It’s the classic paradox of improvement: how do you push yourself to become better while still maintaining self-love and staying emotionally balanced?
We know that it takes discipline to reach new wellness goals, but we need to avoid driving ourselves to the point of obsession or other unhealthy mental states.
This is a challenge we’ve all confronted at some point, so you can surely relate. When you want to level up in life, it’s all about finding the sweet spot between self-love and pushing the limits of your potential.
In this article, we’re getting practical with some real tips from psychology, science, and spirituality. Here’s how to love yourself while pursuing your goals – the right way.
1. Set Clear, Specific Goals
Way too many people start off their improvement journey with the aim of “getting better” or “becoming healthier”. As you might guess, these vague ideas won’t get you very far, because they don’t have any tangible metrics to follow or track.
That’s why we urge everyone to set goals – as specific as possible – so that they know what they’re working for and don’t get disillusioned. Make sure you create goals that are attainable and relevant to your journey so that you stay motivated and have a clear vision in mind.
Just be sure to set new goals as soon as you accomplish one so that you keep momentum.
2. Map Out Your Methods
Setting goals is crucial, but unless you know how to achieve them in a systematic way, you’ll find yourself struggling from the start. Take the time to explore each goal on your list and what needs to happen to make them a reality.
For health and fitness goals, this usually means removing something from the equation (junk food, couch time) and replacing it with a better option (dance class, healthy snacks). It also helps to create a schedule that you can rely on when motivation is low.
For example, if you carve out an hour each day for a jog in the park and already have ingredients for a smoothie in your fridge, you’re way less likely to skip the workout and reach for the bag of chips. Plan ahead and make it automatic!
3. Track Progress Daily
When you monitor your progress by journaling and habit tracking, you finally get visibility into your performance that wasn’t previously there.
This results in more transparency and erases any question marks. There’s no more hiding the truth or making rationalizations – it’s time to show up each day and follow through on the commitments you’ve made.
Some people go old-school with a pen-and-paper journal, while others use smartphone apps to check off daily habits and build “streaks” over time. Find what works and stick with it.
4. Discover Healthy Stress Relief
When you’re on the self-improvement grind, it’s only a matter of time before you need some stress relief. Instead of indulging in unhealthy habits like greasy food and boozy beverages, seek out some healthy stress relievers that actually fit with the self-love plan.
This might mean scooping up a set of herbal teas, treating yourself to a massage, or spending an hour in a bubble bath instead of hitting the bar.
You’ll soon find that healthy habits are so much more rewarding than those indulgent treats, and this promotes an upward spiral of improvement moving forward.m
5. Quit Comparing
We know, it’s easier said than done, but you must cut out the comparison games when going after your goals. Getting caught up in comparison is the quickest way to stunt your self-esteem and land you back at square one.
The moment you start comparing yourself to other people in terms of appearance, accomplishments, or other external factors, stop yourself ASAP.
At the very least, view others as a source of inspiration or motivation, rather than a reason to feel less-than.
6. Don’t Sweat a Reset
You wouldn’t criticize or shame your friends for falling short of their goals, would you? Of course not. That’s why you should never beat yourself up if you aren’t picture-perfect in your efforts all the time.
Even if you backslide and return to your unhealthy habits for a stretch, the journey is never over. Stand back up, dust yourself off, and be able to forgive so you can move on.
7. Help Out Others
It may sound counterintuitive, but the most effective form of self-love actually comes by helping others around you and taking the focus off yourself.
You may be surprised how powerful it can be to reach out with a positive message over text or email, or hand out some compliments to coworkers during the day. Positivity is contagious, and it starts with you.
Self-Love and Improvement: Both Are Possible
True self-love is about making strides towards a better you, without sacrificing your sanity. Follow these steps and you’ll be on the track to self-improvement while still loving who you are and bringing value to those around you.