It takes a village to raise a child, the old proverb tells us. But we need to expand our perspective, according to pediatric surgeon, social scientist and mom Dana Suskind. In her heartfelt work, Parent...
Grab yourself a tea or coffee (or wine!), and let’s chat about your life. How’s it going? Are you happy with how you’re living? With your achievements? How you’re showing up every day for the people in your life?
Often, we have dreams, ideas or aspirations, but we don’t quite “launch.” We get a bit stuck or we just don’t make progress. Yet everywhere we look, we’re bombarded with promises of “instant success.” Lose weight overnight! Get rich quick! Get 10,000 Insta followers in a flash!
Let’s forget those empty promises and see how you can really move yourself forward. Decide to become your best “you.” Think about it. Isn’t the best version of yourself the one who is most able to create that life you want?
The best version of yourself has clear goals and personal values that authentically reflect who you are. That best you takes ownership of obstacles, including your inner stuff. The best you makes realistic plans. And then takes daily, consistent action so you are living your values, ending bad habits, creating good habits, and steadily moving along in ways that are important to you.
Please don’t tell yourself this sounds too hard! You DO have it in you to achieve this. Everyone does. Sadly, many of us just refuse to go there. But that’s not you! Being the best you just takes a little reflection plus some daily action. One foot in front of the other, stretching a bit every day.
So, how do you work toward becoming the best you? Check out these four steps to get started!
As you think about being the best you, what comes to mind? Do you dream about making a higher salary, finding your soulmate or raising a family? I call these the “WHAT” part of being the best you. It’s those tangible things you want to do or hope to accomplish.
But there’s another part of being the best you. That’s the “WHO” you are — your values. They’re your natural qualities you want to express in your work and life. Your values could be generosity, humor, attention to detail, caring, ambition, persistence or many more.
To envision being the best you, think about the WHAT plus the WHO. What do you want to do, and who do you want to be as you do it?
You’ll need both sides of that equation. It’s easy to get fixated on one side or the other. We work hard for a goal but forget our values along the way. Or we live by our values but neglect to make our dreams become concrete reality.
And by the way, speaking of goals and dreams … do you have the courage to really envision your best self, according to YOU? Too often, we do what we think other people want or need us to do. We don’t want to alienate others or let them down. But if you’re doing what someone else wants, then you’re being the best THEM — not the best you!
As you consider your vision of WHAT you want to do and WHO you want to be, you’ll probably encounter some obstacles. Perhaps you lack time, money, knowledge or support.
But consider this. Is it possible that your biggest obstacle actually might be inside you? Now I’m not saying that YOU are the obstacle! But you might just have one or two “ICKs” hiding in there, tripping you up.
An ICK is when you tell yourself, “I can’t, kuz …!” I’ll bet you know what I’m talking about because everyone has some ICKs. It’s when you say:
Yes, sometimes there are tough real-world obstacles or setbacks. But I truly believe that your ability to succeed is based on your ability to get rid of your ICKs. ICKs drag you down. Make you feel incapable. They tell you it’s not worth trying — or not meant to be.
Hmmm … ICKs do not sound like the best you, do they? When you get rid of ICKs, you are actually empowering yourself to better cope with or conquer any of your real-world challenges.
So, don’t just give in. Don’t believe them — especially the ones that tell you that YOU are the problem. When you find yourself feeling ICK-y, switch your focus. Ask yourself what CAN you do? What IS possible? What positive changes CAN you make?
As much as possible, keep your focus on “I CAN.” This mindset will keep you moving toward becoming your best self.
Now you are ready to start working on a goal for yourself. Make it a little stretch but achievable. Make sure it connects to your vision of your best self!
And think about what’s the right next goal for you. Not too big, not too small … just right. In fact, even if you are going for “big success,” you’ll ultimately find that it’s actually made up of achieving lots of smaller goals along the way!
The goal you pick could relate to WHAT you want to do. Or it could be expressing more of your WHO. For example, are you living up to your values? Can you get rid of some ICKs? What about your behaviors or habits — are there some that just don’t fit with that best you that you envision?
You might need to go through several drafts to get your goal right for you. And consider:
What are you willing to work toward?
Do you need to adjust your priorities?
What is a realistic time frame for this goal?
Once you have a workable goal, write down three to five steps that you can start taking NOW. Not next month or next year! NOW. The best you can’t just be an idea on paper—it means taking real action.
When you do go into action, you’ll need to become “the leader of you.” You are accountable or responsible for you. No one is going to do it for you.
Now, this isn’t meant to sound harsh, and it doesn’t have to make you feel lonely or alone. (Hey, are you going into an ICK right now? Don’t do that!) But be honest with yourself.
If you want change but remain passive, you’re not being your best you. Only you can make the right things happen to reach your potential. That’s what accountability means. And I always think it’s great to ask someone to be your accountability partner.
Need to take baby steps? That’s absolutely fine. Do whatever you CAN do. Every time you achieve a milestone, even a little itty bitty one … you are actually already being that better version of you. It’s you, going in the right direction. It’s a positive feedback loop—it makes you feel capable and strong.
And be consistent. Whatever you commit to, do it on a regular basis. If you get off track, just start again. No excuses. No drama. No beating yourself up! Just start again at the soonest opportunity. Even if you’ve been off your plan for a few weeks or longer—there is no reason you can’t pick up and start again tomorrow.
I can’t say it enough—you have the potential. You already have a lot of what it takes inside you. Every one of us can continually stretch and grow.
Stretching and growing is how we become our best self. We have a vision that includes not just what we do, but also who we are. We spot and deal with our internal ICKs. We set achievable stretch goals. And we keep taking consistent action, leading ourselves with accountability and commitment.
You can do this! Everyone can. So, what are you waiting for? Today is your best day to start!
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