For some, September marks the beginning of a beautiful fall season: crisp air, colorful leaves and new beginnings. For others, the month simply means a return to routine: busy schedules, daily stress and crippling anxiety. But did you know September is also National Self-Improvement Month? It’s a reminder to embrace growth, change and positivity. You’re allowed to be selfish—in fact, it’s encouraged.
Why take the time to self-improve? Let’s first clarify what self-improvement means; Dictionary.com defines it as “improvement of one’s mind, character, etc., through one’s own efforts.” I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “There’s always room for improvement.” And it’s true. Although total perfection is unattainable, self-improvement is still worth practicing, as it comes with several advantages. According to Health Guidance, putting in the time and effort to better yourself can lead to more confidence, achievement and freedom.
So without further ado, here are some simple ways you can self-improve this month. (And I’ll try my best not to sound like a cliché self-help book.)
Take time for self-reflection
It’s so easy to get caught up in the chaos of everyday life, that we tend to forget to slow down and focus on what’s most important. Find a quiet, peaceful place and think carefully about where you are in life: Is there anything holding you back, or making you unhappy? Are you sticking to those goals you set a few months ago? Self-reflection allows us to quiet the noise; it lets us prioritize and prepare so when it comes to action, we’re less intimidated.
Overcome fear of failure
Fear of failure is a common killer of productivity and motivation; unfortunately, it also leads to avoidance. If you’re constantly concerned with being perfect, you’re not likely to get much done. Change your perspective: accept that failure is inevitable, even valuable. As Robert H. Schuller once said, “Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly.”
Do what you love
This is probably one of the simplest and most vital steps you can take towards self-improvement. If you aren’t fortunate enough to have a career you love, it’s important to set aside some free time for whatever it is you enjoy. Whether it’s reading, writing, watching TV or painting, doing what you love will give you something to look forward to each day. As a result, you’ll feel more engaged and productive in your future endeavors.
Start a journal
We’re all aware that life can get pretty stressful at times; journaling can help you collect your overwhelming thoughts when it does. Encourage yourself to write every day, even if it’s just for five minutes. And there aren’t any strict rules—don’t worry about grammar or what others might think. There are a plethora of benefits to keeping a journal. It can help you track your goals, put things into perspective and give you peace of mind.
Did you know reading is a form of meditation? Being immersed in a book offers a sense of contentment; when you’re fully focused on a story, you’re not worrying about anything else. Psychological studies have also shown that reading fiction improves empathy, which creates understanding and positivity.
Take it one day at a time
Remember that self-improvement is a lifelong process. You’re going to have good days and bad days; progress doesn’t happen overnight or without hardship. Think of National Self-Improvement Month as a reminder to slow down, accept your imperfections and show kindness to yourself and others.
Reyna Hurand is a junior studying professional writing. You can usually find her curled up with a good book, her two adorable dogs and a hot cup of coffee. To learn more, you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @reynasblogxo.