It’s a simple truth: Life only gets better when you do. Work on yourself and the rest will follow. And the good news is that you don’t need a complete makeover to improve yourself – a few easy practices can go a long way to boosting your sense of wellbeing and making your days more meaningful.
With that in mind, here’s 15 self-development practices that will help you become the very best version of yourself:
1. Plan Ahead
Before you go to bed, make a to-do list for the next day. This way you’ll know exactly what lies ahead and can effectively optimise your time – it’ll also stop you from having a sleepless night thinking about all you’ve got to do.
2. Get Moving
Not only does exercise improve your mental health by releasing mood-boosting endorphins into the brain but you’ll feel good for doing something beneficial for your body, and your body will reward you in kind. Even just 20 minutes of aerobic exercise a day is sufficient to trigger a flood of those feel-good chemicals.
3. Try Something New
Whether it’s travelling to an unknown part of the world or simply taking a different route to work, getting out of your comfort zone makes you more resilient to change, which in turn can increase your self-confidence.
4. Laugh Out Loud
According to research, laughing is one of the most therapeutic things you can do for yourself every day. So spend time with funny friends or watch your favourite comedy on TV. As Charlie Chaplin said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.”
5. Get a Coach
There’s no faster way to improve yourself than to have someone work with you on your goals. On average, those who hire coaches report achieving significantly more (and faster) results than if they had gone it alone.
6. Keep A Diary
You’ll get an inside look at your thoughts when you write, and will be able to see patterns in your life that make you happy or sad, calm or upset. You can then start to better understand your own motives and desires. In short, a diary is a practical way of learning more about yourself – and when you know yourself, you can improve yourself.
7. Count Your Blessings
Keep a daily gratitude list to help you appreciate what you have in life. Being thankful for things that are often overlooked on a daily basis yields countless benefits – studies show that people who are able to cultivate gratitude are more satisfied with their lives in general, and are even more physically healthy.
8. Reach Out
Research also shows that those with strong family or social connections are generally healthier than those who lack a support network. Make plans with supportive family members and friends, or seek out activities where you can meet new people, such as joining a club, class or support group.
9. Say “No”
It may be just two tiny letters, but this is your gentle reminder that “no” is a complete sentence. Burnout happens easily so it’s essential to spend time refuelling and safeguarding your own wellbeing. If you don’t want to go to a party, don’t go. If you feel overwhelmed by your workload, speak up. Self-care is not selfish.
10. Pay it Forward
By helping others, you actually help yourself, too. Lending a hand not only boosts mental health, but may also lead to a longer life, research shows. Volunteering also positively affects self-confidence, self-esteem, and general wellbeing.
11. Quit Complaining
Sure, sometimes you need to vent to let off steam, but complaining for complaining’s sake is counter-productive and can make you feel angry or upset in the process. If you have something to gripe about, follow it up with a constructive solution that will serve to minimise future complaining.
12. Seize the Day
Of course, keep in mind the positive lessons learned from the past, but, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Finish each day and be done with it.” Today has its own gifts and you need to be 100% present to be open to them. Only then will tomorrow reveal your dreams.
13. Stop Comparing
Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” The former American president was right. Because we typically compare the worst we know of ourselves to the best we presume about others, comparisons are unfair. More importantly, though, comparison puts the focus on the wrong person. You can only control one life – yours.
14. Prioritise Yourself
Stop putting your needs on the back-burner. Yes, help others; but help yourself too. If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, that moment is now.
15. Enjoy the Journey
Give power to positivity. Love yourself, love others and love this life. It is a gift to unwrap each and every day, to gaze upon with new and excited eyes. Above all, have fun!
If the power of self-growth inspires you to help others achieve the same, a career in coaching may be for you. The SACAP Graduate School of Coaching & Leadership offers a number of courses that will help you obtain the necessary qualifications, including the Postgraduate Diploma in Coaching. For more information, click here.