When New Year’s Day rolls around, people all over the country set resolutions for self-improvement. But unfortunately, by the end of February, many of these resolutions are thrown by the wayside, and people return to the same habits they have always had.
But self-improvement is not an event. It does not happen a few months into the year. Instead, improving yourself is a lifelong journey to be better, do better, and attract better. Making self-improvement habits stick must become a lifestyle, not an end goal.
Lasting tips for self-improvement
You have probably heard that it takes twenty-one days to form a habit; however, some research suggests that habit-forming takes longer to become a lifestyle. Read through the list of self-improvement tips and choose a few you would like to implement this year. Give yourself at least a month or two to apply a suggestion before adding a new one. Then, make embedding these habits part of your overall lifestyle for lasting change.
Create a bedtime routine.
Never underestimate the power of routines. You can have a smoother morning by using your evening as a preparation period. You may want to start your routine as soon as you come in from work. Depending on your home and family, you could quickly do your evening chores, pick your outfit for the next day, and prepare breakfast and lunch. Then, do something relaxing to help you unwind before bed that does not include digital devices.
Transition into a morning person.
Once you have laid the foundation with your bedtime routine, consider getting up a little earlier each morning. You can accomplish more in the long term if you work on your goals for a short amount of time each morning. For example, if your new self-improvement habit is to exercise more, carve out 15-30 minutes three to five mornings a week to fit it in. You can achieve anything if you buckle down and focus for this short time before everyone else wakes up.
Journal your thoughts.
Journaling and reflecting on your day serve two purposes. First, it allows you to “dump” the day’s stresses onto the page. Journaling gives you an outlet to let things go so that you can start the day (or the next day) with a clearer head. Second, journaling gives you a moment to reflect on what you have learned, who you are grateful for, and what you need to forget. It is a moment of appreciation for the life God has given you.
Listen to a podcast or audiobook.
Never before have we had access to experts at our fingertips. You do not need to rub shoulders with the greats in a particular industry to learn from them. With easy access to audiobooks and podcasts on thousands of subjects, you can learn from the best and on the go. Make it a goal to listen to at least one podcast and audiobook over thirty days. The more you listen, the more you will challenge your memory to recall details later.
Kick procrastination to the curb.
Procrastination is a time waster and is often rooted in fear, the fear of man. We are fearful of rejection and disappointment. When we cannot complete a task on time or do not know enough about a subject, we procrastinate to avoid experiencing pain or discomfort. But procrastination and fear of man will stop you from making lasting changes. When you are procrastinating on a task, give yourself a pep talk and make yourself do it. Even if it is for only five minutes, you will have rallied against the resistance. Next time, go a little longer.
Learn something new.
Is there a subject about which you have always wondered? Maybe it was a topic you did not necessarily want to study for a career, but it was an interest. Now is the time to take steps to learn about it. For example, learning a foreign language, how to play a musical instrument, or martial arts.
You are not after mastering this interest, but allow yourself to be a novice. When you lead with grace and embrace your mistakes, then you will experience freedom in doing something you love.
Acquire new skills for your career.
Acquiring new skills can make you valuable in the marketplace. The career you have chosen needs people with high-quality skills to run smoothly. What skills do you need to acquire? Do you need certifications in software programming? How are your communication skills?
Figure out what you need to learn to make you a valuable team member and an essential employee. You can find courses and certifications online in thousands of subjects. Then, use your new skills to ask for a promotion, raise, or find a new job.
Make your goal your lifestyle.
Often, we set goals, but we fail to walk the talk. We want to lose weight but stop daily at a drive-thru. We want to save money but spend every dollar. We want to earn a certification to help us attain a better job, but we spend our evenings binge-watching a series. It happens to everyone. However, you must make your goal your lifestyle. You have to make conscious decisions for your future self to do better.
If you worry that making lifestyle changes for self-improvement are too daunting and overwhelming, use the baby-step approach. Challenge yourself to make one change for 30 days. Issue yourself a thirty-day challenge to etch a new habit into your mind. For example, if laying out your clothes the night before will save you thirty minutes in the morning, try it for thirty days. Once a new habit forms, move on to another challenge.
Declutter your environment.
Physical clutter also clutters the mind. When you surround yourself with chaos and piles of unwanted things, it becomes difficult to think clearly. A cluttered environment brings out stress and anxiety. Your sleep is disrupted, and you maydevelop insomnia. In addition, you are less likely to invite anyone to your home. Try decluttering in short periods of 10-15 minutes, so you do not become overwhelmed.
Make short to-do lists.
You can control your day, or it can control you. Decide that you will focus on what you can manage and leave the rest to God to handle. Create a short to-do list each morning (or the night before) to give you a roadmap to follow.
Prioritize the items that must get done and keep it short. Long, detailed to-do lists can lead to frustration and burnout. Next, choose the toughest task on your list to accomplish first to get it out of the way. Is it making a phone call or completing forms online? Tackle that first.
Move outside your comfort zone.
To stretch and grow, you must operate outside of your comfort zone. This is a scary place to be, and you may want a counselor to help guide you. But the best opportunities are often on the other side of that fear, way outside your comfort zone. Ask yourself what tasks make you nervous.
What action could you take, if you were not afraid, that would significantly impact your life? Pretending not to be scared may work, but enlisting the help of a licensed mental health counselor could make the process easier. Plus, it would provide needed support and encouragement.
Get help when you need it.
A part of self-improvement is recognizing and seeking help when you need it. Making choices and following through can be difficult at first, but the more you fight against the resistance to return to your old habits, the better off you will be. Reach out to our office today to schedule an appointment with a personal development counselor to make a plan to accomplish your goals and grow your skills.
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