Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on May 14, 2019

42 Practical Ways To Improve Yourself

42 Practical Ways To Improve Yourself

Are you someone who likes to grow? Do you constantly seek to improve yourself and become better?

If you do, then we have something in common.

I’m very passionate about personal growth. It was just 4 years ago when I discovered my passion for growing and helping others grow. At that time, I was 22 and in my final year of university. As I thought about the meaning of life, I realized there was nothing more meaningful than to pursue a life of development and betterment. It is through improving ourselves that we get the most out of life.

After a year and a half of actively pursuing growth and helping others to grow through my personal development blog, I realize there is never an end to the journey of self improvement.

The more I grow, the more I realize there is so much out there I don’t know, so much that I have to learn.

For sure, 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. Here they are:

1. Read a book every day.

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

What are some books you can start reading to enrich yourself? Some books I’ve read and found useful are Think and Grow Rich, Who Moved My Cheese, 7 Habits, The Science of Getting Rich and Living the 80/20 Way.

When you’re reading a book every day, you will feed your brain with more and more knowledge. Do you know what’s the best way to store up all this knowledge and information? You need this Digital Brain.


    Photo credit: Source

    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 acquainting with a new language and culture is a totally a mind-opening experience.

    3. Pick up a new hobby.

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

    Examples are fencing, golf, rock climbing, football, canoeing, or ice skating.

    Your new hobby can also be a recreational hobby. For example, 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.

    Is there any new course you can join? Courses are a great way to gain new knowledge and skills.

    It doesn’t have to be a long-term course – seminars or workshops serve their purpose too.

    I’ve been to a few workshops and they have helped me gain new insights which I had not considered before.

    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.

    In the past, I didn’t like my room at all because I thought it was messy and dull. A few years ago, I decided this was the end of it – I started on a “Mega Room Revamp” project and overhauled my room.

    The end result? A room I totally relish being in and inspires me to be at my peak every day.


      Photo credit: Source

      6. Overcome your fears.

      All of us have fears. Fear of uncertainty, fear of public speaking, fear of risk… All our fears keep us in the same position and prevent us from growing.

      Advertising

      Recognize that your fears reflect areas where you can grow. I always think of fears as the compass for growth.

      If I have a fear about something, it represents something I’ve yet to address, and addressing it helps me to grow.

      Learn How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding).

      7. Level up your skills.

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

      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 (say, 5-6am) has been acknowledged by many (Anthony Robbins, Robin Sharma, among other self-help gurus) to improve your productivity and your quality of life.

      I feel it’s because when you wake up early, your mindset is already set to continue the momentum and proactively live out the day.

      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 physical shape. I personally make it a point to jog at least 3 times a week, at least 30 minutes each time.

      You may want to mix it up with jogging, gym lessons and swimming for variation.

      Check out these 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).


        Photo credit: Source

        10. Start your life handbook.

        A life handbook is an idea I started 3 years ago.

        Basically, it’s a book which contains the essentials on how you can live your life to the fullest, such as your purpose, your values and goals. Sort of like your manual for your life.

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

        11. Write a letter to your future self.

        What do you see yourself as 5 years from now? Will you be the same? Different? What kind of person will you be?

        Write a letter to your future self – 1 year from now will be a good start – and seal it.

        Make a date in your calendar to open it 1 year 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.

        What is your comfort zone? Do you stay in most of the time? Do you keep to your own space when out with other people?

        Shake your routine up. Do something different.

        By exposing yourself to a new context, you’re literally growing as you learn to act in new circumstances.

        13. Put someone up to a challenge.

        Competition is one of the best ways to grow. 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 help 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/weird/affected. These represent my blind spots.

        It’s always fun to do the exercise because I discover new things about myself, even if I may already think I know my own blind spots (but then they wouldn’t be blind spots would they?).

        Advertising

        After that, I work on steps to address them.

        15. Ask for feedback.

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

        Some people to approach will be friends, family, colleagues, 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!

        16. Stay focused with to-do lists.

        I start my day with a list of tasks I want to complete and this helps make me stay focused. In comparison, the days when I don’t do this end up being extremely unproductive.

        For example, part of my to-do list for today is to write a guest post at LifeHack.Org, and this is why I’m writing this now!

        Since my work requires me to use my computer all the time, I use Free Sticky Notes to manage my to-do lists. It’s really simple to use and it’s a freeware, so I recommend you check it out.

        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, which you’ll feel absolutely on top of the world once you complete them? Set them and start working on them.

        Learn How to Use SMART Goal to Become Highly Successful in Life.

        18. Acknowledge your flaws.

        Everyone has flaws. What’s most important is to understand them, acknowledge them, and address them.

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

        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?

        Waiting doesn’t get anything done. Taking action gives you immediate results to learn from.

        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 too.

        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 lose? Oversleeping? Not exercising? Being late? Slouching? Nail biting? Smoking?

        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 new habits to cultivate include reading books (#1), waking up early (#8), exercising (#9), reading a new personal development article a day (#40) and meditating.

        Is there any other new habit you can cultivate to improve yourself?

        If you’re wondering how to make good habits stick, check out these tips:

        18 Tricks to Make New Habits Stick

        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.

        Not sure who are the toxic people in life? This article can help you:

        10 Toxic Persons You Should Just Get Rid Of

        Advertising

        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.

        Learn how to deal with them. These people management skills will go a long way in working with people in the future:

        How To Deal With Negative People

        25. Learn from your friends.

        Everyone has amazing qualities in them. It’s up to 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 which you want to adopt. How can you learn from them and adopt this skill for yourself?

        Speak to them if you need to. For sure, they will be more than happy to help!

        26. Start a journal.

        Journaling is a great way to gain better self-awareness. It’s a self-reflection process.

        As you write, clarify your thought process and read what you wrote from a third person’s perspective, you gain more insights about yourself.

        Your journal can be private or an online blog. I use my personal development blog as a personal journal too and I’ve learned a lot about myself through the past year of blogging.

        27. Start a blog about personal development.

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

        I run The Personal Excellence Blog, where I share my personal journey and insights on how to live a better life. Readers look toward my articles to improve themselves, which enforces to me that I need to keep improving, for myself and for the people I’m reaching out to.

        28. Get a mentor or coach.

        There’s no faster way to improve than to have someone work with you on 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 chat programs.

        I realized having chat programs open at default result in a lot of wasted time. This time can be much better spent on other 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 (or any strategy game).

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

        You can also learn strategy from other board games or computer games, such as Othello, Chinese Chess, WarCraft, and so on.

        31. Stop watching TV.

        I’ve not been watching TV for pretty much 4 years and it’s been a very liberating experience. (Here’re 10 Reasons To Turn Off Your TV)

        I realized most of the programs and advertisements on mainstream TV are usually of a lower consciousness and not very empowering.

        In return, the time I’ve freed up from not watching TV is now constructively used for other purposes, such as connecting with close friends, doing work I enjoy, exercising, etc.

        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 something you’ve always wanted to do but have not.

        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. I also realized that during the nights when I meditate (before I sleep), I need lesser sleep. The clutter clearing process is very liberating.

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

        34. Join Toastmasters (Learn public speaking).

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

        After I started public speaking as a personal development speaker/trainer, I’ve learned a lot about how to communicate better, present myself and engage people.

        Advertising

        Toastmasters is an international organization that trains people in public speaking. Check out the Toastmaster clubs nearest you here.

        35. Befriend top people in their fields.

        These people have achieved their results because they have the right attitudes, skill sets and know-how. How better to learn than from the people who have been there and done that?

        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 on? If so, it’s time to let it go.

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

        Just recently, I finally moved on from a past heartbreak of 5 years ago. The effect was liberating and very empowering, and I have never been happier.

        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 people around you.

        You can never be too kind to someone. In fact, most of us don’t show enough kindness to people around us.

        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.

        Not only that, notice how you feel as you behave kindly to others. Chances are, you will feel even better than yourself.

        39. Reach out to the people who hate you.

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

        It’s easy to hate the people who hate 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.

        Is there anyone who dislikes or hates you in your life? If so, reach out to them. Show them love.

        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 petrol.

        Scheduling down time 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 at least 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.

        Nothing is going to get through. We are responsible for our personal growth — not anyone else. Not your mom, your dad, your friend, me or Lifehack.

        Make the decision to commit to your personal growth and embrace yourself to a life-long 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 you that as long as you keep to it, you’ll start seeing positive changes in yourself and your life.

        Bonus Advice: Turn your limitations into opportunities

        Limitations are a part of life, but you don’t have to live in their shadow.

        With the right mindset and method, you can break free of their limitations. What’s the right mindset and method? Find out in this article: How to Start Living Your Life Above Limitations

        So here you are, 43 solid ways for self improvement. Pick one or a few to start doing today.

        If you want to see yourself improving, you must take some actions.

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

        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.

        5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away 42 Practical Ways To Improve Yourself How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

        Trending in Lifestyle

        1 Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide) 2 12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health 3 Where Am I Going? How to Put Your Life in Context 4 17 Healthy Late Night Snacks for When Midnight Cravings Hit 5 5 Best Free Websites To Learn Photography Skills Easily

        Read Next

        Advertising
        Advertising
        Advertising

        Last Updated on August 20, 2019

        Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

        Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

        Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

        This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

        The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

        Curiosity

        Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

        People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

        Patience

        Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

        Advertising

        When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

        Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

        A Feeling for Connectedness

        This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

        A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

        The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

        With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

        Advertising

        1. Research

        Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

        Learning the Basics

        Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

        Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

        What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

        Hitting the Books

        Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

        Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

        Advertising

        Long-Term Reference

        While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

        My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

        2. Practice

        Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

        A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

        Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

        3. Network

        One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

        Advertising

        These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

        Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

        4. Schedule

        For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

        Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

        Final Thoughts

        In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

        If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

        At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

        More About Self-Learning

        Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

        Read Next