If you are a new reader, welcome. You may want to start from the beginning of this series. It will help you understand the theory behind the 100 list technique and ways to make life easy.
If you are ready for the next list, welcome again and let’s start.
I often describe improvements and progress as the currency of personal development. We can only be highly developed by continually improving our thoughts, ideas, actions and outcome in life. To my kids I say that as long as they keep moving forward, they are developing.
Bryan Tracy said that if we concentrate on making improvements every day, no matter how small, they will compound over time into great success. For example, improving your ability by 1% every day for a year produces a 3,778% improvement!
You may also like to read my earlier post called Just a Little Bit More for more on persistence and continued progress.
Whether it is their health, their social life, their job interests, their relationships or their financials, my clients all want to improve things in their life and my job is to help them with their improvement process.
Rules of improvement
Measure yourself! I generally find it challenging to measure self improvement through external people’s perceptions and I think that for us to think/feel/believe we have improved, we have to measure ourselves. Avoid the need for external indications from other people (“Do you think I’ve improved?”) and focus on “Do I think I’ve improved?” With better questions, you will get better answers. The aim is to achieve personal growth.
If you want to improve your life, first you need to want it. If you do not want to experience any improvement, you will not! And it is perfectly fine, as long as you do not complain about being stuck where you are.
Fear is not improvement! If you want to improve to please someone else, you may become better at doing something, but you are going one step backwards in terms of personal development. Ask yourself from time to time, “Do I want it for me?” and “What will I get from improving this?” If you know how you will benefit from this improvement, you are already moving forward.
Be positive! Pay attention to using negative benefits, such as “I will benefit by not fighting with my kids anymore”. This is based on the fear (or pain) of fighting with your kids, so you must turn it around first (see Beware of Pink Elephants for more on creating a positive focus).
Take responsibility! When looking for an improvement, focus on what you can do, instead of what others can do to improve your life. If you need others to do things, you are not in control of your own improvements and you are subject to what others do (or not). At first, taking full responsibility for your life can be scary, but after a short while, it becomes liberating.
Choose your battles! You do not need to spend your time and energy on things you are already satisfied with. For example, if you are in a good job, but you come home late, of course you can still improve things at work, but it is better to focus on your time with your spouse or your kids, where your energy will make more of a difference. Go for the 1-3 areas in your life you are least happy with.
Focus on small improvements! You do not need huge changes that everyone can notice. Changes can be very small. Luckily, personal development accumulates. It is similar to taking a long walk towards a target. Every step brings you closer to your destination. Do not underestimate any step of the way. If you know you are going on a long journey, focus on the daily actions to reach your next milestone.
Set up a reward system! If you want to keep yourself motivated, learn to reward yourself even for small improvements. Imagine you are climbing a high mountain. It is perfectly fine and rewarding to stop from time to time, look back, enjoy the view and say, “Wow, I’ve made it this far and I’m proud of me“. It is similar to drinking water from time to time to revive and survive. You can easily pick items from your list of 100 things that make you happy as rewards for improvements. They does not have to be material things. Success in life does not have to be expensive, so these can be simple things, like taking the time to read a book or lighting scented candles (There you have it, two items from my happy list).
Measure, measure, measure! Rate yourself in various areas of your life (or against little goals you have) so you can measure your improvement from time to time. For example, if I rate my ability to encourage my kids as 78 out of 100 (told you I liked the number 100), I can ask myself, “What do I need to do to score 79 or 80 in the area of encouraging my kids?” Add these things to your list. After you have taken the steps to improve, rate yourself again. If you are doing better, cool! Reward yourself and celebrate the improvement. Then, ask the same question again, “What can I do now to bring it to 81 or 82?” and add the new items to your list.
How to find 100 things you can do to improve your life
- Improve your morning routine. I added to my list getting the kids to prepare their clothes before bed time, having their lunches ready the night before and cleaning the kitchen before going to bed. At my parents’ house, I hated to get up in the morning and see the sink full of dishes and crumbs on the counter.
- List friends you want to spend more time with to get motivated in your work/relationship/hobbies/studies… I choose people who are an inspiration for me, who I can learn from and who share my values…
- Look at your desk and add 3 things you can do to clear the clutter. Simple things that will make it easier for you to find things. For example, put labels on drawers or boxes, have a handy permanent pen to mark things, bring a stapler next to you so you do not have to get up 7 times a day for the stapler…
- Add some ideas to improve your time management. Saving 5-10 minutes per task can add up to many more hours every week. I added to my list monitoring TV usage, using a family calendar to keep everyone aware of others’ commitments, making a to-do list… If I wanted, I could add 100 items just in the time management category.
- Make a list of 10 simple things you can say to your partner/kids/parents/friends to make them feel good and improve your relationship with them. You can start by looking at your list of 100 ways to say “I love you!”.
- Add to your list 3 things you can do about your finances that will get you to a better place on your way to financial freedom. You may need hundreds or even thousands of tips to add to your financial list eventually, but start small. 3 things you can do NOW that will position you better by making more money, saving more money or spending more wisely. I wrote on my list to buy local brands or generic products when there is no significant difference in quality, buy fruits and vegetables from the market (at a 10th of the price of the supermarket and makes my family eat healthier) and always save for a rainy day. I have watched many people who ignored rainy days, despite being smart, educated and kindhearted, so I decided that one major improvement to my life would be to stay dry, no matter what. I rate my life higher because on most of my rainy days, I came out pretty dry.
- Come up with ideas of what to do on the weekend to help everyone plan the shopping for the weekend, the homework the kids have and any other activities. It is an improvement to have more certainty in life. I added to the weekend list friends we can visit, trips we loved taking, movies we want to see together and festivals around town (luckily for me, there are many festivals here, which makes life much easier).
- Think of 3 simple things that you know for sure will improve your health. Start simple, make sure you follow them for 21 days (it takes 21 ways to make a habit) and move on to the next one. I added to my list drinking plenty of water (1liter per 22kg of weight – that is the formula), going to sleep at reasonable hours (any time you sleep too little, your body will reclaim the missing sleep – big time) and meditating (it works magic for me).
- Think of simple things that can improve your work. There are obviously many variables, but generally there are simple things we can do to make life easier at work through planning, good time management and improving social skills. I added to my list updating my diary with work time table to avoid clashes of commitments, using automatic reminders on my computer to free some memory cells and adding important dates for work colleagues and clients, like birthdays, exams, etc.
- Go over important people in your life and ask yourself, “What can I do to help this person?” Helping others is a good way to improve your social situation and to strengthen and deepen your relationships. Giving is a great way to receive in life. I added to my list supporting my son with managing his hectic time table, helping my daughter with figuring out new procedures and registering for university, dancing with my 8-year-old daughter when she was choreographing a new dance and taking the kids in the morning to school to allow Gal to take his morning walk. Do not settle for one improvement. The more you have, the greater your overall improvement will be.
- Think of 10 people in your life that you would like to thank for something they have done for you, intentionally or unintentionally. Just call them, send them an email or a card in the post to say “Thank you!” Saying thank you is one of those things that when you give, you receive a lot. I added to my list my older sister who helped me tough times when I was 10 and my younger sister who was my first fan and encouraged me to write. I added my aunt, who never knew how much her life story helped me when I had to face grief that seemed hard to bear. I told them this and grew instantly as a person. Just like that, in a second. Highly recommended!
- Think of things you can learn that will help you improve your skills, attitude, and self image. Learning new things or even practicing old things you have not mastered are great to help you grow and develop. Learning is forward movement, so every learning is good (even learning from failure). I added to my list learning to touch type (you would not believe how much it improved my life when I did my journalism diploma and had to submit articles for review, instead of using two fingers to type), learning to send SMS (go ahead and laugh, but I find it so hard, it takes me forever) and learning to edit photos so they look exactly the way I want.
- List fun things you can add to your weekly plan to bring joy and happiness into your life. Again, your happy list can help with this. I added to my list going to the movies with Gal, spending time with my eldest daughter and imagining my new stories.
Enjoy your list. I am sure if you follow the list, you will end up with great improvements.
Join me next week for the 11th post – 100 things to tell my parents
Blessings of happiness,
This post is part of the series Make a List:
- Make a list: List Making
- Make a list: About Myself
- Make a list: Friends and Friendships
- Make a list: My Lifetime
- Make a list: Things I am Happy about
- Make a list: Childhood Memories
- Make a list: Ways to say “I love you!”
- Make a list: What I like about me
- Make a list: Things to ask for my birthday
- Make a list: Improve My Life
- Make a list: Things to tell my parents
- Make a list: Beliefs about Money
- Make a list: Feelings I Want to Feel
- Make a list: If I Could Live Forever
- Make a list: Beliefs about Kids
- Make a list: Beliefs about Kids cont.
- Make a list: Events that have shaped my life
- Make a list: Ways to be kind
- Make a list: Be More Productive
- Make a list: Mistakes (and what I can learn from them)
- Make a list: Expectations
- Make a list: Beliefs about Traveling
- Make a list: Rules I Follow
- Make a list: Good Parenting Qualities
- Make a list: Excuses
- Make a list: Quotes to live by
- Make a list: How to use my time better
- Make a list: If I were Santa Claus
- Make a list: If I had one year to live
- Make a list: Things that Make Me Happy
- Make a list: Movies I loved
- Make a List: My Fears
- Make a List: Find your Happy-ism
- Make a List: Inspiring People
- Make a List: Books that have changed my life
- Make a list: Inspiring Movies
- Make a List: Things to be Grateful for
- Make a List: Ronit’s Gratitude List
- Make a list: Life Lessons Learned