It’s the start of a new year, and a new decade. There is so much potential in the future and in each of us. Today I’m going to talk about how to improve yourself and your life in the new year. These steps might seem simple, but they have a big impact especially when used together. If you integrate these ideas into your life you will see massive improvements in your happiness and quality of life in 2021.
How to Improve Yourself
Acknowledge and Release Your Fears
Fear gets to all of us sometimes. I’m sure we can all look back and remember the opportunities we missed or mistakes we made because of fear. Fear is not always bad, sometimes it protects you from harm, but sometimes it’s down right irrational and keeps you from pursuing what you really want.
When you feel fear hold you back, acknowledge your fear and try to understand why it’s there. What purpose is it serving? Is it protecting or limiting you? Try writing down “I’m afraid because _______, but this thing I want to do will actually be really good because _______.”
Thank it, and let it go. If that fear resurfaces take a deep breathe, tell your fear “thank you but I don’t need you to protect me right now, I’m going to be ok,” and let it go as you exhale.
Don’t be a Perfectionist
It’s natural to want to be successful at the things you do, but sometimes wanting to do things perfectly holds you back. You might find that if you don’t believe you can do something just right that you don’t try at all.
As a recovering perfectionist myself, I can’t tell you how many times I refused to even attempt something that was new or uncomfortable or challenging because I figured if I couldn’t be successful or right the first time then I’d be a failure.
We all have skills that come naturally and that’s great but real fulfillment comes from the feeling of hard work paying off.
“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
Practice Gratitude Daily
A daily gratitude practice is essential to happiness. If you never feel gratitude for what you have now you will always have a feeling of lack. You will never feel satisfied even if you reach your goals and acquire your dream life. They say ‘money can’t buy happiness’ because even wealthy people struggle to appreciate the good things they have in their life.
Take time every day to list 5-10 things that you are grateful for. Write it down or list it in your head before falling asleep.
Change Your Mindset
You are what you think you are. Your mindset, beliefs, and attitude is your choice. We can’t control other people or the things that happen to us, but we can control out reactions. We can decide that when challenges arise we will look for the good or the lessons we can learn.
Don’t get me wrong, it can be really hard to do. Some of us are raised around cynical people, or we’ve experienced a lot of bad things, and that pattern of thinking gets passed on to us. Once you realize that you’ve been stuck in a negative pattern it takes some work to change your mindset, but it is possible.
There won’t always be other people to cheer us on or lift us up, so we must be our own support system. That means when we catch negative thoughts we replace them with positive thoughts.
Related: How to Change Your Limiting Beliefs
Let Go of Negative People
“You are the five people you spend the most time with.” It may be cliche but it’s true.
If those people are negative, unsupportive, toxic, stressful, etc you might want to reconsider your relationship with them. Being around people who complain all the time or are perpetual victims is so draining, it brings your energy down too. It’s far better to share your time with people who are uplifting and positive. Positive people will encourage you to improve yourself.
You might find that as you change your life and become happier some people will resent it and try to pull you back down to their level. Sometimes we want to keep toxic friends or stay in bad relationships because it’s comfortable and you have good memories of them in the past, but I hope you will remember that you deserve to have good, positive people in your life and it’s ok to let negative people go. They are not worth your happiness, time, and energy.
Declutter and Get Organized
External clutter and chaos drains your energy, peace of mind, and creativity. Take the time to get your physical, digital, and mental space in order. Donate, sell, or throw out items that you don’t use anymore. Organize your home. Get clear on your goals and map out a plan to achieve them. Make space for new energy and ideas.
Related: 20 Ways to get Organized for 2020
Pursue Your Dreams
What are the things you’ve always wanted to do but didn’t have the means or courage to pursue? Commit to making them happen. Face your fear, step outside your comfort zone, and go after what you want. If it’s complicated map out a plan to get there. What tools do you need? What steps will you take? What is a realistic timeline? You don’t have to do it all in a day. Success is the accumulation of daily small acts that add up over time.
Replace Bad Habits with Good Habits
If you want to improve yourself, look at your habits. The things you do everyday shape your life. Bad habits hold you back, good habits move you forward.
A lot of people don’t do a lot of self reflection, and wonder why they never seem to get ahead. It’s because their daily habits aren’t geared towards supporting their goals. Take some time to reflect and see if there are areas you can improve.
Good habits add up like compounded interest. You can end up ahead in the future because of good habits, or with nothing to show for your time because of bad habits.
I’ve written about How to Create Habits and Achieve Your Goals and made a list of 55 Awesome Daily Habits that Will Improve Your Life.
I also recommend reading Atomic Habits, I’ve learned so much about how to create good habits from this book. It showed me how our daily behaviors determine to trajectory of our lives.
One of the best ways to improve yourself is to keep learning. Take time daily or weekly to read or listen to educational books, podcasts, or tedtalks. Watch the occasional documentary. Expand your mind and knowledge. Knowledge is power, and if you aren’t learning you aren’t growing.
I love a good personal growth book so I’ve made a list of The 10 Best Self Help Books for Personal Development.
I hope you found these suggestions helpful. I’ve implemented all of them since 2019 and seen real results in my life. If you use them you will improve yourself and your life in 2021 too!
Learn more about how to do self-work for inner healing.
Love and light.