Stepping out of your comfort zone is the toughest action you can take. It’s right there in the name: comfort zone. Obviously, stepping outside of it would make you uncomfortable. And who wants to be uncomfortable?
However, doing so is the only way you’ll ever grow as a person. In today’s fast-moving world, self-improvement is the key to getting ahead. It’s no longer acceptable to be just average; in order to succeed in life you need to excel in everything you set out to do. Making these changes might scare you, but the success you’ll experience after doing so will make all the discomfort worth it.
1. Being skeptical
There’s a terrible saying that complacent people use when they don’t feel like standing up for what they believe in: “It is what it is.” It’s a resignation that, even though they know something is wrong in the world, there’s nothing they can do to change it. The greatest minds of our time never used this phrase; they questioned why “it is what it is,” and put their all into changing, and bettering, the world around them. Be the person that acknowledges that things don’t have to be the way they are, and that we all can change for the better.
2. Being honest
Being honest is not always the easiest thing to do. But it’s always the right thing to do. And this doesn’t just mean you should be honest when you know there’s a chance of getting caught. Hold yourself to the highest level of integrity. Live in private the way you live in public. Keep your promises. Even if everyone else around you is a back-stabbing weasel, take solace in the fact that you continue to maintain a high standard for yourself.
3. Waking up early
The most successful people in the world wake up hours before they actually start working. They use this time to exercise, eat a healthy breakfast, and prepare themselves for the busy day ahead of them. Your time on Earth is your most valuable commodity. Once it’s gone, you can’t ever get it back. While it’s definitely easier to stay in bed as long as you can before you have to get to work, you’re really just wasting the most important gift you’ve been given.
4. Tracking your spending
So many of us can’t start our day without Starbucks or some other pick-me-up that costs $2-3 per day. While that doesn’t seem like much, it ends up costing you anywhere from $300 to $500 over the course of a year ($15,000 over the course of a career!). I’m not saying you should never indulge yourself, but you also should never get in the habit of spending money just because you feel like you need to. Keep track of every penny you spend, and you’ll almost immediately realize there are things you’re spending too much on that you can cut out right away.
5. Tracking what you eat
One of the keys to self-improvement is watching what you eat. This goes along with the last point about spending money: if you eat a donut every day just because “you always do,” you might want to think about cutting down. Again, I’m not saying you should completely give up the sweets, but you should definitely acknowledge that not everything you put into your body is healthy. Making healthy changes to your diet will not only leave you feeling better physically, but you’ll also end up with a healthier mental attitude as well.
6. Speaking in public
There’s an old Seinfeld joke about people’s number one fear being public speaking, while number two is death: People would rather be in the coffin than giving the eulogy. If you think about it, having a fear of public speaking makes no sense. Since almost everyone is terrified of it, there’s no reason for you to be afraid of it. Remember in college when everyone had to give a speech? Did you actually care if the person up front made a mistake or didn’t perform well? No! The only time people care enough to remember a speech is if it’s incredibly good. Think about that the next time you have to give a presentation: You’ll only be remembered if what you said was worth remembering.
7. Focusing on one improvement at a time
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the areas of self-improvement you should be focusing on. But it’s impossible to attack them all at once. If you’re trying to quit smoking, you probably shouldn’t also try to give up your daily donut at the same time; you’ll drive yourself (and others around you) absolutely crazy. Take the time to make a plan of attack, so you’re able to focus on one area of improvement at a time. After a year of self-improvement, you’ll feel like a completely new person.
8. Setting and achieving improbable goals
When setting goals for self-improvement, you don’t want to make them so easy that you reach them with minimal effort, or so hard that you become completely overwhelmed. Set goals that are just out of reach, so that every time you hit one you feel a sense of accomplishment. For example, if you want to start working out, it’s a terrible idea to plan to go to the gym seven days a week; it just won’t happen. But it’s also too easy to just go once a week. Make a plan to go at least three times, and, if you feel up to it, four or five. No matter what you’re trying to accomplish, plan so that you have to strive to reach the minimum goal you’ve set, but you also have room to improve.