By Irene Conlan —
I have so many things I need to improve, where do I start?
That’s a great question and the answer lies within you. However, I would say a good starting place is to do a self assessment. How do you do that? Easy. Ask yourself two questions and spend some time answering them. The questions are:
- What are the really good things about me?
- What things about me would I like to change?
The really good things about me…
Why start with the really good things? Because many people who are on a self improvement path are wanting to improve because they believe they are flawed, not good enough, don’t measure up and they can’t think of anything good about themselves. Dwelling on the negative brings in more negative. Some people are taught that to admit something good about themselves is prideful and that it’s not o.k.; therefore, they have never done an assessment of their good qualities. Some are emotionally battered and simply can’t think of any good quality they may have.
A self assessment can be compared to doing a store inventory—you don’t know what to buy unless you know what you already have on the shelf. We need to find the “good stuff” as well as the stuff that’s outdated and no longer can be sold. In self assessment, we need to find the good qualities to balance out those that need to be developed or improved. Balance is the key here.
So where do you start? Get a piece of paper, your computer or whatever it is you work with easily. Decide how many good things about you that you wish to find (I recommend either 50 or 100— preferably 100). If you have to sit and stare at the page or the computer screen for a long period of time, then go with the obvious: e.g.,
- I have a great smile (everyone has a great smile—they just need to smile more often)
- I am honest
- I am a hard worker
- I like children
- I like animals
- I’m a good cook
- I keep things clean and organized
Some of those may not be true of you, but you write the things that are true. Then go to the deeper things. e.g.
- I am responsible for my own actions.
- I am a positive thinker and look for the best in people and circumstances.
- I take care of myself mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually and am alert to new ways of doing that.
- I am sensitive to the needs of others.
Now keep going.
What about those things that I want to improve?
My best advice is to be gentle with yourself. Be very, very gentle. Make a short list of no more than two or three items of what you want to improve and start with something manageable. If you need to lose 100 pounds, for instance, start with the goal of losing 10. That can be accomplished. Looking at a 100 pound weight loss is formidable and unless you can get on The Biggest Loser it seems impossible. But 10 pounds? You can do that and then reset you goal to another 10 pounds and then another.
Some years ago I was interested in doing more public speaking. I was then working as a hypnotherapist, and one day a client forgot to take the audio tape I had made for her of our session. I listened to it just to hear how I sounded and see if the sound levels were adequate. I was surprised to discover hat I had a pronounced and annoying twang in my voice that I developed when living in West Texas. It showed up only in certain words. I wrote those words down and every day practiced saying them without the twang. I was like a modern day Eliza Doolittle only instead of saying “The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plain,” I said my twangy words correctly until the twang was gone. A small challenge but one I conquered and am pleased about. I can listen to a recording of mine now without cringing and I can speak in public without twanging.
On a deeper level, I realized that I had a tendency to judge other people—what they wore, how they spoke, what they did. I was surprised at that realization and tried to become more aware of when and why I was judgmental. I have made some progress but still have work to do.
So my “need to improve” areas would be:
- Lose ten pounds and achieve a greater feeling of health and well-being.
- Be aware of any affected speech patterns and correct them.
- Become more accepting of others and drop the tendency to judge.
If you have a seriously inhibiting problem such as uncontrollable anger, an addiction, or extremely low self esteem you may need help in finding solutions. It’s o.k. to ask for help. Go for it.
So now you have made your long list of good things about yourself and your short list of what you need to change or improve. Right? You are aware of the needed change?
My best advice is: now get busy doing something for some one else that makes you happy and helps them. Find new avenues of joy and contentment for yourself. Monitor your thoughts so you eliminate negative thinking as much as you can and dwell on those things that are beautiful, good, inspiring, fun and funny. Look for the good in every situation and in every person that you meet. And remember: You ARE already good enough. You are worth it. You just need to make a few adjustments to be happy with yourself.
Soon, and very soon indeed, you will find that the thing you wanted to change is no longer an issue.
Try it. You might like it.