This morning, I received an email from a listserv I joined recently. Until today, I found its emails to be interesting and inspiring. However, this email subject said, “Start Improving Yourself Today”. I didn’t want to open it. “Start Improving Yourself Today” implies that there is something wrong with you and that is not the case.

However, there may be a problem with the way that you are doing things. Perhaps they aren’t conducive to who you are. How can you be expected to be who you really are if you are constantly in a position that makes you miserable because it goes against your intuitive self? The key is not to ‘improve yourself‘, rather change the way you approach things.

For starters, stop thinking that there is something wrong with you and start reframing how you view certain aspects of your life. Getting back to the email, I opened it only because I decided to write this article about its subject title. Here are the suggestions they had: try to change a habit for a week, four mental exercises used by Olympic athletes to gain that extra edge, and challenge your brain and other ways to maintain cognitive fitness. Saying you’re going to change a habit for a week is, in my opinion, a waste of time.

Setting a goal and creating weekly benchmarks that support that goal is a more holistic approach to changing a habit. The new year is a great time to assess how you do things and how you approach the things in your life. Most of us have to do things in our lives that we don’t enjoy, but what we need to realize is that those unpleasant things have only as much power as we allow them to have in our lives. If we change our perspective or perception, we can empower ourselves to be happy. Don’t make unsupported proclamations. While some people do have success with this approach, more times than not, your success and continued growth and transformation increases when you set a goal and create a support network to assist with and ensure you accomplish it and build from that point.

This can be things such as verbal or visual reminders, creating mantras, asking friends to help keep you focused, and, as I mentioned already, reconsidering your perception of something and re-framing how you view it. Interestingly, the article about the athletes offers the same basic advice I just did. It uses terms like self-talk, which equates to my comments about verbal reminders and mantras; visualization, which is similar to visual reminders, though also includes envisioning yourself accomplishing your goal; and re-framing the why you see things, which is exactly what I recommended. My point is this, don’t set your mind on improving yourself; there is nothing wrong with you. Focus instead on changing your perception of the things in your life and creating a supportive way of setting goals to change those things that do not fit with who you are.

Karen Paquin About the Author Karen has been involved in leadership and communication programs for more than ten years. She leads workshops and retreats on those topics as well s writing, creative expression, stress reduction, and work/life balance. In addition, she writes two blogs – Engaging Inner Wisdom (with a friend) and The Wonder of Runes (on her own) – and published her first novel, The Son of Nine Sisters, last year.

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