Self improvement is a thoughtfully planned process of one to outperform his former self. Every successful leader has gone through this process to go beyond his limitations. People with volubility like William Faulkner defines it much better than me-“Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Do not bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”
In this chaotic life that we chose for ourselves, we often pick not to concentrate on our prospects to outshine our performances, or add a new skill, be a better human, take more care of our body and mind. We are mostly under the impression that we need to thrive by struggles. We seldom look at things from the perspective that we can enrich our potential in many ways and can live rather than just sustain.
Make a list
There is no certainty that the opportunity we dream of or the people we want get close to will come in our way. We have least control on external factors. However we certainly know our limitation and interests. We know if visiting a museum makes our day or reading a book makes us feel the time well spent. Most of us have a list of unfulfilled dreams.
Some points of it include learning new things or trying different stroke of life.
Now we can make a new list where we can add some realistic or subtract some unrealistic wishes. Then start doing each of them one by one. No matter how small and useless it may seem it will add an invaluable experience to our selves. This in turn will contribute to our self improvement process.
Those without an existing list can take the road of self development by mish mashing- suggestions, networking, training, discussions, taking on new roles/challenges, experiencing new situation, visiting new countries and everything that help one’s mind to grow.
Again self development can be a process to become more adept in current job, accomplishing a higher professional degree, learning to resolve conflict, being more able to effectively communicate, being more able to perform family duty or taking better care of oneself too.
But just because something is good does not mean that it is for you. So in this journey of self improvement we must keep focus on our interest all the time.
Reading is a powerful way to enrich our mind. A Gallup Poll found that -high-income people read an average of nineteen books per year.
Though any kind of reading is encouraged for enriching one’s mind; recently an interesting revelation has been made by Tom Corley, the author of “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals.” about the differences in reading habit of poor and rich people.
So it seems like rich and successful (in economic terms) people takes reading more seriously and aim for self improvement while choose what they want to read. Initially to grow the habit of reading, reading for pleasure is also a good start. Most avid readers never get short of the interest of reading just for entertainment.
The 19th century president of Harvard University, Charles William Eliot, said, “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
The age old proverb of ‘Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy wealthy and wise’ is still in fashion. At least one will admit it if he sees the list of CEOs who wakes up early.
- Generel Motor CEO Mary Barrra reaches office at 6 am (even before becoming the CEO).
- Apple CEO Tim Cook wakes up at 3.45 every day, coping up with three time zones of east coasters, he checks emails, workout and start working much ahead of office hour. As work is what he enjoys most.
- Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne wakes up at 3:30 a.m. to match and work with the European market. One of his colleague said that “Sergio invented an eighth day, and we work it.”
- Pepsico CEO-Indira Nooyi wakes at 4 and reaches office at 7
- GE CEO Jeff Immelt wakes up at 5.30 for a cardio workout and claims working 100 hours a week for last 24 years.
- AOL CEO Tim Armstrong wakes at 5.15 to read email,tinkle with AOL products.
The list can be pretty long all evidencing one thing-
Even the super powerful CEOs, most efficient leaders and successful people find daytime to be not sufficient to accommodate all the things they need to do. So waking up early gives them some extra hour to think, work or exercise.
Raise the bar
Isn’t that that the whole concept of self improvement? We try to raise the bar and constantly pass it with success. One with experience of video games is familiar with this concept. At every level game becomes more difficult. So with practice the avid gamer keep winning.
Life is nothing different. With time we have more responsibilities more things to concentrate on; still we cannot ignore the core things we do for living or sustaining. If we try becoming better in our skills than complexity of being a multitasker will redeem, because we will be leveling ourselves up before the next level even comes. As a writer I try to write better, read more to level up my writing skills. As a parent I try to be updated and more conscious with the changing need of my kids to level up my parenting skills. Whatever is someone’s skill, he should keep trying to it level up constantly.
Learn a new skill
Learning is a gift to human being. With time it is true our brain’s capacity to learn defies ;before it is too late we should try to learn more. It can be learning-a new life skill like swimming, a new recipe, a new style statement or a new language whatever interests someone. My last learning was how to fix a DVD drive without an expert. Life hacks are great starters, gradually one can move to learn more and if time allows it is not a crazy thing to enroll into a course for the sake of learning.
In her interview with Oprah our one the favorite first lady Michele Obama told us-She wakes up at 4 because she works out before her kids get up. Without working out she feels depressed.
Even in a place like White house a confident first lady can feel depressed without working out, it does pretty much sums up the power of exercise. We need it for feeling good for ,keeping us upbeat and last but not least for a better and healthier body.
Blind spot identify and work on it
Someone comes home from work and finds out a pipe in the washroom has burst and the house is loaded with water, freaks out and starts shouting rather than calling for help.
It happens. Some situation, people or objects makes us blind and we behave irrationally because we do not know how to react rightly.
Problem is as we get blind facing it, we hardly know or acknowledge it as a problem. So firstly we need to find it out what bothers us so much ;then find a ways to deal with it. For me it may be by parent’s fights, which I find very uneasy to deal with. It can be anything big or small the fact is we need to be equipped to deal with it so that before it takes charge of us we can take control of it.
Quit a bad habit
There is not much to talk about it. If it was easy to quit a bad habit like going bed late or eating junk food than there would not be so many books on self resolution and all. Despite how difficult it is for self improvement successful people has overcome their bad habits.
Some useful strategies-
- Start with small things, like quit biting your nails.
- Than point out other hideous habits that your family or friends always complain about.
- Do it in step by step process. With each omission on bad habit you will only become stronger and more confident on quitting the next one.
- Use reverse bad habit technique while trying to quit it.For every bad habit to quit first identify why you were indulged into it on the first place, like mindless eating. Research shows most bad habits are form of our way to deal with stress. So it is important to know mindfully that you are stressed so that you can do something healthy to relieve from it –like exercise and do something more to make a substitute habit. For example to avoid mindless eating you can choose to drink a lot of water and clean your pantry from all the junk food. Pour it with veggie and fruits than eat only when you feel hungry.
We cannot always avoid negative people. They are so many ,and avoiding someone means you are weak and scared. So I would rather say be deaf to them. And be silent when any negative thing comes at your mouth.
I solemnly believe in the proverb-
“More we talk negatively less creative we become”
So avoid negativity in you and avoid any negative thoughts that may hold you back from moving forward.
Minimize time in social network and TV
These are the means of entertainment. This is very much required for unwinding. However we often choose TV or social networks as a mean to avoid the reality or to be simply busy. Sometime we neglect our family time while watching a not so interesting match, sometime we postpone our nap time just because an interesting video in on YouTube. Example will only make this article longer, but truth is we all know how we kill our valuable time with these media time. To be really efficient and self improved one need to consciously check on this time killing gadgets.
We can set a time, like a an hour or so for this purpose. Choose the time to be in move like while we are on a bus or in a transport where the time is lost anyway. Thus we can be present in the virtual life when our need to play any significant role in real life in minimal.
Spend time with people important in your life
Many of us are aware of the last words of Steve Jobs, He wished to spend more time with his family, and He wished his children knew him better. He even made sure that a biographer can make his life more visible to his children because in his lifetime he could not do it as much as wanted it in his deathbed.
It is important to work and plan for future but all we do is mostly for our happiness, which is never obtainable if our near one are not happy with us. So In the quest of ‘Becoming more’ a big dedication of time should be entitled to our family or dear ones.
Commit to development goal
This list of becoming more self developed or self improvement tips can go many more pages, but truth is I wanted to keep it simple and attainable.
Without believing that “I can” one cannot follow any plan. So start right now and be focused, be committed to whatever plan you have made for yourself. Only dedication can make the most out of anyone.