The personal development field is an interesting one.
There’s no shortage of information and sources on how to improve yourself, from the tried-and-true books (from well-known authors) to places like Quora, where anyone can become an expert and push their opinion.
Now I don’t consider myself an expert; far from it. But naturally, I do appreciate when I receive feedback that my words have resonated with other people.
That said, it’s important to understand one very, very big thing:
Improving oneself comes through action.
You could say I learned this lesson the hard way.
Even before I undertook my own self-development path, I wasted a lot of time doing nothing in my free time (i.e. the time before and after work).
Then, when I did finally decide it was time to kick my own ass and get into high gear with knowing A) who I am, and B) what I want to do, I spent too much time doing what I call self-development entertainment.
What is self-development entertainment?
It’s when you spend all your time consuming on how to become better, but don’t actually do shit to become better.
I’ve got a collection of books sitting there, collecting dust, until I would finally pick it up and read some. Then I’d get lazy, distracted, or bored, and walk away from it.
On some occasions, the book blessed me enough with its juicy quotes and passages to keep me hooked. I remember reading some of these quotes and passages, getting so pumped I’d highlight some things like a madman.
I was juiced up. “Yeah, that’s it Adam! This right here!!”
Then magically once the book was finished or I put it down, I’d go on with my life and conveniently forget what hyped me up, the yellow highlighted passage still drying from the highlighter.
The books that required a bunch of exercises in them? Well fuck that, I didn’t have time for it. I blazed through the book, breezing past the exercises and mentally noting what was required and thinking I didn’t need to do them.
I did this over and over and over again.
Ok, so step one was done — I told myself it was time to change, and I began researching and exploring ways to do it.
But step two, actually changing? Yeah, there was a bit of a slow lane with that.
Until I realized what I was doing, and I see it with other people all the time.
Here’s a great example:
About a year ago, I went to Tony Robbins’ Unleash The Power Within conference in New Jersey. Personally, I read a lot of his stuff, but his style doesn’t mesh with me all the way. His seminars are way too in-my-face for my liking, but I wanted to get outside my comfort zone and try something new.
It was an awesome experience.
I noticed one thing, though. In talking to a bunch of new people there, I found quite a few who were there at UPW for their third, fourth, fifth time. I met one guy who was there for his ninth time. Yes, nine.
And as much as I commend people for taking the time out of their schedule to look for ways to improve, I got to thinking: at what point do you need to keep hearing before you start doing?
I knew this from personal experience.
So, as much as it’s important to consume content to improve yourself, nothing beats actually doing.
And thus, here’s five things you can implement fairly easily, in my opinion, so you can start doing.
1. Tell yourself you’re fucking awesome
There is power in how you deal with yourself. Not just a little bit, but a lot.
Easier said than done, I get it. But it’s also one of the ones that require the least physical change, because it’s all in the three pound wrinkled mass above your head.
You don’t need to begin thinking you’re the best thing since sliced bread. It’s hard to be this confident, and it’s also super cocky.
Instead, start believing in yourself. I spent a lot of time with negative self-talk, convincing myself a few bad things.
The law of attraction, in my honest opinion, is real. The energy you give out is the energy you get.
I told myself I wasn’t good enough in corporate America. Yes, I was in the wrong career, but the self-talk carried over into my next career. Only pretty recently have I changed the gear in my own head and realized what I’m capable of (and I’m still working on this one).
But in this slow change, I’ve noticed results. It’s hard not to. Give yourself an easy break and start believing what you’re capable of.
2. List out some easy goals
Find ways to set easy goals and go about whooping their ass.
If you’ve never set goals, don’t even worry about setting long-term goals. Get into the habit of setting small ones and go about knocking them out.
This has a two-fold effect: you’ll gain a ton of confidence in yourself, and you’ll start accomplishing things you want. Not what anyone else wants. Not what your boss wants.
You see, we spend the vast majority of our time fighting other people’s fires. Work, relationships, friends and family to name a few.
There’s a time and a place for such things (they’re unfortunately unavoidable sometimes), but if you don’t set your own goals of things YOU want, you’ll just float through life and do whatever comes up in the moment.
You have to know what you want, on some level, so you can begin planning your time to get ahead with your life.
3. Plan your time more
This goes with setting your goals. Once you know your goals, or at least have an idea of some of the things you want to accomplish, you can begin scheduling your time to fit them in.
I personally find myself trying to schedule my week out on Sunday for the upcoming work week.
I start by dividing my time into four or five areas I want to work on. For instance: career, writing, relationships, finances, and health. They can remain the same from week to week, or they can change.
I then write a couple things under each one. Things I want to work on for the week. Some categories may have more than others, it doesn’t have to be equal.
Then, once I have all that written down, I can see on a high level what my week should look like. In other words, how I need to schedule my time.
I then spend a bit of time writing the things I want to accomplish for the week under each day, through Friday.
Do I stay on track? Almost never. That’s ok. I know I’ve been able to work on the things I want.
Once Thursday night hits, I then reassess what I’ve been able to knock out and schedule the weekend accordingly.
Oh you thought the weekend was all about grillin’ & chillin’? No way.
4. Establish a morning routine
If you’ve read my work on here or on my website, you’ll probably think I’m a broken record in stressing the importance of a morning routine.
Well too bad, I’ll mention it again.
In my opinion, there is no single better way to set your day up than a morning routine.
As much as you plan your time out and make an earnest effort to do the best you can, we all get thrown off.
The morning is your chance to set the mood, set your intentions, and set the day up to go as best as you can. Does it? Yes, but not always.
Drama comes up and life throws a steaming pile of hot garbage your way.
Oh well, gotta deal with it.
Imagine if you didn’t start the day zeroed in though? You’d be a complete hot mess.
By establishing a morning routine, you can lock in and get ready to rumble. You can work on the things you want, meditate, and establish good habits that will inevitably lead you to success down the line.
5. Create more, consume less (except for books)
Facebook. Snapchat. Instagram. LinkedIn. Movies. TV shows. Sports. News. Magazines. Books.
We are a generation and world of consumption.
Nothing wrong with enjoying a little downtime over a good movie, TV show, or a book.
But out of all those forms of consumption, only one should be done more. You can guess what it is…reading books.
The rest? Chill out on. I’ll save the entire discussion about comparing and wasting time on social media, even the news. I’m guilty of it myself. I’ve toned it down some but good lord, I still use them way too much.
I’m trying…I swear.
See, I told you to take what Quora writers write with a grain of salt sometimes. At least I’ll admit I’m far from a machine.
Remember, read as much as you can about improving yourself, but I plead with you…take action.
Nothing worse than using reading self-help books as entertainment. There is a reason there are exercises in books.
There is a reason that you can’t sit there and attract a million dollars.
You have to go out and do.