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The Incredible Impact of Self Improvement in Your Life
Self-improvement is a bit of a buzzword these days. Bookstores are always week stocked with self-help books, and the internet is replete with articles and videos with much the same. The truth is, self-improvement really can impact every facet of your life. Below are ten amazing positive effects that self-improvement can have on your life.
It Encourages You to Build a Stronger Sense of Character.
For starters, the journey towards self-improvement is also an exercise in character-building. When you make a goal to improve some aspect of your life, you need discipline (so that you can see it through from start to finish) and interpersonal communication skills (so that you can ask for help and seek advice in areas that are unfamiliar to you). It makes sense, then, to reason that strengthening these elements of character will also help you improve in secondary ways.
Studies actually bear this out. One study on high school athletes, for example, found that programs which emphasized self-improvement with regard to responsibility, mutual respect, and interpersonal communication also saw an improvement in athletic performance. In fact, the improvement was even higher than in programs that focused solely on performance. The same can apply to you as an adult. No matter what your goals, then, when you prioritize these elements of character, you will see yourself improve in secondary ways that you might never have expected.
It Opens up New Opportunities.
When you decide to embark upon a self-improvement project, you can’t just stick to your same daily routine. You have to change your way of thinking, you have to learn new things by reading books or taking a class or just going online, and you have to try new things. Getting out of your routine, changing your patterns of thinking, and expanding your horizons by doing something new can open you up to opportunities you might never have dreamed of before you started your journey.
Learning new things can expose you to opportunities you might not have known about otherwise, while changing your way of thinking can make you more open to pursuing it. Enhancing your skill set by trying new things can give you the tools to make that opportunity a reality rather than just a dream. The form that these opportunities take might surprise you. For example, you might try learning a new language with a goal of traveling somewhere new, but then your language skills open up a new job opportunity instead.
It Builds Your Self-Esteem.
Self-improvement can improve your self-esteem because it by definition requires you to focus on yourself. After all, you wouldn’t try to improve yourself if you didn’t have at least some sense of self-esteem. However, it also requires getting out of your comfort zone. You can’t grow and change if you stay exactly where you are—you have to get uncomfortable and be open to trying new things. This can be difficult if you are someone with a low sense of self-esteem because trying new things means you risk failing and opening yourself up to criticism from others.
Fortunately, your level of self-esteem isn’t set in stone from birth. As you focus on your own self-improvement, it will naturally improve. As you try new things and start to succeed, it will continue to improve. When your self-esteem grows, you aren’t afraid of trying new things and failing, because failure is just another opportunity to try again. Others’ remarks don’t bother you because you are happy with who you are and the only one whose approval you need is your own.
It Makes You More Accepting of Constructive Feedback.
People who are committed to self-improvement are also more accepting of constructive feedback. You probably know someone who can’t receive criticism, even if it’s meant to help them improve. They deflect and defend themselves, they insist the critic is wrong, and they may even turn to insulting the person who tried to give them feedback. This can come from a sense of narcissism (everything I do is perfect) or as an attempt to mask their own insecurities (if I defend myself, they won’t see how insecure I really am). Either way, the person who refuses to accept criticism can never improve.
People who seek self-improvement, on the other hand, don’t just accept constructive feedback. In fact, they willingly try new tasks in an attempt to seek out feedback, because they understand that if they don’t make mistakes and receive feedback, they can never get better. Consequently, those who are committed to self-improvement have a higher sense of self-esteem and self-confidence. They don’t take constructive feedback personally and they aren’t insulted because they know the critiques are meant to help them meet their goals—that is, improve themselves.
It Requires You to Be Kind to Yourself.
When we talk about criticism, it is important to distinguish between constructive feedback and negative criticism. When a friend or a coworker offers constructive feedback, they are coming from a place of genuinely caring about your performance and wanting to help you succeed. Negative criticism, on the other hand, is a mean-spirited attempt to cut you down, hurt you, and deliberately thwart you from being able to achieve your goals. The same principle applies in how you talk to yourself. You can give yourself constructive feedback, but always remember to be kind to yourself.
The truth is, we as people tend to be a lot kinder to our friends and loved ones than we are to ourselves. We blame and criticize ourselves for our mistakes, but that is the quickest way to lose your drive for self-improvement. If you truly want to improve yourself and reach your goals, you have to treat yourself with kindness and compassion. Even if you are normally critical of yourself, choosing self-compassion is an attitude you can work towards and eventually achieve.
It Forces You to Prioritize Self-Care.
When you are kind to yourself, you are also able to focus on taking care of yourself. Society tells us that ignoring our own needs in favor of prioritizing the needs of others is a virtue. Indeed, while compassion and kindness are fundamental human values, the old adage still rings true: You can’t help others unless you first help yourself. In a literal real-world example, as much as you want to save your neighbor from drowning, you can’t help him until you save yourself from drowning first. If you don’t make sure that you are safe and secure before you extend a hand, then you will both drown.
The same principle applies to self-improvement. Self-improvement doesn’t just refer to learning new skills, after all—it is also about taking charge of your mental and physical health. When you acknowledge the fact that you are a human being with mental and physical needs, you can start respecting your own right to take care of those needs. When you prioritize your own self-care, you can take the extra time to prepare a healthy meal from scratch, go to the gym, or meditate. When you are meeting your own needs, you can become a better person and you are better able to help others.
It Helps You Recover from Difficult Life Events.
Prioritizing self-care and meeting your needs has consequences beyond day-to-day life. It also means you are better equipped to deal with life upsets and trauma. In fact, studies show that people who engage in self-improvement strategies such as self-reflection after an upsetting event experience a quicker emotional recovery. Self-reflection—which some would consider a form of meditation—means taking the time to analyze your thoughts and emotions, their root causes, and whether they are healthy or unhealthy. If the thoughts or behaviors are unhealthy, honest self-reflection can lead to taking actionable steps (i.e. seeing a counselor, reaching out to a trusted friend) to return to a healthier, more balanced frame of mind.
A common alternative to self-reflection is to just ignore the problem and pretend that nothing is wrong, but burying unpleasant emotions isn’t the path to self-improvement. When you can’t acknowledge that something is wrong, then you can never improve. At best, you stagnate. At worst, you self-destruct. Meditation and self-reflection aren’t always easy, but in the long run, they can get you on track towards a healthier frame of mind. In short, self-improvement can not only help you find healing from life’s stressors and painful events, but also growth.
It Emphasizes Action.
Many articles that talk about self-improvement focus on the power of positive thinking. Just imagine yourself where you want to be, visualize what it will be like to have a perfect life, and it will naturally be drawn to you. Real life doesn’t work that way, and as a result, self-improvement gets a negative reputation. Those who pursue self-improvement are described as “dreamers” and as being “out of touch” with the real world. The uncomfortable, often unspoken truth is that dreaming accomplishes very little in terms of real change. Frequently it’s an excuse for the dreamer to stay within their own comfort zone.
For self-improvement to be effective, dreaming and visualizing is merely the first step. The next and most important step is to take action on those dreams. Many who want to improve their lives make the mistake of waiting on the motivation, and if that motivation never comes, they never take action. They never make the changes they dream about. Self-improvement requires that you take action now, regardless of if you feel like it or not (for example, going to the gym even if you don’t feel like it or applying for your dream job even if you feel afraid). The motivation will come with doing. The more you take action steps, the more proactive you become in other areas of your life.
It Makes You a Better You.
When you are consistently working on building your character, chasing down new opportunities, building your self-esteem, accepting feedback, being kind to yourself and taking care of your needs, and acting upon your dreams, the end result is you become a better you in every aspect of life. You become stronger and healthier both mentally and physically and you become a better person, employee, and member of your family.
Working on self-improvement can benefit all areas of your life because even if you start with just one goal (i.e. exercising for 5 days a week), achieving that goal can inspire you to set new goals. As you gain more confidence in your ability to meet your goals, your goals can become more ambitious. When you believe in yourself and aren’t afraid to take actionable steps, your self-improvement can constantly grow.
It Helps You Help Others.
Some criticize self-improvement as being selfish, but the reality is once you improve yourself, you become a stronger member of society. The strength of character and skill sets you have improved are tools you can use to give back to your community. When you are no longer plagued by self-doubt and insecurity, you have fewer distractions when supporting your family, friends, or community as a whole. When you can take constructive feedback without lashing out or getting your feelings hurt, you develop your interpersonal communication skills and people will realize that they can trust you and confide in you more.
Ultimately, self-improvement is inspiring and infectious. If you have children or nieces and nephews or are in a leadership position over young people (such as a teacher), you can provide a role model for them to look up to. Adult family members and friends may decide to take on their own personal improvement projects as well and can come to you for advice on how to get started or overcome setbacks. If more people take on self-improvement as a personal goal, society could work together to make the world into a better place for all.