The journey of self improvement can be an frustrating one. The internet is saturated with videos and blog posts promising you the ‘secret’ to a happy, put together life, which usually require you to use techniques such as the Law Of Attraction, the 80/20 rule and in depth spreadsheets for every single area of your life- not before performing an over complex morning routine involving meditation and a Pinterest worthy breakfast of course. This leaves you creating an unattainable minute by minute routine jam packed with every single trick you’ve heard will lead you to become a well rounded, organized, spiritually enlightened, constantly productive person, then not actually following any of it through because you’re so overwhelmed- you’ve been sucked in to the counterproductive cycle. I’ve been there.
When I first started giving more energy to my own self improvement journey, my controlling nature got the better of me and I started getting worked up over exactly how my week would look, exactly which exercise routine I’d be doing, exactly what I’d be eating and exactly which sub-sub-subject I’d study for school and how long for. The truth is, self improvement doesn’t come from micromanaging your time and it doesn’t happen overnight- it comes from consistency, patience and life experience. To give you a real idea of just how long it takes to build up the characteristics, habits and skills you’re lusting after when consuming self improvement content, I’ve created a timeline showing my personal journey and at which point I made genuine improvements to my life.
My self improvement journey started in 2015, when terrible teenage acne drove me to drinking two liters of water a day. I started bringing a water bottle to school and created a habit of starting each lesson with a 500ml bottle and seeing how much I could drink by the end of it. In two or three months, this habit was solidified and I saw improvements such as better skin, less drowsiness and more energy. This may seem like a small change over quite a long period of time, but it triggered the journey to gradually becoming a better functioning person.
Around this time I also started buying into the idea of fate, which allowed me to adopt a more relaxed, ‘it is what it is’ attitude to life. Again, a small change, but a change none the less.
So, at the end of 2015, I was hydrated with a relaxed mindset- a good start to my self improvement journey.
In 2016 the small changes kept coming, I focused on my environment and decorated my room completely white with minimal furniture and decoration, meaning it was low maintenance and one less thing to worry about.
I also created a routine to help me feel in control physically, involving taking a shower, tying my hair back and moisturizing, meaning whenever I got overwhelmed I could take back physical control of my situation.
Procrastination was cut out of my life in 2016 too, when I forced myself to stop spending time with a towel on my head after a shower, stop spending time scrolling through twitter mindlessly and realized that procrastination wastes precious time, and if you’re putting something off, its better just to take a relaxing break and come back to it.
So, at the end of 2016, I was hydrated with a relaxed mindset, I had a home environment I loved, a routine to help me when I felt overwhelmed and plenty of extra time gained by cutting out procrastination- I was making progress.
2017 was when things really started changing for me and I made more progress than ever. I started journaling and writing positive affirmations; I wasn’t to strict with myself and made sure it was a cathartic experience rather than the daily journaling I subjected myself to every year as a child until mid January.
I also found genuine, life enriching passions– something which I’d been lacking for years. Throughout school, I was never really passionate about anything, I just did the subjects on the curriculum according to the mark scheme- everything was regulated and I wasn’t doing anything for me. That all changed in July when I left education and started this blog as a personal project. Blogging allowed me to design a website, write about what I love, practice my photography and build up my own personal ‘brand’ that completely represents me. I also started traveling a lot more and took my camera everywhere with me and even if the photos didn’t go anywhere there was a huge amount of satisfaction in indulging in a creative passion purely for my own enjoyment. The cinema also played a huge part in enriching my life. Film is one of my favorite art forms out there and since getting a cinema card I’ve loved watching a huge variety of work, keeping up with certain actors and actresses and forming thought out opinions on the different aspects of a film instead of just thinking it was ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Having all these things enriching my life and keeping me creatively stimulated has been a huge part of my self improvement journey.
I also went through my first ever job search last year, which taught me not only how to write a proper CV and present myself professionally in interviews, but also strengthened my character and made me a more confident, self motivated, self believing, positive and most of all determined person. I walked tirelessly around every shop I could think of to hand out CV’s personally and spent hours upon hours filling out applications online- but I never gave up because I knew how much I needed a job. I’m glad that I had to have that experience, because its taught me that if I want something I can’t just take the easy way out.
Along with the determination needed to get a job, I also learned the value in making the bold, brave decision to quit one. In my most recent position, I felt like I wasn’t being treated properly and every second I spent there was miserable, so whilst on my birthday trip to London, in the time it took me to get from Sloane Square to Victoria Station on the tube, I decided enough was enough- I quit the very next day. Handing in my notice was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had, I felt free and in control of my own life again.
I also took control of my organisation problem last year. Back in school I was messy, disorganised and often didn’t know where I was supposed to be and when, but in 2017 I really took control of that and started using a colour coded Google Calendar, meaning I always had a monthly overview of what I was doing and life became a lot easier to manage.
So, at the end of 2017 I was hydrated with a relaxed mindset, I had home environment I loved, a routine to help me when I felt overwhelmed, and plenty of extra time gained by cutting out procrastination, I was using journaling to manage my mental health, I’d gained CV writing and job skills, I was determined, confident, self motivated, self believing, I had creative hobbies that enriched my life and I had a proper organization method- I’d made more self improvement than ever.
We’re only three months into 2018 but already I’ve made so much more progress on my self improvement journey. One of the biggest changes I’ve made is waking up early(ish) every morning. My sleeping pattern slipped when I started my gap year and had nothing to wake up for, so I decided to get back on top of it and got into the habit of waking up at 7.40am every morning, which still isn’t as early as I’d like but I’m being consistent and working on it.
I’ve also started meal prepping which has saved me SO much time and effort on a daily basis, and has also meant I’ve been keeping up a healthier, more balanced diet than last year.
After finding a muchelleb video on meditation, I’ve started taking some time to myself on a morning to put on some relaxing music, do some deep breathing and practice some basic yoga stretches. This has made a huge impact on not only my mental wellbeing, but also my physical wellbeing as it means I have to get off the sofa, stretch my muscles and get my body going for the day.
In the last month or so, I’ve started making the effort to get out in the fresh air and daylight for a walk around my neighbourhood, which may not seem like a big deal to some but its made a big difference to my life and allowed me to manage stress SO much better.
Since my biggest goal of 2018 is financial, I’ve made the effort to become more responsible with my money and have started using Microsoft One Note (which is SO useful for keeping all of your ideas, lists, blog posts, spreadsheets and everything in between all together) to keep track of how much I’m spending and saving, meaning I’m so much more on top of my finances and focused on my goal.
Along with taking care of my physical health and keeping my finances in check, I’ve also started 2018 by decluttering my wardrobe and adding a few key pieces to *hopefully* make my minimalist style Pinterest board become a reality.
The final change so far this year that I want to mention is spending less time on social media, which has cleared my mind and given me more time to get sh*t done.
So, a quarter of the way through 2018, I’m hydrated with a relaxed mindset, I have a home environment I love, a routine to help me when I feel overwhelmed, plenty of extra time gained by cutting out procrastination, I used journaling to manage my mental health, I’ve gained job skills, I’m determined, confident, self motivated, self believing, I have creative hobbies that enrich my life, a proper organisation method, a good sleeping pattern, a relatively healthy diet, I do yoga and walking to help both my mental and physical health, I’ve got a money management system, a wardrobe thats getting more minimal everyday and enough self control to spend minimal time on social media.
I’m the put together person I’ve always strived to be, but I hope you can see from this timeline that it took baby steps to get there, not starting thirty new habits overnight. Yes, self improvement can come from giving your room a makeover, taking up yoga and organizing your life through spreadsheets, but you don’t have to do all of that at once. There’s no formula to follow and no shortcuts- self improvement is recognising what needs improving in your life, finding ways that work for you and using them to make steady progress that builds up over time. If you take anything from this blog post, let it be these three things-
- Recognise that you don’t have to do all the things all the time. If you don’t want to get up at 5am and do yoga you don’t have to- find out what works for you and practice it consistently over time.
2. Be pateint. As you can see from my timeline self improvement doesnt happen over night but you WILL get there- take time to appreciate how far you’ve come and what you’ve achieved like I have in this blog post as motivation to carry on.
3. Accept that you’re ALWAYS a work in progress. You’ll never be perfect, you’ll never be excelling in every single area of your life, but as long as you’re making small changes consistently you’ll see a lot of improvement.
What I’m Focusing On Now
Some more small changes I’d love to make this year are:
- Wake up even earlier- I’m aiming for 5am!
- Start more intense excersise- I’m going to slowly increase the length of my walks and yoga sessions then add some proper exercise routines in
- Practice mindfulness and living in the moment
- Make my blog into a business
If you’re on a journey of self improvement and have any tips for me and others reading this post be sure to leave them in the comments! Megan x