This post may contain affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Self-improvement depends greatly on the way you value you own life, past, present, and future. If you want to make your past self jealous, you need to take self-improvement steps every day.
There is no magic fix to improving your life. When you’re unhappy, changing your circumstances happens one step at a time.
Here are the first ten steps to get you started:
1. Learn to Value Your Current Life
Valuing your life means taking stock of what you have and how you got it.
This isn’t about gratitude, it’s about inventory. What do you see that was worth your time and attention and that came to fruition? Is it the best it could be? Do you want it to be better?
This could be a job, your current home, the relationships in your life.
Valuation starts with a foundation. You set your own foundation, look at what’s important to you. See the current value of what is there and then define what increasing the value of that area looks like.
You live in a small apartment. Who would this apartment be of value to and why? What would they do with this space? How much of your perspective is impacted by what you can’t do with the space?
Understanding that perspective affects how you value what you have, releases negative perceptions that what you have needs to be replaced. Instead you can look for ways to increase how this is already valuable to you.
2. Set Realistic Goals & Reach Them
There are two kinds of goals:
Habits include things like walking daily or drinking more water. Wins are about seeking out one achievement, like taking yourself on a cruise.
You will have different reasons to set different types of goals in your life. All goals are good. Even the ones you don’t reach because setting goals and working towards them will help you develop habits in service of your own needs.
Start out setting realistic goals, small wins you can achieve easily. This is how you begin to build self-trust. Trusting yourself is one of the biggest hurdles to self-improvement. When you don’t trust yourself to make the improvements, you won’t give yourself permission to try.
3. Practice Self-Reflection Regularly
Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is how you work with yourself. Your strengths and weaknesses exist whether you want them to or notice them. They’re there. Discover them. Use the strengths to your advantage, workout the weaknesses.
Working out looks like journaling, therapy, support groups, and accepting feedback from trusted friends and loved ones.
Self-exploration can’t be done alone. It takes listening to your inner voice plus seeking judgment from outside yourself. Allowing others to judge you will give you balance in your ability to identify strengths and weaknesses.
Having a sense of self-worth protected by healthy boundaries will lead you to the right relationships with people you can trust to give helpful, loving feedback meant to help you grow.
4. Practice Future-Self Work
Who you want to be tomorrow depends greatly on what you set yourself up with today. Future self-work includes visualizing a future for yourself.
Visualization can easily be confused with fantasizing so here’s a brief list of what visualizing a future self would look like:
What areas of your life could be slightly elevated?
- Creating a wake-up ritual
- Setting a bedtime routine
- Buying one piece of valuable clothing/accessory
- Improving posture
- Seeking out education/informative content
When you imagine yourself in the future, how do you imagine you feel? What do you want to be doing, wearing, participating in? How are these things already showing up today?
5. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude helps ground you to what you have. There are many things to be grateful for but we’re often distracted with suffering and worrying about that which we don’t have.
Find what you can be grateful for, even if it’s not enough right now.
Gratitude can feel forced if you believe you should be focused on how to fix something. Force it anyway. Practice.
Every day, set a reminder, or do it when you remember. Say thank you for something and mean it. Feel thankful. Push yourself to really feel it.
6. Learn to Process Grief & Suffering
Suffering is a part of life. Everyone will experience loss, hardships, or adversity. Everyone’s path is different and the suffering and grief come at varying degrees. You will not get to choose your suffering. You will only meet your suffering. It will be yours so welcome it in and learn to live with it.
In No Mud, No Lotus, the author teaches you how to welcome your suffering with this mantra:
- Breathing in; I know there is suffering
- Breathing out; I say hello to my suffering
The purpose of this mantra is to first, admit that there is suffering in this world and you will not be free from it. Second, give your mind space for your suffering so that it can belong somewhere and be processed.
Suffering exists, you will carry your own. Learning to carry grief and suffering is akin to learning to lift a box properly, skills can be developed to make the process easier and safer for you and for those you love.
7. Open Yourself to Spirituality
Lacking spiritual curiosity is a denial of what exists. All different life forms exists. There are burning rocks out in space. The universe offers so much to observe, so many patterns to draw from. There is so much reality to process.
Spirituality doesn’t depend on religion or what you believe happens before or after life and death. Spirituality is about the source of life that exists in all beings right now.
Connecting to spirituality creates space to acknowledge the base of your human needs.
Some truths simply exist, like humans love. Animals seek out hierarchies. Brains are programmed for survival. Realizing these simple, inexplicable, uncontrollable truths increases your compassion for yourself, other beings, and the earth.
8. Increase Your Skill Set
Skills can be relative to a goal, or they can simply be to increase your learning abilities.
My eighth grade algebra teacher once said, “You don’t learn algebra so you can do math, you learn algebra to become a well-rounded thinker. Some things are just exercises for your brain.”
I imagine being asked why the pythagorean theorem mattered in life, year after year, gave him a lot of time to think of a good answer. Skills increase your ability to process information of all kinds.
Practicing skills is a skill itself.
Here are some skills you can seek out for general self-improvement:
- Learn a new language
- Increase typing speed
- Watercolor painting
- Learn an instrument
- Floral arrangement
- Cooking, Baking, Decorating
- Knitting, Crocheting
- Write resumes
- Goal setting
All of these skills can be learned through self-taught means; videos, tutorials, talking with friends, and experimenting. Developing skills is as much about learning your methods as it is about mastering the skill. Self-improvement depends on knowing who you are first and expanding from there.
9. Define Self-Improvement
Self-improvement is personal. You decide what improved means for you. Concerning yourself with how other people define self-improvement will stifle your inner voice and lead you off your own path.
When you want to improve, you need to know what that means, for you specifically.
Self-improvement could be changing your entire life and turning everything upside down. It could also be paying your bills on time and taking regular showers. Don’t judge or shame yourself. Don’t over inflate your goals. Choose something and define what improve looks like for that thing.
- Pick an area.
- Decide what improved looks like.
- Slow-walk to improvement, step by step
10. Develop a Long-Term Relationship
Long-term relationships are where you get to see your true reflection. This is where you get to identify your own patterns of life. When you’re in a long-term relationship, you can see where your own progress has taken you.
Relationships don’t have to be intimate or even with people.
A long-term relationship with a house plant will teach you:
- How long you stay committed
- How easily you give love
- What you prioritize
- How often you remember to think outside your own needs
You can also have a long-term relationship with a pet, a job, a friend, or a shelter where you volunteer regularly. Long-term relationships don’t have any requirement other than needing you to have been a part of it for a long enough time to see your own participation patterns.
When you see exactly how you’re already showing up to life, you can decide what needs to be improved and what already works.