“You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one.” ―Henry David Thoreau
Self-improvement doesn’t happen immediately.
It takes lots of small steps and victories over time.
Our society is stuck on the trope that there is a grand narrative in life, and simply by putting in the hour’s, we will inevitably improve. So we try and speed life up and hit those larger milestones as quickly as possible.
In reality, we shouldn’t move faster, but slow down and ask ourselves, “how can I start making impactful changes right now?”.
The primary answer is to develop a series of habits and strategies that put you in the best place possible to succeed. After that, it’s just a matter of hard work.
Here are 25 small improvements that lead to huge results.
1. Focus on the effort-not the outcome
This is one of my all-time favorite lines from author Ryan Holiday. We get too caught up in results and external rewards without appreciating the process that took us there.
2. Manage what you can control
Living a healthier lifestyle is about making little adjustments that add up to big results. Start with something manageable and think about the aspects of your life that you are in control of. This can be cooking an extra meal every week instead of going out to eat or simply drinking water instead of soda.
Certain aspects of life are out of our hands, which makes it imperative to try and stabilize the parts we are able to.
3. Build an accountability narrative
Melissa McCarthy said in an interview with Howard Stern that if she didn’t make it in the film industry by 30, she would pursue something more stable. McCarthy was ranked by Forbes as the fourth-highest paid actress of 2017 with $18 million in earnings. Hold yourself to a realistic standard and understand that the end result is not a given. Set a timeline and be prepared with a back-up plan if you are not seeing the progress that you had initially desired.
4. Accept yourself, even if it is uncomfortable
The hardest part about improving your outlook in life is looking in the mirror and not seeing tangible evidence of your hard work. Acknowledge who you are and get away from the endless track of negative self-talk many people suffer through on a daily basis. That is the only way to move forward and strengthen the connection between mind and body.
When I graduated from high school I was 6ft4 and 165lbs. It took several years of relentless work to get myself to a point that I was proud of. The very first step was to be comfortable with my starting point to lay a foundation for positive growth.
5. Make a commitment and don’t look back
A lot of people fall off of their goals because they don’t commit 100%. Achieving something great takes sacrifice, and you have to understand that it will all be worth it in the end if you stay on track. When I decided to add freelance writing as a serious side hustle, I experienced months of refinement and failure before I noticed any improvement.
There were a lot of late nights where I was mentally drained, but sat down and wrote to stay committed to the goals I set for myself. Now the process of delayed gratification has paid off.
6. Drink more water
Besides being the most natural way to hydrate your body, water promotes cardiovascular endurance, healthy skin, and helps balance your blood sugar. Trying to drink more water can seem boring and tedious but it shouldn’t be difficult. I sometimes swap normal water for a naturally-flavored sparkling alternative or infuse fruit to add a hint of flavor.