Do you cringe when you read the words “how to improve yourself?“
Does it make you feel slightly anxious, like your boss just added one more thing to your already overflowing inbox?
The notion of planning ways to better yourself might seem daunting, but having a roadmap to encourage manageable action steps for your physical, mental, and emotional evolution can make the difference in whether or not you remain stuck on old patterns and habits.
Improving yourself should be a life-long endeavor, and assessing from year to year how you need to grow and change is worth taking an hour out of your life.
This post is about how to improve yourself by answering the following self-growth questions:
- What does self-improvement even mean?
- Why should you care or why should you put in the effort?
- What’s the best way to go about improving yourself?
If you’ve ever wanted to make a difference in the world, self-improvement is the first and best way to do that. Before you can help others improve their lives, you owe it to yourself and to those you love to be a better you.
Charity really does begin at home. It begins with you.
As Mahatma Gandhi reminds, “As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world… as in being able to remake ourselves.”
You probably know already that living every year to the fullest is going to require some changes.
But what kind of changes do you really need? And where do you begin?
Start by answering the question, “What do we mean by self-improvement?”
Because until you know what that means and why it’s vital that we work on ourselves with daily, purposeful action, this article won’t make much sense.
What is Self-Improvement?
Self-improvement is a noun that represents both action and a dynamic state of being.
To remain in a state of self-betterment takes conscious daily effort. There’s some momentum involved, but it doesn’t go on continuously without regular applied force.
It takes work to become the best version of yourself.
The opposite state is decline. There’s a reason we use the word “downhill” in association with negative change. Going downhill is easy. It takes no effort at all.
So, in order for self-improvement to be worth the effort, you have to see how your life could improve as a result. You have to see how it connects to what you want most.
- Strong and mutually satisfying relationships.
- Success in your personal and business ventures.
- The best possible upbringing and education of your children.
- Inner peace and contentment.
- Something for which you want to be remembered.
Even with that context, improving yourself takes energy and commitment. It’s the kind of work that most people want to start and few want to keep doing from one day to the next.
It’s a start-stop-repeat thing for most people.
This is why the market for self-development books is huge — and the amount of content created to serve that market is varied and overwhelming.
While much of that content can help you become the best version of yourself, the real force behind transformation is the heart. And your subconscious mind will thwart any efforts at bypassing that force.
In fact, it will focus its efforts on fulfilling the strongly felt desires of the heart, whatever those desires may be.
So, while planning for a new, improved you, take some time to reflect on where you are now – and where you want to be.
The purpose of this article is to make it easier for you to create the ultimate self-improvement plan by acting with respect for your whole being – heart, mind, soul, and body.
Only then can you meet the challenges that will face you every year and use them as fuel for your success. And only then will “success” have any meaning.
The Ultimate Self-Improvement Plans For This Year
You’ll want to make your own list of self-improvement plans for the year – or for each quarter. Think of all that you want to accomplish and the person you’ll have to be to accomplish them. Make each goal challenging but also attainable.
All of the following lists will help you create a transformative personal development plan for the year.
Self-Improvement Goal Ideas
Consider the following self-improvement goals when planning for the next twelve months (or three or one).
Your goals should excite you — not just because of their newness or because planning for them makes you feel like a badass, but because of the person, those goals will help you become when the real work begins.
- Get into the best shape of your life.
- Swap out something harmful in your diet for something beneficial.
- Create and follow a transformative morning routine.
- Trade a bad habit for a good one.
- Make a list of self-improvement books to read this year — and read them all.
- Purge your home of everything you don’t need, use, or love.
- Learn a new language — and plan a trip for a place where you’ll use it.
- Grow the best garden you’ve ever had, and share its bounty with others.
- Start a new business and give it its best possible first year.
9 Self-Improvement Exercises
The following nine growth exercises are more than mere suggestions; all can make the process of setting and working toward your self-improvement goals easier and more enjoyable.
1. Read something every day to keep your brain lively and sharp.
Make it a goal to read something for your personal development every day — whether it’s a book, an article, a blog post, or even a novel or short story. Make it something you look forward to.
2. Meditate regularly for inner peace and clarity.
Whether you join a class, use an app, or just take time out to mindfully breathe and reflect, meditation is a critical part of self-growth.
Choose a type of meditation that suits your personality, and make it an essential part of your daily self-care.
3. Prioritize your goals and values.
Your daily priorities should reflect your values and your commitment to meaningful personal goals. Something as simple as a “top 3” to-do list for the day can remind you of what’s most important to you – and invite you to consider whether it should be.
4. Practice creative visualization.
Take the time to visualize your success as though you were experiencing it in the present moment — and allow yourself to feel the emotions connected to it. The feeling is what links that goal to your heart, which is where the real power of visualization lies.
5. Measure your improvement as you go.
Keep track of your progress toward your goals. In creating a journal of your improvement, you’re preparing your personal transformation log for the year. Reviewing it at the end of that year should be a treat and a cause for celebration.
6. Use your time wisely.
While no one can keep track of every minute that passes, you can make your day more productive and meaningful by swapping out at least one activity that does you no good for one that benefits your soul, mind, and body.
Don’t be such a slave to productivity, though, that you neglect relationships or self-care.
7. Learn and practice a new skill – or pick up a new hobby.
What would you love to be able to do well? Make a list and choose a skill or hobby you can realistically prioritize on your self-improvement list. Choose something that has personal meaning for you, and plan on giving it weekly attention.
8. Exercise daily to improve physical and mental health.
Whether you lean toward daily walks, 7-minute workouts, or random acts of exercise, you can easily add a small exercise habit to your daily routine. One good habit begets others, and taking even a few minutes a day to exercise mindfully will transform you inside and out.
9. Practice consistent self-care.
Self-care is not self-indulgence; it’s giving your body, mind, and soul what they need to thrive and to benefit from your other self-improvement exercises. Neglecting self-care short-changes you and the people you love. So, make it a priority to take care of yourself.
30 Daily Self-Improvement Tips And Ideas
These self-improvement tips will help you make the most of your year, one day at a time. To help yourself remember, write a few of these tips on sticky notes and post them around your home.
- Love yourself more.
- Spend some time in nature, enjoying the beauty around you.
- Do something scary. Confront and overcome your fears.
- Get enough good sleep. Add at least an hour to your daily average.
- Eat and drink mindfully.
- Schedule and take regular breaks.
- Stay hydrated.
- Take your vitamins (especially C and D) as well as essential minerals.
- Listen to self-improvement podcasts or audiobooks during your commute.
- Keep a journal and practice mindful journaling.
- Spend time with positive people.
- Counter negative self-talk with the truth, and stop the negative thinking about other people. Be a more compassionate thinker.
- Recite positive affirmations.
- Forgive others and free yourself from resentment and bitterness.
- Forgive yourself. Accept the past, learn from it, and move on.
- Practice mindful giving for a more meaningful life.
- Check your finances daily, and spend less than you earn.
- Listen to music that motivates you or helps you get in the zone.
- Avoid foods that compromise your gut health, emotional balance, and brain function.
- Express gratitude every day – throughout the day.
- Find a mentor with whom you can communicate at least once a month.
- Create a mission statement and plan each quarter, month, week, and day accordingly.
- Make your living space more inspirational.
- Wake up early, drink a full glass of water, and savor the morning.
- Find a challenge (accountability) partner.
- Ask for (constructive) feedback.
- Stay focused with short to-do lists.
- Practice mindful breathing – at least once a day for a few minutes.
- Start a 30-day challenge.
- Treat other people as though this were their last day to live (or yours). Be kind.
5 of the Top Self-Improvement Books
Five is an awfully small number, but the books listed below have already proven their value to legions of people as hungry for growth as you. Pick one up and make it your new daily read. Or add any of these to your reading list for the year.
1. Declutter Your Mind: How to Stop Worrying, Relieve Anxiety, and Eliminate Negative Thinking by Barrie Davenport and Steve Scott
If you’re a mess on the inside, your outside will reflect that. Follow the steps in this book to declutter your mind and improve your mental and emotional health.
2. High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard
All self-improvement habits are not equally beneficial. Get this book to learn more about the habits that will do you the most good.
It’s so easy to get discouraged when we think we have “so much to do and so little time.” What if you only had one thing to focus on?
4. Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D.
Make positive changes in the wiring and architecture of your brain – and consequently your life – with this innovative and insightful book by Dr. Daniel Siegel.
5. The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM) by Hal Elrod
Hal Elrod literally wrote the book on overcoming personal challenges with a transformative morning routine. Even “night owls” will find something to love in this book.
18 Motivating Self-improvement Quotes
1. “Work on yourself more than you do on your job.” — Jim Rohn
2. “Self-knowledge is the beginning of self-improvement.” — Baltasar Gracian
3. “When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.” — Paulo Coelho
4. “They must often change who must be constant in happiness or wisdom.” — Confucius
5. “The best contribution one can make to humanity is to improve oneself.” — Frank Herbert
6. “Unless you try to do something beyond what you’ve mastered, you will never grow.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
7. “One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” — Dale Carnegie
8. “When the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, it may be that they take better care of it there.” — Cecil Selig
9. “The highest purpose of intellectual cultivation is to give a man a perfect knowledge and mastery of his own inner self, to render our consciousness its own light and mirror.” — Frederich Leopold von Hardenberg
10. “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” — Albert Einstein
11. “If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception; it is a prevailing attitude.” — Colin Powell
12. “Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.” — Carol Burnett
13. “Become addicted to constant and never-ending self-improvement.” — Anthony J. D’Angelo
14. “The desire for self-improvement is vital. There is no point in pushing children; they need to be the ones who want to learn new things.” — Tony Buzan
15. “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” — Arthur Ashe
16. “What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.” — Ralph Marston
17. “There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” — Aldous Huxley
18. “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
7 Of The Best Self-Improvement Podcasts
If podcasts are your jam, check these out. Just listening to a few episodes a week can inspire and motivate you to stay the course. And who knows what else the ideas in those episodes could lead to?
1. The Mindvalley Podcast with Vishen Lakhiani
For those times when you can’t participate in one of their workshops or read a book or blog post, the Mindvalley podcast covers much of the same material. If self-improvement matters to you, you’ll find plenty of ideas and support here.
2. The Charged Life Podcast with Brendon Burchard
Brendon Burchard is the world’s leading high-performance coach, and his podcast provides similar content to what he shares in his books and blog posts. Whether you’re looking for a mentor, or you’re just curious about his approach, give this one a listen.
3. Kwik Brain with Jim Kwik
Jim Kwik knows brains, and he knows how to improve and make the most of yours. Check this out if you’d like to know more about what your brain needs, how it works, and how much more you can do with it.
4. Good Life Project Podcast with Anders Ericsson
This top-ranked podcast features amazing guests whose words could change the course of your life in one listening. Join the supportive international GLP community and make this podcast part of your weekly routine.
5. School of Greatness Podcast with Lewis Howes
As one of the top-ranked Business and Self-development podcasts, School of Greatness interviews a variety of inspiring guests, weighing in on entrepreneurship, health, mindset, and relationships. Subscribe on iTunes or Soundcloud.
6. Confidence on the Go with Trish Blackwell
Struggling with low levels of confidence? Trish Blackwell knows where you’re coming from and offers motivating and insightful podcasts to help you build the kind of confidence that will serve you well as you set and reach worthy and meaningful goals.
7. Tiny Leaps, Big Changes Podcast with Gregg Clunis
Gregg Clunis knows that it’s the small, day-to-day actions you take that determine the course of your life. He and his guests share personal development strategies to help you get the biggest, most life-changing results with small changes to your daily routine.
Top 11 Self-Improvement Blogs
With the ease of reading on portable devices, books aren’t the only way to get your daily dose of self-improvement content. Check out the blogs below for inspiration and guidance for improving yourself.
Michael Hyatt’s blog is a great first stop, whether you’re interested in his latest podcast episode or in the well-written and inspiring articles on self-improvement, platform building, and leadership.
Tim Ferriss’s blog gives you the details on (and links to) each of his podcast episodes, along with special, money-saving offers from his sponsors.
Marie Forleo is a friend to the self-developing side-hustler, and her blog posts answer a variety of relatable questions. Subscribe for a free audio training course on “How to get anything you want” – as well as supportive and inspirational content for your inbox.
Land on Jack Canfield’s blog, and you’re immediately invited to sign up for a free course: The Success Principles 10-Day Transformation. The blog itself is also worth your time if you’re interested in learning how to improve your thinking to become happier and more successful.
Along with her Happier podcast and bestselling books, Gretchen Rubin’s blog provides the guidance and inspiration you need to create your own “happiness project” for the upcoming year.
Check out Chris G’s blog – The Art of Nonconformity – to enjoy his unconventional stories, explore his unique self-improvement strategies, and learn how to make your own annual review of this year to better prepare for the next.
Author, thinker, and life enthusiast Mark Manson has created a blog worthy of his well-known book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. Sign up for regular, entertaining updates or bookmark his site for those days when you’re browsing for ideas.
If the constant stream of suggestions for maximizing your productivity is getting you down, stop at Scott H. Young’s blog for a refreshing thought check. Young knows the dangers of “productivity guilt” and offers a more person-oriented (rather than simply goal-oriented) approach to self-improvement.
If you’ve ever considered (or are now considering) switching to a vegan diet, the No Meat Athlete will not only answer your questions about building muscle without meat, he’ll also provide recipes and meal plans that make it easy to switch, even if you just want to give it a try for the first quarter of the year.
Sign up on Jodi Chapman’s blog to receive inspirational emails and free “soulful goodies” – including a free guided meditation. Chapman guides and supports her subscribers through the process of writing, publishing, and marketing their books.
If you have questions about fitness and nutrition, this blog should be on your reading list. The folks at Nerd Fitness are focused on removing every barrier – whether physical, mental or emotional – to your life-changing transformation.
Online Self-Improvement Courses
Check out 1 of these 8 personal development courses that you can take online:
The Simple Self-Confidence Course by Barrie Davenport
Improve your self-confidence in this 30-day program.
Master Your Mind By Giovanni Dienstmann
An in-depth 5-week meditation course.
Habit Mastery Course by Leo Babauta
A course for training and mastering daily habit skills.
The Sticky Habits Course by Barrie Davenport
Use science to create indestructible habits in as little as 5 minutes per day.
The Path To Passion Course by Barrie Davenport
Discover your life passion and find out what makes you come alive.
Flourishing In Stressful Times by Tara Brach
Transform anger and anxiety into resilience and creativity.
Dress With Less by Courtney Carver
Take less time to get dressed by creating a capsule wardrobe.
Become The Most Attractive Version Of Yourself by Shelly Bullard
The tools and knowledge for creating your ideal romantic relationship.
Self-improvement is not about perfection.
It’s important to remember that, even with the best planning and with the full cooperation of your heart and mind, you won’t always be the best version of yourself.
But don’t take that as a reason to stop working at self-improvement. Because if you stop caring about that, the only direction for change is gonna be downhill.
If you’re reading this article, downhill is not the direction you want to take. You have a built-in desire to be more. And you deserve to take it seriously.
You deserve to go uphill.
Did you enjoy these self-improvement ideas?
If you’ve found value in this article, would you please pass it on to help others plan their self-improvement strategy for the coming year?
The more we share resources that empower others to make daily improvement, the more we can influence the direction of society as a whole. Every small act of kindness matters.
May your kindness and commitment to self-improvement influence everything else you do today. And may it serve you well in your planning for a happier, healthier, calmer new you.