In order to have a lead a good life, and have a more richer, fulfilling personal and professional life, self-improvement is essential.
A lot of people out there – including many of those reading this – might have plans to improve, but what people usually lack is the means – the means to get where they want to be, to be who they want to be, to improve certain aspects of their lives like they want to.
The truth is that there could be plenty of reasons why one would want to look into self-improvement.
While I’m not a self-improvement guru by any means, here are 10 habits that I think will help people immensely when it comes to living a more productive, fruitful, balanced, fulfilling and above all, a happy personal and professional life.
Habit No. 1: Waking Up Early
“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise!”
This isn’t just an age-old adage, but a fact. Look around you at some of the most successful people out there. What exactly is it that they all have in common? They are people who get up early. The human body was designed in such a way that waking up early almost always seems to have a positive effect on it, and waking up early paves the way for a much more productive day ahead. Each productive day counts, and adds up towards a productive week, month and a productive year. The key? Waking up early!
Try it: try waking up 10 minutes early than you do every day, and get a bit of exercise under the belt before you hit the showers. Gradually try waking up even earlier than you used to, 30 minutes before for instance. Use this new spare time that you have to do something that you’ve been meaning to for a while, like doing a bit of cardio, or learning the guitar.
To inspire you, here is a list of 23 Successful People Who Wake Up Really Early.
Habit No. 2: Exercise
Exercise has immense short-term and more importantly long-term benefits. If you’re into self-improvement, exercise absolutely needs to be a part of your life.
Exercise improves your strength, improves your health, improves your immune system, keeps you in shape (and hence makes you look good – an important aspect when it comes to your image and self-improvement), keeps you in top-shape physically AND mentally, and probably has a hundred-and-one other benefits associated with it.
In short, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be exercising if self-improvement is your aim.
Habit No. 3: Eating Healthy
Our diet has a much bigger bearing on our life than we tend to think! Being conscious of what you’re putting in your body is actually of the utmost importance, and eating healthy can be the difference in the short as well as the long-term.
Try being more nutrition-conscious. Here’s something that I did in order to start eating healthy: instead of prioritizing food according to taste, but by it’s energy and nutrition value. For me, this was near-revolutionary! For you too, it will completely change your perspective about what you’re putting inside your body, and allow you to focus on eating stuff that is much more beneficial for you. But above, it will put control in your hand when it comes to what and what not you should put in your body.
Your body’s energy levels can have a huge bearing on your day-to-day personal and professional life. If you want to improve certain aspects of it, eat healthy and as mentioned above, try getting more exercise.
Habit No. 4: Meditate
The 2-years-ago me would’ve probably laughed at you for mentioning this! The present me however, is probably the biggest proponent of meditation. Why? Because I gave it a try just for the sake of it, saw it’s effects, and it worked wonders for me! It was a total game-changer for me!
The truth is that you need to meditate. In the short-term, you’ll notice that you become more calm and collected as a person, especially with your action and your thoughts. Long-term benefits of meditation include joy, peace, and happiness. This might seem like a load of BS but trust me it isn’t, and you need to be doing it.
As for the how, everyone has their own way of meditation. There are plenty of resources on the internet, so it might be a good idea to look up some of them.
Habit No. 5: A Little ‘Me’ Time
Srt aside a few hours, maybe even a couple of hours every week if that’s all you have, to work on something like a personal pet-project or a side-project that you might have been contemplating on starting, or perhaps doing something that you’ve been wanting to do since a while – go on a drive, do a bit of photography, catch up on your reading, reconnect with old friends or family member that you haven’t spoken to in a while, see a movie, starting a blog, or maybe even catching on some sleep.
Speaking of sleep…
Habit No. 6: Getting Enough Sleep
Sleep is important, and something that you should never skimp on, or over-indulge in for that matter. Every human being is designed and wired in a different way, and hence every single person requires a different amount of sleep. Ideally though, it is said that an adult needs, on an average, 8 hours sleep every night.
Although the quality of your sleep is more important than the quantity, make sure you’re getting a good amount of it under the belt. Trust me when I say this: sleep or the lack of it can have a huge bearing on your mood, temperament, your health, productivity and your performance.
Unplug yourself at least 30 minutes every night before turning in – this means no phones, no iPads, no laptops, no TV (generally staying away from all sorts of screens), dimming the lights, and sleeping in a completely dark room and a noise-free environment.
I also suggest doing a bit of research on sleep-cycles, what they are and how they can dictate your quality of sleep. This WebMD article is a good place to start.
Habit No. 7: Professional Development
Invest some time and resources into professional development. This means spending time and resources developing skills that are necessary in your industry, as well as building new networking opportunities, and improving your existing ones.
If you’re working in an industry that you’re qualified for and you like working in, lucky you. Look into ways that you can (a) improve, enhance and strengthen your current skills, (b) acquire newer skills that will allow you to remain competitive in your industry, and (c) network and build strong relations with thought-leaders and authority figures in your industry – through conferences, emails and social media.
If you’re stuck with a job that you don’t like, do something about it. Look at what you can do – start RIGHT NOW – in order to improve your situation, and live the life that you desire and dream of. Start acquiring skills that will allow you to do what you want to. Look online, attend classes if you can and look for ways which allow you to acquire those skills. One excellent resource that comes to mind here is the website called Coursera. Coursera offers hundreds of free online courses in collaboration with some of the biggest schools in the world, and it might be a good idea to have a look at their list of courses from time to time.
Habit No. 8: Inspire Yourself
Listen to stuff that inspires you, or speak with people who have the same effect on you. Try being in their company. And remember, do this on a daily basis, since the whole point of this article is to develop a habit.
For me, I often listen to TED Talks. They’re free, and the audio or video can easily be downloaded from the website as well. But above all, some of them are just so fantastic to listen to, that I’ve probably heard them a million times!
Here’s what I usually do: I download TED Talks in audio (mp3) format from the website for free, and put them on my iPod as well as my flash-drive in order to listen to them whenever I’m on the road. Try this, instead of listening to the radio, learn something new by listening to a TED Talk.
Habit No. 9: Plan Ahead
… and start off from planning the next day before going to sleep every night. Use the notes of reminders app on your smartphone to create a list of things to do the next day, and most important, make sure you check each and every one of them off before turning in the next day! The latter is very important!
The reason I recommend using a smartphone (and personally use one of the purpose as well) is because it remains easily-accessible to you throughout the day, so whenever you want you can quickly open the Reminders app and have a look at your things-to-do list for the day.
Do this every day with the aim of making it into a habit – a ritual that you perform every single night before you turn in. Pretty soon, you’ll develop a system that works for you. Trust me when I say this, this is something that will make your life so much more easier, as it did mine!
If you read some of my older articles on this website, I’ve stressed upon the importance of setting goals from time to time. Indeed, goal setting is essential, as it gives you an aim and a purpose in life on a daily basis, and once you have a clear idea of your goals and what you want to accomplish, you can then start looking for means and ways to achieve those goals – which gives you direction in life.
Just be sure to know your limits, and not burn yourself out in the process!