One of the best quotes I’ve ever heard about the topic of bettering oneself comes from none other than Ernest Hemingway:
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”
So poetic isn’t it?
The idea that we don’t have to be the smartest, richest, biggest, fastest, or strongest; but rather that we should just strive to be better than the person whose skin we were in yesterday.
Self Improvement is never easy, but it isn’t impossible. For this post, I’ve chosen 8 relatively easy steps that anyone can take to become a better person tomorrow… and the next day… and the day after that. These tips won’t make you dramatically better day after day, but whichever you choose to employ in your personal growth plan will snowball month after month, year to year, decade over decade.
These tips are by no means the be-all, end-all of ways to improve oneself; there are thousands. However, these are things that anyone can do for the most part, regardless of physical/mental ability, life obligations, or other constraints.
1. Get up earlier
In his famous “6 Rules of Success Speech” Arnold Schwarzenegger famously says that you have to work your butt off to attain the things you want in life — by sleeping for six hours only and spending the other eighteen hours being productive. Unless you’re under eighteen years old or terribly sick, you don’t need to sleep nearly as long as you probably do. Your body gets no benefit from sleeping more than seven hours (read this), aim for six if you’re serious about your life.
2. Eradicate negative people from your life
This might seem like an exercise in futility, and it is to an extent. You can’t eliminate all negative things from your life because it’s a powerful force that has a way of finding you no matter if you want it or not: traffic disputes, meeting negative people at work, problems with neighbors — family, etc. Still, if you find that the people you surround yourself are largely negative naysaying types, who hate life and have no wants for anything better, you need to separate yourself from them tout de suite! As Jim Rohn has said so many times: “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
3. Replace the TV with a book or newspaper
Why spend two or more hours watching the “boob tube” every night? Successful people who manage to find personal and professional happiness spend their time doing things that add substance to their life. Read a book (fiction, non-fiction) or the newspaper for thirty minutes every day to challenge your brain, instead of vegging out in front of the TV or playing video games. Turning on a television shuts your brain off.
4. Start every month with a 30-day challenge
If it’s February make it 28 days. December? Make it 31. You get the idea. Challenge yourself to accomplish a new goal, whether it be to lose ten pounds, start a new business, find a way to make a passive income, or to do something drastic that takes you out of your comfort zone. Challenges inspire passion.
5. Leave the past where it belongs
Remember the good times, but don’t linger on them. How many of us know a popular athlete from high school who now spends their time at the local pub, reminiscing about the past but never moving forward in their life? Also, find a way to let go of your past transgressions and other unhappy memories. Forgive — yourself and others — use today to create a positive future.
6. Take a class
If you’re currently in school for something, don’t feel like you can pass this little tip up! Take a class to learn something beyond what you’re learning now or have learned in the past that will help you better yourself in some way. If you’re a computer-programming student, take a woodworking class. If you’re an insurance salesperson, sign up for a French or Spanish language learning course. Short term or long, it doesn’t matter, each class you take will teach you something that you can use in your personal or professional life.
7. Change your habits constantly
This is something I’ve been working on for the last year or so, and I have to say it’s really a great way to create and maintain flexibility in your life. Being regimented about when you wake up and go to sleep is important. Everything else is up for grabs. If you don’t like breakfast usually, commit to eating it this week, then next week try to hold off eating for the first 10 hours of the day (intermittent fasting). If you normally go to the gym after work, go before. Constantly change the little things so you don’t feel like a animal trapped in a cage.
8. Talk to people
Even the most extreme introvert will admit they need human contact — even if you need to press them a bit for this admission! Just talk to people. Say “hi” to people as you pass them on the street. Maybe they’ll respond, maybe they won’t. Maybe you’ll meet someone who weirds you out, maybe you’ll meet someone who can help you further your life. If someone starts a conversation with you, don’t blow them off as so many people do, be different and give them your focus. Who knows, you might just make someone feel good about themselves and humanity in general — perhaps one of the most selfless gifts you can give to a stranger.
Main Image: “Woman Reaching” by Helmuts Guigo