Without thinking too hard, make a list three people you aspire to be more like in life. While we can’t see your list, we’ll assume that you didn’t put your own name down. This was a bit of a trick setup, but it opens up the subject for this piece. What would happen if you stopped trying to mold yourself into another person and simply started to chart your own path for your ideal self?
These days, we’re more connected with each other than any point in history. From social media to direct digital communication, (sliding up in those DM’s) it’s never been easier to see how others have it in life. Unfortunately, in many situations this has created an inflated and unhealthy situation surrounding our personal goals. Check out the comments underneath any picture of a model and you’ll see people touting #Goals and wondering what they can do to get that life.
Don’t worry, the suggestion here isn’t to completely log off the Internet and build a cabin deep in the woods to spend the rest of your days. (Although the older we get, the more attractive that proposition becomes.) Rather, imagine that instead of using that one person on social media that “has it better,” you used yourself as a roadmap for betterment. After all, who knows you better than you?
Creating this roadmap will require a bit of self-awareness. Keep in mind we’re not talking about pondering how other people see you, as that tends to lead toward vanity and changing superficial aspects. What we’re suggesting is to view yourself by imagining stepping out of your body and looking from the outside in, if you will. What are the things that you like and what are the things you’d change?
Molding Your Ideal Self
When you start down the path of self evaluation, you need to be fair. It’s important to honestly evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Remember though, this isn’t a job interview so don’t try to disguise a strength as a weakness. “My biggest weakness is that I care about my job too much.” Gross.
Consider the skills and strengths that you already have in your wheelhouse. These will be invaluable in helping you to improve areas that you perceived to be weaker. If you’ve always been interested in getting into woodworking, start small and use strengths you already have to help you learn the basics of the skill. Maybe you consider yourself to be good at research, so you dive into some books at your local library and join an online woodworking forum. Or maybe you’re really good at organizing, so you purchase some basic tools and organize a small shop in the corner of your garage.
The pace of improvement isn’t important, it’s that you’re working toward improving. Even if it takes you a year to build a set of shelves, the fact that you kept moving forward and learning is the success. However, be realistic in your goals to improve and realize that it’s still important to interact with other people to better yourself. What we’re suggesting is to stop comparing yourself to others, not to close yourself off from them. If you’re looking to pick up a new skill, look for people that can help with that. Maybe it’s a free workshop at a local business, or an online course you can start.
Make a Plan and Get After It
Keep in mind, the better you of the future didn’t tackle everything at once. Most people are much better at gradual change than sudden and you’re much more likely to stick with improvements if they’re not overwhelming you. For this reason, planning out your goals is paramount. Whatever you’ve decided to tackle, plan out what your next action is to move your learning, doing or changing along. If cooking is something you’d like to improve, set up a time to go to your local library and get a beginner’s cooking guide, or find a good online resource that offers easy to follow recipes you can test.
It’s very easy to imagine what a better you would look like, but actually crafting yourself into that is a long road. Be realistic in your expectations, especially when it comes to learning new things. You’re not going to master a craft in a weekend, but you can most certainly get the ball rolling in the right direction.
Don’t fall victim to the “I’ll get around to it someday” mentality. One of my favorite quotes comes from author Karen Lamb, “A year from now, you’ll wish you started today.” Think of what you’ll be doing a year from now, once you’ve stopped trying to keep up with the Joneses and started keeping up with yourself.
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