Self-Improvement Planning: Where to start? How to do it? What to focus on?

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. 

Self-improvement takes a lot of internal reflection. You’ll need to determine where you are and where you want to be. It takes looking at your current strengths and weaknesses and deciding what you want to spend your time on. Almost always, you will begin to change you who are and those around you who haven’t gone through this type of growth will start to have opinions. But remember, those who matter won’t mind your improvement and will actually support you further. 

Self-improvement is defined as the act or process of improving oneself by one's own actions in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. It can be done through the realm of personal, professional, mental, physical, emotionally, etc. There are so many different ways and focuses on improving oneself, so where do you begin?

Where to start when thinking about self-improvement?

There isn’t a step-by-step guide that everyone can follow but here is a general process gathered from professionals, studies, and the deep cracks of the internet. 

Start with recognizing where you are now.

It is important that you are self-aware enough to identify where you stand in the present. You can’t try to improve off thin air. Define your current status whether it is in data points or in general terms. Write it down (you’ll want this for reflection later on). 

Define where you want to go.

What is it that you want to improve? Pick one thing and stick with it. Focus on it. Be consistent. Be persistent. When starting your self-improvement journey, you may want to quit and resort back to where you started but I beg you to stick to your journey. Define what your “success” would look like in this area of your life. For example, I wanted to improve myself around the way I reacted and handled situations with my significant other. I would become jealous and obsessive over other people outside of the relationship. Improvement in a mental way is hard to completely define but I wanted to be able to get through him traveling without me worrying or obsessing over what he was doing. This isn’t a data point definition but an example of how you can define the behavior you want to have rather than just a data point.

Create routines that are easy to incorporate into your life.

You don’t need to revolutionize your entire life to begin your self-improvement journey. Start small and start with simple routines that you can incorporate into your daily routine. And yes I said routine–not habit. As HBR explains, routines and habits are not interchangeable: “a habit is a behavior done with little or no thought, while a routine involves a series of behaviors frequently, and intentionally, repeated. A behavior has to be a regularly performed routine before it can become a habit at all.”

Create new behaviors that turn into routines that eventually become your habit. For example, want to get a better body? Schedule working out into your day, bring your workout clothes with you or choose the healthier options when eating. These are behaviors that will push you towards these goals. 

Track your progress.

Whether it is through pictures, habit tracking, or journaling. Track your progress. You won't be able to see where you started, how far you have gone, or if you’ve succeeded without tracking your progress. Do it. 

Celebrate your small victories.

Celebrate throughout your progress. Celebrate the small wins. It is important to take a break and recognize the growth that you have achieved. 

How to “self-improvement”?

To improve oneself varies from person to person. It looks different from day to day and week to week. The real way to improve yourself is to work on becoming 1% better each day. Read an extra 20 minutes. Workout a little more. Eat better. If you get 1% better each day, by the end of the year you will be 37x better. That is absolutely insane. 

Don’t compare your journey to that of others. Someone might be three steps ahead of you or on a completely different path. You cannot look at others that you think are in the same position. 

Pick the thing you want to improve and focus, obsess and crush it. Stop trying to focus on ten different things at a time. Focus on one and do all you can to improve it. Follow the steps above to find success in your self-improvement journey. 

What to focus on when “self-improving”?

Focus on your happiness and your growth. Focus on data if you can and real results. It is easier to focus on numbers you can compare from the beginning to the ending. Focus on real results rather than just feelings and emotions you may have. You might not see the growth you have gone through, so look at the data. 

Take a step back and reflect on your journey every few weeks. Remind yourself why you are pushing the limits and refocus your efforts. Keep pushing towards your self-improvement goals. Self-improvement takes time. Sometimes it feels like you are failing and sometimes it feels like you are on top of the world. Go through the rollercoaster of personal growth, you will love the end results.

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