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For a long time, even the idea of self improvement made me anxious.
If you grew up like me, you probably find it hard to work hard. As I was growing up, I dealt with severe depression and anxiety that often left me paralyzed on my bed with fatigue and apathy. I didn’t have the help I needed to learn how to cope with these issues, let alone medication.
I am one of the lucky few whose depression greatly improved as they got older, but my anxiety didn’t. It’s gotten worse. And for that reason, I am still learning how to improve my motivation and how to work hard.
It’s a daily struggle not to give up when the going gets tough. These are some of my best tips that help me stay on track.
Use A To Do List Every Day
All that matters is that you have one and that you consult it multiple times a day. Find the easiest thing on that list, do it, then cross it off.
Then, you find the second easiest thing on that list, do that, and cross it off.
I like this snowball method much more than I like doing the biggest thing first. It gives me momentum so that I can keep working on the progressively harder tasks until I have at least most of the list completed.
Have Goal Lists
Start two lists. On the first one, write down the small frivolous goals you have right now. Do you want to buy a new cell phone this month? Do you want to go to a concert? Put those unnecessary but fun things onto that first list, and consult it often when things seem too tough to keep working hard.
On the second list, write your longer term goals. This list should have goals like becoming a business owner, finishing school, and buying a home. These are the goals that might be discouraging to think about sometimes, so you only pull out that list when you’re in the right frame of mind.
These lists, when updated and read often enough, will help you to keep your eye on the future. One of the biggest differences between successful and unsuccessful people is where their mind is focused. Successful people are always thinking about how their actions will influence them in 5 years. You can do that, too.
Decide Your Self Improvement Priorities
Where does having a close family rank when put up against being wealthy?
You need to get your values and priorities straight so that your goals can make sense. If you don’t care about having a family, then why would you bother spending time and effort on finding a significant other before you’re successful in something you do care about?
Knowing your values also helps you to always be happy with yourself. At the end of the day, some of our decisions will haunt us. Knowing that you stuck with your values will help you to deal with those hard choices.
Self improvement is impossible if you don’t know why you’re improving yourself.
Work In Small Chunks
Successful people don’t have an all-or-nothing mind. It isn’t feast or famine. You may not have the time to write your novel in hour long chunks every day, but chances are you can put down 100 words or so every time you go to the bathroom.
There is always time to pursue your passions and work hard, if you only seek out the small chunks of time.
Similarly, working in these small chunks can help you to feel more successful sooner. This feeling can keep propelling you forward towards greater success.
Work Hard Even When You Have A Bad Day For Consistent Self Improvement
Oof, this one is hard for me. When I feel sick or depressed, it is such a struggle to get anything done and self improvement goes to the back of my mind.
But I always find that once I have done the hard work, I feel better anyway. Sure, it might not make my headache go away, but the relief at having done something so hard usually gives me endorphins that make me feel better anyway.
Even when you feel awful, do one hard thing every day. If you only have it in you to read one page, then do at least that. And push yourself to do a little more.
The secret to success is that you have to rely on strong habits over motivation. If you do something every day, you will find it easier to keep that habit up when you feel like crap.