Do you want to focus on your self-improvement and personal development but aren’t sure where to start?
These principles will help you start the journey of personal growth to be the best version of yourself.
Each of us heads down the road of self-improvement for various reasons.
Personally, I started getting into self-improvement three years ago.
Back then, I was extremely neurotic, anxious, unhappy, and lost.
I guess I’m still a bit of those; we all are.
However, I have gone through many experiences and things that have taught me well.
I’ve gotten a lot of my life a lot more “together” when it comes to dating, fitness, health, and business.
I’m much happier.
In getting over a lot of my anxiety and depression, I have seen some patterns repeat themselves in me and others regarding life.
Most importantly, I’ve learned about things that just don’t work or are harmful.
I wanted to share these things with you so that, hopefully, you can keep them in your mind too as you move forward and work on improving yourself.
1. Comparison to others is bad for self-improvement
Compare present you to past you, and not anyone else.
We live in a society based on comparison and living up to some arbitrary standard: get this car, your significant other has one freckle, you need to learn faster…
But what is this arbitrary standard?
Is it ever attainable?
As humans, we look to others to gauge our results and progress.
But if you always do this, you’ll constantly be in a race of “keeping up with the Joneses,” whether it’s in whom we date, what we own, or our abilities.
You and everyone else are on their own personal journey.
Some are worse at certain things; some are better.
While you are busy wishing you had Person X’s intelligence, they are wishing they had your flair for adventure.
Someone may have gone through a lot of traumas as a kid and is scared of talking to people.
That may be you.
So you say, “Why is my friend so easily able to talk to people and I can’t?
Everyone is improving.
Everyone has a different past.
Only compare yourself to whom you were in your own past.
Have you gotten smarter?
Made more money?
Your comparison to whom you were in the past is all that matters and is the only way you can judge your life accurately.
2. Your reaction to challenges plays a role in your self-improvement
Life is 20% the actual events that occur to you and 80% your interpretation of those events.
Why is it that the same event can happen to different people, but they react differently?
One person gets rejected by someone when they try to kiss them and feels worthless.
The other laughs it off, assuming the person is nervous and is not ready yet.
One person loses their job and goes into a tailspin of depression.
The other says “Good riddance” and looks to find a better job which makes them happier.
Reality is malleable.
You can bend it.
In fact, you can teach yourself to always be optimistic by searching for the good in every situation.
It might sound airy-fairy, but there’s always a positive.
It is all about balance
You don’t want to ignore negative situations or emotions completely.
That’s unhealthy and unrealistic.
Yet, many times we drown in negativity for no good reason.
For example: Yes, being sick sucks, and being unproductive is annoying, but you can use the time to relax, read, and catch up with a friend over Skype.
Yes, being rejected in dating sucks, but you can use it as a signal flare to say that maybe you didn’t present yourself well enough.
Or maybe that person wasn’t right for you, and maybe you’re going to find someone even better.
This is one of the cornerstone techniques in the philosophy of Stoicism.
You can learn more about it in William B. Irvine’s book, A Guide To The Good Life.
So, while I fully support acknowledging negative emotions (as repressing them is horrible for you), we often let negative thoughts overtake us for no reason.
There is a whole side of the story that is positive and that we are missing.
Try it for two weeks: Always look for a positive interpretation of the situation.
How does your mood or outlook on life change?
3. Connection is everything with personal development
Humans were put on the Earth to connect.
This is a strong statement made in Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly, but I wholeheartedly believe it.
She mentioned it in the context of people only, but I want to expand on that.
Usually, we think more about our goals this way:
I want to make money.
My sex life could be better.
I want to get built, and so on…
Some of your goals are independent of others.
But most will involve other people.
And the best way to get our goals fulfilled or needs met is to learn how to focus on connection.
Does connecting with others really matter?
E.g., you want to make money.
Let’s assume you want to get a job at a great company.
Someone will hire you because of your qualifications.
But first and foremost, people ask, do they like you?
Do they trust you?
Is there some kind of common ground?
Nobody will want you if you are just a jerk to everyone.
And the same with sex and dating—emotional connection drives us together.
If we think the other person cares about us, portrays themselves confidently, and expresses what they want to us… attraction happens, and fireworks fly.
But what about the gym?
That’s pretty much just on you, right?
True, I wouldn’t say it relies on other people.
But there are other forms of connection going on…
You connect to your burning desires to grow strong, to be better, and to your self-discipline… something deep inside propels you forward.
You connect with the floor, ball, muscles, or barbell.
Our emotions fuel us forward, just as they do to learn an instrument, write a book, compose a language, and more.
Connection—whether with others or within yourself will give you everything you need and is necessary to survive.
Don’t cast it aside, and don’t underestimate it.
4. Self-improvement doesn’t come with shortcuts
There are no magic pills or quick fixes.
A lot of slimy marketing plays on the emotions of people in self-improvement.
As I mentioned, selling and connecting with people is one thing.
Presenting a product or solution to help people feel better or solve a problem is the only way to sell and is great.
But using the fact that many people are unhappy and willing to buy anything to make themselves feel better?
That’s an issue—and it’s a reason I think everyone needs to be careful about which people they trust.
Many products on the market promise results in 15 days, money worries no more, you can become attractive to anyone…
They usually fail to mention the absolute sheer amount of work and grind involved.
There is pain, sacrifice, and frustration… but if you push through, it’s worth it.
It is a challenge
I went through a lot of rejection when I first started dating.
I know many other guys did as well.
I’m still working daily on my business and do not 100% support myself from it as of writing this article.
My friend had to work out four days a week in the gym for hours over six months while completely changing his diet to lose most of his belly fat and get stronger.
Things take work beyond our imagination, but we feel so much better after because we realize we didn’t use any crutches.
We worked in our own way, maybe with guidance from others and a book or two, but we did it.
And on that note—patience and self-compassion are necessary virtues.
It’s completely unfair to expect change within days when you’ve been or done something a certain way for years.
It takes time to change.
Be very cautious of anyone who promises instant results, but know that if you work consistently at something and don’t give up, you will succeed.
5. The people you surround yourself with will make or break you
“You are the average of the five people you surround yourself with.” – Jim Rohn
I often say that if it weren’t for my friends, I would be nowhere.
But the people you spend the most time with will rub off on you in every single area of your life.
They affect your income.
They determine how good you are with people.
The people you spend time with impact your levels of optimism, neuroticism, anxiety, and resilience.
They determine how you want to spend your time.
They are EXTREMELY influential in your life, and you want to treat who you are spending the most time with almost as a marriage interview.
If these people make such a big difference in your life, you’d better choose them correctly.
And also, do not be afraid to limit your contact with them or completely cut them out if you don’t like them—whether that be a family member, an old friend, or otherwise.
Life is too short to hang out with crappy people and let them bring you down.
You’ve got one life to crush.
These are five principles I’ve seen repeat themselves over and over in my life as I’ve been growing.
Leave us a comment and let us know what has worked well for you!