How to Better Yourself

I often say that the best way to better your life is to better yourself. With improved knowledge, skills, habits and attitudes, you can visibly enhance how you live and how happy you are (not necessarily in that order).

To do this, it’s key to have a good understanding of how to better yourself as a person. Self-improvement is not something you just do. You must follow certain steps in order to do it right. And the fact many people defy or don’t even know these steps is why they have such a hard time enhancing themselves.

As a coach, I’ve been helping others better themselves since 2006. And I’ve seen them achieve some impressive changes. Based on this experience, I’d like to give you my perspective on how to better yourself and show you 4 important strategies to follow.

1. Define Precise Personal Development Goals

The truth is that “I want to be a better person” is a resonating ideal, but a horrible personal development goal. Because it’s not specific enough. With such a goal, you don’t know where to start from, you’ll randomly jump from one area of self-improvement to another, and you’ll make little progress.

So, once you realize that you want to better yourself, it’s time to set more specific personal development goals. This entails thinking about the specific areas where you want to improve yourself the most and defining precise competencies to develop.

As a rule, try to only work on developing a few competencies at a time, so you don’t overburden yourself. You not only need to have specific goals, but you also need to program when you’ll work on them so you don’t try to work on all of them at once.

2. Get the Best Information Available


In the realm of self-improvement, there is a lot of information. There are tens of thousands of books and the internet is crammed with millions of articles.

Unfortunately, over 90% of the information available is ineffective. It’s general, simplistic, impractical, repetitive, poorly researched or just plain wrong. It’s so easy these days for anybody to write a few articles and post them online or even publish a digital book, that this niche has become flooded with poor quality material.

The implication is that in order to truly better yourself and do so effectively, you need to seek and find the best information available. Do your research, assess the information carefully, and be open-minded but use your critical thinking at the same time.

As a side note, most high-quality personal development information out there is information that you have to pay for. It’s in the form of books, courses, etc. This doesn’t mean that you won’t find quality information for free as well, or that all paid information has quality.

However, usually, the best information will come from real experts, and these people will provide some information for free but they will also charge for a lot of it. After all, they’re experts, they know how valuable what they have to offer is and they do make a living out offering it. So be willing to invest some money in bettering yourself as well.

3. Take Massive Action

In my experience, real self-growth means 20% at most getting information, and at least 80% applying it. This means you’ll have to spend at least 4 times more time practicing information than learning it.

Personally, I’ve met many folks who declare that they are into personal development, but sadly, all this means for them is reading lots of self-help books and applying almost nothing.

That’s not how you better yourself, which is why such people barely make any changes. They acquire an understanding of what and how they need to change, but they don’t actually change.

Wanna know how to better yourself? Equipped with the right info and precise goals, you take massive action. Always keep this in mind and concentrate on taking a lot of action. Be primarily a doer, not a reader.

4. Use a Social Support System

This is optional, but it’s a great way to speed up your personal development progress. As a rule, we make much more progress, much faster, in any area, if we surround ourselves with people who seek similar goals, who offer us positive advice and help us stay motivated and focused.

With respect to self-improvement, it’s ideal to make friends who are also into self-improvement and to support each other on this journey. You can even form some sort of mastermind group with them, meet regularly, discuss your goals and progress, and give each other constructive feedback.

You most certainly wanna stay away from toxic people who constantly criticize you and try to discourage you from thinking you can change. They will only pull your down when you could be going up.

Bettering yourself is a journey. And it’s not only the destination that can be very fulfilling, but the journey in itself to boot. In fact I think the only real way to do personal development is by enjoying the process at least as much as you enjoy the final outcome.

So as you better yourself, always remember to have fun!

Image courtesy of h.koppdelaney

How to Survive a Crappy Job Until You Find a Better One

A crappy job is no joking matter. Unfortunately, a plethora of people are spending more than one third of their time every week, month and year, working in such a job.

I’m not talking here about a job that’s just boring or unfulfilling. I’m talking about an entire work environment that’s psychologically debilitating. Think manipulative management, lack of ethics and sabotage of your advancement.

The logical and obvious step when you’re in a crummy job is to look for a better one (hopefully, a lot better) and to get out of there as soon as possible. You want to kill your job before it kills you.

Now, the practical challenge is that finding even a decent job, especially in some fields, can take 3 to 6 months and sometimes longer. So before killing your job, if you rely on it financially, you may need to tolerate it for a while.

As I often coach people in this kind of a situation, I want to share with you three of the most effective strategies I know for surviving a crappy job until you find a better one.

1. Reduce the Contact with Your Job As Much As You Can

Until you find a new and better job, you want to dedicate the least amount of time possible to your current one. Take plenty of days off, try to frequently get to work late and leave work early. This serves a triple role:

  1. It reduces your contact with a toxic work environment;
  2. It gives you time to relax, distress and recharge your batteries;
  3. It gives you more time to invest in looking for another job.

I’m a believer in integrity, but when you’re dealing with a crummy job and toxic relationships in the workplace, it is guerrilla warfare. Anything goes. So, use just about any tactic available to diminish the contact with you job.

This is a good time to catch every known type of flu out there, plus a couple of unknown types. It’s a good time to generally feel sick very often. On many occasions, you may not even have to fake it that much.

2. Set up Compensation Mechanisms

If your work causes you distress, exhaustion and lack of fulfillment, then you don’t want any other area of your life to add to this. On the contrary: in order to keep your mental and emotional balance, you want to compensate in your time away from work.

The period when you’re dealing with an almost intolerable job is a very good one to:

  • Develop nurturing relationships and use them for support;
  • Get involved in plenty of fun and relaxing activities (go to a spa, play some paintball, get plenty of sleep);
  • Do meaningful things in whatever free time you have (volunteer for a cause you believe in).

A particularly good idea during such a period is to eliminate as much as you can of the outside work responsibilities than can be stressful. Try to either dump them altogether or delegate them to somebody else.

Case in point: I’ve seen married people who in a period of real torment at work told their caring spouse about their work problems and asked them to take on more of the household responsibilities for a while, until they’ll be in a better job. If the spouse does care, they can help tremendously.

3. Stop Taking Work So Seriously

It’s crucial to realize the following point: when you’re set on leaving a job and will do so in a few months tops, apart from your short term check, the stake is pretty much gone. Being a good employee is no longer required. If you don’t, what is your employer going to do? Fire you?

First off, even if they do fire you, it will take months before your insolence accumulates, becomes evident and the decision to fire you is made. By that time, chances are you will already have another job offer.

Second of all, you’d be surprised how much shit you can get away with. I’ve met many people who are total assholes at work and they haven’t even come close to losing their job. They may get criticized by their boss or peers every now and then, but that’s pretty much it.

Fundamentally, surviving a crappy job is about strategy and attitude. Equipped with these two tools, you can deal with any job, for a while. And when you accept a new job, you’ve better not make the same mistakes again.

Image courtesy of Stepan Mazurov

What Do You Do For a Living? The Better Way to Answer

What do you do for a living?” – I ask him eager to do some chill networking. As I say this, my mind is automatically thinking: “Here comes another crappy answer I’ll have to work with”.

You might say that’s pessimistic of me; I say it’s more of an educated guess. It’s not that they’re not a lot of people out there with interesting jobs they’re passionate about. It’s just that they haven’t learned or haven’t considered the people skill of talking about them in a powerful way.

You see, answering “What do you do for a living?” in a stylish way is a great method to get the other person interested in the conversation, in your person, and to brand yourself. As a communication coach, there are a number of things I find important in answering this question.

Use a Suggestive Title for What You Do

It’s not important to use the exact job title in your job description in a conversation, even if it’s a business conversation. I sometimes meet a person who according to the JD is an ‘Executive Assistant’, but their job is much more of an HR job. ‘HR Assistant’ works a lot better as a title for them.

The point is to use a job title that realistically reflects the nature of the things you do in your job or the type of impact you have.

There is one answer to “What do you do for a living” that I find particularly bad: “I’m a consultant”. That doesn’t tell me shit about your job! They’re a zillion consultants out there.

Be Memorable

Some titles, they may be suggestive for what you do, but they simply aren’t remarkable in any way. Of course, there are plenty of ways to be memorable; you don’t need to desperately seek being memorable through your job title, but it is certainly a big bonus, especially in jobs where personal branding matters the most.

This is why I encourage you to use a memorable title for your job. Alain Cardon could have called himself a ‘Life Coach’, but he calls himself a ‘Breakthrough Catalyst’. Mars Dorian could have called himself a ‘Blogger’ but he calls himself a ‘Digital Crusader’. These are the kind of titles that stand out and they stick.

Follow-Up with an Exciting Explanation

After you’ve said your job title to answer the question, do not stop there. A title may be cool, suggestive and sexy, but it’s still only a title.

You want to do is continue with a short and powerful description of your job. Again, it’s important to remain clear and memorable. Some things to consider adding to this description are:

  • What you do exactly. Ex: “I speak on the area of Customer Service at conferences all over the world”.
  • What practical benefit you create: Ex: “I help organizations improve they way they interact with their customers and increase customer loyalty”.
  • Why what you do is important for you. Ex: “I believe that good results start with good customer service”.

But Eduard, What If I Have a Job I Hate and I Don’t Want to Talk About?

For this not so uncommon scenario, the first significant thing I can tell you is that you’d better at least have an aim for a different career and know what that career is.

Based on this, when you answer the question you can name your current job and then quickly move on to talking about the job you’re aiming for.

You may say something like: “I now work as a Sales Agent in an FMCG company, but I’m training to become a Career Coach. I have a passion for helping people find their way”.

The more you master your people skills and the better you present yourself, the more you “attract” all sorts of remarkable people and breathtaking career opportunities. And it often all starts with answering in style one simple question.

Image courtesy of Lucid Dreams