Did you know that September is Self-Improvement Month? If there’s one thing that humans have in common, it’s that each of us is painfully aware of our own flaws.
We conducted a sweeping “survey of the surveys,” checking sources from blogs, to Quora, to Yelp, in order to determine the 6 Things People Most Wish They Could Change About Themselves. Responses varied widely – from increasing spirituality to reducing fear – but we singled out the six aspirations that appeared most frequently in the surveys. If any of these common complaints sound familiar to you, we have a few easy tips for making those changes yourself.
Here is our Top 6 List of the most common self-improvement goals:
# 1 – Become more fit and healthy (and in particular, lose weight). Yes, this is a nearly universal desire. Closely connected to this response is the second most commonly-voiced aspiration: to exercise more and become more fit and healthy. We’ve combined these two as our Top Goal.
#2 – Find our purpose in life. No small task. Some people surveyed were seeking to understand why they were put on Earth, while others were specifically wondering what they were “born to do.”
#3 – Acquire more skills for success. The desired skills vary markedly from person to person, but in general, people are wishing they could sharpen the skills that lead to scholastic, career, or life success.
#4 – Improve our personal relationships. Some people want to become more outgoing, in order to be better at building new relationships. Others wish to improve the relationships they already have. Some asked for the emotional maturity to handle relationships better.
#5 – Develop a deeper level of commitment and drive to challenge ourselves. We want to do more with our lives, and we feel like we should. But sometimes we get bogged down by our own inertia, afraid to step out there and take the challenge.
#6 – Develop a higher level of self-esteem and positivity. When you think about it, if you could achieve goals 1-5, number 6 would probably take care of itself! So maybe this aspiration is actually #1.
Tips for Achieving Your Self-Improvement Goals
Step #1 – Remember: nobody’s perfect! We’ll never manage to make every single change we want, and if we’re not realistic about our goals, we’ll do ourselves more harm than good. As you get started, here are a couple basic tips that will help you with all of your goals:
- Focus on the things you can change
- Don’t sweat the small stuff
- Let go of past regrets
- Take baby steps
- Don’t tackle everything at once
- Be realistic
Whatever you do, keeping moving forward with your life.
Tips for the Top 6 Most Common Self-Improvement Goals:
# 1 – Becoming more fit and healthy, losing weight, exercising more:
Again, let’s start by focusing on the things we can change. Unless you’re still growing, you aren’t going to get any taller. But here are a couple easy tips for eating better and exercising more:
- If you’re having no luck eating less, then eat more – more fruits and veggies. You know they’re good for you, so try to fill up on them, instead of junk food.
- Eat more slowly, chew more
- Eat your favorite foods, but in smaller portions. That’s a good way to reduce intake without as much suffering.
- Take temptation out of your way. Get rid of the bad stuff you know you shouldn’t eat and keep healthy alternatives on hand.
- Plan meals in advance – then simply stick to your schedule
- Maximize pleasure in other ways – if your life is full of fun and happiness, you’ll be less likely to seek your pleasure through food.
For more exercise:
- Take the stairs whenever you can
- Make walking (or other physical activities) a social event – bring your friends!
- Get a dog
- Join a team
- Get up 5 minutes earlier and do a few push-ups or crunches
#2 – Find your purpose in life
We probably can’t tell you the meaning of life (although it would be really cool if we could). However, when it comes to finding your passion, that’s one of our specialties. At Envision we are all-about helping students discover what they were born to do – and then helping them nurture that passion by imparting real-life skills and career experience. Here are some tips:
- Listen to your heart – or your gut
- Identify and focus on your strengths
- Write down your successes and achievements
- Look for careers on TV that seem intriguing
- Be mindful of anything that inspires you
- Follow up on your own ideas
- Write down a list of things you’d like to achieve, even if they seem far-fetched
Once we find our purpose, how do we live it? What if it’s not practical? You’ll find that if you nurture your passions and aptitudes, there will indeed be practical ways to make a living from them. Start by pursuing the right career, and then find ways to make your passions even more creative and satisfying.
Want to paint? Consider graphic design or interior decorating. Want to write? Almost all businesses need good writers, in marketing, customer communications, etc.
#3 – Acquire more skills
Most skills are acquired, versus innate, so don’t stress if you think you’re not talented. It’s been proven that practice does indeed make perfect. So, even though this advice may sound a little boring, if there’s something you need to be good at, work on it. Take a class. Ask for tutoring. Then practice.
If you’re a student, Envision’s career and leadership camps will help you move your skillset in the right direction. We have fine-tuned our curricula to provide leadership and 21st century skills, as well as specific, hands-on career skills, experience, and contacts.
#4 – Improve personal relationships
If you want to start by developing new and better relationships, remember that it’s OK to make the first move. Everyone’s nervous about talking to people they don’t know. Don’t be afraid to break the ice. Here are some simple tips:
- Start with a smile
- Make eye contact
- Be positive and complimentary
- Do something nice for someone
If your main goal is to improve the relationships you already have, start by evaluating those relationships. Determine what, specifically, needs to change. You probably can’t change the other person, but you can change yourself. Tips include:
- Spend more time with the people that matter
- Make sure it’s quality time; don’t let yourself be distracted by your phone, or your life’s issues
- Focus on the other person’s qualities
- Aim for a true give-and-take balance
- Forgive past transgressions
- Don’t be afraid to tackle tough subjects and talk it out. When you talk, express how you feel, but don’t accuse.
#5 – Develop commitment and challenge
When you challenge yourself, you grow as a person, acquire new skills, and boost your self-esteem. With this sort of growth, you’re on your way to a life of happiness and reward. Here are some tips:
- Step outside of your comfort zone
- Set high goals
- Surround yourself with high-achievers
- Don’t be afraid to explore new possibilities and chart a new course
- Never stop learning
- Make lists and post encouraging notes for yourself
- Figure out what you’re scared of, and just do it
Remember, if we’re challenged and busy, we’re less likely to sit around eating!
#6 – Develop self-esteem and positivity
We all want to feel good about ourselves and our lives. Here are a few ways to remove some of our fears and self-doubt, and project the kind of confidence that goes hand-in-hand with success.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. Albert Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.”
- Focus on things you can change
- Focus on things you’re good at
- Celebrate life’s blessings, as well as your own achievements – both large and tiny
- Gain confidence by knowing that you’re actively taking steps to improve yourself
- Remember that you are not your circumstances – you can change your stars
- Do something nice for someone – you’ll feel good about yourself
- Exercise – it gives you a sense of self-worth
Above all, focus on your inner self. Just “do you.” These days, people are becoming less judgy, so it’s time to stop judging yourself. You don’t have to be good at everything – just be good at some things. You don’t have to be skinny – just be confident and pleasant to be around. In other words: just be a good person; people love good people. And if you’re loved, you are obviously worthwhile.
For more on self-esteem and self-improvement, check out these additional articles: