Have you ever spent hours talking with a psychologist or psychiatrist about how you beat yourself up in your thoughts?
They hand you a sheet of affirmations to repeat every day. “I love myself. I’m beautiful. I’m worth it. I deserve to be happy.”
It’s supposed to work, yet each session you find yourself awkwardly leaving the psych’s office wondering what is so wrong with you that repeating phrases over and over again to convince yourself that you are “worth it” only makes you feel silly, inadequate, and unheard.
The phrases only make you feel sick to your stomach because you’re speaking words to yourself that mean nothing because they don’t come anywhere near close to matching up with how you feel. Meanwhile, you’re thinking the way you do for a reason no one seems to want to help you with.
Personal affirmations as taught by many psychologists can help, but they don’t address the root of the angst you direct at yourself. They aren’t the singular answer. To be effective, they should be paired with additional lifestyle changes.
I know. You don’t just think ill of yourself for kicks and giggles. You don’t just think ill of yourself just because of some chemical imbalance, although hormone imbalances and toxin exposure can affect how you think, that isn’t always the case – your doctor should be able to help you determine that by ordering basic blood work.
You don’t just think ill of yourself for attention, and certainly could do without the expensive bills associated with trying to “fix” yourself.
Often when we criticize ourselves it’s because of how we were taught as children… how our role models regarded themselves… and/or we have that subconscious need to grow (personal development), but we aren’t growing.
So what do you do when you are ready to embark on a journey to creating a better lifestyle where you’re not constantly your biggest critic?
10 steps to begin your personal development journey
1. Be intentional in growing.
Set aside time and resources to purposefully grow. This means you’ll be diving into reading books, scouring the internet for success coaches and reading email subscriptions from pages like John Maxwell, Darin Hardy, and Jim Rohn. This means you will need to seek out mentorship from real people in addition to reading and meditation. Personal Development is time-consuming, and easily turns into a lifelong adventure of continually getting to know yourself, serving others, and growing who you are. You need to be willing and ready to make a commitment to yourself.
2. Know who you are and where you want to go.
Develop a roadmap based on the questions I asked in a previous post: How do you feel about yourself? And… how do you want to feel about yourself? Know your shortcomings so you can develop a plan to turn those weaknesses into strengths. You need to know where you’re starting from and where you want to go so you can figure out how to get there. Otherwise you’re aimlessly wandering and nothing will change.
3. Make the decision to grow
And be consistent with putting in the time and effort every day to grow. You need to decide to grow every day. Each day set some time aside for you. Be consistent. Whether it’s a 10 minute activity every day or a 50+ minute activity every day, you need to be consistent in carving time out for you. It won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it.
4. Search for habits to give up to make room for more productive and healthy habits or activities
There is only so much time and space in your life for habits and lifestyle choices. Look at the bad and/or unproductive habits that you can ditch to make room for healthy habits. For example, if you’re like my husband and I when we would watch an hour or two of sitcom TV at night before bed… that right there is a perfect time to swap the TV for a good book. If you’re out regularly in the bar scene – right there is perfect time and energy to redirect to improving yourself (plus will save you money). There is always something you can do to become more efficient to create time for you. You’re worth it.
5. Find a mentor
Follow your mentor. At the end of this post I have a list of my favorite personal development books in case you’re curious and would like to start a small library. Although books are a great place to start, you will need someone who is where you want to be to guide you on how to get there. Life is full of challenges. If you can learn from the mistakes of someone else, you make room to make your own without having to reinvent the wheel. There is something to be said about jumping in the (proverbial) back pocket of someone who is where you want to be. This is one of my favorite aspects of my business… because I have access to several incredible and successful men and women who selflessly take time out to mentor others, which I have the privilege of doing now too. Once you’re in your journey and you see someone struggling to start or grow, pay it forward and give them a helping hand. Seek mentorship and provide mentorship. That is what makes life enjoyable. You’ll all be growing together, and your lives will be enriched because of it.
6. Get in the habit of asking questions
Always search for ways to improve yourself. Keep improving, keep stretching, keep growing. Always ask questions. If you feel as though you’ve outgrown your current mentor, find a new one. There is always someone out there to learn from.
7. Dress the part
For some reason we feel how we dress. If you’re in yoga pants and a stretched out t-shirt all day… and feeling grungy… go spruce yourself up. It’s perfectly OK to doll up in your “Sunday Best” just to vacuum! Dress how you want to feel. Dress how you want to be treated. Put on makeup, if you wear it. Don’t like your wardrobe? Check out programs like Stitch Fix who employ fashion stylests that will put together some outfits to match your personality and make you look fantastic.
8. Embrace a healthy lifestyle
Eat healthy and supplement… and I’m not talking about the USDA food pyramid everyone quotes. I’m talking a main dish of veggies with a side of fruit and meat. LOTS of veggies. Supplement with some Ningxia Red. Ningxia Red is an incredible supplement that helps you focus, gives you energy, and supports every cell in your body to make you feel better overall (both physically and mentally). I also suggest supplementing your wellness with essential oils. You can check out my blog post at EssentialOils.Life about which essential oils I recommend for personal development.
9. Exercise every day
Even if it’s a quick 20 minute yoga session first thing in the morning or a walk around the neighborhood, exercise gets your blood pumping and mind working. Productivity and exercise go hand in hand. Get moving!
10. Find an accountability partner
Nothing helps keep you on track more efficiently than having someone to mentor or to grow with. In fact, just by telling someone your goals knowing you will follow up with them in the next week will increase your chances of success by 98%!! Writing down those goals are a great way to keep yourself on course to accomplishing those goals too… especially if you’re scheduling in time to work on the smaller tasks that build up to completing those goals. If you know someone with similar goals or at least interested in joining you for the process, you’ll be much more successful, motivated, and efficient.
Also- always be open to opportunities to mentor someone else too, as mentioned earlier. The world is a tough place to be. Pay it forward by helping someone else navigate their own darkness. Doing so, especially with an accountability partner, will only enrich your life more and enhance your personal development experience.
Resources for you
Some of my all-time favorite personal development books:
- The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth: Live Them and Reach Your Potential (this one is my all time favorite for progressing through your personal development journey. I’ve read it multiple times now and always end up taking away something different each time I read it. It’s definitely worth buying and reading about once a year – or once a “season,” depending on what you’re going through)
- Daring Greatly
- Intentional Living: Choosing A Life That Matters
- Oola Find Balance in an Unbalanced World
- How Successful People Think: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life
- Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success
Nicole is a military-trained research analyst, homeschooling mom, healthy lifestyle coach, flexible business consultant, and writer for MotherhoodTruth.com and GracefullyAbundant.com. After living through and overcoming a season of homelessness and chronic health, Nicole developed a passion for helping others develop healthier habits using functional nutrition, herbalism, and renewing faith.