Update 9/11/20 – I am revising this guide significantly at the moment, so stay tuned!
I reckon all of us are trying to get better in some way, shape or form.
It might be that we are trying to fix some aspect of our life that isn’t going right, or we are actively trying to make ourselves better or healthier.
For example, as a student, you are trying to get smarter, more knowledgeable and develop the skills that will shape your future. As an employee of Flinders, I am trying to get better at my job, continue learning and evolving, and look after myself better (i’m old now and my body is more cantankerous).
Self-improvement often happens naturally, as we gain wisdom from our experiences. For example, the more people I meet and talk to, the better my social skills get.
But relying on natural improvement isn’t the only way we can self-improve. We can approach self-improvement in a very strategic, deliberate and focused way.
That is the purpose of my new handout (attached to this post).
In the handout I step out a process for self-improvement, that incorporates a number of interesting concepts:
- Focusing in on which areas of your life you’d like to improve
- Using an understanding of ‘psychological needs’ to be clear about what it is you are hoping to change and why
- Understanding the person you want to be (values)
- Honing in on 1 thing you could change (big or small) that will move you towards your desired outcome and/or being the person you want to be
- Learning the strategies that people use to make changes in their lives, so you get better at getting better
If there are parts of your life that you are trying to change, this handout may provide the framework for doing so.
A note about structured exercises like the one in the handout
I’ve produced a few handouts like the one in this post, that provide a highly structured way of addressing problems or issues. For example my ‘Be Your Own Counsellor‘ handout steps out a process for doing your own self-counselling. My ‘Self Care” guide is quite prescriptive in its suggestions.
I fully acknowledge that everyday life doesn’t really unfold or move in such a structured way. Life is far more chaotic and unpredictable than is easily captured in a step-by-step, 1,2,3 process.
However, I don’t think that negates engaging in such exercises.
Even if you just read the handout in this post, you’ll enhance your vocabulary for talking about life. You’ll start thinking about ‘psychological needs’ and ‘values’ and ‘behaviour change’. That additional knowledge will gives you more mental tools for thinking about your life.
If you go further and actually work through the steps, you’ll be actively practising the application of these principles to your life. You might not succeed first time, but you’ll have stretched and used mental muscles that you havent used before. Human brains rewire through novelty and repetition, trying new things and then repeating them until competence is achieved.
Think of these handouts as guides to practising self-improvement.