Everyone wants to be a better version of themselves but having discipline with self improvement isn’t so easy. Sure you can create pile after pile of self help books and constantly have podcasts on the subject playing in the background of everything you do. But actually committing to a change? That’s a big task. Especially for someone like me.
Honestly, I find it so humorous that I’m writing a post about self improvement. Me. The person with a mind so jumbled and scattered it feels like squirrels are hosting a rave up there. My middle name might as well be procrastination and I seriously wouldn’t know discipline if it bit me in the ass. But somehow I managed to make some changes and I’m finally getting things done. It’s a freaking miracle.
But it took a bit of work on my part to accomplish any of it. Looking back, I see some trends in what I did that helped it become easier. And maybe you’re sitting here going “self improvement isn’t that hard quit whining” as you train for yet another marathon and stick to a picture perfect diet without an ounce of struggle. In which case this post probably isn’t for you. But if you’re like me and you feel like you’re constantly fighting against your annoying tendencies and blatant character flaws, then keep on reading. Because like you, I’m my worst enemy and I’ve never stuck to a diet in my life (I can’t give up bagels). But I think I may have defeated my bad habits once and for all.
Discipline with Self Improvement Requires a Battle Plan
I’m sorry but you can’t decide you’re going to be better and expect it to just fall into place. You need systems and support and dedication to see some real changes. Which is probably why I failed for so long (26 years to be exact). It wasn’t until I quit my first job and had no idea what was next that I knew I needed to make a change. For once all of the foundation I had built all my excuses on crumbled away and I was forced to change something. But maybe you don’t have such a huge crossroads in front of you forcing you to make a change. Luckily there are a few simple things you can do to kick start the process and set yourself up for lasting success.
Step 1. Get To Know Yourself
I don’t think you can get anywhere with self improvement without having some understanding of yourself. A big part of my own confusion was next to no understanding what I wanted out of life. So I took it back to basics and focused on who I am at the core which I think is the biggest reason for my success. If you understand your strengths and weaknesses, you can create self improvement goals that align with who you are and work with you instead of against you.
Start Your Personality Analysis
Now there are a lot of different personality tests and resources out there for you to look into to figure this part out. After living with Mike and constantly talking his ear off about personality tests (much to his annoyance), it’s become very apparent that I can only speak to my personal experience while you search for the perfect resources for you. For me, there’s nothing more helpful than the Enneagram. I discovered this personality test and honesty, it changed everything. For once I felt like I was starting to understand myself and the underlying motivations that play a part in everything I do. If you think the Enneagram might be a good fit for you, read this post I wrote about it. It’s a wonderful asset for discovering your strengths and weaknesses as well as how you tend to act when you’re stressed or feeling secure.
Never Stop Searching For Answers
Luckily there’s no end to resources you can turn to. You can try the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator or you can have your birth chart analyzed (this is so much more indepth than just your Zodiac sign and I highly recommend you check it out). There are colors and gemstones and all sorts of measures for who you are and why you’re that way. Personally, I’d recommend you check out multiple. The more viewpoints you get on the inner workings of your brain, the better you’ll begin to understand yourself. At the end of the day, you’re looking for answers. You want to understand behavior patterns (positive and negative) and what motivates you. If you can recognize some of your more negative behavior patterns then you can begin to shift them. This shift becomes even easier if you understand what motivates you. If you know that, nothing can stop you.
Start to Identify the Patterns
Now that I know my enneagram and some of my other characteristics, I am starting to see patterns in my behavior. And it is so crazy helpful. Now I can stop my stupid perfectionism before it can bring all of my progress to a halt. This means the world for my work processes and making sure I get things done. Instead of looking back at the mess you created, you can spot the problem spots in the moment and course correct. Understanding the trends in your behavior is such an incredible asset. That’s why it’s such an important place to start.
Step 2. Start Small & Be Realistic
You may have thought we started in step one. But this step is when the self improvement really begins. This is when you start to set goals and decide what you want to work on. If you’re anything like me, you have a long laundry list of projects you’re dreaming about. From eating better to creating an etsy shop to sell handmade products I have no shortage of outlandish ideas and ways I want to be better. But after analyzing myself a bit, I quickly understood that I suffer from a short attention span and need to focus my efforts in order to be successful. Now I know that probably sounds incredibly obvious. But you’d be surprised how often you run into trouble because you’re trying to focus on too many things at once.
Narrow Your Focus
Sure we all have many different goals we want to achieve. But if you’re going to be successful, you need to choose just one. You heard me. Only one goal to work towards. Depending on that goal, you’re going to be drudging up a ton of bad habits and ingrained behaviors you’ve spent your whole life working on and perfecting. And hey! Once you accomplish that one goal, you can set your sights on bigger and brighter things. But it’s best to start small so you can really focus. After my research from step one, I knew I was like a kid in a candy shop with tons of big dreams I’m dying to fulfill. But if you let that kid eat all the candy it desires, all it’s left with is a stomach ache. I’d spent 26 years of my life chasing down all of those dreams and getting no where because I wasn’t focused.
Keep Your Head out of the Clouds
But beyond choosing a focus, you also need to keep it realistic. You can’t expect to stick to a strict diet during the holiday season with all of the sweets and cookies. For me, my goal was to create a blog and I knew that I had the background to design anything I needed and the time to research everything concerning the startup work of a blog. My to do list was plenty big, but I knew I needed to only focus on 1. creating that blog and 2. posting on it regularly if I was going to be successful. I couldn’t let my eyes get too big and my goals grow too large. If I kept piling new goals on top and let it grow too unrealistic I was destined to fail.
Instead I stayed focus and worked on nothing else but the design and creation of this website for days. I designed a logo and website assets for every page and wrote any copy needed. There was a whole list of things I needed to do to get this blog up and running. And once it was? I started writing two posts a week for it and began posting on pinterest and instagram to start developing traffic. It was a lot of work (and still is). But it was well within my means to accomplish. Which is how I’m sitting here at 3 months blogging and feel that I finally have some discipline with self improvement.
Step 3. Cut out distractions
Now that you’ve chosen your main goal, you need to make some changes. You probably already know most of the steps you need to take to get right to work. Or if you don’t you’ll be able to figure that out with a little time. But the perfect amount of time to work on this new goal doesn’t materialize out of thin air. You have to cut out the distractions. Now if you’re anything like me, that’s easier said than done. My middle name is procrastination after all. But I was also sick of my nonsense at the start of this process and ready for a change and I bet you are too. So it’s time you make some hard choices.
Where You Invest Your Time You Invest Your Life
This quote means everything to me. Whenever I remember these words, all of my excuses fade away. Because there are probably a lot of things you spend a lot of time on and probably shouldn’t. For me it’s tumblr, instagram and netflix. I can spend hours scrolling to the end of time or binging Gilmore Girls one more time. But I know a big part of this practice is numbing my anxiety or stress over different parts of my life and that’s not ok. I can’t spend all of my time sucked into social media or tv anymore. Or I can.. If I want that social media or tv to become my life. With this quote echoing in my head, I can’t sit and waste time on social media without feeling guilty about it. Which is a win in my book. I have shit to do!
What Are You Willing to Sacrifice?
For me, I cut back on a lot of social media usage to get my butt in gear. In fact I never get on tumblr anymore. But it was a worthwhile sacrifice because now I have this blog and it’s worth everything to me. Of course, you may be looking at your schedule right now and thinking there’s no way you’re going to be able to find some free time to work towards your goal. But I bet there’s something in there. You should be able to find a few hours a week to work on things. Even if you have to sacrifice a bit of sleep or start packing your lunch so you can squeeze some work during your lunch period every day. This is why it’s so important to keep your goal specific and realistic.
With just one goal on the horizon, you should be able to focus all your energy into achieving it. Because eventually, it will be way easier to do and by that point, you won’t be sacrificing anything. Your life will have made the necessary shifts to make some space for your new goals. You might even find you have some left over for a whole new goal to work towards. Every single day this blog becomes more and more ingrained into my life. The skills and discipline I needed in the beginning are becoming instinct to me now and the same can happen for you.
What Are You Working Towards?
Let me know in the comments below! I certainly hope these three steps help make things a little easier on you on your journey. I know how frustrating it can feel to constantly work against yourself. As someone who’s on the other side, I can tell you it gets easier! Just keep setting one goal after another until you get where you want to be. Feel free to leave your big goal down in the comments below and I’ll start cheering you on! I love supporting anyone who’s working towards something big and think we could probably all use someone there on the sideline!