Self-Improvement: Personal Development Techniques and Strategies

 

You lead a very full life, you apparently don’t lack anything and have everything you want, but still, you are not satisfied. There is something that you are not comfortable with in your life and you feel stuck. You often have the feeling you lead your life in autopilot and hate the feeling that nothing new or exciting is happening.Maybe you need a self-improvement or development plan to change, evolve and be who you want to be. Here are some techniques and strategies that can help you. 

Self-improvement

Self-improvement

What is self-improvement?

Self-improvement can be defined as an integral development process that evolves throughout life, by which one learns to have self-awareness, improve one’s personal abilities and pursue one’s life goals. Self-improvement consists of self-realization, doing what one really wants to do and living more fully.

Personal growth makes us happier, and it is that life is much better when we have worked on ourselves. Self-improvement also helps us cope with difficult times and improve our personal relationships. Self-improvement involves investing time and dedication, it’s a full-time job that never ends. The best is to invest is in yourself and in your own happiness.

Self-improvement, Personal Growth, and Positive Thinking

Self-improvement is strongly linked to positive thinking. Negativity slows down our progress and personal projects. If I’m constantly thinking I’m not capable or that everything happening to me is terrible then I will get no motivation to change.

Positive affirmations can be very helpful. However, it is of little use to tell ourselves “You can do everything” if you do not believe it. It also doesn’t help to say “everything is going to work out,” because we really don’t know if it might work out.  The opposite is also not beneficial, thinking “that will never happen to me” since we also don’t have any certainty of this. The important aspect is to maintain a positive and realistic attitude towards life.

Negative thoughts are common cognitive distortions.  All of us at some point have these kinds of thoughts, however, it is important to learn to detect them and contract so that they don’t undermine our spirit. This can also be treated through psychological cognitive restructuring technique which has proven to be very effective.

Self-improvement: What do I want and do not want?

I intend to grow, to progress. If I want to improve and grow or become a better person, surely because there is something in my current life that I want to change:

  • I have things that I would like to change: I have a very small house, a job I do not like, a destructive relationship, stress or anxiety, etc.
  • There are things I would like to have: I don’t a partner, no close friends, free time to travel, work success, enough money, happiness, pleasant relationships, etc.
  • Change things I shouldn’t do: I drink too much, don’t eat healthy food, treat my partner badly, watch too much TV, I’m too impulsive, etc.
  • I don’t do things I would love to do: Plan more, learn to prioritize, practice more sports, learn more hobbies, read enough books, look for a better job, etc.
  • I wish I were different: change my bad mood, my low self-esteem, my dependency on others, my laziness, anxiety, my negativity, my fears, etc.
  • I haven’t reached my potential: I am not successful enough or popular, intelligent, I don’t have the body that I want, I am a failure, etc.

Whatever moves you to self-improvement it is always an inner force that wants to push us to be better people, to grow and make progress. It’s time to implement some strategies!

Self-improvement: Tips, techniques, and strategies

1. Self-improvement happens by knowing yourself

The ancient Greeks already knew the importance of knowing oneself. In fact, they carved “Know thyself” in Apollo’s temple, in Delphi. Knowing our qualities, weaknesses, what makes us happy, what we want, who we want to be is essential for self-improvement.

It is also essential to know how we respond emotionally to the different events of our life or our emotional intelligence. Awareness about oneself is essential in order to be able to modify those aspects that we considered are flawed. A very useful way to do this is through mindfulness. However, you can also get it by paying more attention to your emotional states and analyzing where they come from. It is also important that you become aware of what things improve or worsen your mood.

Another technique or strategy that can help you improve your personal development is to use a mood journal. This way you will have more control over your own feelings and emotions.

The self-improvement strategy that works best is to find out what makes you happy. Explore your vital goals and objectives. Ask yourself: Where is my life going? Am I satisfied with it? How do I want to be remembered when I’m gone? You can also make a list of your goals and objectives to keep them in mind.

2. Take responsibility to start self-improvement

Many times, when something does not go as we would like in our life we fall into the negativity, feeling like victims or complaining. A self-improvement strategy that you must apply is not to blame others for what happens to you. Although others may have some responsibility, you have the last word. Not taking responsibility for your life makes change very difficult and it will be impossible to grow and progress.

3. Create an action plan to promote your self-improvement

If you know what your life goals are and who you want to become now all you need is a plan to achieve it.

A great strategy for this is to stop and analyze concrete goals and create a plan of action for each one. Start with very small steps building towards a final goal.

For example, if your goal is to be a successful professional but now you hate your job, the steps can be:

  • Find out what profession motivates me.
  • Know what you need to be a professional in that area (studies, experience, cognitive skills, etc).
  • Train and acquire the necessary skills.
  • Re-write my curriculum.
  • Search for jobs and go to interviews.
  • Get a job and leave the current one.
  • Strive at my job and give it my all.
  • Get a promotion.

4. Exiting the comfort zone as a self-improvement strategy

What is the comfort zone?

It is a behavioral space in which your activities and behaviors are within routines and patterns that minimize stress and risk. It provides a state of mental security, reduces stress and anxiety. That is why it is so difficult to leave our comfort zone.

Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.

Following this saying can only block us and slow our growth.

It’s not a bad thing being in the comfort zone because we need a safe place to reboot, relax and recharge. However, we must not get stuck there forever.

How do I get out of the comfort zone?

For our self-improvement, it is important to face what is frightens us and constantly challenge ourselves. It often involves jumping into the unknown, testing ourselves and risking. This is difficult if we have lived our whole life in a comfortable position. When we are young it is easier to try new things and get out of that comfort zone, but as the years go by, we become comfortable in our routines and we don’t allow ourselves to continue to evolve.

In order to self-improve you have to dare to do new things, or in a different way. Make small changes in your routine. Did you always want to learn photography? Join a class!

We tend to sabotage ourselves by saying. “I won’t be able to do it alone”, “I am going to fail”. However, the real failure is in not trying, to always remain with doubts, living off the “what ifs”. Analyze those thoughts that are holding you back and challenge your logic: What evidence is there that this is so? Push yourself to the limit.

5. Review your habits as a self-improvement strategy

Often our habits slow down our personal growth. So we must analyze what habits don’t benefit us and which ones do. Changing our habits is not easy, they are behaviors that have been established for a long time and it is very difficult to change them. There is much talk about the lack of willpower as the cause of not being able to change habits, but this is simplistic. There are many environmental and personal circumstances that make the task difficult. Discover here how to increase that “willpower“.

The following video is a perfect example of how willpower is important but a support system is also essential. Feel free to comment below.

This article is originally in Spanish written by Andrea García Cerdán.

 

Alejandra is a clinical and health psychologist. She is a child specialist with a diploma in evaluation and intervention in autism. She has worked in different schools with young children and private practice for over 6 years. She is interested in early childhood intervention, emotional intelligence, and attachment styles. As a brain and human behavior enthusiast, she is more than happy to answer your questions and share her experience.