5 Kinds of Self-Improvement Goals and 25 Ideas to Get Started
We’re always looking, either consciously or unconsciously, for ways to improve ourselves or the various aspects of our live. Changing things can be a daunting task, and sometimes it’s hard to know where to start, so we’ve gathered this list of self-improvement ideas and tips for motivation. Don’t be intimidated by the idea of taking steps to improve your life.
When looking through this list of self- improvement ideas, keep in mind that positive changes won’t happen overnight. However, being willing and open to enhancing your life are crucial characteristics to possess.
1. Health and Fitness Goals
Improving your health is one of the most common forms of self-improvement, and it’s often one of the most difficult. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Issues (NIDDKD), more than 2/3 of adults are overweight or obese, and about 1 in 20 are morbidly obese. Most of us have learned, either from childhood or over our adult life, unhealthy habits that take a long time to unlearn.
If you’re planning to improve your health, a list of self-improvement ideas might include:
- Changing your eating habits. Don’t go on a diet — according to research they don’t work. Instead, resolve to make healthier choices a little bit at a time. Don’t try to change your entire lifestyle overnight. For example, if you can’t remember the last time you ate in ways a nutritionist would appreciate, it’s not realistic to plan on suddenly doing a dietary overhaul that eliminates all the bad-for-you foods and beverages you love. Instead, take baby steps. If you typically have a full-sized dessert after dinner every night, try to get into a new habit where you only have a small chunk of a chocolate bar instead. Or, if soda is your weakness and you drink several cans of it daily, try to cut back by consuming only one can per week.
- Counting your calories. This doesn’t have to mean that you’re changing your eating habits. Simply use an app like MyFitnessPal to track your calories for 30 days. This will give you an idea of how much you’re eating. If you decide to make changes to your diet, use that information as a foundation for change.
- Not exercising — just moving. Going to the gym can be intimidating, especially if you’re not in the best shape. You don’t need a gym membership or an exercise plan to improve your health. Simply start moving as much as possible during the day. Dance in the living room, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or do yoga before bed. Just get moving!
- Using the power of accountability. If you tell yourself that you’re going to get up and move, there’s no one to hold you to that statement when you decide you don’t want to do it. Use your friends, your coworkers or your social media followers to keep you accountable and make sure you stick to your goals. Also, consider some kind of group movement activity. If there are several dog owners besides yourself in your neighborhood, for example, you might see if they’d like to join you in the quest for better health by walking their canines together with yours on a set schedule every day.
- Not getting discouraged. It’s easy to get discouraged and quit if you don’t see results immediately. Don’t let yourself become discouraged. It takes you a lot longer to see results than people around you, simply because you see yourself in the mirror every day.
2. Self-Care Goals
Self-care is often described as the steps you take to help optimize your physical and mental health, but what does the term really mean? In a nutshell, it means putting yourself first and taking care of your needs before you spread yourself thin to help others. No list of self-improvement ideas is complete without covering how to take care of yourself. Proper self-care should include:
- Treating yourself. One of the easiest ways to practice self-care is to treat yourself. Enjoy a manicure or a haircut, or do something you’ve wanted to do but haven’t. You might initially feel guilty about the indulgence, especially if you’re accustomed to always looking after others first. However, any feelings of guilt should dissipate as you notice the effects of treating yourself well.
- Stepping out of your comfort zone. This might seem detrimental to self-care, but it’s not. Stepping out of your comfort zone and traveling to another country or city can be a great way to take care of yourself.
- Trying meditation. Meditation is a great tool for self-care. It makes you slow down and focus on yourself rather than trying to keep up with the world around you. Many people mistakenly think that meditation is about clearing your mind and ignoring your emotions. In fact, it involves being aware of how you feel, both mentally and physically, and using deep breathing as a focal point.
- Writing it down. Journaling, writing or dumping your mind out on a sheet of paper at the end of the day is a great way to keep track of your thoughts and make sense of everything that happened during the day. Try not to feel like you need to stick to a structure or do anything else that could hinder your self-expression capabilities.
- Learning to say no. It’s tempting to say yes to everything that people ask of you, but it often ends up being detrimental to your own mental and physical health. Learning to say no is the best application of self-care that you can do.
3. Mental Health Goals
One out of 5 adults suffer from some form of mental illness every year, so mental health should be a priority on any list of self-improvement ideas you create. In a fast-paced world, it’s too easy to let your mental health suffer. Maintaining and improving your mental health should include:
- Being aware. You’re aware of your physical health because of the way it impacts you, but many people aren’t aware of their mental health. Take a few minutes every day to be aware of your mental state and use that information to make changes or improvements if necessary. Resist the urge to begin judging yourself for any aspects of your mental state that seem “wrong” or “bad.” Instead, remind yourself that acknowledgment is the first step on the path to progress.
- Taking time to yourself. You don’t have to open yourself to others 24 hours a day. Even if it’s only 20 minutes a day, set aside a period of time for yourself and guard it jealously. This is your time — don’t let anyone else intrude on it. Turn off device notifications, tell your housemates you’re not available and do anything else to let others know you’re off-limits for a while.
- Practicing self-care. Practicing self-care can be a great way to help improve your overall mental and physical health. If you’re worried about not having time, consider using the time you set aside for yourself as time for self-care.
- Getting enough sleep. Most adults aren’t getting enough sleep. According to the CDC, as many as 1 in 3 adults aren’t getting enough sleep, which can be detrimental for both your mental and physical health. Focus on getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night. Before trying to rest, set aside a period for winding down. You might use it to listen to soothing tunes, put a few drops of lavender-scented essential oils on your pillow or take a hot bath. During your pre-bedtime segment, avoid doing anything that could make you preoccupied such as watching a news program, engaging in difficult conversations or even adding new content to your list of self-improvement ideas. After all, you’ll have plenty of time to do those things later.
- Asking for help. Mental health can be difficult to handle on your own sometimes. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends, family or mental health professionals if you feel the need. You don’t have to do it alone. There are many resources available!
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4. Relationship Goals
Relationship management doesn’t only refer to romantic relationships. It can also refer to your relationships with your family, friends, coworkers and acquaintances. All of these relationships need maintenance at one point or another, whether that comes in the form of a quick text, a handwritten letter or a visit. The following tasks should be on your list of self-improvement ideas to help you maintain your relationships with all the important people in your life:
- Resolving to connect with at least one person every day. Start by sending a text to someone that you don’t talk to everyday, or send an email to reconnect with a good friend. Sometimes all it takes is a small effort to rekindle communication between you and the other individuals in your life.
- Skipping social media. Social media is a great way to keep in touch with new and old friends, but it’s not the best way to stay connected if you’re concerned about maintaining your relationships. Don’t post on Facebook — text or message people individually. Also, don’t fall into the trap of skimming over your social media feed and comparing yourself to others. Doing that might make you forget that you’re trying to make your life better by building a list of self-improvement ideas. It will likely only make you feel “less than” your peers.
- Removing toxic people from your life. Toxic people take and take and take without giving anything back. Kick those people out of your life without a second thought, because all they’re doing is draining your vitality.
- Constantly evaluating your relationships. Simply because you enjoy someone’s company now doesn’t mean they will continue to be good for you in the future. Evaluate your relationships consistently and make sure they aren’t becoming toxic.
- Keeping an open mind. You can form great relationships with almost anyone, as long as you keep an open mind. You’re not going to find people who are exactly like you — and that’s the fun of forming and maintaining relationships. Keep your mind open, and you’ll be amazed at the kind of people you meet.
5. Education Goals
In recent years, education has become synonymous with debt. If you go to a traditional college, you’ll often find yourself facing thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Thankfully, you don’t have to put yourself in debt to use education for improve your life. The following education-based tips should be part of your self-improvement plan:
- Utilizing Free Tools. There are many free sites on the internet where you can learn about anything. Kahn Academy, for example, is a totally free site that offers classes on everything from math and history to computer programming and test preparation. If you want to start from scratch or simply need a refresher, Kahn Academy is a great tool.
- Taking free courses from accredited collages. Yes, you read that right. Have you ever wanted to take a physics course at MIT or a literature course at Harvard? You can do it with the power of the internet at your fingertips. Sites like edX allow you to take free courses with curriculums designed by the world’s top professors. You’re taking the same courses as students at the universities, for free.
- Learning a new skill. Coding is one of fastest growing fields, and you don’t need a college degree to learn how to code. Instead, sites like code.org and Code Academy offer free self-paced coding courses you can use to learn how to write everything from HTML/CSS to C# and everything in between.
- Starting a hobby. Learning and mastering a new hobby gives you a way to enjoy spending some time with yourself — and that can be beneficial.
- Emphasizing the importance of learning. Albert Einstein once said “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” No matter what life throws at you or what you find yourself facing each morning, make it a point to learn one new thing every day.
Self-improvement is an ongoing and ever-changing journey, and what works for you might not work for anyone else. That’s why it’s important to spend time making a list of self-improvement ideas personalized for you. Sometimes it might feel like you’re lost or you don’t know how to find the next step on the path.
Hopefully, some comprehensive goals will help you find your path again and turn your life into what it was meant to be: the most amazing journey you’ve ever experienced.
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