Sure, “Better” is often a judgement call. What one person considers a character flaw, someone else might think is an adorable trait, however there are certain things we can all improve on that will benefit our quality of life, even in small ways.
1) Set Goals:
Have you ever been looking for something and forgotten what it was you were looking for part way through the search? How much harder is it to find it when you’ve forgotten what it is? Goals are like that. Set yourself realistic short term goals that you can work towards today, and long term goals that need a lot of things to happen before you can make them a reality.
Keep them in your mind. Write them on your calendar, or have them as the home screen on your phone. You don’t need to be obsessive about it, but if you can think about your goal every day, and know that you are just a little bit closer to achieving it, then it is really only a matter of time before you make it a reality.
2) Express yourself:
We all have something that we like to do, whether we do it well is irrelevant. If you’re a car-singer, then belt out that tune on the way to work, don’t reduce it to a mumble at the traffic lights. If you enjoy it, it makes you happy and does not harm anyone else, give it some gusto and make yourself smile.
Doing something that makes you smile is worth any embarrassment you may get as a result. Own it. Anyone who would try and make you ashamed of doing something you enjoy is probably not someone you should listen to so often.
There is always something you can learn to do that will improve your life. For some people, that involves taking a course at the local TAFE or university. Others might just ask someone to show them how they did something. Some people learn from what they see, others from what they hear and still more from what they do. No matter what your learning method, picking up a new skill will validate your time, and possibly save you some money that you can spend on yourself later.
It can be as simple as learning to change your own oil, how to cook a good risotto or finding a new favourite author. Be curious enough to find out something new.
4) Improve your posture:
How are you sitting right now? Most of us are probably slightly slumped, maybe leaning on an elbow or bent over a tablet. Your posture affects your body in so many way, especially if you’re in a desk job. Even if you’re not though, think about how you sit while driving, or on the train. How do you stand while waiting in line at the supermarket or the post office?
If you have bad posture, just correcting it will help your health immensely. Your back will feel better, you’ll avoid those niggling twinges that can appear out of nowhere, taking general health supplements can also do the trick and besides the health benefits, you will look better, which leads into the next point…
5) Look Good:
Yes, what is inside matters the most. What’s a good plate with nothing on it? It’s nice to be beautiful, but even more beautiful to be nice. There are endless platitudes condoning the shallowness of judging people based on looks, and they make a great point, but everywhere you go, people still do it.
It’s not just about having smooth skin and well defined features though. Not everyone can be as genetically blessed as the people we see staring at us from the glossy magazines, but we can make a bit of an effort to look nicer. Dress a little neater or slightly more fashionably next time you leave the house. You don’t need to spend weeks selecting the latest Parisian fashion, just leave those super-comfy tracksuit pants at home and wear your favourite accessory, like that watch you got for a birthday, or a necklace that you never seem to have an occasion to wear. Treat yourself.
6) Treat other people better:
You probably already treat people well, you’re reading an article on self-improvement after all, but there is always room for improvement.
You don’t need to be a doormat or a zen monk, it can be as simple as waving “thanks” to the person in the car who let you in before your turn-off, or being the first person to get a round of drinks when you get to the bar. Of course, if you’re willing to give up your life and volunteer as an orderly in a war-torn nation for Médecins Sans Frontières, then that is very admirable indeed. Most of us will not do that though, as we are just too committed to living our life as it is, and that’s fine. There is no harm at all in making it a little easier and nicer for those around us though.
7) Find a role model:
Whatever your goal or obstacles, there is a good chance that someone else has gone through it before. Seek them out and learn how they did it, and take inspiration that it can be done.
If you are truly the first person to ever attempt this particular goal, then first accept my congratulations for trying something new. That takes courage, and courage is always admirable. It is likely though, that there will still be people who can inspire you. People that have overcome adversity, kept going when everything seemed against them or simply made the absolute most of the situation they were in. They can be celebrities, athletes, world leaders or even family members who have been able to do what they set out to do, despite the difficulties put in front of them.
Learn from them. If possible, speak to them and get their advice. Try to find out their mindset and things they did to get through the hard times, then apply it to your situation.
8) Get Fitter:
Your body is your physical representation. It’s the first thing that people judge you on when they meet you in person. Getting just a little fitter will give you a physical and psychological boost. For a start, you have achieved something. You have tangible proof that you have improved yourself every time you look in the mirror or choose to take the stairs. You can walk a little bit taller (and a little bit further). You don’t need to be fitter than everyone else, just in better shape than you were before, and that’s something to be proud of.
9) Believe in yourself:
Without self-belief, you will always feel like quitting. Have the attitude that “If it can be done, I can do it” and simply refuse to quit. Believing in yourself isn’t just about knowing that you can do something, but knowing you will not give in to yourself when you are at your lowest.
A good support network is important to have, they can prop you up when you need it, encourage you and flat out give you a kick in the pants when necessary, but unless you actually believe that you can do what needs to be done, it’s all so much hot air. Be the person you want to be.
10) Get started:
All the motivation in the world will not make a difference unless you get started. So often you hear people say that they’ll do something as soon as something else happens. “I’ll start playing basketball, once I lose 10kgs” or “I’ll apply to that course once I get a new computer”, but they never seem to start.
Start now. Yes, if you’re overweight and go to a gym, you may have the least impressive physique in the place at the start. You don’t even have to go to the gym right away, you can start shopping for fat burners, and other multivitamins that you think may help you, do some research, plan your meals. This is not something that you should be embarrassed about. It’s easy to sit at home, make a few nutritional changes and hope your body shape improves. It’s much harder to get out there and make the sweat fly! If others are looking, let them look, it just means that when they see you after you’ve worked out for a while, they’ll be able to recognise how much effort you put in and how big your results are.
There are thousands of reason to put off starting until tomorrow, but if you start today instead, you’ll be that one day closer to your goal, so go. Get off the computer, phone tablet or whatever you’re using to read this and make something happen! Now! The better version of you is waiting, go get it!