Self-improvement is universal to the human experience; we all have things we’d like to change about ourselves. Perhaps you want to lose weight, improve your skills in a certain area, be more comfortable socially, be happier, or more productive. Whatever the ultimate improvement desired, in order to achieve it you may benefit from identifying your specific goals, enacting change, and coping with setbacks.
Imagine what it could be like in the future. Thinking about future positive and negative possibilities enhances motivation, expectation of successful goal completion, and commitment to self-improvement. Thinking about a positive future helps you imagine a reality where you are the best self you can be, while imagining a negative reality results in an awareness of what might happen if you do not meet your improvement goals.
Imagine a miracle happened overnight and when woke up in the morning you were exactly how you want to be. Everything you wanted to improve about yourself happened in the middle of the night somehow. How are you different? How does it feel? Who is around you? What are you doing? Imagine what it would be like to live life as this completely improved self. Based on what you imagine, you can begin developing goals. Perhaps you imagined yourself as being confident and physically fit. What do you think would have needed to happen for this to occur?
Determine what needs improvement and what doesn’t. It is important to be specific in your goals, and to know which goals are a top priority.
Identify your assets (honest, hard-working, loving…etc.) and your liabilities (angry, overweight…etc.). This may help you identify the areas in which you want to make the most improvement.
Prioritize your list of goals. Rate each goal from 1-10, 10 being the highest priority for you. Focus on this goal first.
Get feedback. Receiving feedback about what to improve upon helps individuals’ performance on tasks, and enhances goal-achievement. Thus, asking others ways you can improve will help you develop specific goals and motivate you on your journey.
Start by asking your significant other or family members ways they think you can improve yourself. Make sure you only ask individuals whom you trust and those that will take your feelings into consideration (rather than belittling or criticizing you). You might be surprised by their answers.
Talk to a trusted confidante such as a therapist, a religious leader or even a “sponsor” in a 12 step group. Having an outside party helps reduce self-deception and denial. We sometimes have a problem of being either too hard or too soft on ourselves, but talking to others can help us form an accurate picture of ourselves if we are to improve.
Pick which suggestions you can apply to yourself and to practice those suggestions. If a certain set doesn’t seem to work, try another! Nothing works for everyone. You need to find what works for you!
Make SMART goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.  For example, your goal could be to lose 20 pounds (specific, measurable, attainable) in 3 months (realistic, time-bound).
Try this online resource for creating SMART goals at GetSelfHelp.Co.UK.
Break down each goal into smaller goals. For example, if your goal is to lose 20 pounds you will need to develop a plan which will include smaller goals such as: lowering daily calorie intake, exercising 3-5 times per week, and limiting sugar intake.
Instead of making grand goals, start by establishing little goals that achieve the grand goal. For instance losing 50 pounds may seem like a daunting task but something like no chocolate for a week may be more viable.
Seek out information on how to pursue that change. Information can be gathered from books, articles, friends, family, and professionals. It is amazing how much information will find you when you are ready!
Think about ways you have made similar positive changes in the past. If you haven’t, think about how others have achieved what you want. Talk to people who are in your same position and ask for help. For example, if you want to lose weight, you could sign up for Weight Watchers and go to groups at the center.