There will come times in your life when you have to take a step back from everything that you thought you knew and reevaluate. Whether it is because of your own actions and expectations or because of your expectations of others, on a personal, widespread or even global scale… it’s unavoidable that we get let down sometimes, that things we thought we knew to be true turn out to be less than simple.
Recently I’ve been through one of these moments in my life. It’s still a raw wound but I’m healing and in the meantime, I’m learning. Learning about myself; who I am, who I am capable of being and more than anything, who I want to be.
We’re all capable of change. It’s the honest truth. We all have the potential to be the people we imagine ourselves being in an ideal world; it’s just not always that simple or easy to get there. But when everything in the world seems out of your control, yourself and your attitude are the two things that remain in your personal jurisdiction no matter what.
I’ve recently done a video on self improvement (it’ll post on Monday 19th February) and with it created the Self Improvement Challenge. The first step is setting your self improvement goals; here are mine.
- Work on my creative process: as a creator, every day is a triumph or a failure. Either I’ve created something I’m proud of or I haven’t. My creative process is all over the place; I’m full of good ideas but my execution is prone to being poor because I’m lazy, as is my development process. In 2018, I want to work through the bugs in my process and streamline it until I know I can rely on myself to get things done.
- Work on my cosplay confidence: I’ve been a cosplayer for a decade as of this October (and a huge fan of dress-up since I was a toddler) so it’s about time I treated myself with the respect I deserve. No more body shaming myself, shying away from opportunities to be in the spotlight, or brushing off compliments. I want to work the cosplay catwalk with pride and have loads of pictures taken of my costumes, which is something I have never done in ten years of the hobby.
- Get along better with other people: I’m a really proactive person, and I consider that a strength. However (and dually noted) a few people have pointed out to me that my dedication and determination often means I let relationships fall to the wayside and this can cause a lot of stress and tension in my life and with my friends. It’s time to make time for the people I care about.
- Start eating a healthy diet every day: Sugar is my go-to comfort food. Sugar also makes me miserable after I’ve eaten it. It’s a no-brainer really, but it’s not that easy (as nothing ever is) when it comes down to it. Well, screw easy. Time to make it happen. That, and all the other little nutritional niggles I have are history.
- Work on my Willpower: after all, all of these other goals are worth nothing if I can’t stick at them! I’m prone to taking the lazy route, but I’m going to have to put a stop to that this year. Willpower will carry me when nothing else does – as long as I can muster enough of it.
As promised in my video, I thought I’d list the areas of improvement other people might want to look at to help inspire them to work on themselves too. If something jumps to mind, make note of it, otherwise here are some great things to work on no matter who you are. Listed beneath them are smaller tasks you can do towards making them happen.
Your relationships, romantic, familial or platonic are a fantastic area of your life to work on. For most of us, making other people happy makes us happy. Becoming the type of person who is always making others happy is going to benefit you in so many ways. Here are some examples of things you could work on.
- Increase Empathy – to help you comprehend different perspectives other than just your own
Get this done: trust others, put yourself in their shoes, read about the plights of
others and lend an ear or shoulder when needed
- Active Listening – learn to listen to understand, not just to reply
Get this done: focus on everything someone says to you, take it in, make eye
contact as you talk, give them your full attention, don’t look at your phone
whilst they talk to you, ask questions, ask them to explain further
- Body Language – non-verbal communication that can tell the world all about you, and change the way other people think of you
Get this done: watch or read up on body language, observe those around you,
observe what you’re doing, consciously try out new body language
- Rapport with Others – treat others better and create a reputation of kindness, trustworthiness and reliability
Get this done: make time to listen to your friends, to help them with their
problems, to rally for what’s important to them. Lend a hand when it’s
convenient, adjust your plans sometimes to do what they want, jump to
their aid whenever the opportunity arises
- Open Communication – learn to talk about your feelings to those who care about you, no matter how hard that might be
Get this done: take a deep breath and approach someone with something they
don’t know about you; ask advice, tell them how important it is to you
- Undemanding Forgiveness – forgiving others without expecting anything in return, letting go of grudges and learning holding on to them only hurts you
Get this done: write down everything someone has done that you haven’t
forgiven, and weigh up how important it is. Burn the page, let it go. Apologize
for the conflict even if you were right. Tell them you’ve moved on, then do it.
- Selflessness and Generosity – frequently give your time, attention or gifts of affection to remind others they are cared about
Get this done: give, give, give. Make things for others – meals, crafts, time. Be
physically affectionate to the level they enjoy. Hug your friends. Tell them you
love them. Give them your last fry. Even the little things help.
- Take more trips with friends – spend quality time with those you care for most
Get this done: plan events and outings for the future. Go to the theatre, to a
different country or just take a walk in the park. Get coffee. No matter your
budget, there will be something you can do together out of the house.
Physical improvement goals are things you will tangibly be able to see. They can be with your body, with the things you create, or with the pile of unread books on your shelf.
- Read more Books – even set a goal per month. Reading will make you more interesting with a better vocabulary, more intelligent and more creative.
Get this done: make a list of books you want to read, read every time you’ve got dead time (travelling, using the bathroom, waiting for something to cook), read
every night before you sleep, use the library or listen to audiobooks online
- Create a Morning Routine – start every day with aspirations, writing, a good meal or whatever suits you
Get this done: Write out your routine and stick to it for 30 days. Keep it simple at
first then add to it as you master it. Add aspirations or tasks, nutritional goals,
exercise, yoga, meditation, cleaning (your space or your body) or whatever else
- Start (or continue) Working Out – get to your perfect body, or just better your health for the future
Get this done: Choose a new exercise class, sign up for the gym, go swimming,
go running in the morning, join an amateur sports team, take long walks, or
work out on your bedroom floor for five – ten minutes each morning and add
more time the better you get (10 sit ups, go!)
- Wake up Early – start the day at a time you once believed unreasonable and see how much more you can achieve in that time
Get this done: Set your alarms a little earlier each week until you wake up at
your desired time easily. Do not snooze the alarm. Get to bed earlier. Set
morning goals to get your sleepy self moving first thing.
- Creative Routine – no matter what you create, art, music, writing or anything else, building a creative routine will help you produce your work faster and learn more
Get this done: Do what you do every day. Allot a time every day for practice, try
creative prompts or challenges to get you motivated, join a community group
or share your creations with a friend for feedback, set creative goals
- Learn a New Hobby – or increase your talent at a current one
Get this done: Pick something, anything. Something you’ve always wanted to
do. Google the best way to start, try an amateur class or watch Youtube videos.
Give it your best shot and remember, everything takes practice.
- Change your Appearance – learn new makeup skills, change your hair, anything
Get this done: use pinterest for inspiration, watch Youtube videos, ask
professionals in shops for advice, go to a salon for a consultation, mimic your
favourite celebrity’s or characters style
- Create an Inspiration Board – believe it and it will come true; create a physical motivation board of all the things you want in your future
Get this done: Get a pin board or frame. Print or write out your favourite
quotes, aspirations, bucket list items, goals for the future; draw or photoshop
things you want actually coming true like number of social media followers,
Youtube subscribers, tickets to some event or travel plans, gather images of
the things you want the most and look at it every day for inspiration
- Improve your Environment – change your bedroom or house, bring in plants or whatever else is going to improve your space… or find somewhere new entirely
Get this done: start small – clean, hang a picture, change your bedsheets, place
a rug, buy new curtains, stick up posters, rearrange furniture, hang fairy lights,
create a pinterest inspiration board, look up new rental listings, buy plants
- Be more Charitable – whether just to the people around you or strangers in need, give more in your life
Get this done: donate time or money to charity shops, go through your things
and start a pool of items to donate, raise money with bake sales or triathlons,
lend to friends, give change to charity pots and buskers on the streets
- Get Better Sleep – sleep better to make every waking moment better
Get this done: allow 7 – 8 hours each night, stop looking at your phone an hour
before bed, avoid blue light, sleep in a cool place with lots of blankets, sleep with
white noise, take magnesium supplements, use an SAD lamp in the day, keep a
dream diary, shower or bathe before bed, drink a sleep inducing tea
Anything that affects your lifestyle day to day falls into this category.
- Better your career – or get a new job entirely
Get this done: rework your CV, apply everywhere, speak to your superiors about
what you could do to move up the ladder or just what new responsibilities you
could take (perhaps in exchange for ones you don’t like!) and be nice to your
colleagues and managers
- Earn more money – however that will work for you, whether a pay rise or a side hustle!
Get this done: start an etsy, sell your artwork, design t-shirts, have a bake sale,
go to a car boot sale, sell e-books on Amazon, ask your boss how to work up
to a pay increase and do it, offer your services on Fiverr or People Per Hour
- Study something new – teach yourself something you’ve always been interested in learning
Get this done: go to a local class, take an online course, use Open University,
learn a language, read educational blogs and books, watch documentaries
- Study better – if you’re still learning now, work on improving the way you study and retain information, or pass an upcoming exam with great grades
Get this done: use study cards, look up studying techniques and try them until
something works for you. Study with friends, ask teachers and parents for aid.
- Find a Fashion Sense – your style needs to work for you, so work on a wardrobe you’re proud of
Get this done: use magazines, celebrities, pinterest – cultivate ideas for a style
and work it into your wardrobe slowly. Customise current clothes.
- Take up a New Diet – such as vegetarianism, veganism, gluten free, paleo, or just cut out something you wish you didn’t eat like fries or soda
Get this done: cut out sugar, learn about nutrition, cook from scratch, offer to
cook once a week if you don’t at home, cut out meat, dairy, gluten, read recipes
online, get cookbooks from the library
- Look after yourself nutritionally – learn what your body needs and give it to yourself
Get this done: drink 8 glasses of water, eat more vegetables, take vitamin
supplements, look up nutrition that could help relieve stress or anxiety
- Quit a Bad Habit – smoking, biting your nails, anything you dislike that you do
Get this done: google how to break a habit and try each method until success
- Spend less time online – or on the computer, or in front of the TV. Do what’s necessary, then steal your time back by cutting the procrastination
Get this done: make a list of what is necessary to do online, and once it is done,
limit your recreational time. Put your phone in a drawer, sit away from your
computer, turn it off (it probably needs it) and do something else for an hour
- Get out of your comfort zone – go do something you’ve always been scared to do, or something you’ve never even dreamed of before
Get this done: talk to shop tellers or strangers, go sky diving, go dancing –
anything that you’d like to try or be better at goes
- Make a plan for the future – plan ahead to set goals for one year, five or ten years time so you know where you’re going
Get this done: get a notebook and make a plan. List things you want for yourself,
make notes on what you’d need to get them done. Write a bucket list. Think
physical, mental, lifestyle, financial, spiritual and environmental aspirations!
- Read or listen to positive material – choose something inspirational and start reading or listening to it religiously
Get this done: find a blog or podcast to listen to, watch TEDtalks, find
recommended inspirational book lists online
- Learn a Language – not only is it fun, it looks great on your CV and it can actually make you more intelligent
Get this done: use online audio courses (free on Youtube!) and google language
learning. Use Michel Thomas courses (best in the world!) or find a local class.
Speak with a native speaker of that language frequently, teach them yours!
Mental or Personal
Internal goals that mainly affect you personally.
- Become more confident – own yourself, your looks and your actions
Get this done: plan outfits ahead, put your thoughts in their place, be prepared
in advance for whatever you’re doing, write a journal to understand yourself,
fake it until you make it!
- Overcome fears – expose yourself to your fears and learn they aren’t as large as you think
Get this done: face your fears head on – do things that scare you, expose yourself
to the thing you are frightened off until it no longer scares you anymore
- Be less reliant on others – become more independent so you can control your life and your emotions better
Get this done: be responsible for yourself, plan how to do things without help,
stop expecting things off others, be more proactive by making steps alone, stop
waiting for your parents or friends to do things for you
- Learn to be mindful – be aware of the world around you and live in the present, pay attention to the little things
Get this done: sit and pay attention to your surroundings. Use each of your
senses to feel what’s going on. Meditate, do yoga, do breathing exercises. Pay
attention to the news, look for good news, look after the planet
- Accept your limitations – everyone has their limits and whilst it’s good to push them, it’s better not to let failures hurt you
Get this done: push yourself, but when you do not succeed, write down what you
have learned and use that next time, do not beat yourself up for failure – instead
treat it as a learning curve
- Learn to love yourself – self care is so important, so learn how to love number one
Get this done: try a Self Care challenge! Take time for yourself, look after your
body and your mind, learn to compliment yourself, do not treat yourself how you
wouldn’t treat others and speak kindly to yourself
- Stop procrastination – teach yourself how to get things done on time so you have free time afterwards
Get this done: make to-do lists, break tasks down into tiny chunks and take it
all one step at a time, reward yourself for successful completion, rinse and repeat
- Manage stress effectively – create a stress free lifestyle where you deal with whatever life throws at you
Get this done: avoid alcohol and caffeine after 3pm, get better sleep, write lists,
keep a journal, exercise, speak daily affirmations, meditate, learn breathing
techniques, share your stress with someone else, manage your time
- Learn to cope with depression and anxiety – learn coping mechanisms that will make life easier to enjoy in the long run
Get this done: create routines that prevent or reduce episodes, eat and sleep well,
concentrate on what you know makes you feel better, lean on others
- Share what you’re proud of – show your achievements to the world, or just share parts of yourself that you usually keep secret
Get this done: show others what you’ve been doing, share yourself often, post
online and do not be afraid of feedback – the thoughts of others can’t hurt you.
- Change your attitude to life – stop looking at everything with a negative or defeated attitude and start seeing the good things in the world
Get this done: make conscious steps to having a more positive outlook on life,
look for the good things in everything, believe in yourself and your ability to
change your life
- Become more productive – get more done in the time you have
Get this done: download a productivity app, make lists, dedicate time in the day
to tasks (say: at 1pm I will do… at 2pm I will do…) and stick to it, delegate tasks
to others where possible, stop aiming for perfection, stop working overtime and
work harder to get things done in your lessened time, learn to say no to others,
stop working at some point and have you-time to recuperate each day
Of course, all of this is just my ideas – most of these can apply to anyone, so if you’re looking to set some self-improvement goals, feel free to use any from this list. Don’t be afraid to make them more specific to you, however. Perhaps one of your goals is ‘do the laundry for mum more often’ or ‘be nice to Sheila at work’, or ‘post a chapter of my fanfic every week’ – whatever works for you.
If you’d like to kickstart it by joining the self improvement challenge, here it is!
Interested in more self help advice? See my video playlist here!