If someone has these 7 habits, they genuinely want to improve themselves

by Isabel Cabrera | March 9, 2024, 12:06 pm

In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear says, “All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger. Roots entrench themselves and branches grow.”

Self-improvement doesn’t happen overnight.

It starts with the tiniest of choices. Will you make your bed today? Will you write down one thing you’re grateful for? Will you start your day by watching TikTok or by reading a self-help book?

Just as Clear says, a big change is really just about the small changes you repeat every day.

And while it will take time to see your branches fully grow, each millimeter is a huge achievement. Because each millimeter makes you stronger.

So, if someone has these 7 habits, it means they genuinely want to improve themselves.

1) They make their bed in the morning

Let’s start with an easy one.

Mind you, this habit isn’t really about making the bed. Don’t get me wrong – a bed that looks clean is much better than a bed that’s messy. I think we can all agree on that.

But at its core, this habit is about discipline and self-love.

When you make your bed, you’re actively choosing to do something nice for yourself.

You’re saying, “When I go to bed this evening, I will slip under a clean blanket. When I go about my responsibilities throughout the day, I will look at the bed and know it was me who made it look so nice.”

Not only that but making your bed is a bit like decluttering your mind. 

If your first choice of the day is to turn something messy into something smooth, you’re more likely to get into that mind space, think more clearly, and boost your productivity.

Eight out of ten bed-makers agree.

2) They read self-help books

Look, not everyone’s into self-help. I get it. 

But as a huge bookworm, I also know that there are millions of books out there – and if you stumble upon the one that’s right for you, you’ll reap amazing benefits from reading it.

I’ve read self-help books that didn’t speak to me much. But I’ve also read books like Atomic Habits by James Clear, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, and The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel – and those books changed my life.

Self-help can be success-oriented; it can be spiritual; it can be all about relationships and love; it can focus on anxiety or boredom or feeling lost in life.

And once you make it a habit to read the type of books that speak to you on a deep level…it means you’re on track.

3) They have a to-do list

The number one rule of self-improvement is to know what you’re improving *toward*.

What would the ideal version of you do every day? How would they think? What habits would they let go of and which ones would they cultivate?

A to-do list is your starting point. And if you want to genuinely improve yourself, you have one – even if it only contains things like “make lunch” and “do laundry”. Each achievement is valid.

I recommend you start off small. Don’t overload yourself. Once you manage to tick everything off, add some more stuff.

The main point of a to-do list is to organize your life into manageable chunks. It’s a bit like playing a game. Each time you win, you get a little boost of dopamine and feel better about yourself.

This motivates you to keep going.

4) They track their progress

Alright, you’ve got a to-do list that you follow on a daily basis (remember not to be too harsh on yourself – sometimes, you won’t be able to tick everything off, and that’s okay. Life happens).

Next comes the tracking. People who really want to improve themselves know that progress is pretty hard to estimate unless you keep note of it.

Will you really remember how many times you meditated this month?

My guess is no.

But if you write it down each time you do it, you’ll have a very clear idea of how good you’ve been at keeping the habit up.

In a way, tracking your progress is just another habit you need to establish in order to keep all your other habits in line. It’s a very valuable one, though, because the boost in motivation is insane.

Recently, I bought a beautiful Excel habit tracker on Etsy. Each time I complete over 70% of my daily habits, a tree grows. The visual satisfaction I get every day is unmatched.

5) They keep themselves accountable

Habits are extremely hard to nurture. If it was easy, we’d all be waking up at 5 AM, hitting the gym regularly, and meditating for a whole hour every day.

It sounds like a utopia, right? Well, that’s because it probably is.

Building a habit is like taking care of a really fragile seed – it can die on you very quickly. It’s only when it grows into a strong tree that it becomes a steady force in your life.

This is why accountability is so important. If you genuinely want to become a better version of yourself, you’ll do everything in your power to keep yourself in line – even if it includes some type of punishment.

For example, I didn’t meditate yesterday even though I had the time. As a consequence, I will meditate for twice as long today.

You can also use rewards to promote disciplined behavior or find an accountability buddy.

When I’m at the gym with a friend, I put much more effort into my workouts because she pushes my limits.

To sum it up, habits are hard to build, but you can make the process easier by setting up rules that make it more convenient to just go ahead and do it.

6) They cultivate their personal relationships

The quality of your personal relationships largely affects your well-being and health, and while our society is all for individualism and independence nowadays, it doesn’t mean that strong communities are any less important.

You can’t rely on others to grow as a person, of course. But you also can’t do it all alone. A healthy balance of positive relationships and productive solitude is generally the best way to go.

If you want to improve yourself, you’ve also got to improve your relationships.

Call your mom.

Reach out to the friend you’ve fallen out of touch with.

Suggest a fun day out with your partner.

Out of all the things you ought to put effort and energy into, thriving relationships with others are among the top two – alongside your own relationship with yourself.

7) They allocate at least half an hour a day to self-care

Self-improvement isn’t just about working hard on your goals. It’s not just about grind, hustle, and productivity.

In fact, a huge chunk of it is about self-compassion and the grace to give yourself a break.

The moment you start showing yourself some kindness and love, you’ll be much more likely to show it to others, too. The moment you stop judging yourself and beating yourself up, you’re increasing your chances of success simply because you end up feeling happier.

And the first step is to give yourself the time of day. It’s to say, “I deserve to be looked after.”

Have a bubble bath. Read your favorite book. Journal or meditate. Do something that makes you feel good and cherished.

Out of all the habits you ought to build on your journey to self-improvement, the habit of actively giving yourself love is the most important one.

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