"Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm." Proverbs 13:20
King Solomon was one of the wisest men to ever live. In the book of Proverbs, he makes mention of the word "wisdom" 54 times. If you're not practicing continuous self-improvement, you're not only wasting time, you're ripping yourself off!
How to Actually Achieve Your Goals
Before we get to the list, I want to clarify that creating meaningful change in your life takes time. How much time? Well, it depends on the individual goal you're working toward. But that's only part of it...the overall majority depends on...drum roll... YOU!
Ever notice how some people can't seem to get out of their own way? They're always making excuses for everything - why they didn't finish something, why they didn't start something, or why they're living a miserable or unfulfilling life.
Heck, sometimes I find myself making excuses about the goals I failed to achieve, why I fell short on a commitment or disappointing someone I love. It's easy to blame something or someone else for your failures, but most of the time you're to blame. One way or another, you are responsible for the position you are in - not someone else!
Now that we got that out of the way, let's dive into our first self-improvement tip.
1) Self Accountability
If you chose to only practice one self-improvement goal from this article, this would be the one I'd recommend. Holding yourself accountable for your actions, choices, words, etc... is the ideal first step in improving yourself. In fact, without self-accountability, you'll struggle to successfully implement any of the other ideas below.
Holding yourself accountable to the goals you set on your path to improvement is an essential key to success because it keeps you focused.
2) Learn a New Skill
Learning a new skill is one of the most rewarding self-improvement journeys you can embark on. What I'm referring to is a "hard skill", which is a skill that requires you to learn something new like computer programming, carpentry, or machining. These are measurable skills that you should be able to demonstrate your ability in.
You'll need to dedicate a significant amount of time to build a new hard skill. In fact, don't be surprised if it takes 3 - 6 months of dedicated practice before you're effective at demonstrating that skill at a minimum level.
What's in it for you? I'll tell you! Learning a new skill will set you apart from your peers and add value to your resume. Plus, it will open your mind to a world of new possibilities and allow you to approach problem-solving from a new perspective.
3) Start a Side Hustle
What is a side hustle?
A side hustle is some type of part-time activity you perform in addition to your day job that makes money on the side. Side hustles can be a great way to make extra money and can even lead to a full-time business.
You can start a side-hustle by using one of the skills you already know, or by using a newly acquired skill you learned by following #2 of this guide.
Examples of some side-hustles are:
- Flipping flea market items
- Selling or trading sports cards
- Car detailing
- Fixing cars
- Video / photo editing
- Graphic Design
A side hustle is not only a good way to make extra money, it could lead to thriving new business!
4) Learn to Shut Up and Listen
In pop culture, outspoken people with the loudest mouths and biggest personalities seem to get all the attention. Don't be fooled by their public display of self-absorbed nonsense.
True leaders and intelligent people listen more than they speak. Most people will keep talking because they don't feel comfortable with silence. As a result, they speak more than they should and sometimes give up sensitive information about themselves or their position in negotiation for example.
Listen and process as much information as possible before speaking your well-thought-out words. Speak with purpose and with just enough words to get your point across.
As a result, you will maintain more power in the situation and will have more leverage.
5) Address the Elephant in the Room
The "elephant in the room" is a metaphor for a problem or situation that stands out to everyone in the room, but everyone avoids acknowledging it. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you had confidence in your ability to perform something well, but had something that could be perceived as a shortcoming by someone else?
Immediately address the "elephant in the room" at the start of a meeting or pitch. In other words, if you are aware that you don't meet a certain requirement or desire, acknowledge it and state how/why you're a good choice despite that shortcoming.
6) Don't Tell People Your Problems
I'm sure you know the type... The guy (or gal) who has a new problem every single day of the freakin week and feels the need to tell everyone they meet about it! You might pretend to listen or care about their problem. But deep down (actually not that deep at all) you just want them to shut up and walk away, so you can do your own thing.
The reality is, the vast majority (like 99%) of people have one of two different takes on your problems...
- They don't care about them; or
- They're glad you have them!
We all have our own issues and problems, so please don't cast yours on someone else. In most cases, you're the only one who can fix them anyway!
7) Don't Chase Two Rabbits
There's an old Russian proverb that goes something like this... "If you try to catch two rabbits, you'll catch neither."
If you try to focus on more than one task or project at a time, you're unlikely to complete either of them. I often find myself guilty of falling into the trap of working on more than one project. It ultimately leads to one or more of them being side-lined or dropped.
This is because our minds are not designed to work multiple things at once. You will be much more effective if you create a list of goals and only start the next goal after the current one is completed.
8) Don't Waste Other People's Time
If you're going to pitch an idea or product to someone, tell them how much time you're going to take before speaking your pitch or idea. For example, ask them if they have 2-minutes to hear about something that could be a solution to their problem. Let them know that you respect their time and appreciate them taking time out of their busy lives to listen to you.
If they like what you have to say, oftentimes, they'll be happy to listen longer. However, if they show no interest, be respectful and move on. You'll build better relationships and gain more respect in the long run.
9) Teach Someone to Fish
The best way to master a skill is to teach it to someone else.
Have you ever worked with someone at a job who was reluctant to teach the new guy (or gal) everything about the job they were hired to do? They purposely withhold information because they believe it gives them an edge. In their mind, it's job security. However, this strategy is counterproductive to all parties involved.
You see, teaching someone a new skill not only helps you hone that skill, but you're also helping to pass it on and make that person more productive. Helping someone is a rewarding experience for both yourself and the other person.
Whenever someone asks me to help them with something, I always try to take the opportunity to teach them how to do it themselves. Obviously, it depends on the size of the skill gap between them and myself, but even if it's a small bit of knowledge to help them strengthen their skills, it's a win-win for us all.
As the Chinese proverb says: "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for one day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime."
So, what’s it going to be? Are you going to choose one of these nine self-improvement ideas and focus on making that change this year? Or are you going to try them all out and see which works best for you? It’s up to you. But remember, the most important thing is that you take that first step today. What will your goal be?