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Last Updated on February 3, 2021

42 Practical Ways to Start Working on Self-Improvement

42 Practical Ways to Start Working on Self-Improvement

Are you someone who likes to grow? Do you constantly seek self-improvement through any means necessary?

There is always something about ourselves we can improve on. The human potential is limitless, so it’s impossible to reach a point of no growth.

Whenever we think we are good, we can be even better.

As a passionate advocate of growth, I’m continuously looking for ways to self-improve. I’ve compiled 42 of my best tips, which might be helpful in your personal growth journey. Some of them are simple steps which you can engage in immediately. Some are bigger steps which takes conscious effort to act on.

1. Read Every Day

Books are concentrated sources of wisdom. The more books you read, the more wisdom you expose yourself to.

When you’re reading a book every day, you will feed your brain with more and more knowledge.

Here’re 5 great books to read for self-improvement:

2. Learn a New Language

As a Singaporean Chinese, my main languages are English, Mandarin, and Hokkien (a Chinese dialect). Out of interest, I took up language courses in the past few years, such as Japanese and Bahasa Indonesian.

I realized learning a language is a whole new skill altogether, and the process of opening yourself up to a new language and culture is a mind-opening experience.

3. Pick up a New Hobby

Beyond just your usual favorite hobbies, is there something new you can pick up? Is there a new sport you can learn?

Your new hobby can also be a recreational hobby. For example, you can try pottery, Italian cooking, dancing, wine appreciation, web design, etc.

Learning something new requires you to stretch yourself in different aspects, whether physically, mentally or emotionally.

Here’re 20 hobbies to get you some new ideas: 20 Productive Hobbies That Will Make You Smarter and Happier

4. Take up a New Course

Courses are a great way to gain new knowledge and skills for self-improvement. It doesn’t have to be a long-term course; seminars, workshops, and online courses serve their purpose, too.

In fact, anyone who wants to be a smarter learner should take this 20-minute FREE class: Spark Your Learning Genius. It will help supercharge your learning ability and pick up any skill faster!

5. Create an Inspirational Room

Your environment sets the mood and tone for you. If you are living in an inspirational environment, you are going to be inspired every day.

If there’s a room in your house that looks messy or dull, take it to the next level by putting on a new coat of paint, buying a few nice paintings for the walls, or investing in some comfortable furniture to make it a space that will always feel welcoming and inspiring.

6. Overcome Your Fears

Whether it’s the fear of uncertainty, fear of public speaking, or fear of risk, all your fears keep you in the same position and prevent you from improving your life.

Recognize that your fears reflect areas where you can grow as they act as a compass pointing at areas that need attention. 

7. Level up Your Skills

If you have played video games before, you’ll know the concept of leveling up—gaining experience so you can be better and stronger.

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As a blogger, I’m constantly leveling up my writing skills. As a speaker, I’m constantly leveling up my public engagement abilities. What skills can you level up?

8. Wake up Early

Waking up early has been acknowledged by many to improve your productivity and your quality of life.[1]

When you wake up early, you’ll have time to dedicate to self-improvement before everyone else is up. You’ll add extra time to your day, soak up the morning tranquility, and absorb the early-morning sunlight that will help your brain switch into its active mode.

Not sure how to wake up early and feel energetic? These ideas will help: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

9. Have a Weekly Exercise Routine

A better you starts with being in better shape through physical activity. I personally make it a point to jog at least 3 times a week, at least 30 minutes each time.

Try to mix it up by doing different exercises each day to prevent boredom and muscle strain.

10. Start Your Life Handbook

A life handbook is a book that contains the essentials on how you can live your life to the fullest, such as your purpose, your values, and your goals. You can think of it as a manual for how to live your best life through consistent self-improvement.

I started my life handbook in 2007, and it’s been a crucial enabler in my progress.

11. Write a Letter to Your Future Self

Where do you see yourself 5 years from now? What kind of person will you be after you learn how to improve yourself?

Write a letter to your future self and seal it. Make a date in your calendar to open it 1-5 years from now. Then, start working to become the person you want to open that letter.

12. Get out of Your Comfort Zone

Real growth comes with hard work and sweat. Being too comfortable doesn’t help us grow; it makes us stagnate.

Identify where your comfort zone lines are and how you can begin to step out of them little by little. Go hiking on a trail you’ve never been to, make a dish you’ve never tried, or say yes next time a friend asks you to go out when you’d normally say no.

13. Put Someone up to a Challenge

Competition is one of the best ways to grow and aid in self-improvement. Set a challenge (weight loss, exercise, financial challenge, etc.) and compete with an interested friend to see who achieves the target first.

Through the process, both of you will gain more than if you were to set off on the target alone.

14. Identify Your Blind Spots

Scientifically, blind spots refer to areas our eyes are not capable of seeing. In personal development terms, blind spots are things about ourselves we are unaware of. Discovering our blind spots helps us discover our areas of improvement.

One exercise I use to discover my blind spots is to identify all the things/events/people that trigger me in a day—trigger meaning making me feel annoyed, frustrated, or angry. These represent my blind spots.

Once I know these triggers, I can identify ways to improve them or overcome them.

15. Ask for Feedback

As much as we try to improve, we will always have blind spots. Asking for feedback gives you an additional perspective as you learn how to improve yourself.

Some people to approach are friends, family, colleagues, a boss, or even acquaintances, since they will have no preset bias and can give their feedback objectively.

Learn more about how to ask for feedback and become a fast learner here!

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16. Stay Focused With To-Do Lists

Starting your day with a list of tasks you want to complete will help you stay focused. In comparison, the days when you don’t do this can end up being chaotic or unproductive. You may forget certain tasks or end up running out of time since you haven’t created a plan to tackle each item.

17. Set Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals (BHAGs)

I’m a big fan of setting BHAGs. BHAGs stretch you beyond your normal capacity since they are big and audacious—you wouldn’t think of attempting them normally.

What are BHAGs you can embark on that will make you feel good about yourself once you complete them? Set them, and start working on them.

18. Acknowledge Your Flaws

Everyone has flaws, but what’s most important is to understand them, acknowledge them, and address them through self-improvement practices.

What do you think are your flaws? What are the flaws you can work on now? How do you want to address them?

Remember to do this with a sense of self-love. Do not look at your flaws through a self-critical or mean-spirited light. This is about finding areas you feel you can improve upon, not finding things that are wrong with you.

19. Get Into Action

The best way to learn and improve is to take action. What is something you have been meaning to do? How can you take action on it immediately?

20. Learn From People Who Inspire You

Think about people you admire, people who inspire you. These people reflect certain qualities you want to have for yourself as you learn how to improve yourself.

What are the qualities in them you want to have for yourself? How can you acquire these qualities?

21. Quit a Bad Habit

Are there any bad habits you can work on eliminating? This can include oversleeping, smoking, drinking, or procrastinating.

Here’s some great advice from Lifehack’s CEO on hacking your habit loop to break bad habits and build good ones: How to Break a Habit and Hack the Habit Loop

22. Cultivate a New Habit

Some good habits to cultivate include reading books, waking up early, exercising, reading a new personal development article a day, and meditating.

Are there any other new habits you can cultivate for more self-improvement?

23. Avoid Negative People

As Jim Rohn says,

“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”.

Wherever we go, there are bound to be negative people. Don’t spend too much of your time around them if you feel they drag you down.

24. Learn to Deal With Difficult People

There are times when there are difficult people you can’t avoid, such as at your workplace, or when the person is part of your inner circle of contacts.

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Learn how to deal with them as you’re learning how to improve yourself. These people management skills will go a long way in working with people in the future.

25. Learn From Your Friends

Everyone has amazing qualities in them. It’s up to us how we want to tap into them.

With all the friends who surround you, they are going to have things you can learn from.

Try thinking of a good friend right now. Think about just one quality they have that you want to adopt. How can you learn from them and adopt this skill for yourself?

26. Start a Journal

Journaling is a great way to gain more self-awareness. As you write, clarify your thought process and read what you wrote from an outsider’s perspective. This will help you gain more personal insight.

27. Start a Blog About Personal Development

To help others grow, you need to first be walking the talk of self-improvement. There are expectations of you, both from yourself and from others, which you have to uphold.

28. Get a Mentor or Coach

There’s no faster way to improve than to have someone help you achieve your goals.

Many of my clients approach me to coach them in their goals, and they achieve significantly more results than if they had worked alone.

If you’re looking for a mentor, don’t miss these tips: What to Look for in a Good Mentor

29. Reduce the Time You Spend on Messaging Apps

Having messaging apps open as a default results in a lot of wasted time. This time can be much better spent on other self-improvement activities.

The days when I don’t get on chat, I get a lot more done. I usually disable the auto start-up option in the chat programs and launch them when I do want to chat and really have the time for it.

30. Learn Chess

Chess is a terrific game to learn strategy and hone your brainpower. Not only do you have fun, but you also get to exercise your analytical skills.

31. Stop Watching TV

Many programs and advertisements on TV are meant to distract you instead of empowering or educating you. This time is better spent elsewhere, such as with close friends, doing a hobby you enjoy, or exercising.

32. Start a 30-Day Challenge

Set a goal and give yourself 30 days to achieve this. Your goal can be to stick with a new habit or develop a new hobby.

30 days is just enough time to strategize, plan, get into action, review, and nail the goal.

33. Meditate

Meditation helps to calm you and be more conscious while improving your overall mental health. Meditation can also help you sleep better, be more productive, and be kinder to those around you.

Have a go with this 5-minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime.

34. Learn Public Speaking

Interestingly, public speaking is the #1 fear in the world, with #2 being death.

Public speaking can help you learn how to communicate better, present yourself, and engage people. These skills are helpful both personally and professionally, as you’ll do better in meetings and presentations.

35. Network With Experts

These people have achieved their results because they have the right attitude, skill set, and know-how. How better to learn than from the people who have been there and done that as you learn how to improve yourself?

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Gain new insights from them on how you can improve and achieve the same results for yourself.

36. Let Go of the Past

Is there any grievance or unhappiness from the past which you have been holding onto? If so, it’s time to let it go as part of your self-improvement.

Holding on to it prevents you from moving on and becoming a better person. Break away from the past, forgive yourself, and move on.

37. Start a Business Venture

Is there anything you have an interest in? Why not turn it into a venture and make money while learning at the same time?

Starting a new venture requires you to be learn business management skills, develop business acumen, and have a competitive edge.

The process of starting and developing my personal development business has equipped me with many skills, such as self-discipline, leadership, organization, and management.

38. Show Kindness to Those Around You

You can never be too kind to someone. Being kind helps us to cultivate other qualities such as compassion, patience, and love.

As you get back to your day after reading this article later on, start exuding more kindness to the people around you, and see how they react.

Also, notice how you feel as you behave kindly to others. Chances are you will feel more optimistic and grateful.

39. Reach out to People Who Dislike You

If you ever stand for something, you are going to get haters.

It’s easy to dislike the people who dislike us; it’s much more challenging to love them back. Being able to forgive, let go, and show love to these people requires magnanimity and an open heart.

Seek a resolution and get closure on past grievances. Even if they refuses to reciprocate, love them all the same. It’s much more liberating than to hate them back.

40. Take a Break

Have you been working too hard? Self-improvement is also about recognizing our need to take a break to walk the longer mile ahead. You can’t be driving a car if it has no fuel.

Scheduling downtime for yourself is important. Take some time off for yourself every week. Relax, rejuvenate, and charge yourself up for what’s up ahead.

41. Read 1 Personal Development Article a Day

Some of my readers make it a point to read at least one personal development article every day, which I think is a great habit.

There are many terrific personal development blogs out there, some of which you can check here.

42. Commit to Your Personal Growth

I can be writing list articles with 10 ways, 25 ways, 42 ways, or even 1,000 ways to improve yourself, but if you have no intention to commit to your personal growth, it doesn’t matter what I write.

You are responsible for your personal growth as you learn how to improve yourself. Make the decision to commit to your personal growth and embrace a lifelong journey of growth and change. Kick off your growth by picking a few of the steps above and working on them.

The results may not be immediate, but I promise that as long as you keep to it, you’ll start seeing positive changes in yourself and your life.

More Self-Improvement Tips

Featured photo credit: Gift Habeshaw via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Celestine Chua

Celestine is the Founder of Personal Excellence where she shares her best advice on how to boost productivity and achieve excellence in life.

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity 42 Practical Ways to Start Working on Self-Improvement 5 Reasons Why Being a Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect 13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away

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Published on March 1, 2021

How To Find a Mentor And Make The Relationship Work

How To Find a Mentor And Make The Relationship Work

One of the fastest shortcuts to success in anything is to learn from someone who’s already done it. No matter what your goals are—from starting a business to inventing a new technology, from becoming a better public speaker to getting a promotion—there’s someone out there who’s done some variation of it. They’ve already faced the trials and tribulations of that journey. They have the connections. They’ve gained experience and wisdom. They know the pitfalls and challenges, and they know the shortcuts. If you want a higher chance of success, find a mentor.

Pick up a biography of any successful person, and you’ll quickly learn that there’s one thing they all have in common: they’ve all had mentors—people who came before who taught and championed and supported them, people who helped shortcut their path to success in their given field.

Mentorship Isn’t Exactly New

The recorded history of mentorship dates back to at least Ancient Greece.[1] In the Middle Ages, most skills and crafts were learned through apprenticeship.[2] And since the 1970s, mentorship has become a critical part of many businesses and enterprises.[3]

But it’s not just an enduring legacy—research backs its benefits up. People with mentors are more likely to get promotions, be more engaged, and even feel more satisfied at work.[4][5] In fact, a study at Sun Microsystems found that 25% of employees who took part in mentorship got a pay raise and were five times more likely to get a promotion.[6]

So, how do you take advantage of all of these benefits and find yourself a mentor? The good news is there are more opportunities today than ever before—from free to paid, from formal to informal.

How to Find a Mentor

Here are five ways to find a mentor and make the relationship work.

1. Start With Your Human Resources Department

If you work in a corporate setting, start with the HR department. They’ll be able to connect you with any company-sponsored mentorship programs or, at least, point you in the right direction.

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Even if you haven’t heard of a company mentorship program, it’s worth checking in because you might be surprised—71% of Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs, but only 37% of professionals actively have a mentor.[7]

If your company doesn’t have a formal mentorship program, HR may be able to recommend aligned organizations or affinity groups, or even help you set up an informal meeting with a potential mentor in the organization.

2. Join a Club, Organization, or Affinity Group

You don’t need to work in a corporate setting to join a like-minded group or club. If there’s an area you’re passionate about or if you’re looking for a mentor with similar background and interests, there are several non-profits, organizations, and groups that can help you meet a potential mentor.

Join a club or group in your area of interest and start networking. There are groups related to everything from skills like public speaking to fields like entrepreneurship or art, to celebrating and supporting your culture, background, sexual orientation, or identity.

If you start with your passions and values, you’re more likely to find a mentor who’s aligned.

3. Sign Up for a Networking App or Service

In the 21st century, networking can be as simple as a swipe on the phone or a click on the computer. There are plenty of networking and mentorship groups already in place, from SCORE, which helps small businesses connect with mentors for free, to Meetup.com, which helps people with similar interests to meet up, to even Shapr, which is known as the “Tinder for business” and helps you connect with other professionals in your area.

The ultimate social networking tool for business, of course, LinkedIn, can be a powerful asset in helping you to find a mentor or be introduced to one through a mutual contact if there’s a specific person in your field that you’d like to meet.

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Most of these services are free or low-cost, so do some research and join the service that makes the most sense to help you meet a mentor.

4. Pay for a Mentorship Program or Mastermind Group

In addition to the numerous free resources, you can also pay to be connected to a mentor or a mentorship community. Some high-level leaders actually sell formal mentorship programs. There are also paid groups, organizations, and masterminds that span every industry and area of interest.

If you’re interested in a paid program, do some online research on potential mentors, and ask people in your field if there are any mentors or programs that they’ve hired themselves or heard about. Though a paid relationship does change the dynamics of a classic mentorship, it can be extremely beneficial if you’re looking for specific structure and results or access to a very prominent person or group of people.

5. Reach Out Directly to People Who Inspire You

You can try to reach out directly to people who inspire you or potential mentors. Do your research and find people who inspire you or who have achieved success in your area of interest, and then contact them directly to ask for mentorship.

Of course, if you have the opportunity to be introduced to them through mutual contact (check LinkedIn first to see if you have any in common), you may have a greater chance of a positive response. But many prominent mentorships started with just an audacious e-mail asking for mentorship. So, don’t shy away from reaching out directly if there’s someone you really want to connect with.

Get the Most Out of the Mentorship

A mentor-mentee relationship is different than almost any other relationship you’ll ever have. It’s not exactly a friendship, but it’s not exactly a boss-employee dynamic, either (unless your mentor is your boss). So, it’s important to set up the right structure to make sure you both get the most out of the mentorship.

Here are five ways to get the most out of mentorship.

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1. Get Clear on Your Goals

Before establishing a mentorship, get clear on why you want a mentor. What are you hoping to get out of the relationship? What skills do you want to learn? Where do you hope this relationship will help you get in the next six months or a year? How much time do you want to dedicate to this mentorship? How will you know if the mentorship is a success?

Once you’re clear on your goals, you’ll be able to better assess who is the right fit for you, where to find this person, and how to communicate so you’re both on the same page.

2. Set Clear Expectations and Boundaries

Any good mentorship starts with clear communication and upfront expectations and boundaries. Right away, clearly decide how and how often you’ll meet, what your goals and expectations of each other are, and what boundaries you have around the relationship.

For example, some mentorships meet monthly but text in between meetings. Others only meet quarterly and check-in via e-mail a few times in between. Others still have no correspondence in between meetings. A little work upfront to be clear on things like where you’ll meet, how often, what communication is acceptable, and what issues are within the bounds of the mentorship can go a long way to making sure it’s a sustainable, mutually beneficial relationship.

3. Keep It Consistent

Once you’ve ironed out the details, keep them consistent. Try to schedule out meetings at least 3 to 6 months in advance so that there are no misunderstandings. For example, you may choose to meet on the first Friday of every month, unless otherwise discussed.

Try not to cancel meetings unless something truly unavoidable comes up and, if e-mail is customary, be sure to consistently check in via e-mail in between. The biggest threat to mentorship is the lack of consistency. Over time, saying, “I’ll e-mail you when I’m free next month,” withers away into two or three months without any communication, and then a failed mentorship.

We all get busy, and things are bound to come up, so if the mentorship isn’t on your calendar and prioritized, it may fall apart after a certain point. Make a point to keep it consistent!

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4. Be Open to New Ways of Thinking and Trying New Things

The mentorship will challenge you and may ask you to try new things. You don’t necessarily have to agree with and resonate with everything your mentor says, but try your best to keep an open mind and try new things on for size—you might be surprised.

Your mentor likely has a lot of experience in your interest area, and they may have new ways of thinking about things from all of that experience. It doesn’t mean you have to accept their advice long-term, but being open to trying their advice shows your mentor you appreciate their wisdom and also opens you up to new possibilities.

If something isn’t a fit after you’ve tried it, talk to your mentor about that, and you can work together to find the right fit. But show up, do your homework, listen, and be open to new ideas and approaches. That’s the whole point of the mentorship, and it shows your mentor that you take the relationship seriously!

5. Be Grateful and Give as well

Jumping off that last point, be grateful. Especially if it is an unpaid relationship, your mentor is donating time to support you. Express gratitude and appreciation whenever you can, and take the advice and homework as seriously as possible. And don’t feel like it’s only a one-sided relationship. Your mentor gets so much out of the relationship, from appreciation to celebrating your successes to even the future networking and connections you can share with your mentor.

So, don’t forget to celebrate your wins and recognize that this is a mutually beneficial relationship. The better you feel about the relationship, the better it’s going to go.

The Bottom Line

Mentorship is an amazing and invaluable asset that can accelerate your growth, success, and even fulfillment. Finding the right mentor and getting the most out of the relationship can mean the difference between wasted time and connection, wisdom, and a shortcut to your goals.

So dive on in and reap the same benefits that successful leaders have been accessing for the past 3,000 years. Find yourself a mentor.

More Tips on How to Find a Mentor

Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

Reference

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