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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

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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.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

What Is SWOT Analysis? 5 Ways It Accelerates Your Self-Improvement

What Is SWOT Analysis? 5 Ways It Accelerates Your Self-Improvement

If I told you that there was one activity that you could do frequently that would dramatically accelerate your rate of self-improvement, would you do it?

SWOT Analysis may very well be the solution to your problems of feeling lost, unproductive, worried about the future, and the general struggle that inevitably arises on the road to personal development. It is quick to carry out, reliable in terms of changing your perspective, and effective in getting you the results that you desire.

So what exactly is this SWOT Analysis? You will find everything you need to know about it below as well as how to do it and all of the amazing benefits that it will bring to your life.

What Is SWOT Analysis?

SWOT Analysis is a business term that has steadily made its way over into the world of personal development due to its effectiveness in getting things to improve — whether that be a company or, more recently, a person.

S.W.O.T. is an anagram that stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. When assessing these four key pillars in life, it gives a very good picture of which direction you should be heading in and even highlights some of the best ways to do it.

All in all, it is a great way to reflect on past actions and to decide on the best way to move forward.

How to Do a SWOT Analysis

Carrying out a SWOT Analysis is relatively simple. The best way is to take out a pen and paper and write down four columns: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. From there, you can begin to fill out each one and apply it to whatever situation you find yourself in.

If you are considering expanding your enterprise, you might want to write down the current strengths and weaknesses of your business as well as the opportunities that you could possibly move into and the threats that you might need to minimize.

If you are an individual looking to improve yourself, you can carry out a SWOT Analysis either on the micro or macro level. A micro example would be focusing on one specific area of life. For example, you could write down your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats when it comes to dating, productivity, or changing your job.

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You can also take it to the macro level. You might simply write down your current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats across all areas of life — or simply the areas that you want to focus on for now.

SWOT Analysis is very easy to do and is excellent for the bigger picture stuff. Here is a rough template with a few questions across various areas of life that you can use for your own personal development purposes:

Strengths

What professional qualifications do I have that make me stand out from everybody else?

What do I exceed at where most people are either average or below average?

What achievements have I been awarded?

What struggles have I overcome in the past that give me hope for the future?

Weaknesses

Where do I fall short where others seem to excel?

What bad habits do I have?

What thoughts tend to hold me back?

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Opportunities

Is there any significant advancement happening or about to happen that I can take advantage of?

Is there a new position in a company that maximizes my skillset?

Is there a gap in the market that I could potentially fill?

Is there an opportunity that is low-risk (i.e. I can fail fast and decide if I want to keep pursuing it)?

Threats

What competition do I face in a certain area?

What is the most likely thing to throw me off course? Is it me?

If there was an economic downturn, would I be in a position to survive? Could I even turn it into an opportunity?

Benefits of SWOT Analysis for Self-Improvement

Now that you know what it is and how to do it, you may already start to see all of the benefits for your personal growth that can come from a SWOT Analysis. If you haven’t already started to think about how to use it in your own life, here are a few ideas to get you started.

1. It Gives You an Actionable Plan

One of the most obvious benefits of doing a SWOT Analysis is the fact that it gives you an actionable plan. It is rare for someone to actually sit down and write out their strengths and weaknesses as well as the opportunities and threats they are facing, so you will be getting well ahead.

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More importantly, taking the information from all four of these areas allows you to create an effective plan for yourself going forward — whether that be doubling down on your strengths, a plan to overcome your weaknesses, or how to leap at one of the opportunities in your life.

SWOT Analysis is designed specifically to drive actions and decisions — it is not simply a discussion exercise that you put to one side once you are finished with it.[1]

2. It Allows You to Zoom Out

Far too many people are so trapped within their day-to-day activities that they forget to see the big picture. Not being able to see the forest for the trees is one of the things that hold many people back from reaching their full potential.

SWOT Analysis allows you to take a moment of reflection, see the big picture, and then to make an informed decision about what your everyday tasks and activities are going to be, rather than the other way around.

It is important to be able to zoom out from time to time to make sure that you are on track with whatever your objectives are in each area of life. SWOT Analysis is the best way to do just that.

3. It Helps You Recognize New Aspects and Patterns

One of the unique things about SWOT Analysis is that it manages to combine different areas of your life and lets you see patterns, opportunities, and much more that you wouldn’t have otherwise seen.

An example would be the combination of your strengths and your opportunities. When you look at both of these side-by-side, you get a good idea about where the crossovers are, and, as a result, you get a clear picture of what opportunities are worth pursuing based on your strengths.

Another example would be looking at your strengths and threats next to one another. When you have a decent idea about what your strengths are in a certain situation, you can start to see how those strengths might come in handy when it comes to mitigating certain threats that you might face.

The truth is, any combination across SWOT Analysis creates a unique perspective that will be extremely useful for your own self-improvement.

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4. It Minimizes Risk

Branching out from the previous point, a SWOT Analysis is carried out to help minimize risk [2]. Although this is primarily a benefit from a company’s standpoint, it can also be helpful from an individual’s perspective as well.

On a personal level, risk can come in a variety of forms. It might be an imaginary risk that feels real, like asking your crush out or asking your boss for a raise. It might be an actual risk where you are thinking of expanding your business or entering a new market where you have little experience. Either way, seeing the threats you face as well as the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities you have allows you to go down the path that minimizes risk and maximizes gain.

5. It Can Marks Stages of Your Path

An interesting way that companies use SWOT Analysis is that they carry it out every month or every quarter in order to reset and recalibrate their destination. It can be used in a similar way by you as well. Just like there are certain times when businesses use them, there are certain times when you should use them.[3]

Every month or every couple of months, take the time to do a SWOT Analysis to see how you are progressing. What strengths have been added? What weaknesses have been discovered? What opportunities have revealed themselves or been lost? What new threats are you facing and which have been removed from the picture?

Not only will carrying out a SWOT Analysis on a frequent basis accelerate your self-improvement by helping you see where you want to go with less distraction, but it is also nice to see how things change and, hopefully, get better.

It is also worth looking back at your SWOT Analysis from the start of the year when you reach the end of the year to see how far you have come.

To Wrap Up

So there you have it. SWOT Analysis might just be the tool and technique that you have been waiting for to truly take the next step in your self-improvement journey. It is practical, easy to carry out, and effective in terms of planning your next moves.

Whether you do it on a consistent basis to ensure that you are moving in the right direction or you only do it when you feel lost, SWOT Analysis will always be right there waiting to help.

Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

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Reference

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