I’ve always been a sucker for self improvement. Growing up, my mom filled our bookshelves with self-help books until my dad officially banned her from bringing new books into the house (then she enlisted my brother and I into sneaking them in). Now, as an adult, my Kindle is loaded with books like Gladwell’s The Tipping Point and my Bloglovin’ feed is filled with posts about self-improvement. I enjoy pushing myself to become a better person in all facets of my life.
But when does this self-help mentality go too far?
Is there a point at which we should stop striving for self-improvement and start focusing on self-acceptance? It can be a difficult, but important, balance to find. Today, I’m sharing tips on balancing the fine line between challenging yourself to become better and accepting yourself as you are.
Set realistic goals
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to improve certain areas of your life, but the real problem comes when we devour self-help articles without actually forming their lessons into actionable goals. Setting the same new years resolution year after year to “find a better job,” without assessing how you’re going to do it, can be pretty discouraging. Instead of passively wishing for a new career, set measurable and attainable goals that will get you to that place. Track your progress and make sure to reward yourself when you hit your milestones.
Soon, you’ll view your dreams as exciting parts of your future, instead of discouraging wishes you’ll never attain. You’ll also feel more of a purpose on your self improvement quest. Not only will you be learning how to better yourself, but you’ll have a clear plan of action for how you’re going to do it.
Stop comparing yourself to others
I know, easier said than done. But repeat after me: comparing myself to others will not help me become better. You may be motivated to go for a run or do a monster workout when you see all the #fitspo ladies of Instagram, but that motivation can eventually turn into negative emotions when you realize how far you still have to go to achieve what they have.
As cheesy as it sounds, everyone is at totally different points in their journey. And get this: there’s enough space for all of us to succeed. The next time you want to go on a self-help binge because of that blogger with a zillion followers, ask yourself if imitating them is really helping you achieve your goals. Instead, keep your head down. Focus on your own progress. Comparing yourself is a surefire way to stunt your own growth.
Focus on what matters
Having goals and dreams for the future is awesome, but don’t lose sight of the things that really matter. Would I love to make enough money to have a wardrobe fitted out with the trendiest clothes and shoes? Fo’ sho! But as a nonprofit worker and a freelance writer, it’s just not realistic right now. Instead, I put my effort into dreams that will be truly satisfying for me, like finishing a novel or being able to run a mile without stopping (baby steps, okay!). Setting your sights on worthy goals will make them easier to attain and much more satisfying when you achieve them. What would really motivate you today?
Come to terms with your limitations
We all have both strengths and things we could improve upon. But if we’re not good at something, should we always be working to improve ourselves? What’s the goal — being happy and fulfilled or being The Best at Everything, Ever?
For example, I’ve never been very athletic. Call me crazy, but I never liked the idea of a football whizzing at my head. This limitation always bothered and stood out to me, and I was resolute to become a better athlete. I joined an intramural soccer team in college and even practiced a bit during my downtime. After college, my exposure to competitive sports was minimized to beer pong and the random game of whiffle ball. Soon, I realized that “being athletic” was something I was okay giving up on. Just because you’re not great at something, doesn’t mean you need to work on it until you are. While striving for awesomeness, it’s also important to accept our limitations. Plus, this will free up time for that Super Amazing Thing you actually love doing.