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What does it mean to be the “best version of yourself”? Do you feel like you’re living up to your full potential?
Everybody wants to be the best version of themselves, but few people can confidently say that they are being the best they can be given their resources, talents, and circumstances. At the heart of not living up to our “best selves” is self-sabotage—making decisions that we know, if perhaps unconsciously, have the capacity to reduce our happiness and success.
Here are six pieces of advice on how to become the best version of yourself.
1. Live With Intention
The first and foremost piece of advice on how to become the best version of yourself is to live with intention. When you live with intention, you don’t just react to what happens. You proactively decide what your goals are, create plans to achieve them, and then implement those plans. With this in mind, here are the key signs you are living with intention as opposed to just floating through life without direction.
- You live productively. In other words, you earn your keep by actualizing your thoughts, setting and pursuing goals, and creating things that support your existence. The amount you produce is irrelevant—as long as you’re trying to be productive.
- You know what you want long-term in your personal and professional life—or you’re trying to figure it out. You can only steer your life appropriately if you know where you want to go.
- You practice self-discipline. You can ignore your immediate desires that conflict with your long-term goals. But you’re also capable of living in the present when it’s appropriate.
- You know how you’ll get what you want. You have specific plans to achieve specific goals.
- You know whether your behavior supports your goals because you regularly check whether you’re behaving according to your plan. If not, you adjust your behavior or your purpose.
- You pay attention to real-world feedback and adjust accordingly because you know that following your initial plan doesn’t always work. For example, your actions may have unintended negative consequences that detract from your ultimate goal.
TITLE: The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem
AUTHOR: Nathaniel Branden
2. Commit to Your Life Choices
To live up to your full potential and be the best you can possibly be, you must commit to your life choices. Many people fear committing to one choice, preferring to keep their options open in case a better opportunity comes up. However, that will only make you unhappy because you’ll constantly worry if there’s a superior alternative to what you’re doing, and it’ll keep you from experiencing the success that can only come from commitment.
For example, if you’re deciding between becoming a lawyer or a business owner, don’t spend years indecisively trying jobs in both fields or seeking jobs that give you the best of both worlds. Instead, commit to one career and dedicate yourself fully to being good at it. You’ll experience greater success by committing to one path than by keeping your options open.
TITLE: Four Thousand Weeks
AUTHOR: Oliver Burkeman
3. Cultivate Self-Acceptance
Self-acceptance means embracing all parts of yourself unconditionally, even the things you wish you could change. It’s important to accept yourself unconditionally because partial self-acceptance magnifies the importance of unwanted flaws, increases self-consciousness and self-judgment based on individual experiences, and makes it difficult to feel happy with yourself as you are.
For example, you might wish that you felt more confident interacting with others. Not accepting this part of yourself makes you feel more self-conscious about how confident you appear—you judge yourself according to how well you perform in individual interactions. After confident interactions, you feel good about yourself and you feel happy. After unconfident interactions, you feel bad about yourself, uncomfortable about this part of yourself, and unhappy. This impels you to reject this aspect of yourself—for example, by projecting a false image of confidence.
On the other hand, unconditional self-acceptance keeps your self-judgment consistent regardless of how confident you feel in each interaction. You’ve already accepted yourself, so you don’t look to others to decide how you should feel about yourself. As a result, you don’t feel impelled to mask any aspects of yourself and find it easier to focus on how to become the best version of yourself than on how you come across to others.
TITLE: The Happiness Equation
AUTHOR: Neil Pasricha
4. Clarify Your Values
Values are the principles that govern how you want to act. Unlike goals, values are never accomplished. Rather, values involve continuous behavior—they guide your choices and decisions according to the kind of person you strive to be.
It can be helpful to reflect on your values in four key areas: relationships, education and work, personal development and wellness, and leisure. You can determine your values in each of these areas by asking yourself questions, including the following:
- What kinds of relationships are important to you?
- What kinds of actions do you want to take in your relationships?
- What sort of person do you want to be?
2. Education and work:
- What sort of person do you want to be at school or work?
- What kinds of work- or school-related relationships are important to you?
- What skill or knowledge would you like to learn?
3. Personal development and wellness:
- What kinds of healthy pursuits would you like to start or revisit?
- What changes do you want to make in your life to promote your personal health?
- What kinds of interests do you want to start or revisit?
- What are some leisure activities that you would like to do more of?
TITLE: The Happiness Trap
AUTHOR: Russ Harris
5. Take Things One Step at a Time
The best way to tackle an ambitious undertaking or an obstacle is to break it down and focus on doing the first step. Do it well, then move on to the next step and the next. Don’t think about the end goal, just what you have to do now.
A key benefit of breaking things down into steps and following them is that it’s relaxing. You know you’ll get the job done and can be comfortable taking whatever time it takes. The process replaces fear and worry.
TITLE: The Obstacle Is The Way
AUTHOR: Ryan Holiday
6. Maintain Work and Life Balance
The last but not least piece of advice on how to become the best version of yourself is to find a balance between work and life. Work-life balance is also essential because spending all your time working comes with trade-offs. Notably, people who spend all their time working often struggle to maintain good relationships—which are essential for your psychological well-being. Moreover, working too much often leads to exhaustion—which reduces your health and creativity and can lead to burnout.
The first step to finding your work-life balance is to decide what your successful life looks like. By doing this, you’ll be able to ignore the world’s unrealistic demands and feel less guilty focusing on working when you need to and playing when you need to. Research suggests that a successful life should have four main elements: pursuing joy, reaching your goals, connecting with others, and making an impact.
It’s also important to ensure that you’re spending time on all four of those elements. Don’t try to be perfect; just figure out what’s adequate in each category. To do so, first determine what your current schedule looks like—how much time are you spending on each element, and how much time are you wasting? Then, jot down how many hours you’d like to spend on each element, and adjust your schedule accordingly.
There are many hypothetical versions of yourself you could one day be. Which one is the best one is up to you to decide. Whatever your idea of the best version of yourself, you can make it reality by following the above advice.
If you enjoyed our post on how to become the best version of yourself, here is a selection of books that might be right up your alley:
TITLE: Awaken the Giant Within
AUTHOR: Tony Robbins
TITLE: Atomic Habits
AUTHOR: James Clear
TITLE: 12 Rules for Life
AUTHOR: Jordan Peterson
TITLE: 101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think
AUTHOR: Brianna Wiest
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