When it comes to self-development, it’s the small stuff that often makes the biggest difference.
Too often, people think about big changes in terms of big decisions. They think it’s a sweeping action that moves the needle, when really it’s the incremental steps made on a day-to-day basis. Success, then, has far more to do with daily habits–not home runs.
So, how do you accelerate your own personal development?
By focusing on the small things:
No matter what, decisions have to be made here first. Check them with logic, run the numbers to make sure things make sense, but if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Trust that.
Learning doesn’t happen at a standstill. If you ever feel stuck, really stuck, then let go of trying to find the answer and ask yourself how you can just keep the wheels moving. What can you do? Even if it doesn’t make sense, do it. Keep moving.
The people you confide in? The people you trust? The people you share everything with? Protect that with your life. As soon as you let toxicity in, it becomes difficult to get it out. Protect yourself and the people around you by being aware of the energy people bring to the table.
A talented creative without business sense is a lost expressionist. A talented businessman without a pulse for creativity is a box. If you truly want to be successful, you need elements of both.
You are what you read. So if what you’re reading is your Facebook feed, stop. It’s the material you let into your brain that influences the work that comes out. Read healthy.
Listen to your body. If you are hyped and making progress on a project, maybe you can get by with less sleep for a few days. If you’re exhausted and borderline sick, reel it back and sleep in for a day or two. Give your body what it needs, when it needs it. You’ll spend less time playing damage control later on.
The more you appreciate in life, the more life in turn appreciates you. Throughout your day, look for as many things as possible to appreciate–from your loved ones, your significant other, your friends, the work you’re doing, etc. This will keep your energy open to receiving more and more positive energy.
People say to ignore what you’re bad at and go all-in on your strengths. In general terms, I agree. But that doesn’t mean a basketball player ignores their left hand and only practices lay-ups with their right. Always be aware of your weaknesses and find ways to train them into becoming secret weapons.
People who have strong elements of discipline know the value in doing one thing, every single day. Because not only are you improving at that one thing, but you’re practicing the habit of good habits. Find something that’s meaningful to you and make it a daily practice. It will eventually become the foundation for everything you do.
A mentor is someone who you connect with in a mutual way, and from whom you can learn at an accelerated rate. Mentors are not people you walk up to and ask for help. There has to be a genuine connection, and you have to find mutual value in spending time together. So, to find a mentor, first look at who is already close to you, and then think of what you can bring to the table to warrant that learning experience.
We forget how much we do in a day–and often don’t give ourselves enough credit. At the end of the day, take ten minutes to write an entry in your journal. Look for things that went well (and pat yourself on the back), and look for things you can work on for the day to follow. There’s value in acknowledging both.
Now that social media has been around for a minute, we are starting to realize that, as great as it is as a tool, it’s disastrous for our focus. In a distracted world, being able to have a clear vision for what you want to do and not getting pulled away every time a notification goes off is a huge advantage. Master technology–don’t let technology master you.
Reading is one of the best ways to learn from the past and anticipate the future. If you aren’t reading a book every two weeks, or at minimum, every month, you aren’t reading enough. Exercise your brain by keeping good books on your smartphone, and instead of scrolling through Instagram, read a page or two while standing in line at the grocery store.
Whatever your craft is, you have to make time to study and take in information, as much as you work on creating. It’s a balance of input and output. Without input, your output will suffer.
Dressing for success is a real thing. Part of developing yourself as a person starts with how you take care of and present yourself. You’ll struggle to take those leaps in life if you’re not feeling great about yourself.
It’s crucial to have people in your life who can call you out when you’re underperforming, or lying to yourself, or changing for the worse. These are the people who should be members of your inner circle. Allow them to give you feedback along the way.
The more distractions you let into your life, the harder it will be for you to focus on the things most important to you–and to change for the better. Keep things simple. Maybe this means not having a television in your bedroom, or saying no to social events during the week. Either way, just know the value of your time–and invest it accordingly.
If you’re always on the move, use travel time to your advantage. Podcasts can be a great way to continue giving yourself more input. Load a few onto your phone and make use of those hours spent in transit.
As my own mentor said to me, “If you can’t measure it, don’t do it.” Track your efforts and find ways to keep tabs on how you are progressing–whether that means keeping a closer watch on your projects, or being more aware of your daily habits.
At the end of the day, nothing can take the place of you believing wholeheartedly in yourself. If you can’t do that, you’re going to struggle from the start. You have to believe in where you’re going before anyone else can.
Originally published at www.inc.com