It’s not enough in life to just get by. Most people who are miserable, who dread getting up to go to work every day and feel like every day is the same, they have the same thing in common…stagnation.
We’ve grown accustomed as a society to accept a certain path that’s supposed to be a “one size fits all.” We’re all supposed to somehow share the same exact destiny and in doing so, we are promised success and happiness.
Most of us were told to do the same thing as everyone else since we were young. We were told to go to college, get married and work for a good company in order to help support our family and raise our 2.5 children.
The white picket fence, the suburbs…the works.
In reality, it’s not enough. This lifestyle has left many people bored and complacent with their lives. Let’s be honest, if you’re reading this right now, you’re probably one of those people. You’re probably bored, your life has probably stagnated and you need a way out.
Well, you’re in luck!
I’m writing this article for you. I’m writing this to pull you out of your stagnation and give you the tools to live the life you’ve secretly always wanted, but never had the ability to achieve.
It’s time for growth. It’s time to discover your real potential. Trust me, it will be a lot more than you ever believed.
The following 7 life-changing tips will help you to turn your life around and sharpen your tools so you can not only improve, but become the best at what you are striving to do!
Tip #1: Hone Your Craft
You may think you’re good at what you do. You may have gone to college for it, you may have read up on it, you may have practiced and you may even have a job in the field you have always wanted to be in.
This may have left you feeling like you can skate by. This feeling of entitlement will bring you nothing but complacency and possibly even job instability.
Imagine that you are a graphic designer. You went to school back in 2005, you graduated around 2009 and you’ve been working in the field ever since. You have a working knowledge of what people like and what works…from 2009.
It’s been six years since you’ve graduated and things have changed. People are looking for different designs than they used to. More simple, more sleek, more to the point.
You may be really good at what you do, but you’re still designing like it’s 2009. You haven’t worked on your artistic abilities, you haven’t kept up with software updates and growth in your field and you still design things in a way that is now outdated.
Suddenly, a young guy comes along, straight out of college and he’s got all of these great ideas! He may just be an intern, but he’s getting a lot of attention from the higher ups. He really understands this new generation and he has a great understanding of the new corporate landscape.
He keeps up to date on all the hottest trends, he watches for small changes in font, borders and even color palettes, and because of this, he is consistently putting forward designs that the clients love.
Before you know it, this kid has your job and a couple of years later, he’s your boss!
How did this happen? How did this young guy come in, take over and shatter all of your dreams? I think you already know the answer to this.
You can’t just learn a skill and think that you can sit on that knowledge for the rest of your life. Things are always changing and there will always be someone out there who can do the same thing you can do that is looking to take your position.
This isn’t a negative thing, it’s healthy competition that keeps the market strong. It’s up to you to keep up.
Don’t rely on your rapport with those around you and don’t rely on the kindness of your employers. Trust me, loyalty only goes so far. The bottom line usually ends up coming first.
You should be constantly evolving, adapting and learning. You should study up on what it is that you love to do and you should be keeping an eye out for even slight changes in your field. It’s up to you to put in the work, read the trade magazines and graph trends. No one is going to walk you through what’s hot in your field or hold your hand to accomplish your tasks.
If you don’t keep up, you fall behind. If you fall behind, you get picked off. It’s survival of the fittest out there and you need the tools to get by.
This all sounds sort of harsh and negative, but in reality it’s a really good thing! If you really love what you’re doing and love the field that you’re in, you should enjoy learning about growth and changes in your field.
There’s nothing wrong with holding on to the skills you have learned in the past, but a natural evolution should be built into your journey from the start. That’s not to say you can’t start now, it’s never too late, but you may need to change your perspective.
Don’t keep learning because you have to, learn because you enjoy learning. Find joy in growing, developing and trying new things. The opportunity to grow is actually a beautiful thing. There is an infinite amount of knowledge out there and you can never truly be done learning everything.
Even the masters, even the people who are the top of their field, don’t know everything. The difference is that they are willing to learn. They are willing to adapt, to grow and to change with the times.
You may have to step out of your comfort zone and you may have to put in some extra work off the clock, but trust me, it will be worth it in the end.
Tip #2: Stay Healthy
Whether your goal for self-improvement is changing and improving your health or not, staying healthy is an important part of your growth no matter what.
It’s hard to grow, to improve and to pick up new skills if you are constantly being drug down by lethargy and complacency.
Bad health doesn’t just affect your body, it affect your mind. Your brain runs off of the same nutrients that the rest of your body does and if you don’t feed it the right balance of what it needs, it isn’t going to run at top capacity.
The fuel you put into your body will determine your output.
I don’t care how smart you are, how driven you are or how hard you are working, nothing can make up for the damage you are dealing to yourself and the hell you are putting your body through by not eating well or getting enough exercise.
This doesn’t mean you have to train like an athlete or go full blown vegan, but you may need to make some necessary changes to not only make sure that you are at the top of your game, but also that you will be able to live a longer and happier life.
Start with small things.
Instead of taking the elevator or the escalator, take the stairs. Invest in a bike and on nice days, ride in to work. If you are in a city, walk everywhere. That couple of extra miles a day can do wonders for your body and will help you to burn some extra calories.
If you can, try to get to the gym a couple of times a week for weight training. You don’t have to lift like a bodybuilder, but your body does need some strength training to run at its full potential. Don’t worry, you’ll still burn fat by lifting and you’ll improve your physique.
To round off the week, try to jog or speed walk around the neighborhood at least once or twice a week for at least twenty minutes. Push yourself, but don’t overdo it, especially when you are first starting out. You want to avoid injuries, but still get the exercise you need.
On top of exercising, try and slowly change your eating habits.
Wean yourself off of bad food choices slowly and increase the amount of good foods to replace the bad ones.
If you drink soda, switch to diet soda. From there, switch to juice, then tea and water. A slow and gradual change will get the same results, but won’t shock your system and leave you with horrible cravings.
Make sure you are drinking plenty of water and eating lots of vegetables. Water is needed for every aspect and system in your body to run properly and veggies will help to give you the nutrients you need to run at your full potential.
These small changes will help your body to run at its best, which will increase your mental capacity and ultimately your output.
Tip # 3: Work Harder Than the Next Guy
Although we are discussing self improvement, paying attention to what your competition is doing is a very important key to success. By gauging what others are doing, you are better able to set benchmarks for success and what your next steps may be.
You obviously don’t have to let people know that you are doing this. Just observe from afar, check out anything quantifiable that they have available and try and see what their habits are. From there, find what you can do to take what they are doing to the next level.
Healthy competition brings out the best in all of us and the sense of someone being ahead of you can help to push you that extra little bit farther.
If you truly want to be the best at what you do, if you truly want to be at the top of your game, you have to be the person who is putting in the most work. You have to put in the extra hours, you have to study off the clock and you have to be the guy that everyone sets their standard to.
The best in the world didn’t get their by sheer like. Guys like Michael Jordan, Anderson Silva, Bill Gates…these guys put in the time and they worked harder and smarter than anyone else around them.
They were able to learn a massive amount about their craft, but more importantly, they were willing to grow.
You have to constantly be expanding your horizons and not be satisfied with being on level with everyone else or “good enough.” You have to shoot to be the best if you want to make massive improvements to your life.
Study the greats and see what they did. Then, take a healthy look at your competition and see what they are doing in comparison. Finally, take a look at what you’re doing and how it lines up with the other two.
If you are doing everything your competition is doing and more, great! You probably still aren’t doing everything the masters in your field are doing.
It is by comparing ourselves to others that we get a litmus of how we are doing. This doesn’t mean you should feel belittled because you aren’t as far ahead as others. It just means you have room for improvement.
Use the knowledge you’ve gathered to grow and to push yourself to the next level.
Tip #4: Identify Your Weaknesses
This can be very difficult for people and that is understandable. It’s hard to take a deep look at yourself and identify exactly what it is that you are doing wrong and where you can improve.
We all live in fear of others discovering our weaknesses and it is because of this that we bury our weaknesses far below the surface, hoping no one will see them…even ourselves.
The problem is that burying them isn’t enough. They have a tendency to creep back to the surface and that curtain you are trying to hide them with often gets pulled back. That point of exposure can be very jarring and if you aren’t prepared, it can really set you back.
First, you have to realize that we all have our weaknesses. No one is perfect, no one is without sin and no one lives a flawless life. Everyone screws up, everyone makes mistakes and everyone has things that they aren’t good at.
People who are successful look at these things and find ways to grow from them. They see their weaknesses as opportunities to become better and to see themselves for not only who they are right now, but who they can grow to be.
Once you begin to accept your weaknesses, you can take a hard look at why they are there.
Maybe there is something from your past, some wound that was struck and never healed. Maybe you never took the time to address this wound and over time, it has become septic.
Maybe you were so busy developing other aspects of your life that you forgot to work on this specific thing. It is very possible that you simply overlooked something and over time, that part of your life has fallen behind.
Whatever the reason may be, it is important to figure out where the weakness came from in order to change it at its core. It may feel good to change things on the surface at first, but soon they will become ugly again if you don’t get to the root of the problem.
Once you have accepted weakness as part of your life and you have discovered the root, it is time to take the hardest step and change it.
Remind yourself of the bravery it has taken to get where you are so far. Taking a look at your weaknesses is difficult enough as it is, so pat yourself on the back for having the courage to get this far.
Now, change your focus to working on these weaknesses.
Lets break down an example.
Let’s say you’ve been out of shape for most of your adult life. You’ve tried hitting the gym over and over again, but it never sticks. You go for a while and you may even see results, but after a while you just give up.
First, you have to look at why you are going to the gym. Is it really to improve your health, or is because of your insecurities? Are you ashamed of yourself? Do you have low self-esteem?
Although it’s great to want to get into shape, you’ll never get there if you don’t address the issues that are holding you back. It’s very likely that those negative feelings are what are keeping you back and stopping you from achieving success.
You have to break the cycle, you have to address your weaknesses in order to improve and make the changes that you are looking for in your life.
Look, we all have our own demons. We all have things that we are weak at. People who have achieved greatness have looked these weaknesses dead in the face and faced their fears. They have overcome the odds by winning the battle within themselves.
Find your weaknesses, find the root and make a change. Remember, you are only as strong as your weakest link.
Tip #5: Let the Small Stuff Slide
It’s hard to trudge forward with the weight of a million things on your shoulders.
People tend to get caught up in the minutia in life. It’s all the little things, the little details and small annoyances that cause us the most stress.
Sure, major events can cause us grief and anxiety, but what really drives us crazy are the tiny little things in life that eat away us, cause us to shake our head, cause our heart rate to rise and make us lose focus.
Sometimes it’s hard to see the big picture. Sometimes there is so much clutter in the way that we can’t seem to make out what is behind everything. We get so caught up in the gears, that we can’t seem to read the clock.
In order to improve yourself, in order to live a happy life at all, you have to learn how to let these things go.
Sure, it’s hard. When someone cuts you off in traffic, it can follow you around for the rest of the day, keeping you angry and in a negative headspace.
Think about what this is really doing for you. Is it making your life any better? Are you getting revenge on the person who cut you off in traffic by being pouty all day? Are you positively affecting those around you with your spite?
The answer to all of these questions is a resounding “no.” Your life won’t be any better, you won’t get back at anyone and you are only going to make those around you miserable and resentful with your poor attitude.
I know nobody likes being cut off in traffic. It seems like your whole world once that thing happens and sure, for a second it is. Once that second has passed, though, you have to let it go.
Carrying that one moment of aggression, fear and anger around with you will accomplish nothing but garnering more negative feelings.
You have to learn to let the little things go.
I know it’s a lot harder than it sounds, but with practice, you will get better at letting the tiny annoyances roll off of your back.
Try focusing on the bigger picture sometimes.
If you were cut off in traffic, take a moment to cool down and then think about the rest of your day. Do you really want to let one small event ruin what could still be an amazing day? I would think not.
Also, try and put things in perspective.
In your entire life, your possible eighty plus years on earth, is this one little thing really going to make a difference? Are you going to remember it next year? Next month? Next week?
The answer is very likely “no.” Even if you do remember it, it most likely won’t bring up the same feelings of anxiety that it is causing you now.
Don’t let the little things eat you alive and don’t give them the power over you that they don’t deserve. Treat the little things like what they are—little. You wouldn’t let a mouse stand in your way of freedom and happiness would you?
The same applies for the internal little things. Don’t let them get in the way of the life that you want to lead and the way you want to live it. Instead, keep your eye on the prize and sweep the small things away to make way for the better life you are going to lead.
Tip #6: Reward Yourself
Making improvements to yourself can be a long and difficult process. It’s not very often that you can make some sort of life change overnight—especially one that will stick.
It’s often that big changes can take months, even years.
If you want to build up your muscle and put on ten pounds, it can take a couple of years to do! That is a lot of discipline, dedication and hard work.
Because of this, it is important to take a moment every once in a while to reward yourself.
I’m not saying go crazy or impede on your progress, but it’s good to celebrate your success occasionally by rewarding yourself. This will keep you motivated and give you a brief break from the hard work to appreciate all you have accomplished.
This reward can be in line with what you are doing, or it can be some sort of a “cheat.”
For instance, if you are working on losing weight, you may choose to reward yourself by flying out to the mountains and taking a beautiful hike and camping trip. This stays in line with your values, but it also gives you a break from your day to day life to do something exciting and adventurous.
In the same scenario, if you have been working really hard on losing weight and you occasionally want to have a cheat meal, that is okay. The key is moderation and making sure that you aren’t overdoing it.
Hard work has to be met with reward. Yes, accomplishing your goals is a reward in and of itself, but it’s also important to celebrate your victories. After all, you worked very hard on getting to where you are and improving your life. You deserve to cut yourself some slack here and there.
Before we move on, let’s take a second to think about the flip side.
If all you do is work hard, you’ll end up working yourself into the ground. This will lead to an eventual burnout, which can actually sabotage all of the progress you have made!
You need to be able to find balance in your life. It can’t always be all push, all the time. Sometimes you need to reflect and really appreciate the work that you’ve put in.
Give yourself a prize for what you’ve done. You’ve earned it!
Tip #7: Help Others
This sounds counter-intuitive.
You may be thinking, “Wait a minute—I thought this was about me helping myself!” And you know what? You’re right. This article is about you helping yourself.
One of the best ways to help yourself is to help others.
Reaching out a helping hand to your fellow man should be one of the bright sides of your life. One of the best ways to improve yourself in any field is to improve who you are as a human being.
This could be anything from volunteering at a soup kitchen to helping the new guy at work to find his bearings. Pretty much whenever you see someone in need, you should be there to reach out a helping hand.
There are two reasons for this.
The first reason is putting positive energy out into the world. You’ll find that the more positive energy that you put out there, the more you will receive in return.
This is the nature of the universe. If you put out bad, you get back bad. If you put out good, you get back good.
Not only is helping others the right thing to do, it will also put positive energy out into the world, which will find a way back to you in times that you need it most.
I’ve lost everything before. I’ve been at a point where I was facing living on the street. Do you know how I got by? The positive that I put out into the world helping others came back to lift me up when I was in need and people reached out, even relative strangers, to help me.
It was one of the most beautiful and life changing events of my life. Somehow hitting rock bottom was the education I needed in what humanity is made of and the nature of the world.
The second reason to reach out and help others is the reciprocation they may provide in the future.
This IN NO WAY means that they owe you anything or that you should do favors for others to get something back in return, but naturally you’ll notice that others that you have helped are usually willing to help you when you need it.
You remember that new guy you helped out when he first arrived? He may be a rock star employee and when it comes time for him to assemble a team for a very important project, you may be on the top of his list.
People remember kindness and more importantly, they remember genuine kindness.
Doing the right thing to do the right thing has its own rewards. Having others help you in return is a fringe benefit.
Really, what it comes down to is being a good person. This will help you to improve yourself more than anything.
I hope you are able to apply these tips to your own life and push yourself outside of your comfort zones to the place you’ve always wanted to be.
You can improve yourself, starting today. Some things may take time, but with the right dedication, care, attention to detail and humility, you will accomplish great things. I believe you can do this. Now it’s time for you to believe it as well!
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