The Journey to Self-Improvement: Steps to a Better You


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As trite as it may have become to say so, life is a journey, and any journey requires a guiding target. For the sake of having the best life possible, realizing your goals and experiencing fulfilment, self-improvement is the ultimate guiding light on our lives’ journeys. It’s an ongoing path, never totally complete, but if you keep your eye on the goal of self-improvement you can always reach those crucial in-between goals that are important markers along the journey. Below, we’ll look at how you can use the principle of self-improvement to ensure a better journey and more happiness along the way.

The importance of being self-aware

The first step to self-improvement is self-awareness. Many people mistake this for self-criticism, which is not the same thing and can actually be damaging to personal progress. It is important to be aware not only of your flaws but also of your positive aspects, and this can often be harder to achieve. It’s only if you understand yourself a bit better that you can recognize the potential for self-improvement.

Aside from anything else, if you aren’t able to recognize your flaws, you won’t be able to improve anything. If you can’t recognize your strengths, then you’re not going to have the motivation to improve. Learn to evaluate yourself realistically and understand that being flawed doesn’t make you irredeemable, while having strengths doesn’t mean you’re the finished article.

Developing the mindset for growth

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A major aspect of growth and self-improvement is being ready to grow and improve. This is why self-awareness is so important. Without being prepared, you’re not going to know particularly well where improvement can be achieved, or what to work on. You also have to be aware in advance that it will take some work, and that there will be some pitfalls along the way. Life happens, and it’s going to deliver some challenges; when these happen, it is in taking them on and overcoming them that the most significant self-improvement will be achieved.

The decision to work on yourself isn’t something that can just be taken in a moment. It needs to be the culmination of a certain amount of introspection. Everyone has goals in life, and to achieve them will take some sacrifice and dedication. Starting with the ambition, whatever it may be, you then look at what it will take to achieve it, and think about what you might need to sacrifice.

Seek help where it is needed

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Not everyone is in a position to embark on a self-improvement journey right away. Or, to be more accurate, not everybody is in a place where they can focus immediately on an end goal. You may have the potential to run a marathon, become a doctor, or make a million dollars, but there might be more significant hurdles to overcome before you can do that. There are plenty of stories out there of people who seemed to be headed for self-destruction, but then had a Eureka moment when they realized what they were risking, and this provided the drive they needed to make a positive change.

Your first step on the path towards your ultimate goal may well be to seek out the help of a professional. It may be that you want to work for the disadvantaged, but are struggling with mental health issues. You may have a head for business or creativity, but have the obstacle of an addictive personality. There is a lot of inspirational talk out there that encourages people to say “no, I won’t let this stop me”, but the truth is that it takes more than just saying it. Successfully battling your demons isn’t impossible without professional help, but it’s a lot easier with it.

If you have issues with substance abuse, then breaking the cycle is important, but it doesn’t fully address the reasons that you’ve used in the first place. Choosing the right drug and alcohol rehabilitation center is a step that should be taken at the earliest opportunity, as this kind of treatment will allow you to address your addiction from top to bottom and give you the best springboard for the kind of self-improvement you are seeking.

Getting help is important, for mental health issues as well as for substance problems. Counseling and therapy can be immensely beneficial, but it pays to do your research. There are so many different reasons why someone might end up battling mental demons, and there are ideal therapists for each of those. If your problem is unresolved childhood trauma, it will require a different treatment pathway than if you have been dealing with issues from bereavement or social awkwardness, and most therapists will advertise their specialisms so that you can make the right decision. Counseling is beneficial, but it’s most beneficial when you choose the most qualified counselor for your issues.

Case study: The Role of Rehabilitation in Self-Improvement

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(Disclaimer: This is a hypothetical case study - the person in the story is a fictitious character, the situation they face is, however, a very common one)

Meet Andy, aged 36. Andy is an exceptionally talented ironworker. After an injury sustained in his workshop, Andy was prescribed strong opioid-based painkillers for an initial period. Although the injury healed, he became dependent on the painkillers, and when he could no longer get them by prescription, Andy resorted to drugs bought on the street to feed his addiction. He has lost a number of regular customers, and his potential to take on more ambitious projects has been negatively affected by the untreated addiction.

After the end of his relationship due to his increasingly risky behavior, Andy has had a moment of clarity. Before the injury and the addiction, he was in demand from customers that ranged from high-end construction companies to media organisations, with budgets that could have set him up for life. Now, he’s barely covering rent and working in the gig economy. He still has the love for his craft, but it’s painful to even think of what he has lost. If he doesn’t get clean and think about the future, all of that potential will be squandered.

Andy has tried to kick drugs several times in the past, but has a tendency to relapse if he has a bad day, and those days are all too common in the gig economy. This time, it has to be for real. So he makes contact with an addiction rehabilitation center and checks in with help from his parents and friends. The center takes him through a course of therapy, group discussions (in which he meets people whose stories make his look tame), and holistic treatment. He addresses the reasons for his relapses, and realizes that there is still a future in which he’s doing what he loves and getting paid for it. 

At the end of his course of rehabilitation, Andy knows what he needs to do. He constructs a plan for the future which involves engaging with post-rehab assistance and grants for talented artists who want to set up in business. Now he has a goal, he hasn’t used for three months, and is on good terms with his ex. He’s not trying to move too fast, but he has begun to work with metal again and has picked up some decent commissions; he’s even done well enough to take on some assistance which means he doesn’t need to work long days and risk burnout or another accident from being so tired. 

This is a simplification of a common story. The key points, though, are all very real and the overall story is one that will be familiar to many who have been through the mill of addiction and come out the other side. Self-improvement is a long and continuous process, and you need to engage with it in full awareness of your flaws and your strengths to get better. But if you commit to doing this, you’ll see the benefits.

No two people follow the exact same paths to self-improvement; there are elements along the way that make it unique for each and every person. As a journey, it is filled with moments where we must look inward and sometimes fight very hard to find the motivation to improve. It may often feel as though it is a thankless journey and it is likely that there will be times when you question whether it is going to work or if there is any point. And when you have a setback - and you will have setbacks - there is every chance you will blame yourself and doubt that you even can improve.

The reality is that self-improvement is a journey that, as long as you stick to the path, will be its own reward. There is no definitive end, but in aiming for the very top, you are always going to give yourself the best chance to experience all the positive things that will come your way when you believe in yourself and put the effort in.

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