By Maria Jensen
Today, most people like the idea about self-improvement. It’s trendy.
But before you can improve yourself, you have to get to know who you are, what you want, and why it’s so crucial to know the answers to those questions.
Once you know who you are, what you stand for, and what you want, then you can go on to work on self-improvement.
This article will take you through the main reasons why you should take the time to get to know yourself, how to get to know yourself, and then finally how to seek self-improvement.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Why You Should Get to Know Yourself
- How to Get to Know Yourself
- How to Seek Self-Improvement
- Final Thoughts
Why You Should Get to Know Yourself
Many people go through life without getting a clear understanding of themselves. There’s a difference between wanting to be someone and then the actions that creates a person. It’s easy to tell people who you are, but can you actually walk the talk?
We have a tendency to brush away our shortcomings and play a certain role that we’ve intentionally or unintentionally created for ourselves. It may work for a while, but it won’t help you achieve anything in the long run.
Yes, you can say you’re a good spouse. People will believe you when they see the picture-perfect image on your office, but if you go home to a different story, it doesn’t really matter.
In the end, the opinion that matters the most are the one we hold about ourselves. A lie will drain you, overwhelm you, and unresolved emotions will resurface.
Maybe you choose a certain path many years ago and now you feel stuck. You look in the mirror and you don’t recognize yourself. The week seems endless and it’s only 7am on a Monday morning.
These are just examples. It doesn’t mean that only unhappy people need to get know themselves and seek self-improvement. Even if your life is truly as great as it looks like, it’s always worth checking in with yourself.
It’s natural to change throughout life, but too many people are afraid of reacting to this change or realize that the path they once choose may not be right anymore.
Change is scary, but it’s even more scary to ignore your emotions and not react to them. For better or worse – change is the only constant. If you get to know yourself now, then you’ll be able to handle change better. Obviously, you can’t always control what happens to you, but you can control how you react to it.
There’s no time limit for getting to know yourself or window of opportunity. Remember that:
“Self-improvement and success often occur together. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the same thing.”
You can be at the top of your game to the outside world, but still feel the need to get to know yourself and seek self-improvement.
It’s never too late to get to know yourself, because once you do, then you’ll be ready for whatever comes next. When you know yourself, a new road won’t seem scary because you already know whether you’re planning on turning left or right.
How to Get to Know Yourself
So, it’s settled. It’s a good idea to know this person that you wake up to every morning and look at while brushing your teeth. The person in the mirror that kind of looks the same, but yet somehow seems different over time. Here comes the million dollar question: where do you start?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a quick answer (or solution) to this. It isn’t math. There’s no right or wrong. You can’t find a page with all the secret answers and ace the test.
Most people will get a better feeling of who they are over time by simply looking back at their previous actions, reactions and decisions. But you can also choose to take an active part of the progress right now.
Here are some active actions you can take to get to know yourself:
1. Increase Your Self-Awareness
It’s all about you now. Let the outside world exist on its own. It’s not about your neighbour or the guy from high school that posted yet another sunny picture from Dubai. It’s not about them.
Take some time to look at yourself. What have you been doing? How do you react to certain situations? What makes you smile?
And if you keep going back to comparing yourself to a specific person, then ask yourself why you’re so fixated on them. Figure yourself out. You’re worth knowing.
2. Face Your Fears
It might seem obvious, but for some reason you keep avoiding that one thing.
A lot of people let fear stand in their way even though they know deep down they have the ability to face it. It’s easy to say of course, but if you manage to overcome your weakness, it will change you for the better. You will learn from it, and you’ll know a whole lot more about your character.
Not sure how to conquer your fears? This guide can help you:
How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)
3. Focus on Your Strengths
It’s always a good idea to focus on what you thrive at and nurture it. It will help you become more successful, but you’ll also get a better understanding of yourself as our strengths are a big part of who we are.
Even if you’ve been running towards the wall for a while and your head is really starting to hurt – you’ll always have some strengths in you that you can return to. Go back and focus on them and see where they’ll lead you. Maybe a talent will turn into a career. Maybe a character trait will turn into a new path or relationship.
Now, let’s move on to how to go further and seek self-improvement.
Ryan Holiday said:
”You can’t learn if you think you already know. You will not find the answers if you’re too conceited and self-assured to ask the questions. You cannot get better if you’re convinced you are the best.”
How to Seek Self-Improvement
It’s important to leave ego behind and realize that you’ll never move forward, if you don’t accept that you’re not the best. You can always become better. Maybe you’re currently the best at your job, but you should never stop competing against yourself. It’s not about putting endless pressure on yourself. It’s about keeping yourself in movement.
Maybe you did some soul-searching and you realized that you did choose the right path. That’s great, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to improve yourself. Or maybe you just realized that you want a completely different life. You quit your job, bought a dog and moved to a new city. Great, but you’re not done yet.
Once you tell yourself you have done what you set out to do, then you’ll run into the same wall that knocked you out in the first place.
Self-improvement is not about putting yourself down. Self-improvement is about lifting yourself up higher. The only way to do that is by accepting that you’re not the best. You can always become better. Even (or maybe especially) if you’re only competing against yourself.
Self-improvement can be applied to anything from learning a new skill, learning to deal with your anger, or putting yourself in a new situation that scares you. Some people need to change their scenery completely. Some people just need to attend a meeting every Thursday. Others may need to take up a self-defence class to feel in control again.
Sometimes life is not about gaining or achieving. Sometimes life is simply about losing and letting go.
People are capable of doing (almost) everything that the people they admire are doing. You can’t limit yourself by saying you can’t do a specific thing, because you’re you. It all comes down to mind-set and commitment. Get to know yourself and then set out clear goals.
Aristotle once said:
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
 ^ Mark Manson, The subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck, page 3
 ^ Ryan Holiday: Ego is the enemy, page 41
This article was first published at Lifehack