Wayne Ergle
July 31, 2023

Self-Improvement: 37 Action Tips to Unleash Your Potential

Self-improvement is often wrapped up and sold as a quick, flashy sprint with an instant finish line. But anyone who’s ever tried to genuinely better themselves knows it’s more of a marathon, not a sprint.

No magic potions or fairy dust here, folks. Just me – someone who’s run the self-improvement marathon myself. I was addicted to alcohol for over 20 years. After numerous attempts to quit drinking, I finally stopped. Now, five years sober, I’m here to tell you it’s not about speed but endurance and persistence.

Your race might not be with addiction. It could be procrastination, fitness, personal growth, or countless other things. But no matter the path, self-improvement is about going the distance, often without the roar of a crowd or a medal at the end.

Don’t let that discourage you! You can do it too. Read on for the raw, no-fluff truth about self-improvement.

In a Hurry? Here’s Your Self-Improvement Cheat Sheet

Don’t have time to read the entire article now? You can get a great start by focusing on these three things.

A contemplative self-portrait of an artist sitting at their cluttered desk, surrounded by art supplies, sketches, and unfinished canvases reflecting in the act of self-examination.

Self-Examination – Your Starting Point:

Before you can start to change, you need to know yourself. You must look inward and ask hard questions. What are your strengths? Your weaknesses? What drives you, and what holds you back? This process forms the bedrock of all honest, lasting self-improvement. Remember, you can only navigate your journey by knowing your current location.

Time Management – Reclaim Your Hours:

It’s not about squeezing more into your already busy day. It’s about making the time for what truly matters to you. Cut down on the non-essentials and take back your hours. Becoming a “Time Reclaiming Warrior” doesn’t mean you must fill every moment with work. It’s about ensuring you spend time on what enriches your life and pushes you towards your goals.

Goal Setting – Your Destination:

To journey towards improvement, you need a destination in mind. That’s where “goal-setting” comes in. But here’s the catch – your goals must be based on what truly matters to you, not what others or society says should be important. That’s how you become a “Personal Path Creator.” Setting SMART goals is a great technique, but the real secret is to align them with your deepest values and desires.

Take these three key points with you, and you’re already well on your way. Dive deeper into the rest of this guide when you have the time, and remember, self-improvement is a marathon, not a sprint. You’ve got this!

Why is Self-Improvement So Hard?

A close-up shot of a carpenter's weathered hands, gripped firmly around a well-worn wooden hammer. The hands are covered in sawdust and small splinters, revealing the hard work and dedication put into crafting wooden masterpieces. And representing hard work that goes into self-improvement.

Before diving in, let’s step back and examine why self-improvement is challenging.

Why is it such a slog and not a pleasant walk in the park? Here are some of the reasons:

1. We’re creatures of habit: We love the known and comfortable. Changing ingrained patterns is like running in new shoes; it’s uncomfortable until we break them in.

2. We aim too high, too soon: It’s like trying to run a marathon without training. Setting ourselves up for drastic, unsustainable changes often leads to disappointment.

3. Life gets in the way: Our self-improvement plans often get lost amid daily chores, work, and digital distractions.

Self-improvement isn’t always about achieving more or doing more. It’s about finding a better version of yourself, not creating a clone of Elon Musk or The Rock. It’s a journey that requires patience, commitment, and self-reflection.

But remember – self-improvement isn’t impossible. It’s challenging, yes. It’s uncomfortable, sure. But impossible? No way! And I’m living proof of that.

So, ready to strap on your shoes and start your marathon? Hold on, champ. Before diving into the actionable self-improvement tips, we must address a crucial first step: Self-Examination.

The Crucial Prelude to Self-Improvement: Self-Examination

You can only improve what you understand. You can only get to your destination if you know your starting point. Self-improvement isn’t a wild goose chase but a calculated pursuit of becoming a better version of yourself. And this all begins with a good hard look in the mirror.

A swirling vortex of vibrant colors and geometric shapes, evoking a sense of motion and dynamism. The colors range from bold primaries to subtle pastels, blending and colliding in a mesmerizing dance. Representing self-examination.

I like to call this Self-Examination.

Self-Examination is about embracing your current reality, strengths, weaknesses, dreams, and fears. It’s about asking those hard questions: What really matters to me? Where am I now, and where do I want to be?

We can start crafting a realistic, purpose-driven self-improvement plan only when we understand our true selves. It’s not always pretty. It can be uncomfortable, but oh boy, is it necessary. It’s about becoming your own invention, as I like to say.

It’s about belief. The belief that you can improve that you can make a change. It’s about commitment. Commit to taking small steps towards a better you every day. It’s about living each day purposefully, about happening to the day rather than letting it happen to you.

It’s about having a determination that is incorruptible. A determination to persevere despite the hurdles because, guess what? There WILL be hurdles. But with Self-Examination, you’re not just prepared for them; you’re looking forward to them because every challenge is a chance to learn, grow, and prove to yourself that you’ve got what it takes.

So, before we dive into the nitty-gritty of self-improvement actions, take a moment, look inward, and do some Self-Examination. You might be surprised at what you find.

So, ready to lace up your shoes and start your marathon? Next, we share actionable self-improvement tips to guide you through this journey.

Self-Improvement Action Category: Personal Development

Standard Description: This encompasses many skills and qualities, including self-awareness, self-esteem, self-confidence, emotional intelligence, and resilience.

Kick-ass Version: Ready to level up your game? We’re talking self-love, emotional smarts, and some serious bounce-back ability.

A thought-provoking minimalistic silhouette depicting the concept of personal development through the metaphor of climbing a mountain. The image features a solitary figure standing atop a tall mountain peak, their arms raised in triumph and their silhouette against the backdrop of a setting sun.

Diving deep into personal development means more than acquiring new skills or qualities. It’s about embracing your inherent worth, harnessing your emotional intelligence, and forging an unbreakable spirit of resilience. It’s about developing an unshakable belief in your capabilities and embracing the challenges life throws your way.

Personal Development Actions:

1. Embrace Self-Love: Make a list of your strengths and accomplishments. Read it out loud to yourself. No self-deprecation allowed here!

2. Flex Your Emotional Muscles: Practice emotional intelligence by acknowledging your feelings without judgment and striving to understand the feelings of those around you.

3. Bounce, Don’t Break: Practice resilience. Get comfortable with discomfort, and view failures as opportunities to learn and grow.

Mindset & Psychology:

Standard Description: This is all about understanding and cultivating a growth mindset, managing stress, and overcoming limiting beliefs. It sounds a bit like a therapy session, doesn’t it?

The More Kickass Version: You Vs. Your Brain

A dynamic and intense moment frozen in time, showcasing two boxers engaged in a heated boxing match inside a vintage boxing ring. The boxers represent the battle of you vs your brain in self-improvement.

In the left corner, we’ve got your brain, armed with a whole stack of self-doubts, anxieties, and limiting beliefs. In the right, it’s you, packing a punch of positivity, a solid right hook of resilience, and a gritty growth mindset.

Let’s get you prepped for this daily bout with some no-nonsense, action-oriented self-improvement tips:

4. Cultivate a Growth Mindset: Embrace the fact that you can develop new skills and abilities. Maybe you weren’t born a prodigy, but that’s just fine. Embrace the ‘not yet’ instead of a straight-up ‘no.’

5. Box with Your Beliefs: Recognize those pesky limiting beliefs that keep you on the ropes. You know, the ones. “I can’t do this.” “I’ll never get it right.” Toss a solid right hook at them with evidence that proves them wrong.

6. Flex Your Positivity Muscles: No one’s asking you to deny reality. But when you’re down for the count, positivity is your secret weapon to bounce back. Find silver linings, maintain an attitude of gratitude, and focus on solutions, not problems.

7. Master Stress Management: Stress is like that over-eager coach who doesn’t know when to back off. Learn to put it in its place. Develop a go-to list of stress-busters – a workout, meditation, or even jamming to your favorite music.

8. Mental Rehearsal: Visualize succeeding at a task before stepping into the ring. It gives you a psychological edge, like your own personal pep talk.

The fight with your brain might be the most brutal part of your self-improvement journey, but trust me. It’s worth every ounce of sweat and effort.

Goal Setting & Achievement:

Standard Description: You’ve probably heard it a thousand times – define your objectives, make them SMART, create a detailed action plan, stay motivated, and achieve unlocked! Well, if it were that simple, we’d all be champions, wouldn’t we?

The More Kickass Version: Mapping Your Own Expedition

A serene and motivational scene of a man sitting by a tranquil lake engrossed in setting their self-improvement goals.

Welcome to the GPS navigation of self-improvement. This game is about setting your coordinates and sticking to the course even when you hit traffic or a sudden downpour. But the twist? You’re the cartographer of your journey. No Google Maps here, buddy.

Let’s chart your path:

9. Your Goals, Not Society’s: First, chuck out those goals that aren’t indeed yours. The ones you’ve adopted because they’re expected of you, because everyone else is doing it, or because it’s “normal.” What’s a goal that makes you burn with purpose?

10. Fine-Tune Your SMART Goals: Yeah, we’re bringing up the old SMART chestnut. But here’s the catch – it’s not about ticking off boxes. It’s about creating goals that resonate with your soul, not just look good on paper.

11. Action Plan, Your Route: Break down your goal into actionable steps. It’s like splitting a marathon into chunks. Take one step at a time, don’t rush; you’ll eventually cross the finish line.

12. Motivation, Your Fuel: Motivation is the fuel that keeps you going. But remember, it doesn’t always have to be high-octane. Accept that you’ll run on fumes some days, and that’s okay. Consistency is critical, not intensity.

13. Celebrate Milestones: Stop at scenic points, i.e., celebrate small victories. It’ll help refresh your spirits and prepare you for the road ahead.

Plotting your expedition may seem daunting, but it’s the only way to ensure you’ll love the journey as much as the destination.

Time Management & Productivity:

Standard Self-Improvement Description: This is where we talk about managing your time effectively, prioritizing tasks, and squeezing every drop of productivity out of your day. You’re already feeling overwhelmed, aren’t you?

The More Kickass Version: Becoming a Time Bandit

An organized and efficient workspace showcasing a well-planned time management system in action. A person sits at a sleek, modern desk, surrounded by neatly arranged productivity tools like a planner, a clock, and a set of colorful markers.

Time: that elusive beast that seems to have a knack for slipping through your fingers. But what if you could steal some of it from the clutches of non-essentials? What if you could be a Time Bandit?

Here’s your roadmap to heisting time:

14. Time Audit: Keep track of how you spend your time for a week. Be brutally honest. Did you need those two hours on social media, or was it a mindless escape?

15. Find your Time Thieves: Identify the activities stealing your time without giving much in return—mindless scrolling, excessive TV watching, or indulging in office gossip.

16. Prioritize: Not all tasks are created equal. Identify your high-impact tasks and allocate your best hours to them.

17. Steal from Non-Essentials: You don’t need to quit TV or social media. But what if you cut that 3-hour TV time to 2.5? That’s 30 minutes stolen right there.

18. Block your Time: Assign specific time slots for focused work, breaks, leisure time, and ‘flex’ periods to handle unexpected tasks.

Embracing your inner Time Bandit doesn’t mean you’ve got to be ‘on’ every moment. It’s about making conscious decisions on how you spend your time and ensuring it aligns with your goals.

Health and Wellness:

Standard Self-Improvement Description: This is all about focusing on your physical well-being, which includes fitness, nutrition, sleep, and lifestyle choices. Or in other words, it’s the ‘eat your vegetables’ talk of the self-improvement world.

The More Kickass Version: Becoming a Wellness Warrior

Couch potatoes and ‘I’ll start next week’ enthusiasts, listen up. Being a Wellness Warrior is about declaring war on the inertia and complacency that have kept you off the road to physical vitality.

Here’s your battle plan:

19. Warrior Training: This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours pumping iron (unless you want to). Incorporate movement into your everyday life. Walking, cycling, dancing, yoga – pick your weapon of choice and wield it regularly.

20. Fuel for Battle: You wouldn’t put subpar fuel in a sports car, so why would you do that to your body? Choose whole foods over processed junk, hydrate well, and eat the rainbow. Remember, nutrition isn’t about deprivation; it’s about nourishment.

21 Rest and Recharge: Even warriors need their rest. Prioritize sleep to ensure your body and mind are ready for the battles ahead.

22. Slay Your Dragons: Unhealthy habits are the dragons that stand between you and your wellness goals. Identify your dragons and devise strategies to slay them – be it cutting down on sugar, quitting smoking, or tackling stress.

Never Surrender: This isn’t a fad diet or a one-month fitness challenge. This is your life. Don’t wait for ‘next week.’ Start now. Embrace your Wellness Warrior self and charge forward.

Being a Wellness Warrior means being proactive about your health rather than waiting for illness to strike. It’s about loving your body enough to care for it, nurture it, and fight for its well-being. And trust me, it’ll love you back.

Relationships and Communication

Standard Description: This area emphasizes building and nurturing positive connections with others, effective communication, empathy, and conflict resolution. It’s about learning to listen, speak to be understood, patiently navigate the nuances of relationships, respect others, and deal with conflicts maturely.

The More Kickass Version: Becoming a Communication Maestro

Consider yourself a ‘Communication Maestro.’ It’s about orchestrating your interpersonal skills to create harmony in your relationships. It’s not just about speaking effectively but also listening with intention, understanding with empathy, and resolving conflicts with maturity. In this role, your baton is your empathy, your orchestra – the people around you, and your symphony – the strong relationships you build. So, are you ready to take the stage?

Here’s how:

23. Speak to be Understood: Clear and effective communication isn’t about talking; it’s about being heard and understood. Make sure your messages are clear, concise, and transparent.

24. Listen to Understand: Put yourself in other’s shoes. Use your empathy to understand others and their perspective truly. The more you listen, the less you misinterpret.

25. Wear Patience like a Badge: Navigating relationships requires much patience. Accept that not everyone will sync with your rhythm. Breathe, give them time, and keep the lines of communication open.

26. Respect is Reciprocal: Every relationship thrives on mutual respect. Give it freely, demand it in return, and watch your relationships flourish.

Conflict? Resolve it: Conflicts are inevitable but just hurdles, not deal breakers. Address them head-on with a resolution in mind.

In relationships and communication, a Communication Maestro knows how to harmonize the notes of empathy, understanding, respect, and resolution to produce the beautiful symphony of effective communication. Time to take the baton!

Financial Management

Standard Description: Financial management involves acquiring financial literacy, honing your budgeting skills, setting up a savings plan, and understanding the art of investing. It’s all about money: how to make it, save it, spend it wisely, and grow it to achieve your financial goals.

The More Kickass Version: Becoming a Fiscal Fitness Guru

Think about this for a moment: what if you transformed your approach to finances from just managing to mastering it? What if you were not just fit, but ‘Fiscal Fit’? Sounds powerful, right? In this version, your wallet becomes your gym, your budget is your rigorous workout, and your savings and investments are your muscle gain. You aren’t just working for your money—you’re making your money work for you. The goal isn’t to become rich but to be free from financial stress and debts and to live the life you envision.

Here’s how:

27. Money Matters: Get Literate: Financial literacy isn’t optional. Make it a priority to understand the basic principles of finance, like the role of interest, the concept of compounding, and the importance of diversification.

28. Budget like a Boss: You can’t control what you don’t measure. Create a budget that tracks your income and expenses. Seeing where your money goes can be a sobering experience, but it’s the first step toward taking control.

29. Savings aren’t Optional: Pay yourself first. Prioritize savings as a non-negotiable expense in your budget. No matter how small the amount, start saving and start now.

30. Invest to Multiply: Understand the art of investing. It’s not just for the rich; it’s for everyone. Even small amounts, invested wisely, can grow into a significant nest egg.

Let’s workout those financial muscles and make your money work for you. Become the ‘Fiscal Fitness Guru’ you were meant to be!

Career Development

Standard Version: Career development is about enhancing your professional skills, networking with the right people, making thoughtful career plans, and consistently striving for professional growth. It’s the learning, growing, and evolving process in your profession.

The More Kickass Version: Unleashing your Professional Powerhouse

Unleashing your Professional Powerhouse is about something other than climbing the corporate ladder in the conventional sense. It’s about seizing control of your career trajectory and navigating it like a pro. It’s about making strategic moves, constantly improving, and never settling for anything less than you’re capable of. It’s about becoming a powerhouse in your own right.

Here’s how:

31. Supercharge Your Expertise: Always be learning and enhancing your skills. The more you know, the more valuable you become. Don’t hesitate to step outside your comfort zone and learn something new.

32. Network Navigator: Master the Art of Connection: Networking isn’t about schmoozing at cocktail parties. It’s about forming genuine, meaningful connections with people in your industry. Be sincere, be generous, and watch your network grow.

33. Career Commander: Plan Like a Pro: Take control of your career path. Don’t let it “just happen.” Plan your steps, anticipate changes, and pivot when needed.

34. Growth Guru: Pursue Professional Progress: Do more than aim to do well – aim to do better. Constantly strive for growth. Ask for feedback, seek opportunities, and never stop pushing your boundaries.

So, transform into your professional powerhouse self. Hone your skills, expand your network, and take the reins of your career path with both hands. Be the growth guru who’s always ready to level up. With this approach, you won’t just be working—you’ll be owning your profession, not just participating in it, but leading it. That’s some serious career development, not in the snooze-worthy, conventional sense. Ready to rule your professional realm? Let’s move to the next battlefield.

Stress Management and Relaxation

Standard Version: Stress Management and Relaxation techniques aim to reduce stress, promote relaxation, and improve overall well-being. It involves learning how to understand your stress triggers, practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation, and building resilience to stress.

The More Kickass Version: Becoming a Serenity Sensei

Imagine transforming yourself from a stress magnet to a tranquillity beacon. In this version, your mind is your dojo, stress is your opponent, and relaxation techniques are your martial arts. You aren’t just managing stress—you’re mastering serenity. The goal isn’t to avoid stress, but to understand it, befriend it, and use it as a tool for personal growth.

Here’s how:

35. Understand Your Opponent: Stress: Become aware of your stress triggers. Understand what causes you stress and how you react to it. This understanding is the first step in your journey to becoming a Serenity Sensei.

36. Master the Art of Relaxation: Whether deep breathing, meditation, or just a quiet walk in the park, find what helps you relax and make it a part of your routine. Regular practice is the key to mastery.

37. Build Resilience: Like a skilled martial artist, learn to adapt and bounce back from stress. Build resilience through a positive mindset, a strong support network, and a healthy lifestyle.

Let’s conquer stress and embrace serenity. Become the ‘Serenity Sensei’ you were always meant to be!

Conclusion – You’ve Got This

From becoming a Personal Development Dynamo to mastering the finesse of a Fiscal Fitness Guru, each step is a rung in the ladder toward a better you. Each category is just a part of the picture, and each action is a stride toward the finish line.

A minimalist depiction of the "marathon not a sprint" concept through a silhouette of a solitary runner on a vast, empty horizon. The figure stands tall with an elongated and lean profile, symbolizing resilience and determination in the face of challenges. The background is a gradient of warm and cool tones, representing the passage of time and the changing emotional states experienced throughout the marathon of life.

Self-improvement may feel like a marathon, but remember. It’s not about the destination—it’s about the journey. It’s about learning, growing, and becoming the best version of yourself.

It’s about pushing through the hard days and cherishing the good ones. It’s about facing your challenges head-on and emerging victorious.

I know you can do this. I’ve done it. Many others have done it. And now, it’s your turn.

So, tighten your laces, set your sights on the finish line, and remember—your biggest competition is the person you were yesterday. And the person you are today? They’re ready to outshine, outperform, and outrun them.

Ready, set, go—you’ve got this!

Wayne Ergle

Wayne firmly believes that each of us possesses extraordinary gifts and talents, just waiting to be unleashed upon the world. But life's hurdles often obstruct our path to greatness. That's why he birthed Be Your Own Invention – to ignite the flames of motivation in everyone's transformation journey. Wayne’s transformation story includes conquering a 20-year battle with severe alcohol addiction, emerging triumphant and sober since 2018.