If you have a desire to be the best version of yourself, you’re already ahead of the game among many people who don’t want to be bothered with self-growth. The ultimate version of you covers many areas, and it’s wise to be aware that improvement can’t just happen on one plane.
If you genuinely want to better yourself, you have to be able to take an honest (sometimes uncomfortable) look at yourself and your behaviors. You’ll also want to evaluate your life in several areas, including your inner self, social skills, physical health, and purpose in life. Read on to learn 13 ways to be the best version of yourself.
Never Stop Learning and Adapting
Most of us are well-aware that learning continues long beyond graduating any form of school. However, too many people seem to stop being open to new ideas as they get older. This behavior can start to happen as soon as a person’s twenties or later in life around middle-age.
Regardless, we must remember that the world never stops evolving, never stops changing, and society never quits moving along with it. Learning doesn’t just involve studying facts and memorizing information.
Continually learning encompasses continually gaining knowledge about ourselves, our backgrounds, about other cultures, and acquiring new skills. Studies show that learning throughout life can help slow some parts of cognitive aging in the brain.
There are a vast number of ways to learn even in the older years. You can study a new language, take up a hobby you’ve never tried, join a book club, or practice mind puzzles such as sudoku.
Part of your path of continual learning should be diving deeper into your motives that propel your actions and feelings, as well. The more we learn about ourselves, the more we can identify blind spots we previously had in relationships, how we can stop making the same mistakes time and time again, and we can begin to see how others feel around us more accurately.
Evaluate Past Mistakes
When it comes to learning throughout life, we can study new skills all we want, but we will never become better people if we ignore our mistakes. Just as humans would do better to learn from history, we have to cultivate an understanding of our timeline and the actions or inaction that were our responsibility.
A beneficial exercise can be getting out a piece of paper, journal, or a document on a laptop or tablet, and writing down the mistakes you remember making the most. These missteps can be both significant or seemingly trivial. All that matters is that you reflect on how you could have done better with the wisdom you have now.
It’s crucial not to fall into a pity party or overwhelming feelings of despair while doing this exercise. The goal is not to feel awful about yourself, but instead to gain insight on patterns in your life or vital lessons you could learn from these moments in your past.
Remember, we all make mistakes and lots of them. The best we can do as humans as learn how they happened, any triggers that could put you in that kind of situation again, and how you can do better next time.
In a time when everyone online seems to embrace the idea of boastful attitudes, blaming others, and even narcissistic tendencies, the people who will experience the most growth will be those who can maintain a healthy level of self-esteem while still acknowledging when they’ve messed up or hurt others.
After you make your list of missteps, write down ways you could choose better next time and what you learned from that life lesson. Again, don’t wallow in guilt. This exercise is to learn from, by being as objective as possible, but taking full responsibility for our mistakes.
Evaluate Past Successes
After looking over areas you could have done better, it can be just as helpful to investigate the times you succeeded in life. When you find patterns that tend to work positively for you, embrace them!
If you notice that getting focused in a certain way or taking care of your health with a particular diet or habit makes you happier overall, learn to continue that. Take note of times you contributed to a relationship, friendship, or work environment in a way that made it better.
It can become easy to beat ourselves up over the past. While it’s crucial to be honest with ourselves about our shortcomings, we also need to have a healthy dose of appreciation for what we’ve done right. Acknowledge your natural talents without getting too big of an ego, and figure out ways you can incorporate them more into your life.
It’s beneficial to look for patterns that possibly led to the behavior that helped with success. Were you controlling a mental health issue such as depression at the time? Were you stepping out of your comfort zone and attending networking events? Were you saying no more often and taking time for yourself to destress?
If we want to repeat the pattern of success, we need to understand how we got there instead of walking through life in an aimless direction, zig-zagging around just hoping things will stick.
Learn the Art of a Genuine Apology
Did you know there is a correct way to apologize and have the other party feel you “mean it” and a wrong way of falsely apologizing? It’s true, the way you phrase an apology and whether or not you include justifications for your actions or not are indicative of remorse coming across as genuine.
Being able to apologize authentically is something too many people are resistant to in our society or era. We don’t currently live in a culture or time that emphasizes humility, and it’s easy for people to be on the defensive, even when they know they’ve done something hurtful.
Studies show that over-apologizing for trivial things can make you appear weak. So, don’t overdo it, and save apologies for the times you genuinely need to convey remorse. However, a heartfelt apology takes guts to verbalize, and when it’s appropriate, doing so shows emotional strength.
Even so, when you do need to say you’re sorry, your wording matters a lot.
How to apologize the wrong way:
- Saying “I’m sorry you feel that way” or “sorry if I hurt you.” Neither acknowledges your actions.
- Apologizing but ending with the reason you acted that way, or blaming the other person for your actions.
- Claiming you said hurtful things because you were tired, hungry, stressed, or any other excuse. We all experience these states, but we are responsible for how we act, regardless.
- Saying you’re sorry but repeating the hurtful action or words after the apology.
How to apologize the right way:
- Show empathy by acknowledging how the other person must feel.
- Admit your responsibility in hurting the other person.
- Say you’re sorry for your words or actions without throwing in excuses.
- Don’t repeat the hurtful action or words.
- Don’t force the other person to accept your apology immediately. You’ve put it out there, and doing better next time is the best you can do.
Get Help for Any Mental Health Issues
You can work as hard as you want to “be your best self” when you struggle with mental health issues, but if you refuse any treatment, you are going to spend far more of your energy managing your mind or emotions than necessary.
That’s not to say everyone should be on medication. Naturally, every person with mental health issues will have their biology and different life circumstances. Some people will do better on natural aids such as St. John’s Wort for mild depression, for example.
However, if you know you perform better and react kinder in relationships when on medication, do your best to stick with what your doctor recommends. People can often concentrate easier, have more energy, and experience less anxiety when they seek mental health treatment compatible with their bodies.
Getting help for mental health issues goes beyond just medication, as most people would agree. Whether you talk to a therapist, get online counseling, or read several books on family dysfunction and do a lot of inner exploration about what triggers your emotions, you are then better equipped to handle what life throws at you.
Your best self should have a handle on your deepest fears, hurts, and desires, where they come from, and how to avoid lashing out or overreacting because of your past.
Figure out Your Level of Self-Esteem
There are a few types of self-esteem, such as shatter, vulnerable, and high self-esteem. You can take tests like the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES) to get an idea of where you rank on your feelings of self-worth.
Generally speaking, if you can never absorb compliments and think of yourself as being inherently unlikable, terrible, or without any positive qualities, you likely have shattered self-esteem.
If you have either high or low self-esteem, but either way, find that your sense of self-worth depends a lot on the approval of others, you probably have vulnerable or “contingent” self-esteem.
Build Your Authentic Self-Esteem, Not Narcissism
Finding ways to develop a genuinely strong sense of self-esteem is crucial to being your best self. On that note, it’s worth looking into the traits of narcissism and seeking help if you align with them.
Narcissism is incredibly damaging to relationships and sometimes job opportunities, and is a characteristic of damaged self-worth. While narcissists may act like they have high self-esteem, it’s a defensive shield for deep-rooted hurt.
A person with a strong and healthy self-esteem will not be easily cut down by others, but they can also face their weaknesses and acknowledge them honestly without being defensive. Indeed, people like this are some of the healthiest kinds of individuals to be around. If you want to be your best self, take an inventory of your self-esteem, and work on it if necessary.
Learn How to Listen to Others Without Turning the Topic Back to You
When it comes to dealing with others (which most of us have to do all the time), being able to navigate conversations effectively will go a long way in making you more approachable to others, which of course, can open up lots of opportunities in the long run.
As you become a more pleasant person to have conversations with will likely better your dating life, your marriage, your dealings with co-workers, and your friendships. While most relationships should be a two-way street with give-and-take on both sides, many people forget about the giving part.
Giving doesn’t just mean monetary generosity. On the contrary, the majority of “giving” in many relationships should focus more on giving support, appropriate amounts of attention, time, and effort.
It’s easy to want to relate with others when they tell a story, and many of us think that sharing our own experience amid their rant is a way of relating to them. There are times when offering your expertise, and understanding is helpful. For example, if a friend is going through a divorce and you went through one, it can provide them comfort to hear how you made it to the other side.
However, this type of “relating” turns from comfort into a form of self-absorbed behavior if we always need to throw in our experience or talk about the time that happened to us, too. As you share this, it might feel like you’re empathetic, but to the other person, it can often come off as you taking over the conversation.
They were explaining their unique situation, and the topic diverted to talking about you. Once you start to pay attention to it, this can be a relatively easy habit to re-train. It will take a little work, and in the beginning, you might feel like you aren’t sharing as much as you could.
However, with time, you’ll probably start to notice that you feel like a more engaged listener when you drop this habit. People love to talk to therapists, but most counselors don’t spend sessions talking about themselves. They listen, and they repeat back to the speaker, along with asking how that made them feel.
You can do this in everyday conversations by listening and asking how your friend, co-worker, or partner felt in the situation or what they plan now that the event occurred. Be engaging and try to imagine how they feel.
Then, once in a great while, when a conversation is appropriate and truly helpful for you to offer your personal experience, you can dabble your shared knowledge into the mix.
Cultivate Engaging Social Skills, Even If You Are Shy
So, you might understand that focusing on the other person is crucial for productive conversations, but what are you supposed to do when you’re shy?
You might be an introvert or painfully shy, but you can still develop skills to improve your ability to talk to people you don’t know well. Growing social skills is much like building any other muscle.
For introverts, even the shortest small talk with strangers can feel draining. You might experience a paradox if this is you, where these interactions are exhausting, but when they go well, they boost your mood for a while.
If you’re naturally shy, work on developing your self-esteem and researching ways to lessen your social anxiety. It will likely be with you at least somewhat throughout your lifetime, but the more you practice engaging with others, the better and more comfortable you will get at it.
Even the most introverted among us need at least a little social interaction. You’ll probably find that the more you develop your social skills, the more confident you will feel, and the more of these small boosts occur by talking with others. It may even lead to you meeting a romantic partner, a best friend, or stumbling upon and significant career opportunity.
Listen to Your Gut and Pursue Your True Talents and Desires
If you picked an area of study and started a career path only to find you loathe the type of work you do, you’re likely living a story that is less than your best self.
It’s not easy to entirely change career paths, and sometimes that’s not a reality for everyone. However, most people can find a way to integrate their passion even if it’s only a hobby. For example, maybe you love interior decor, but you work as an accountant.
You might not have the money to go back to school, but you could start on a blog on interior decorating, and while it might be a side hobby, it could turn into a way to make money on the side.
If you dreamed of being a famous musician and that’s not going to be a reality in this lifetime, you could put in the work to start a local band and play open mic nights for fun. It might not be your career, but plenty of people pour loads of energy into their beloved hobbies, and they get rewarded with a sense of fulfillment.
If you are still trying to figure out your path in life, whether it’s to stay with a partner, or which career to choose, listen to your gut. What would likely make you happiest 10, 15, and 20 years from now?
Even if one job has a yearly income that’s higher than the other, will the daily grind of a profession you might struggle in or will likely hate all be worth it?
Depending on where you reside, if you live in the United States, the number might fluctuate a little because of the regional cost of living, but after a certain amount, studies show that more money does not necessarily result in more happiness. People need to have their needs met and be able to live comfortably, but beyond that, other factors determine one’s sense of contentment and satisfaction.
It’s worth considering whether you’ll be able to meet your needs when selecting a job comfortably, but as long as you can pay the bills with a bit of a buffer, go for what will make your heart sing.
Understand That Overnight Successes Rarely Exist
If you do a quick search of famous failures before success, you’ll find dozens of people who seemed to come out of nowhere with overnight stardom. This “overnight” concept is seldom really the case.
Even those who gained notoriety quickly usually spent years honing their craft, building their business, or paying their dues behind the scenes before finding success.
Everyone says not to compare yourself with others, but few people mention this can sometimes be a habit you must remind yourself of every single day. Do whatever you have to do to recenter your focus and remember that we are all on different paths.
Consistency is one of the most crucial aspects of success, whether you’re talking about getting in shape, building a brand, developing better self-confidence, or saving money for something.
Your dreams might take time; they might even take several years. Being your best self means developing the endurance to go the distance and keep plugging away, one step at a time until you get there.
Let’s face it, giving up usually doesn’t feel like being our best self. Quit the things that aren’t serving you or waste your time, sure, but hold fast to the things that are truly important to you.
Blend “Body Positivity” With Taking Care of Your Health
As with most things, maintaining a sense of balance is imperative to a fulfilled life. We live in an age when body positivity abounds, which is fantastic. We certainly don’t miss the days when the body standard was so unrealistic that the only way to achieve it was to have a dangerous eating disorder.
Along with celebrating your body, living your best life has to include taking care of your health, though. There is no doubt that neglecting your health, eating junk food daily, never exercising, and not getting enough sleep is damaging to your body and your mood.
Being overweight isn’t just about appearance; it’s about your health, longevity, and risk of diseases. Healthy food has countless health benefits, many of which we are still discovering. While exercise increases endorphins, makes you physically stronger, aids in disease prevention, and can improve sleep.
Part of being your best self means loving yourself enough to both accept your body the way it is, while also taking care of it as the only one you have.
Stop Spreading Hate
It can be tempting; you see a video or post online, and part of you wants to chime in with your opinion in the comments. Or you hear a rumor about someone, only knowing part of the story, and blab the critical information to others.
In the end, this behavior does not make you look any better as a person, quite the opposite.
Think of trolling the internet or partaking in gossip as an addiction. You need to stop using this “drug” and the adrenaline you get from engaging in petty drama and resist even a single metaphorical sip.
Learn to become a classier person who worries about their actions and fully understands that even when a situation looks sketchy, you probably don’t have all sides of the story.
The Queen of England is a perfect example of this in her public image. Who is classier than the Queen, after all? She only releases statements when necessary and otherwise keeps to her duties and maintains an elegant aura.
Another crucial factor in this concept is that you probably don’t realize the ripple effect of hurt you spread even with the smallest gossip or hate.
Even if you don’t understand someone’s actions or opinions, you must learn to understand this: we all have a reason for our feelings, and deep down, we all crave love and safety.
Another person’s way of feeling validated, seeking love, or desiring safety might be wildly different than your own, but you need to at least empathize that we have the same instinctual drives.
Becoming the best version of yourself won’t happen overnight. It’s a lifetime journey that will evolve over the years and require you to dig deep in different areas during different times and ages.
However, if you keep your eye on self-improvement, and are willing to be honest with yourself while also holding to the idea that you are worth the effort and worth love, you will be successful in the end. Slow and steady doesn’t just win the race; it results in the most fulfilling victories and joys this life has to offer.