How do I improve myself?

Optimize everything in your life: how you think about next steps you want to take, what you eat, how you manage your time, how you handle obstacles and mistakes, and which steps you take to feel happier in everything that you do.

Here are 12 ideas on how to start.

Begin each day by asking yourself this question: “What is the one thing I am committed to completing today?”

This technique trains your brain to focus on which goals are important to you right now, and it forces you to prioritize the goal you believe to be the most relevant in this moment. How do you practice this habit? Put it in writing. Write it in big bold letters on a sheet of paper and hang it on your bedroom or bathroom wall. Read it out loud as you start your day, and come up with an answer on the spot. Then follow up by taking action.

Build your unique daily routine.

Why is a routine important? Because it helps you become the master of your own time and helps you to stay calm knowing in advance how your day is going to look like. Create a structured routine customized to your specific needs, your goals, and what you believe to be most relevant to you. Include things like:

Develop your life strategy.

Focus on the work you’ve planned to complete today, but always keep your eye on at least two steps ahead. When you have a strategy in place, everything you do each day will have more purpose. Rethink your daily actions and how you react to what’s happening around you. Is your behavior geared towards achieving a one-time effect, or will you feel benefits in the long run? Are you merely reacting to events or being proactive about them? Is what you’re doing today going to help you become who you want to be in 10 years? Become strategic so that you can achieve long term results that your future self can benefit from.

Set long-term goals for yourself.

Goals are a must because they give you more focus on what is truly important to you, and because they can give your life more meaning. Ask yourself, where do you see yourself in the future, who do you want to become, what would be an ideal lifestyle for you? Write down your top 3 goals, then map out what you need to do every day so that you can reach them. Create a schedule for the week so you give yourself a little time every day to work towards achieving your goals.

Learn one new thing a day.

Why? Because knowledge is power. There is always so much new material to learn, and you should teach your mind to be flexible and to grow. If you don’t know the answer to a question, ask someone who does. If you want to explore on your own, set aside a small block of time every day to learn something new: teach yourself a new skill, learn how to build something from scratch, research a topic that fascinates you, listen to a podcast on an interesting subject while you are driving or cooking or doing laundry.

Make your mind a peaceful place to be in.

More important than tidying up your bedroom or your workspace, you should regularly work on keeping your mind clean and uncluttered. Why? When it’s not full of jumbled thoughts, confusion and worry, it can work its real magic. How do you do that? With meditation. This small practice doesn’t require a lot of time, it’s simple to follow, and it has many benefits, including better focus and more concentration. Meditating early in the day can prepare your brain for the day ahead, and it can also help you sleep better at night. Download the Headspace app to start with a 10-minute session.

Read books.

Why read? So that you feed your brain, learn new things, reconnect with a topic you feel passionate about, and absorb the life experiences of other people. Here’s how to start building this habit:

  • Check out recommendations on the best books of all time on Quora to pick writers and topics that many consider to be timeless and unique.
  • Download the Goodreads app to find books on the topic that interests you, to get recommendations, add books to your bookshelf, and track your reading progress.

Be persistent.

Do you often find yourself walking away from things before you even try them? The writer Seth Godin said, “Never quit something with great long-term potential just because you can’t deal with the stress of the moment.” Fight the urge to give up whenever things get tough, hard, or even ugly. Know the difference between what feels hard to do right now and what’s good for you in the long run. Nothing big and truly amazing happens in one day or even a month. So next time you fall, do your best to get up, dust yourself off, and keep going.

Replace the words “I can’t” with “why not?”

Henry Ford once said: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” Listen carefully to the words you tell yourself on a daily basis, because they could be empowering you or doing the opposite. Try a different approach: leave some space open for possibilities instead of shutting the door in your own face. It’s better to ask yourself where the resistance is coming from, rather than give in to it immediately without a fight.

Improve your relationship with your mistakes.

Making mistakes is a normal part of life. It’s how you approach them that matters. Try a different strategy of viewing your past by forgiving yourself for mistakes that you made. Reflect on them, learn from them, but don’t hold on to them. This applies to your relationships, your career, your education, and other areas of your life in which you feel you didn’t achieve what you wanted or underperformed in some way. By changing how you relate to mistakes, you will give yourself more freedom to manage your future more successfully.

Say “thank you” every day.

Practicing gratitude about what we have going for us can restructure our brain to focus on the “haves” instead of steering to the negativity of the “have nots.” This practice will set a more positive tone for your future self because it will enable you to think and live more expansively – you will feel you live a life of abundance rather than a life of scarcity. It’s simple to start and only takes 5 minutes. As soon as you wake up, take a notebook and write 3 things you are grateful for today: it can be something as simple as a roof over your head, food in the fridge, a warm bed, running water, a positive relationship with people you love the most, etc.

Flex your happiness muscle.

If you’re not as happy today as you’d like to be, there is a simple technique you can use to change how you feel: start treating happiness like a habit and actively look for what you can do to become happier every day. Get ideas from one of Harvard University’s most popular lecturers, Tal Ben-Shahar, who writes books on positive psychology. Two books where he gives examples how you can practice positive psychology in your life are Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Happiness and Choose the Life You Want: The Way To Lasting Happiness Moment by Moment.

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