We talk a lot about self-improvement. Most of us either do something to improve or at least think about doing it. There are many ways to do this, but a great place to start is to create better and healthier habits.
Below we’ll look into how good habits are a crucial part of self-improvement and how you can use them before we look at the 9 best habits for self-improvement.
What is self-improvement?
Self-improvement can be many things. For different people, it’ll look different. Getting in better shape, spending your time more efficiently, being more mindful and relaxed, and moving on from trauma, are all forms of self-improvement.
There are several aspects of your life that you can center your self-improvement efforts around. This could be (mental)health, skills, knowledge, career, finances, or personal achievements. There is no right or wrong thing to focus on if it means something to you.
While even short periods of focused work on yourself can have long-term benefits, you should never stop trying to improve yourself. Everything changes over time, and there’s always space for you to become a better version of yourself. And if you keep working, future you will thank you for your efforts. Just like you might be thankful for the work you did in the past.
The benefits of self-improvement
You might work to get in better shape, which is great by itself. However, your efforts will often have a positive effect that reaches far beyond what you’re trying to accomplish. As you begin focusing on bettering yourself and slowly accumulate small wins, you’ll start to notice the benefits listed below.
- You become happier and gain more self-esteem.
- You have more energy.
- Your dreams suddenly seem much more realistic. Success seems possible.
- You get to know yourself better.
- It can help you overcome mental weakness, such as the victim’s mentality.
- Life generally seems more pleasant and your existence more effortless.
As you become more confident, have more energy, and overcome your mental weaknesses, self-improvement becomes easier. You improve faster. Slowly, this creates a positive cycle where the small wins from your efforts propel you towards the next win, and the whole journey begins to seem effortless.
How habits can be used to improve yourself
Habits are behaviors that you do automatically. More than 40% of everything you do is controlled by habits. They affect what you eat, how you sleep, and how you spend your time. They can even affect your thoughts and emotions. In other words, habits control who you are, what you do, and who you’ll become.
Creating better habits is the best way to start self-improvement. As you form some that bring you closer to a better you, you get more freedom to work on other aspects of yourself. This speeds up the process. Or, if you have past trauma, it allows you to work through that without losing yourself.
Habits are a great foundation for self-improvement and provide something for you to fall back on when times get tough. If you dream about becoming a better you, you have to focus on building better habits first.
Things to consider before you start improving yourself with better habits
Before you start improving yourself by forming better habits, there are a few things you have to consider. Both to give you the optimal conditions for success and to maximize the benefits of your efforts.
Which habits will bring me closer to my goals or dream?
What is your reason for you to start improving yourself? What do you want to achieve? What are you unhappy about as things are now? The first step is to identify your reason for doing this for yourself.
You might want to change or achieve several things. Most of us do. But when you begin, it’s important that you put your focus on one or two things you can do to get closer to where you want to be.
Once you begin to create the first good habit(s), two things will happen.
First, you’ll begin to gain self-esteem and feel better about yourself. As the small wins slowly start to accumulate, you’ll understand that you can succeed in doing difficult things. This new confidence will make doing difficult things in the future easier. Over time, you’ll feel like you can achieve anything.
Secondly, the first habit you started can create ripples that create other positive behavior in your life. Over time, these new behaviors will create more positive habits. Sometimes, it doesn’t take more than starting one good habit to completely turn your life around.
Further down, we’ll look at the best habits that you can form for self-improvement.
Related: Build the right habits with identity-based goals
How to create a habit
A habit is a behavior that has been repeated several times with a reward in the end. Therefore, you won’t be able to develop a habit overnight. Here are 4 tips to help you get started.
- Make it as easy as possible by preparing the day before. If you have to prepare as you’re ready to go, you have more time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll be less likely to succeed.
- Reward yourself for doing the behavior. This can be something small such as listening to good music while working out.
- Place the new behavior after an existing habit. This will make your brain think that the new behavior is a part of the old habit.
- Be with the right people. We all want to fit in. If you’re friends share similar dreams to you, it will be easier to work towards them.
How to make a habit stick
Once you know which habit to work on and how to create it, it’s time to make it stick. There are several ways to do this, but one of the most effective is habit tracking.
Tracking your habits can be done as simple as having a calendar and marking each successful day with an x. As your streak grows, you’ll slowly become more confident and look forward to marking another successful day. Breaking the streak begins to have consequences, and you’ll be more likely to keep it going.
If, or rather when, you’ll miss a day, you shouldn’t worry. It happens to all of us. Get back as soon as possible, preferably the next day. Start to rebuild the streak and see your previous streak as the point to beat.
Be patient and start slow
When most people start something new, they tend to go all in from the beginning. The initial surge of motivation makes them think that that feeling will stay with them forever. That going easy is a waste of their time. That’s why most people fail.
The best way to build lasting habits is by slowly building them up.
Instead of insisting on reading a chapter every night, you can begin with one page.
Instead of insisting on walking 30 min every day, you can begin by walking around your building.
When you accept something small, it will be easier to stick with it when you have a bad day and feel as if you don’t have the time. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t aim for the chapter or the 30 min walk, because you should. But, at the same time, you’ll be okay when you do less. The goal here is to show up, not be perfect, from the beginning.
Be patient with yourself and accept that you won’t be where you want to be overnight. Self-improvement and habits take time.
Related: 3 toxic self-improvement habits
The best habits for self-improvement
Different habits will have different benefits. It’s up to you to figure out which behaviors will help you get to where you want to be.
It can be hard to understand the benefits of different habits. To make it a bit easier, you can read more about the 9 best habits for self-improvement and how they can help you become a better you.
Do you have any of the following 9 habits already? Which would you like to create?
Related: Get an overview of your habits with a habit scorecard
Working out isn’t something that’ll just make you stronger, healthier, or look better. It will transform your way of thinking and make life’s obstacles seem more manageable, as you’re already doing something difficult.
Doing regular intense workouts can help you feel more confident and happier. Get a better night’s sleep and relieve stress. It can help you build discipline and teach you how to push through pain and discomfort. Learning how to push through discomfort isn’t just useful for exercising but can help you do difficult tasks in life.
For the first couple of weeks, you might feel drained, but as your body begins to adapt, you’ll feel more energized and have more energy for other things.
Whatever your goal is, working out can help you get there. If you’re unsure about which habit to begin with or about your dreams, it’s recommended to start here.
Related: How to make working out a habit
Eating healthy food is another habit that has many benefits, both mentally and physically. Eating quality food can help you lose weight and build muscle. It can make you feel less stressed and give you more energy to do other tasks.
Eating healthier is a habit that can easily be broken into many small steps, which makes it great to pair with one of the other habits. Small changes, such as eating veggies or fruit daily, can take you far.
Whether your goal is to start a business, become better at your sport, or feel better about yourself, eating healthy food can help you get the energy and mental clarity necessary to achieve that.
Having a sleep schedule
Most people don’t get enough quality sleep. Considering how crucial getting enough rest is for our mental and physical health, it’s a huge obstacle to self-improvement. One way to avoid this is to set up a sleep schedule.
Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day can help you fall asleep faster and get a better night’s rest. As you wake up, you feel more energized. Your chance of depression and anxiety will drastically decrease, and you’ll feel clearer throughout the day.
Nobody is saying that you have to get up at 5 every morning if that doesn’t work for you. Find a time that suits you.
Some days, you might have a hard time falling asleep or have to get up earlier than usual. That’s okay, one day with a change in the schedule won’t have a big impact if you make sure to get back on track with the next cycle.
Having a sleep schedule might seem difficult at first, but once you get used to it, the benefits will make the initial trouble worth it.
Having a morning routine
How you spend your morning will shape the rest of the day. If you snooze or spend 30 min in bed scrolling your phone, you’re more likely to struggle to be productive the rest of the day. If you, on the other hand, get up when your alarm rings, make your bed, drink water, eat your breakfast, and do a small meditation before checking your phone, you’ll be much more productive throughout the day. The chances of getting things done will increase, and procrastination will be less likely.
There are many ways to start a morning routine. In the beginning, it can be something small. You can practice getting up when the alarm rings the first time and avoid using your phone for a certain amount of time. Slowly you can add to your routine until it suits your needs.
Having a good morning routine can help you become more productive and feel better throughout the day. It might be hard to create a nice morning routine if you don’t get enough sleep, but start slow and try to make it enjoyable.
Before you can improve yourself, you have to understand what you need to work on and how you do that. There are many ways to get this knowledge, but my favorite is through books. Especially psychology, philosophy, and self-help books (If you have a critical sense) can teach you a lot about yourself and the people around you.
Related: How to read more books
Another great thing about books is that you read about people with the same thoughts and feelings as you have. They all have dreams and have lived through trauma. Reading can help you understand that you’re not alone and that whatever is going on in your life, it’s okay. Someone has gone through the same and created a happy ending.
Find books that you enjoy, and they can serve as an entertaining way to become smarter and increase your attention span. If there’s one thing that almost all successful people have in common, it is that they read.
Daily walks outside are one of the most underrated habits you can form for self-improvement. They can help you reduce stress, feel more energized, and help you to think more clearly. They can provide a much-needed break from the stress of life and help you get away from It all, even if it’s just for a moment.
You can pair your walks with something you like. Listening to music or seeing a good friend can make it more enjoyable if the main objective is to get some fresh air and exercise.
If you want all the benefits, try to go for a walk somewhere quiet with nothing but yourself. No entertainment, no distractions. Just you and your thoughts. Doing this will often seem boring at first, but as you get comfortable being bored, the benefits will be huge.
Daily walks can be a part of your exercise schedule, help relieve stress and make you think more clearly. They can have a positive impact on (mental)health, productivity, and much more.
For many, the thought of scheduling all their activities can seem like they’re creating a prison for themselves. For others, writing down your tasks and activities can seem like an overwhelming task and a waste of time.
Those who start and make it through the initial period of adaption slowly realize that it isn’t a prison but gives them more freedom. It might take some time to fill in the activities, but the time you save from deciding what to do when will make it worth it. Resulting in you being able to get more things done with less effort.
Creating the habit of scheduling your activities can help you become more productive, organized, and disciplined. You won’t have to argue with yourself whether you’re doing it today or tomorrow because your calendar told you that it’s for today. It will help you get more done in less time.
If you can control your thoughts, you can control your emotions. If you can control your emotions, you can control your actions. If you can control your actions, you can control the outcome.
Meditation is all about becoming more mindful and relaxed. It teaches you how to separate from your thoughts which helps you understand how they affect you and how you can control them. As you get better at controlling your thoughts, you’ll be better at thinking clearly, and distractions won’t be as distracting.
Guided meditations are a great place for beginners to start. You can find different styles with different narrators who focus on different problems. Try different styles to learn how the different approaches affect you and what you like. As you get more experienced, you can consider meditations by yourself.
Meditations help you become more relaxed, a better thinker, and more productive. There are only a few, if any, internal problems that can’t be improved with meditation.
Sometimes our mind is occupied by unpleasant emotions and thoughts. If you don’t have anyone to talk to when this happens, it can feel impossible to clear your head. The negative thoughts get room to grow and can make you feel worse. An alternative to talking is journaling.
Journaling is a great way of clearing your head, and it’s easy to do. All you need is a pen and paper, a laptop, or your phone.
What you write in your journal is up to you. It should be what feels relevant to you and your situation. You can write about your thoughts and feelings, what you did that day, letters to yourself and others, or write down whatever comes to your mind until it feels empty. You can use your journal to set goals, show gratitude, or increase productivity. There is no wrong way to do journaling.
Journaling can make you more productive, get rid of negative thoughts, understand yourself better and relax. It can help you move past difficult periods and create a better relationship with yourself.
Related: Habit myths
Self-improvement can come in many different forms and shapes. It’s all about creating a better you.
Almost half of everything you do is controlled by habits. Because of the huge impact, they have on your life, it’s difficult to improve yourself without creating better habits first.
Habits take a while to form. Work on 1-2 behaviors, be patient, and give yourself the time necessary for it to stick before you take on the next.
There are many habits you can create that’ll make you a better person. The 9 best habits for self-improvement are:
Working out, eating healthy, having a sleep schedule, having a morning routine, reading, daily walks, scheduling activities, meditation, and journaling.
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