The Only 2 Things You Need To Do To Improve

The following post is from Sherri of Serene Journey and Zen Family Habits:

source: Brandon Christopher Warren

I think it’s human nature to strive for bigger, better, faster, etc…

Doing this has gotten us to where we are as a society as a whole. We are a lot more efficient and productive than we were 10 or 20 years ago, although  whether that’s a good thing or not is subject to debate.

When it comes to self-improvement, there is that same strive for bigger, better, faster, etc.  We all do it in varying capacities. Some of us want to be better parents, others better children. Some of us strive to become the CEO of a company while others skip a few steps and embark on their own entrepreneurial journey.

There is a lot of information available today on how to choose what to change, when to do it and how to make lasting changes, but what I’ve come to realize is there are really only two things anyone needs to do in order to improve themselves or their situation:

  1. Become aware
  2. Act

It really is that simple.

1. Become aware.

It’s difficult to change if you don’t know what you want to change or work on in your life. If you’re just unhappy, and you’re not sure why — and you’re unwilling to try to figure it out — there is a very good chance you won’t make any headway towards becoming a happier person. Becoming aware doesn’t usually happen overnight; it takes time — days, weeks, even months.

Make an inventory of things you want to change or improve on. Then simply observe. How do you feel? What do you say? What triggers bad feelings? What triggers good feelings? Do you get anxious, nervous, overwhelmed?

If you want to have a better relationship with your kids, for example, observe how you interact with them and they with you.

  • What’s your tone of voice?
  • Are you a drill sergeant?
  • Are you saying no all the time?
  • Are you too controlling?
  • How do they act when you do or say different things?

These observations shouldn’t be labeled as “good” or “bad”; they just are. What you’re trying to do is become aware of what part of the relationship is making you unhappy or needs improving.

2. Act.

The first step — awareness — is incredibly important, but just being aware isn’t enough. You need to act.

This is without a doubt the toughest part of improving yourself, but without it nothing changes. If your relationship with your kids is less than ideal and through observation you find that your kids respond very poorly when you don’t let them help with things (setting the table, vacuuming, making their bed, raking the lawn, etc. ) maybe this is a good spot to take action.

Next time you vacuum, give your kids a broom or a dry mop and let them push it around with you. When you’re done dinner, ask them to wipe the table. When you’re out in the garden give them a little trowel and a pail. Will things be done as quickly and efficiently as if you did it yourself? Not likely. But the kids will no doubt be happier and you will be improving that relationship which was making you unhappy in the first place.

Once you’ve acted on one of your observations, pick another and act on it.

I picked improving your relationship with your kids as an example, but awareness and action are really the only two things you need to do to improve any number of things in your life.

Want to start your own business? Become aware of what that means, what you’ll need to learn and then do something. Want to become CEO of a company? Observe what the current CEO is doing now, think of ways you could perhaps do his/her job better and then start acting on it. These things won’t happen over night but though continued observation and action you’ll get closer than if you did nothing.

Here’s a challenge for you: Apply these two ideas to an area of your life that you’d like to improve on. As I said earlier, it may take a lot of time to become fully aware of what the real issues are behind particular situations. Be patient, be persistent and stay focused on the end result of a sure improvement.

Where could you apply these two principles of change in your own life?

Sherri is a work-at-home mom to two young boys and has been married to her high school sweetheart, Gwynn, for 13 years. Read more from Sherri at Serene Journey, where she shares simple tips to enjoy life, and at Zen Family Habits, where she talks about all things family.
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