Self-improvement is similar to taking a long road trip. Just like you would plan a road trip, you need to make a personal development plan for various aspects of your life. For the example below, you will need to understand the following details of your life: origin, destination, route, luggage, landmarks, and fuel. Don’t worry, it will make sense soon enough.
Every map has a starting point or an origin. Your origin is who and where you are right now. To get a better self understanding, you need to look closely at your beliefs, values, and principles. Think about who you really are aside from your job, a nickname from grade schools, or some silly corporate title. Try to mentally put yourself on a deserted island without any other humans, buildings, or currencies. Now, who are you? Who are you at the core when nobody is around? Again, who are you? This question may seem a little redundant but it's essential that you have a crystal clear and accurate portrait of yourself. You need not answer this question to anybody else and you need not justify your answer for anybody else. The question of "Who am I?" is for you and you only, so be honest even if it means being brutally honest.
Who would you like to be? This is not your role model or your childhood hero, this is your vision of where you want to go with your life. It is important that you have a clear idea of who you want to be and the things you’ll need to change like negative habits, poor emotional control, or your peer group. If you could have one perfect day what would you do? Where do you live? What kind of relationships would you have? How is it going to feel when you wake up in the morning? What is the ideal version of you? Get a clear picture in your head of what your destiny looks like. Take note of what you are wearing, how you are moving and talking, your friends, and your emotions. Notice how comfortable and confident you feel. The “ideal you” is already inside you. Once you are able to see and feel that person, you will be well on your way.
Once you have a good picture of who you are (point A) and who you would most like to be (point Z), it's time to figure out how to get from point A to point B or C. That right! you don't need to know how to get all the way from point A to point Z. You simply need to figure out how to get from point A to point B and then to point C. As you "travel" more and build more momentum, the path will be revealed to you.
*Hint: Many times, the self-actualization path may look rugged, dangerous, or confusing but regardless of how difficult it looks right now, it will never look easier tomorrow.*
Clothes, a toothbrush, shoes, and other travelling necessities are contained in a typical suitcase. If you apply the suitcase metaphor to self-improvement, you would be packing things like knowledge, skills, and relationships. These items determine your competencies and are crucial to reaching your destination. Now that you know exactly who you are and where you want to go, you need to assess what talents and skills you currently possess and what you will need to grab along the way. This is a twofold assessment and will give you insights about your current set of life skills as well as the life skills you need to learn.
Setting clearly defined short, medium, and long term goals or “landmarks” will enable you to measure your progress and gauge your direction. Charting your successes will also enable you to more fully appreciate the stages of completion leading to the realization of the really big goals. Setting and achieving small goals will eliminate the feeling of a long and pointless grind towards something that seems unacheivable. Also, your overall level of self confidence will grow if you make a point to stay aware of your ability to set, plan, and achieve goals.
Just like you wouldn't want to run out of gas on a vacation; running out of self-improvement motivation on the path of life is one of the worst things that can happen. Unfortunately, it's one of the most common mistakes people make! However, you will not make this critical mistake because now, you know better. Always make a point to stay connected to the things that motivate you the most. Anytime you feel your tank getting low, you must do whatever it takes to fill it.
Hey, just like a road trip, self-improvement is a lot more fun if you occasionally stop to enjoy the beautiful scenery around you. A little secret that successful people know about achieving goals is: “The process, the journey, and the struggle are what make life worthwhile.” So take a few mental pictures along the way and maybe keep a self-improvement journal to remind you of how much fun you’re having even if you don't realize it in the moment.
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