentment.
Knowing that you’re capable of change can help you increase your self-confidence and feel positive about your future. When you feel like you’re in charge of your abilities, you will recognize that your success depends on your effort alone, rather than the actions of others.
Aside from feeling more confident, working on yourself will also help you:
With that in mind, let’s take a look at 11 things you can do to work on and better yourself.
11 Ways to Work On and Better Yourself
1. Raise Your Standards
Your standards dictate what you find to be acceptable or “good enough” for you. They set the benchmarks of your performance. What's the minimum you're willing to accept in any aspect of your life?
The standards that should matter the most to you relate to your own conduct. Are you going to tolerate missing another deadline? Letting a friend down? Allowing someone to disrespect you? You can better yourself by raising your standards for your own behavior.
Are you okay with living a mediocre life? If so, what is the outcome of that standard?
When you set your standards too low, you won’t feel the need to push yourself to be better or do better. Many people who settle for a lower salary or a higher number on the scale than what they believe to be ideal become stuck because their standards are too low.
Furthermore, when you have low standards, it’s easy to fall prey to the influence of others because you fail to stand up for what you believe.
Making changes in the criteria that you’re willing to accept will positively influence all aspects of your life. Instead of ending up with outcomes that are merely acceptable to you, you can enrich your life by raising your standards.
Your goals and values are up to you, and you can change them at any time. So rather than settling for a mere existence, you can choose to accept nothing less than excellence. You determine your own destiny.
Start by visualizing a higher level of success in an area of your life. Focus on the positive feelings this generates and then take action. Your new, higher standards will act as a fundamental shift in your behavior. When you change your expectations, your results will start to change, too.
Action Strategy: Here are 13 actionable steps you can take to make progress in life once you’ve set higher standards for yourself.
2. Practice Positive Self-Talk
Your internal dialogue has a strong impact on how you feel about yourself, which then impacts your behaviors. By using positive self-talk, you will continue to encourage yourself to improve at anything you’re working on.
It’s easy to be critical of yourself and what you perceive to be your shortcomings. But this negative self-talk is unproductive and can reduce your motivation to improve. If you’re constantly telling yourself that you’re not good enough, it will be hard to find the inclination to take action toward self-improvement because you won’t believe it’s possible.
It’s important to identify negative self-talk so you can intentionally replace those thoughts with a more positive mindset. By practicing positive self-talk, you’re more likely to gain confidence, self-esteem, and control over your life, which will help you achieve your goals.
Action Strategy: Here are 20 affirmations for self-esteem that can help you build your confidence.
3. Learn Something New
Doing the same thing day in and day out becomes boring and can reduce your motivation to succeed, but learning new things is a great way to keep life interesting and continuously better yourself. Learning new things will always help you continue to make progress in all areas of your life.
Humans have a natural drive to explore and grow, so learning new things can help improve your quality of life and sense of worth. Pay attention to the ideas that inspire you and be proactive with learning more about them.
Also, well-rounded people can easily relate to others because they can find more common ground. Learning new things can make you more interesting, which will draw other people to you, therefore improving the quality of your relationships and life.
Action Strategy: Check out these tools you can use to learn something new every day.
4. Surround Yourself With Positivity
One of the greatest challenges to staying positive is that we’re living in a world that’s constantly focused on negativity. The news, social media, gossip, and everyday life is filled with horrible events and critical people.
Your environment, the media you consume, and the people you choose to spend your time with all have a huge impact on your self-improvement efforts because your motivation and mental state is largely formed through your surroundings.
Consider social media, for example. These apps can cultivate feelings of inadequacy, which can lead to low self-esteem, loneliness, and feelings of depression. If you spend less time scrolling through social media, you can commit more time and energy to activities that will help you grow, like those laid out in this article.
Also, consider the news sources that you watch. Is there anything you watch that may be detrimental to your mental health? One of the most effective ways to better yourself is to filter your informational streams.
Finally, you may underestimate the importance of the company you keep. Surrounding yourself with positive people is essential for improving yourself. A lot of your positive thinking has to do with the people around you. When you surround yourself with positive influences, it becomes easier to stay motivated and focused on your goals, which will ultimately help you feel better about yourself.
Action Strategy: Switch up what you listen to and check out these self-improvement podcasts.
5. Look At Your Habits
Everyone has some sort of bad habit – whether it’s biting your nails or smoking – that can keep you from accomplishing your goals. And while we like to think of habits falling into “good” and “bad” categories, habits actually sit on a spectrum and are influenced by one’s ability to control them.
Analyze the things that you do every day.
Habits can be very difficult to break, especially once they’re wired in your brain after performing the habit so frequently. By analyzing your habits, you can determine which ones may be holding you back and which are positive habits that add value to your life.
For example, quitting smoking or drinking may help improve your quality of life and could even increase your lifespan. And cultivating new habits such as practicing mindfulness or exercising can improve your daily life and lend itself to helping you become a better version of you.
Action Strategy: Here are 203 good daily habits that you can work on to help improve your life.
6. Engage In Self-Care
Self-care involves taking time to do things that improve your physical and mental health. When it comes to working on yourself, self-care can help you deal with stress more effectively, lower your risk of getting sick, and increase your energy.
In a lot of ways, engaging in self-care builds a foundation for self-improvement. When you’re overwhelmed by stress, you may not have the resilience that you need to overcome the struggles you’re facing and continue to work towards bettering yourself.
However, when you take care of yourself, you will be more likely to channel your energy back into working on yourself.
Action Strategy: Here are 275 self-care ideas to help get you started with your self-care routine.
7. Do a 30-Day Challenge
It takes about 30 days of continuing a habit for that habit to stick. Committing to a 30-day challenge will provide you with the boost you may need to get started bettering yourself. Once you get started, repeating the habit on a daily basis will help create the momentum you need to consistently achieve the desired change.
As you progress through the 30 days, you will achieve small gains that will push you to keep going. Also, by doing 30-day challenges, you will ensure that you’re working for at least 30 days in a row, which gives you enough time to accomplish a lot of highly valuable work.
Action Strategy: Here are 129 ideas for 30 day challenges that you can take on to help you grow.
8. Commit To a Workout Routine
Getting physical activity on a regular basis can improve your health and offer you a better quality of life. Exercising can also help improve your productivity by allowing you to clear your mind and help you relax.
Consider carving out enough time to work out for a few hours each week. You don’t have to default to going to the gym, you can choose a sport or a type of exercise that you enjoy, and even consider partnering with a friend to make the process more fun.
Be proud of yourself every time you complete a workout.
Action Strategy: Check out these motivational exercise quotes to help inspire your next workout.
9. Set Goals
When it comes to your goals, think bigger. You probably have short and long term goals, but think beyond what you believe you can accomplish, and make stretch goals to see how far you can really push yourself.
What do you want to accomplish in the next five years? Do you want to build your own company or travel the world? Once you turn your big dreams into plans, then take time to establish specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-sensitive (SMART) goals to create an agenda for accomplishing your objectives.
Action Strategy: Here are 13 steps to follow to help you write and set SMART goals.
10. Develop a Growth Mindset
If you don’t believe that you can improve, you won’t have the motivation that is needed to work on yourself. People with a growth mindset believe that skills can be refined with work, and while one may have intrinsic strengths, success comes from perpetual personal development.
Once you develop a growth mindset, you will understand that you can improve at anything with practice and perseverance. Believing in your own growth can be motivating in itself, which will produce positive results.
People who have a growth mindset develop the strength that’s required to overcome challenges, rather than quitting because they think they just don't have the skills that it takes to succeed.
Having a growth mindset will allow you to embrace the notion that you can overcome any challenge with practice, and everything that you experience can offer an opportunity to grow and better yourself.
Action Strategy: Here are 27 habits to practice to help you develop a growth mindset.
11. Find a Mentor
When working on yourself, it can be helpful to have a guide lead the way. Seeking a mentor who has already accomplished your goal can offer professional inspiration or just expert assistance.
Having someone by your side can be a powerful tool that can gently help you move forward–and ultimately reach–your desired outcomes.
When looking for a mentor, consider who you look up to or who you want to resemble in 10 years. Who has extensive experience in your field and who can offer you the best insight to help you accomplish your goals?
Action Strategy: Check out this article if you’re looking for guidance in life and work.
Final Thoughts on How to Work On and Better Yourself
Bettering yourself is a personal journey that is unique from person to person. You have to be willing to experience discomfort and put in the work to make positive changes.
While personal growth requires reaching beyond your norm, each step you take is an important part of the process of growing into the best version of yourself.
And consider this: you already have a lifelong history of growing and bettering yourself — so you can keep going.
For more help with bettering yourself, check out the 23 best personal development and self-improvement books.
Connie Mathers is a professional editor and freelance writer. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her daughter and two dogs, running, or working at her full-time job as a social worker in Richmond, VA.