It doesn’t take a terribly long time to become a better man; the trouble comes from trying to make a bunch of changes all at once. Instead of putting pressure on yourself to improve overnight, make a plan to change a little bit at a time. For example: reading for an hour on the days that you don’t go for a walk after lunch is a great way to incorporate two ideas at once.
Inside and out, these habits can help improve your life and your attitude with just a little bit of commitment on your part.
1) Become More Self-Aware
This is not nearly as easy as it sounds. Sometime, in order to get to know yourself, you need to face some difficult topics. There are as many ways to become more self-aware as there are people in the world, but if you need a place to start, just list a few habits that you would like to change.
Do you bite your nails or spend too much when you go shopping? Consider why you do those things. Instead of simply trying to change them, figure out if you’re biting your nails because you’re anxious, or if you’re overspending because you’re bored at home. Once you’ve figured out the root, you can try to make more meaningful changes.
2) Encourage Relationships
When we’re younger, our relationships with people tend to be easy. We see them all the time in school, we’ve grown up with them and our interests have developed alongside theirs. As adults, however, it can be substantially more difficult to maintain long-lasting relationships, especially as we add families and distance. Set aside time each week for a phone call. It only needs to be about 15 minutes, but it’s enough to let people know how much you care.
Books are magical. They allow you into other people’s minds, so you can feel and experience something through another person’s eyes. Reading a book each month is a great way to expand your mind and your vocabulary, as well as to keep yourself open to new ideas. If you’re not a big reader, look for a local book club. Not only will you get ideas of what to read, but you’ll also make some friends.
4) Be Healthy
Daily life, with all of its stressors and distractions, can make it difficult to be healthy. After all, if you’re up at 5:30 to get the kids ready for school, and yourself ready for work, you may not feel much like cooking when everyone gets home around 7PM. Making a conscious effort to limit dinners out and work in a walk at lunchtime is a great way to give yourself more energy.
One some level, choosing to be healthy is about admitting weakness. And that’s okay. For a more extreme example, consider this: if you were struggling with a very specific addiction, you’d try to escape the cycle. Maintaining your health can be just as challenging.
5) Pick a Hobby
Having something to do just for you is an important aspect of making yourself into a well-rounded individual. This is sort of like having a few mini-goals, in that it expands your mind, introduces you to new things and people, and gives you a sense of accomplishment. Since it’s your hobby, it can be pretty much anything you’d like – fencing, drag racing, crochet, or dog grooming.
No matter what you decide to do, as long as it’s something you enjoy, it will help to enrich your life. Choose a hobby, try it out, and give it a shot for at least 6 weeks. If you still hate it, move on to something else.
Adding a hobby in your life will also make you a more confident man with a lot of layers to you. Eduardo talks about this in an awesome way in his article: The Modern Gentleman’s Guide to Building Self Confidence.
6) Exercise Compassion
Yes, it’s always a good idea to go work out your compassion muscles. Not only does it make you feel like a better person, but it also makes it easier for you to be calm and rational in difficult situations.
One of the first places you could try being a bit kinder and gentler is in the car. It’s not hard, but it is safer. Instead of falling victim to road rage during rush hour and contributing to the general pandemonium that’s going on, try taking a deep breath, and remember that you have no idea how long those truckers have been on the road, or what kind of week that person tailgating you has had.
7) Find a Mentor
A mentor can be real or fictional, a personal friend or acquaintance, or someone you simply respect. If you can’t find a mentor, you can always decide to be a mentor. Having the pressure of trying to be a better person either for your own sake or for someone else’s means you’ll be more considerate of your actions, which can lead to you acting more like the kind of person you want to be.
8) Practice Kindness
Along with trying to be a more compassionate person, being a kinder person has similar benefits. This can actually be pretty general, such as doing what you said you were going to do, without complaining about it. You can also start volunteering or making donations to a cause you support.
However, the easiest way to start is to simply choose a random person, make eye contact, and smile. It’s free, it doesn’t take any additional time, and if brightens both your day and theirs.
9) Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
Your comfort zone is safe. It’s also probably somewhat secluded and cave-like, aside from those you’ve already become comfortable with. You wake up in your cave-house, go to work in your cave-car, work in your cave-cubicle or office, and come right back to your cave-home in your cave-car. Get out of the cave!
Sometimes, getting out of your comfort zone and scaring the crap out of yourself is the best way to realize that you are capable of more than you had anticipated.
10) Set a Major Goal
Finally, remember that setting a goal and actually accomplishing it gives your life a little extra “oomph.” You don’t have to actually accomplish the goal in this year, but having it, and working steadily towards it, will make you feel like you have a big reward on the way. For example, if your major goal is to travel the world, you can break that into smaller ones – such as visiting the Grand Canyon or traveling outside of the United States.
So, think about how much you can get done in 1 year. And think about how powerful implementing everyone of these steps into your life will be.
You could easily just coast by as a weekend warrior for the next year, and be right where you are now. Or you can control your path and crush it.
So think about each one of these steps, and find a way that you can bring them into your life asap. I promise you if you do, in 1 year – your life will be a lot brighter.