Is it just me or does having a self improvement plan seem to be a hot topic these days? As if not having one somehow means you’re behind in times.
n fact, I’ll bet if you tried to tell someone you don’t have one, you’d get the same reaction as if you told them you still have a flip phone!
*GASP*…. I know.
Okay, but seriously, what is so important about having a self improvement plan? What the heck is it? And also how do you put one together if you decide you need one?
Luckily for you, I’m going to answer all those questions plus give you a few ideas today!
What is Self Improvement?
The term itself is pretty explanatory for most. It’s this idea that we are improving our self.
A simple Google search will bring up countless similar answers and the dictionary defines it as, “the improvement of one’s knowledge, status, or character by one’s own efforts.”
I actually really like the definition the dictionary gives. Particularly the “one’s own efforts” part.
It implies that self improvement is something that you have to be intentional about. I would say that’s an accurate statement.
So often in life, we settle for accepting the circumstances and self being that we perceive life to hand us.
But what if, instead of allowing life to decide for us, we put intentional effort into deciding who we were going to be?
What if we realized that WE are the curators of our lives and more specifically of ourselves?
WE are the ones who have the power to increase in our knowledge, WE have the power to decide how the world perceives us, and WE have the power to develop our character into something we are proud of.
Do You Need a Self Improvement Plan?
To be fair, no one NEEDS a self improvement plan. You can choose to be exactly who are you, where you are, in life.
It is entirely in your power to decide that you are comfortable as you are. And let me just say that there’s nothing inherently wrong with that either.
It’s okay for you to be happy with where you are and with who you are. BUT, perhaps that’s the key phrase here.
“To be happy.”
I would dare say that very few of us are happy with where we’re at. It’s in our human nature to always want more. And there’s nothing wrong with that either.
However, if you DO want more, a self improvement plan something you would probably benefit from.
I say “probably” l because as with all things in life, creating a self improvement plan skillfully is something that can be the difference between putting in the effort to increase and putting in the effort to make yourself feel miserable.
What I mean is that there’s a difference between creating helpful guidelines for yourself and building unrealistic expectations for yourself based on your perception of other people’s Instagram perfected life. Doing this (or a form of it) will only make you feel bad when you don’t reach them.
9 Tips to Start Your Self Improvement Plan
1) Decide what “Self Improvement” Looks Like for You
The exact answer to what self-improvement is differs for everyone. There is no one right answer to that.
What you need in your life may vary from what we need in ours. It varies from what your best friend needs in theirs.
Self-improvement looks different for everyone based on their own personal situation and life needs.
You are unique and so is your life situation. People who cry out things like, “Wake up by 5 am” or “run 3 miles a day” have found what works for their personal situations and lifestyle needs but, in reality, it may not be realistic for the vast majority of the population.
Which brings us back to the question, “what does self-improvement look like for you?”
Well, I may not be able to tell you exactly what you need to do, but we can tell you where to start…
2) Get to Know Yourself Better
Often times we believe that we know who we are because we are, well ourselves. But truthfully, we may not have taken time to discover why we do the things we do, think the way we think, and believe the things we believe.
Grab a pen and some paper and spend some time in introspection asking yourself questions.
I like to think of it as a first date with yourself. What are the kinds of questions you want to ask about people on a first, second, and third date? Asking ourselves these questions can really open up our eyes to things we’ve never taken the time to think through about ourselves.
A lot of good introspective questions revolve around “why”.
3) Evaluate and Prioritize
Now that you’ve taken some time to get to really know yourself just a little better, you can evaluate and prioritize the areas of your life.
There are really four main aspects of one’s self that make up our overall existence. These areas are your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well being.
Now, of course, there are many things that go into each of these aspects, but thinking about them as a whole, take time to evaluate how you are in each other and which ones taking time to improve would have the biggest impact on your life in a positive way.
Don’t feel the need to “fix” or improve every one of these areas at once. Pick just one, or a sub-topic of one to focus on.
You’ll find that as you begin to realign areas of your life that are important to you, that other areas will naturally start to fall into line as well. Or perhaps this is just what happens as your self improvement in that area becomes second nature and you suddenly have a wider scope of endurance.
Either way, the point remains the same: don’t drive yourself nuts trying to do it all. Just focus on one thing at a time.
4) Check Your Mindset
A super important tip here, make sure you’re in the mindset of improvement.
It’s a rough shot at ourselves to admit that we have room for improvement. Our pride rises up as a guardian to our insecurities.
Pushing that guardian down and baring our insecurities can be a little painful but it often is what creates the most room for growth.
Keep an open mindset to the idea that there are things in your life you may need to let go.
5) Set Your Vision and Dreams
Do you know where you want this self improvement plan to take you?
Beyond just “being a better person” is the knowledge that you can actively work to grow towards who you need to be for the dream you’ve set for yourself.
Knowing exactly what that vision is, will help guide you, motivate, and prepare you on your self improvement journey.
6) Recognize Your Upper Limits
Recently, Josh (my husband) was urged to read a book called, The Big Leap, by Gay Hendricks.
Man, was this book mind-blowing. Literally. The book opens up this idea that each and every one of us has upper limits in life. A ceiling for the limits of our success that we unknowingly keep ourselves under.
It’s the idea that we essential self-limit ourselves from growing beyond a certain point.
I highly suggest every success seeking person read this book. Hendricks covers the types of limits and reasons we place them on ourselves as well as how to break past them.
If you’re creating a self improvement plan for your life, this is a great resource to help you recognize and reach past your personal upper limits!
I can’t even say enough good things about this book. It will teach you to bust through your upper limit in life, conquer your hidden fear, and take life to the next level.
7) Define and Map Out Your Goals
Well, you’ve made it this far! Congrats. Now that you (hopefully) have a better idea for what to put on your self improvement plan, the next step is to set a few goals in accordance with them.
Now, I’m not talking about life ruining, un-accomplishable, demotivating, make you cringe “setting goals” kind of stuff.
I literally just mean to map out a simple plan that will help guide you through all the inspirational thoughts you’ve just had about what you want to do with this new info.
It doesn’t need to be anything fancy or complicated. You could even just write a few thoughts down on the scrap piece of an envelope from last weeks mail, that you haven’t thrown away yet.
8) Find Self Improvement Resources
This can really be anything that helps you with your chosen area of self improvement.
My go-tos are usually books, podcasts, Ted Talks, and blog posts!
9) Take Action
Well, you’ve learned more about yourself, established your prioritizes, set vision and goals, and found resources.
Those are all AH-MAZING steps to completing your self improvement plan and I couldn’t be happier for you.
I wanted to mention this last point though because I think it’s one that people tend to forget sometimes.
Now that you have your plan, you have to act on it for it to work. This doesn’t have to be anything major. A little change at a time will go a long way.
In fact, just a 1% change each day, will make you 37 times better in a year. (source)
I don’t know about you, but 1% a day sounds like less work to me, than getting out of bed some days.
1% is so doable! I know you can do that!
List of Self Improvement Ideas
Need help coming up with ideas to get you that 1% a day change? I got you covered!
Here are 12 things you can do every day that will naturally and easily help you grow as a person!
Even just a five minute a day read will help you grow so much more than not reading at all.
Plus, five minutes a day adds up. It’s 35 minutes a week, and 2 and a half hours a month.
It might not move mountains, but it could change your life.
2. Journal Introspectively
I can honestly say, I have never processed and grown emotionally more than when I write in my thought journal.
Having a place where I can ask myself the hard questions and ramble about them, has helped me get to the root of a problem better than anything else I’ve ever done. It’s honestly a very freeing and sometimes emotionally healing activity for me.
Need help finding a good journal? I tend to be super picky about my journals but I LOOOOOVE Fringe Studio Journals. They are always the perfect size, I can find them in spirals or bound, and they have the perfect sized lines. They also come in the cutest covers. Here’s an example I found on Amazon but honestly, I always get mine for a few bucks at Marshall’s and TJ Maxx.
3. Process your emotions and feelings instead of reacting to them or ignoring them
This goes hand in hand with journaling but when negative emotions arise, instead of allowing them to control your reaction or choosing to ignore them completely, process through them.
It’s understanding the what, why, when, where, and who that will help you to move on.
This is hard but how can you move forward at your best and fastest if you’re allowing old things to pull you backwards?
4. Simplify Your Belongings
Why on earth do we have so much stuff these days? At the time of writing this, Josh and I have just finished up a ten-month stint of living in hotels only.
All our stuff was in storage. We’ve been in an apartment for about three months now and moving our stuff from storage to here was the biggest pain ever.
Seriously though, we obviously lived and functioned for almost a year without any of it. I don’t know why I have half of it. Needless to say, we’ve been simplifying our belongings and it’s the most freeing feeling in the world. The fact of the matter is that I don’t need another cute mug from Target. I may want one, but I don’t need one. I only use one a day anyways.
You get the idea. Again, this doesn’t have to be some huge project. Just get rid of one or two things a day as you pass by or look over things. Pretty soon things will start to feel tidier and more simplified.
5. Have a Self-Care Routine
Every morning before I do anything else, I take some time for me. I have some water, I do some yoga, read a little, journal a bit, may listen to some music as I’m getting ready, or diffuse some energizing essential oils.
I do things that make me feel rejuvenated and refreshed.
As a result, when problems of the day arise, I feel less overwhelmed, and more prepared to handle things.
I’m at my best before the hustle of the day starts and therefore, I don’t get hustled by the day.
6. Learn More About Yourself
Always being open to learning more about yourself is a great way to staying focused on growth. I’m constantly asking myself “why?”
Why do I think that? Why do I do that? Why is this a habit?
If you want to dive into this more, check out one of these awesome books. It’s the ones I started with and they’ve each changed my life in a different way.
In the Power of When, Dr. Brues explains that everyone naturally functions on one of four different biological clocks (known as chronotypes).
On his website, he has a quiz you can take to discover which chronotype you are.
In his book, he explains how once you know what biological clock your body naturally functions on, you can also find out the best times to do activities throughout the day for increased productivity.
There are a ton of specific sections in the book dedicated to your exact chronotype. It explains (many times with real stories) why you are the way you are. Ranging from health, finances, and work patterns to creativity, and relationships.
This book actually really helped Josh and I learn to function on our own personal but optimal time frames. It honestly, also made our marriage better because we started to understand why the other person did certain things the way they did. We learned to respect each other’s chronotypes, and have a lot more grace for ourselves and each other.
Authored by Charles Duhigg, Yale and Harvard Graduate, as well as New York Times reporter.
This book has amazing insight that we have used to tie in with what we learned about ourselves from the first book on our list.
The reason is simple, The Power of Habit doesn’t try to prescribe you do things at certain times.
It simply breaks down what is going on in your brain. The book explains how your brain chemistry is actually changing and rewiring itself when you do certain activities. IT WILL CHANGE HOW YOU VIEW THOSE EVERY DAY SMALL THINGS YOU DO.
You will realize that excellence comes from the small details in life…. and that realization, my friend, is the basis of self-improvement.
The book has multiple stories about how many stores (Target, Casinos, etc) employ brain chemistry and habits to boost sales.
There is a reason for everything. The way we shop, eat, sleep, speak…. Everything. Grab a copy on Amazon or your local bookstore and discover the answer to why you do what you do!
The Strengths Finder is a phenomenal resource! It will help you discover what your natural talents are because after all, self-improvement is IMPOSSIBLE if you don’t even understand yourself.
The book comes with a code that allows you to take the online assessment. It’s made up of 177 quick-fire questions, (be sure to purchase a new copy for a fresh code) that identify the order of 34 strengths.
Now, one downside to this assessment is that the book code only unlocks your top 5. Which is still EXTREMELY helpful and insightful.
You can, of course, choose to pay to unlock the remainder of the strengths if you want to discover your lesser strengths.
This one is a bit pricey, but I promise you that it is worth it. The questionnaire takes a bit of time (about an hour). However, when you are finished, it’ll tell you what you are best at, and what your lesser strengths are.
It organizes strengths based on strategic thinking, the ability to influence people and execute tasks, as well as relationship building abilities.
Honestly, I went into this test skeptical, but after seeing the results, I realized that it was that dead on.
Personally, I did choose to unlock all of my strengths. However, in doing so, I have come to understand why I interact the way I do with people. Why I have certain relationships that function the way they do. It has also shown me what areas I need to develop in to grow and become a better leader and a better spouse.
That’s the amazing thing about this assessment. Not only does it tell you how to use every strength to the best of your ability, but it also tells you how to grow or compensate for a lesser strength.
This assessment truly gives you the tools to become a better person.
7. Get Moving
I know, such a typical answer, right? But there’s a reason for that!
Moving your body gets your blood flowing which enhances your cognitive function, improves your mood, and slows the aging of your brain. (source)
And I’m not talking about intense cardio here! Honestly, I kind of hate cardio, which is okay because a study found that even taking a walk was enough movement to spur the benefits.
8. Find some to follow who inspires you
Remember how when you were a kid, there was that person you looked up to that you wanted to be exactly like?
Well, if you think about it, that doesn’t exactly change as we get older. There are still people who have traits I really admire, that inspire me.
It feels very natural to take life cues from someone who is authentic and genuine. Someone who is real about life and still gets up and goes every day anyway.
Those are the kind of people I can get behind to support and follow in life. The kind that somehow manages to encourage me and help me keep going.
9. Evaluate your relationships
They say your life mirrors that of the people you hang out with the most.
Take a look at the lives and values of the people found in your circle the most and decide if that’s what you want your life to look like also.
If your answer is “no”, it may be time to seek out new friendships.
10. Trade social media time for something you’ve always wanted to do in life
As a society, we spend soooo much time on social media. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being on social media. I do, however, think we could spend less time on it and more time on something that we find value in.
11. Make a list of all the great ideas and dreams you’ve had that you can remember
Somewhere, perhaps buried deep, are your dreams and passions. Uncover them and go after one or two.
12. Redefine how you think about yourself
Insecurities and self-confidence are both a strong driver of success but in opposite directions.
Our insecurities come from painting a self-portrait based on the broken mirror of lies we’re staring into.
Sometimes it’s from lies other people have told us and other times it’s from lies we’ve told ourselves. Either way, they are lies. Often debilitating ones at that. They affect our actions, our speech, and our happiness.
Social media does play a big factor in this. We see what other people’s lives appear to be, and feel less than when we realize ours don’t match up.
Stop questioning your self-worth. You are enough!
It’s time we break free from our insecurities and increase our self-confidence!
Improving one’s self can be an incredible and amazing journey! It can make our lives better and make us happier. It should be a journey that despite sometimes painful as we work through things, is overall a beautiful and happy experience.
If you decide to create a self-improvement plan for your life, be sure to give yourself grace!
Don’t judge yourself for where you are or where you’ve been. Instead, be proud of yourself for where you’re going!
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