Change is almost always scary and seldom simple. The more significant that change is, the harder it can be to take the first step and stick to the course. However, learning how to change yourself for the better is an important skill to cultivate for success, both in your personal life and in business.
The key to improving yourself is to approach the process methodically, instead of hoping that success will fall into your lap. In this article, we’ll talk about why change can be a positive thing. Then we’ll go over five approaches you can use to change yourself for the better.
Let’s get to it!
Why Personal Change Can Be a Good Thing
A lot of us get stuck in our ways once we hit a certain age. Past that point, breaking out of our old habits and making to an effort to improve ourselves can become much harder. However, even a little push when it comes to changing yourself for the better can make a significant difference.
For example, imagine you decide to make an effort to wake up earlier in the morning each day. Here’s how that small change could have a positive effect on your life:
- It can make you more productive since you’ll have more time to get things done.
- You may develop a more positive outlook on life due to healthier lifestyle habits.
- Better sleeping habits can improve your mood and energy levels.
When people think about personal change, they often imagine remaking their entire lives from the ground up. However, that kind of drastic makeover only works in movies. In real life, the smart move is to make gradual changes, until they stick.
To give you another example, let’s say you’re stuck on a dead-end job. For a lot of people, that situation can drain them of their energy, which can make it even more difficult to break out of the situation. However, if you manage to get out of your comfort zone, you might find the drive to start looking for better options, which are more rewarding and fulfilling. With some effort, you can get a better job that makes you happier.
How to Change Yourself for the Better (5 Approaches)
The biggest issue when it comes to talking about self-improvement is that it’s easy to believe that you just need to stay positive. While a positive outlook is essential if you want to make a personal change stick, self-awareness and motivation are much more important to the overall process.
As such, let’s take a look at five approaches for how to change and improve yourself.
1. Acknowledge Your Mistakes and Look to the Future
Chances are there are particular aspects of your personality you’d like to change. It might also be you’ve made mistakes in your personal or business life, and are looking to rectify the behavior that got you to that point.
With that in mind, if you want to learn how to change, you need to acknowledge the behaviors you want to modify. More importantly, you need to own up to them instead of blaming them on external factors.
Sure, it might be you got passed over on promotions or opportunities because of things outside your control, but that’s not always the case. For the sake of argument, let’s say the adverse situations you’re trying to rectify are entirely within your control. This also means that it’s entirely within your power to change them, as long as you put the effort in.
This process is, of course, easier said than done, and it can also be emotionally draining. What we suggest is to sit back with a clear head and try the following:
- Think about the current state of your personal and professional life.
- Take note of the things you’re not satisfied with and want to change.
- Consider which of those situations are within your control to change.
- Think about what is within your power to affect, and you can do to make that change happen.
In most cases, it is within our own control to fix the mistakes we’ve made. However, it’s often a long process, and it can be uncomfortable, so it’s important that you keep focused on the end goal along the way to motivate you.
2. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Uncomfortable situations are something we all try to avoid. For example, if you’ve put off exercising for years, the first few times you go for a jog are going to be very difficult.
The thing is, self-improvement is almost never a fun process. It requires you to take a close look at yourself, acknowledge your flaws, make a conscious effort to change them, and then actually put that into practice.
In a lot of cases, that process is ongoing, so there’s always some discomfort to deal with. For example, when it comes to exercise, your muscles are going to ache and you may not see progress right away. However, if you keep at it on a regular basis, you’ll soon see results, like improved stamina and strength.
With that in mind, it’s vital that once you identify what you need to do, you stick with it. That means not reverting to old patterns even if you’re uncomfortable or if the process is messy.
It’s all too normal to fall back into old habits when you’re making drastic changes to your life. If it happens to you, then don’t beat yourself up over it. What you need to do instead is acknowledge it, try again, and make an effort to avoid the triggers that led to that stumble in the first place.
Of course, this is easier said than done. Plus, it’s much harder to make changes to your life if you go about it alone, which brings us to our next point.
3. Associate With Other Persons Focused on Success
Sometimes it can be hard to find support when you’re trying to make changes to your personal life. For example, if you’re trying to lose weight, you might worry about people making fun of you for it, or receiving negative comments. Naturally, you shouldn’t pay any mind to those kinds of people, but that’s easier said than done.
It can be very hard to stick with new habits unless you have a support network. If you do, they’ll be able to encourage you, provide help, and even hold you accountable if needed. For the best possible results, we recommend you try and associate with other people focused on making the same lifestyle changes as you.
Thanks to the internet, that’s not such a far-fetched idea. Here are some ideas on how to find like-minded people:
- Look for meetups in your area that deal with the aspects of your life you want to change, such as a local exercising group.
- Find online communities relating to your goals. Here you can discuss any problems you have with the changes you’re trying to make or ask for support and advice.
For the best results, we recommend trying to find an ‘accountability’ partner. That’s someone who can help you stay on track with your new habits and who can listen to you vent when you need it. In most cases, these are two-way relationships, so you’ll also need to hold your partner accountable and provide support in turn.
The idea is, you’ll help each other change for the better. Along the way, you might make some great new friends, so it’s a win-win situation.
4. Set Short and Long-Term Goals
If you want to change yourself for the better, you need to have clear goals in mind about the ways you want to improve. For example, just saying you want to be a better person is too vague. Instead, you might tell yourself you want to improve your patience or become more comfortable when speaking in public.
When it comes to improving yourself, there are no goals too small. In fact, finding small ways you can improve is a good way to set achievable, measurable goals. For example, if you want to become a better public speaker, here are some goals you might work towards:
- Make an effort to speak up during your next office meeting when you have something important to say.
- Share an anecdote with the table the next time you’re out in a group setting.
Those are pretty simple goals, which doesn’t make them any less impressive when achieved. You might even think of them as milestones, which you can use to track your progress. You can then track these towards a long-term goal, which could be something better, like performing a stand-up routine or delivering a speech to a large audience.
We recommend that you make a list of the changes you want to make within your life. You can then break those down into small and significant goals, keeping track of which ones you’ve accomplished and when. Think about it as a to-do list where you’re checking off tasks as you complete them.
5. Stop Comparing Yourself With Other People
It’s easy to become intimidated when you see how successful the people around us are. You might work with an over-achiever, know someone that’s incredibly funny, or have several successful friends. In these cases, it’s easy to compare yourself negatively to them, but rather than help you focus on improving yourself this could lead to you just becoming frustrated with your perceived ‘flaws’.
Remember that when it comes to improving yourself, every small victory counts. For example, if your ultimate goal is to run a certain distance without stopping, every milestone on the way matters. What doesn’t matter is if some other guy at the gym can run a marathon without breaking a sweat. It probably took him years to get there, and there are dozens of factors invisible to you. Perhaps he’s a professional athlete, or maybe running simply comes easier to him.
Everybody is different, so comparing yourself to others is hardly ever productive. With this in mind, you should stick to focusing on yourself. To do this, we recommend you keep detailed track of all your milestones, as we mentioned during the last section. Here’s how you might approach that:
- Take note of every time you fulfill one of your short or long-term goals.
- Calculate how much time it took you to hit every milestone, to track your momentum.
- Allow yourself to celebrate each milestone you reach, no matter how minor it might seem. You deserve it.
- Share your success with friends, family, or your accountability partners.
By focusing on your successes, you’ll have less time to worry about how other people are doing instead. The more you focus on your improvement, the more confident you’re likely to become. In turn, confident people tend not to worry that much about what other people think or what they do since they know what they’re capable of, and you’re one of them!
Making significant changes in your life is never a simple process. However, it’s important you recognize there’s always room for improvement. In fact, you’d be surprised at how much change a little effort can make as far as personal and professional fulfillment goes.
The key to learning how to change is finding ways to approach the process methodically, such as:
- Acknowledging your mistakes and looking to the future.
- Getting out of your comfort zone.
- Associating with other persons focused on success.
- Setting short and long-term goals.
- Stopping comparing where you are with other people.