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How to Better Yourself One Day at a Time

How to Better Yourself One Day at a Time

    There are so many things in your life that you want to get better at, but for some reason you keep falling short of your own (an other’s) expectations. Why is that?

    The problem is that we tend to try to better ourselves all at once, rather than concentrate on one important thing at a time, allowing ourselves to build up momentum over months and years. One day at a time turns into a lifetime of change and getting better. We can eventually become a better overall person if we have a day to day plan and stick to it.

    Here is how to better yourself, one day at a time.

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    Identify your strengths and weaknesses

    First, to better yourself on a consistent basis, you have to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Maybe you are awesome at working out or getting some exercise everyday, but your eating habits need a makeover. The idea here is to look at yourself realistically. Only from a realistic outlook can you create new habits and small changes in your life that will eventually stick.

    Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses. This will be a great list to use while you better yourself as well as something to look back on after months and years of life changes.

    SEE ALSO: 42 Practical Ways to Improve Yourself

    Pick a topic to work on

    Now that you have a list of things that you are strong and weak at, go through the list and choose one simple thing you want to get better at. I suggest something that won’t take too much effort or time at first. This is because you want to set yourself up for success, at least initially, when it comes to bettering yourself.

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    A few good “starter” topics would be:

    • Do a light workout 3 times a week for 20 minutes each
    • Cut out one or two bad foods in your diet in the next 30 days
    • Drink 8 cups of water every day

    These topics are good because they don’t require too much effort and are trackable. Remember to only pick one. We will be working on this for some time, so you shouldn’t bite off more than you can chew.

    Wake up early

    There is no better way to start the process of geting better at something than to wake up earlier. Getting up early has a ton of benefits. It’s quiet, dark, and peaceful. You can be by yourself and you can truly concentrate on the change you want to make one day at a time.

    Become mindful and aware of your topic

    The more mindful we are of what we are trying to change in our lives, the more stock and momentum go into changing it. To become aware of what you are trying to get better at you can make small reminders throughout your day with a few reminder apps or just post a few sticky notes in certain strategic places that will remind you of the thing that you want to change.

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    Shining light on the topic you want to get better at is the best way to become mindful of it and actually make the change.

    Be accountable

    Being accountable to yourself and others around you is a tactic that many miss when trying to better themselves. Let your friends and family, your social networks, and sometimes even your work buddies know about the change you are making.

    This will help you become more serious about your daily change, and could even prove to be a benefit for others around you as they may decide to join you in the topic that you have chosen. It’s not a bad thing to have a workout buddy!

    Track your time and actions

    If you can’t track something, you can’t manage it. In the process of bettering yourself you should track the days, hours, or minutes spent on the life change that you are making. This gives you data to look at during your review that you can use to decided if you are

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    Write and review

    The only way to become better at something, day-in and day-out, is to stay on track. And you can’t do that without some sort of daily or weekly review. If you are a GTDer, than this will fit in perfectly with your weekly review that is already in place. If not, just set a time every day or week where you can write about and review your successes in making the change that you have set out to make.

    By doing this review, you will be able to tell where you need to improve as well as when you are actually “done” making the change.

    Rinse and repeat

    Now that you gotten better at something, there is no need to stop at just one thing. Take out your strength and weaknesses list and identify something else you want to get better at. Maybe this time you will choose something that is a little more difficult, like playing guitar, learning German, or running 10 miles. Whatever it is, you now have the framework in place to better yourself one day at a time.

    (Photo credit: Man jump through the gap via Shutterstock)

    More by this author

    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on September 16, 2019

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

    We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

    The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

    Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

    1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

    Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

    For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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    • (1) Research
    • (2) Deciding the topic
    • (3) Creating the outline
    • (4) Drafting the content
    • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
    • (6) Revision
    • (7) etc.

    Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

    2. Change Your Environment

    Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

    One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

    3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

    Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

    Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

    My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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    Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

    If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

    Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

    I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

    5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

    I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

    Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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    As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

    6. Get a Buddy

    Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

    I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

    7. Tell Others About Your Goals

    This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

    For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

    8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

    What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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    9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

    If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

    Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

    10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

    Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

    Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

    11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

    At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

    Reality check:

    I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

    More About Procrastination

    Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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