By Linda K. Laffey, MFT
Toward the beginning of a new year, thoughts of self-improvement tend to take precedence in our society. While that trend isn’t wrong by any means, it’s best to approach significant life changes strategically and healthily. Otherwise, the endeavor will likely flop.
To begin, your self-improvement plan must have a handful of vital elements to ensure success. Goals, plan of action, accountability are a few top must-haves. But there are other ways for you to tell your arrow is flying straight. Here’s how to know your self-improvement plan is healthy.
For Whom Are You “Improving”?
The best self-improvement plan is the one specifically designed for you. It should align with your goals and fit into your life well. Most importantly, your aim of “improving” should stem from your desire—not someone else’s.
For example, did someone tell you that you weren’t “enough” in some area of life? To gain someone’s acceptance or approval, did you decide to embark on a mission to make yourself better?
While other people can undoubtedly encourage you to be your best self, the self-improvement changes you make should be for you alone.
Did You Personalize Your Plan?
On those same lines, how did you come up with your particular plan? Maybe you know precisely the goal you want to meet but printed a generic step-by-step from Pinterest. Or perhaps you and your co-worker or friend teamed up to conquer self-improvement together and are sharing plans.
Self-improvement is a highly personal process. Each person’s journey will look slightly different. Although you and your self-improvement partner might both have a 5K as the end goal, your daily training sessions won’t be the same.
No matter what your goals are, it’s vital to customize each part of your journey so that it’s healthy for you.
How Do You Measure Progress?
Reaching goals can be tricky at times. Even two people with the same goals typically get there in two different ways. That said, it’s best to personalize the way you measure your progress as much as you personalize your goals.
For example, if you want to spend time with friends this summer without battling severe anxiety the entire time, consider all the obstacles you might face, such as overall health, schedule, emotional triggers, off days, domestic responsibilities, and more.
Life happens. Accepting that fact is an excellent mindset to have. Rather than benchmarking your results—or the amount of time you spent feeling anxious, for example—measure your effort. Feel proud that you meditated three times this week, and practiced self-care five days, too.
Remember, we can’t always control the results, but we can control our effort.
Is Your Plan Sustainable?
New Year’s Eve has this formidable power, infusing us with insurmountable courage to “take on the world,” per se. Many people set unrealistic goals and end up trying to reach those goals with unrealistic strategies.
For example, if doing an hour-long yoga session at 4:00 A.M. every morning isn’t working out for you, then adjust the plan. Aim for a 10-minute yoga session before you go to bed. Goals aren’t worth much without a secure and doable plan of action to bring them to life.
Improving yourself doesn’t have to be a grueling and excruciating process. And it doesn’t mean hating the old version of yourself. It can be a genuinely enjoyable experience, especially when you watch the transformation happen in real-time. Set yourself up for success by setting and reaching goals in a healthy way.
Take the first step…
If you’re ready to explore the reasons why you’re struggling to feel good enough, and you’re ready to revamp your self-improvement plan, I would like to help. Please contact me by phone or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT