Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Self Improvement and How to Maintain It

So this post from my friends in England about improving habits and maintaining those improvements comes at a very good time as I am in the post-vacation WTF am I doing mode. I need to get back to sleep, better eating, more activity, less slovenly vacation-type behavior. 

We all know that feeling, the one that comes shortly after every Big Mac or within minutes of waking up to a hangover from hell. It’s the feeling that we really must start taking our health a little more seriously.

Self-Improvement comes in many forms and while many of us are excellent at identifying where and how we can drive our own improvements, we aren’t so good at making commitments and keeping them over the long term. The result is that we become embroiled in the same fad diets year after year and time and again we enter into them arms opened wide, ready to embrace our new selves only for our enthusiasm to wither and die while our waistlines stay the same.

Baby Steps

Most experts agree that the best way to achieve a big, difficult goal is to break it up into smaller, easier to tackle parts and take them on piecemeal. Every time we do something ‘good’ or ‘right’ the neural pathways in our brain that mediate reward light up. Activating these parts of the brain triggers the release of several neurotransmitters most notably dopamine. Dopamine is our body’s feel-good neurotransmitter and is released during activities such as strenuous exercise, sex, and, famously, eating chocolate. When we play computer games, for example, many of these involve collecting items, earning experience, and gradually leveling up. During any one play session, we might do these things multiple times, but we will only finish our main objective, the game, once. A similar approach is needed when we’re thinking about ways to improve ourselves.

Setting a few smaller goals that we can accomplish every day gets our brain used to working its reward pathways and we experience what is called positive reinforcement.

Focusing Your Power

Don’t try and take on any big or dramatic changes straight away as doing so is more likely to end in failure. Instead, begin with something very simple, like making sure you are awake and ready to start your day by a particular time, or perhaps start by making yourself a healthier breakfast than you are used to. Once you’ve settled into your new routine and feel more confident in your ability to instigate long term change, you can look at some big picture goals.

Online degrees are a fantastic way of boosting both your self-confidence and your employability. If you are passionate about helping other people, there are online masters in health administration degrees, for example. Completing an EMHA degree online also leaves you with room in your schedule to try other new things and learn new skills.

Defeat Is a State Of Mind

No matter how many times you might try and fail before finally accomplishing your goal you always have the option to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get right back on that horse! Don’t accept defeat and it will not come. Instead, you should view any setbacks as learning experiences and opportunities to improve.

It can at first seem an incredibly daunting and insurmountable task to change your life in any kind of meaningful way, but the truth is that anything is possible as long as you’re willing to put in the hours and keep on the lookout for new ways to challenge and improve yourself.

It can at first seem an incredibly daunting and insurmountable task to change your life in any kind of meaningful way, but the truth is that anything is possible as long as you’re willing to put in the hours and keep on the lookout for new ways to challenge and improve yourself.


Are you looking to make any improvements? In what areas? 


  1. Great post! I always tell people to take it one day at a time. So many times people will start a diet on Monday, have a fallback on Wednesday when life happens and then give up and say they'll start again next Monday. Instead just focus on the here and now and learn to give yourself a break when things happen.

  2. Baby steps is definitely key for me. And it was a hard lesson for me to follow. It's my nature when I want to make a change (like lose weight) to attempt to do everything at once and very grandiose. And, of course, it never works. Thankfully, this time I decided to really start slow and build. To accept stumbles for what they are, a momentary lapse and move on.

  3. Awesome post! Baby steps are definitely the way to tackle improvement, nothing happens overnight. And it's definitely a state of mind, which takes time hence baby steps :)

  4. Awesome post! Baby steps is absolutely effective for me. Rome wasnt built in a day!

  5. Waking up is the improvement that I can't seem to get a handle on (and I'd really like to). I think it's a combination of motivation, exhaustion, comfort, and depression. (If I'm not in a good mood when I wake up it take some work to talk myself out of bed to face the day.) With the exception of exhaustion/sleeping poorly, my issue is all mental.

  6. Love this post. So much science and truth. My unhappiness with so many areas of my life a few years ago started improving with one small step. Except quitting smoking, that just needed a band aid rip off. Small steps lead to big gains eventually, we are just in such an instant gratification society!


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