There are many ways we can improve ourselves, but some have a larger impact than others. Here are ten ideas for self-improvement that I believe are incredibly powerful. In other words, each idea on its own could make a large impact on your life, yet is comparatively simple.
The best self-improvement ideas are often the most simple. More complicated ideas are not only harder to implement, but you're less likely to stick with them. The best ideas are those that you'll stick with, so that they become second-nature to you, but that are also capable of making big positive changes to your life.
TV is a big stealer of your time and energy. It’s an easy habit to form – relaxing in front of the TV, particularly after a long day at work – but in the long run its only going to take up a lot of time that you could be spending on more worthwhile things. Also a lot of TV tends to leave you feeling drained of energy and helpless. As it’s a passive activity, where you are just watching other people doing things, it’s sending the message to your subconscious that you are passive and not actively able to do things. Also, a lot of the factual or news content on TV is deliberately negative and fear-producing.
Water is great for our health in all kinds of ways, such as improving your skin. Alternatively, many of us drink too much caffeinated, sugary or alcoholic drinks, which can be bad for mental functioning.
Getting up earlier not only gives you more time and energy to do things, it also gives you a greater momentum for the whole day. Once you have that feeling of being up and accomplishing things before most people have even woken, it gives you a boost for the rest of the morning!
It can be too easy to sit around thinking things over, planning and worrying. Sometimes its best to just take action and adapt/modify as you go along. Taking action also builds its own momentum: the more you do, the more you feel you can do.
We live in an information-age, and the more you can learn, the better equipped you will be in your personal and work lives. Reading is a great way to learn, and is particularly good for following ideas to a deep level (which is something that fewer people are doing as attention spans are under pressure from multiple distractions these days). And, of course, it can't hurt to read more self-improvement books!
The past can control us. Old memories can replay in our minds until our thoughts get dominated by them. Learn to let go of things. Unfinished projects that didn’t seem to be going anywhere: let go of them. The irony is that often by letting go of something it dissolves whatever mental block there was that was holding you back from completing it!
One of the most significant findings in social psychology is called the fundamental attribution error. Essentially it’s the tendency we have to attribute the behavior of ourselves to our situation, but the behavior of others to their personality. For example, if you trip over you blame the crack in the pavement, if you see someone else trip you assume they are clumsy. This means we are too quick to downplay the environmental factors that are influencing someone’s behavior. One of the consequences of this is that we often jump to conclusions about people’s behavior, thinking they have a lousy personality or that they are making some personal insult against us, when in reality there might be a more innocent explanation.
These days too many people seem to be looking for the short-cut route to everything. Its understandable as many of us have not enough time, too much to do, and too many distractions. However, there is a difference between wanting to get things done efficiently and wanting to take short-cuts. The later can lead us to want to accomplish things without any hard work. Even with the right skills, and the right information, most things still need actual effortful work to accomplish.
‘If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got’. This phrase encapsulates the idea that you do need to experiment with different ways of doing things to find ways that work well for you.
Lastly, one of the best, most versatile ways to improve yourself is to learn more about your own personality, skills, talents and temperament. The more you know about yourself, the better you will become at making the most of your abilities. Reflect more on your own behavior and responses, keep a journal, look back on things that you’ve done in the past that have worked well (even if they are small successes) and try and find the common themes. This is probably the most powerful of the self improvement ideas I've written about here because it will enable you to really focus your own individual talents, however whilst the concept is simple it may take you some time to achieve.