The business of living life to the fullest is a challenging, daunting, and exasperating task. After all, there is no manual readily available to tell you how to become the best version of yourself.
There is also no blueprint for knowing who that person truly is.
However, what inevitably happens on our journey through life is the discovery that we want and can be more than we currently are. Self-awareness creeps up on us unawares, and we find ourselves wondering what it is we could do to become, well, something better.
In lieu of a manual for living your best life, here is a brief overview of the steps you can take to go from who you are to who you want to be.
See Yourself As You Really Are
A journey of becoming usually begins with realization. In order to know where you want to go (and how to get there), you first need to identify who it is you are.
This is often the most difficult step of the process. Being objective about our own failings and talents is much more difficult than being honest about someone else’s traits.
Try to examine yourself with as little ego and as little criticism as you can. After all, the purpose of the exercise is not to make yourself feel bad. It is to determine what you need to do to become the person you want to be.
You may discover that you are already well on your way.
Identify the Habits that Make You Who You Are
So, you’ve started unraveling your personality, strengths, and weaknesses. Now you also need to discover the underlying habits at the root of the behaviors or beliefs that prevent you from already being who you want to become.
For example, you may want to be a person who plays the guitar at summer bonfires. And you may believe that the reason that you are not that person yet is that you don’t have time to practice.
If you examine your habits more closely, you may discover that you habitually choose to watch Netflix when practicing the guitar.
You will become what you repeatedly do, so start swapping habits that are not getting you where you want to be for habits that are more in line with your future self.
Change the Way You Treat Your Body and Mind
While we’re on the subject of habits, we have to emphasize a truth that’s simple but hard to face: in order to become the best version of yourself, you will need to love yourself more and treat yourself better too.
This means that you will have to improve your sleep hygiene, for starters, and stop flinging your tired body at life’s challenges.
It also means you need to consider your eating and exercise habits, and start taking better care of yourself. Stop skipping dentist appointments, get that yearly physical, and focus on fueling your body with the kind of energy it needs to become a worthy vessel of your best self.
Mental hygiene will be just as important. You will need to work on eliminating all that negative self-talk and all the thoughts you subject yourself to that serve no other purpose than to make you feel bad about yourself.
A little bit of mind management will go a long way, so either start practicing mindfulness on your own, find a therapist or a coach who can work with you, or join a class or group that will teach you the practices that will help you succeed.
Part of the reason why the first thing you were required to do was examine who you are now and set realistic goals for yourself.
You may want to become a stellar basketball player, for example. But if you don’t have the height and if you are simply clumsy, you won’t achieve the results you want, through no other fault of your own than setting an unrealistic goal.
Align who you want to be with who you can be and who you already are. This is in no way saying that you need to dream small and that you can’t achieve things. You can achieve anything you want, as long as you are realistic about what it will take to get there.
If your memory is like a sieve and you get incredibly anxious when you need to speak in front of a group of people, you will need to work very hard to become a Shakespearean actor.
It is by no means impossible, but it will take substantial effort. As long as you are prepared for it, that particular dream will not be unrealistic – just difficult to turn into reality.
Embrace the Fear
The sooner you realize and accept the fact that you will spend a fair portion of your time on this journey afraid and uncomfortable, the easier it will be.
While we all naturally want to avoid that feeling of discomfort, it is actually a signal that we are doing the right thing and that it is working. When you start to feel uncomfortable, your mind is wrestling with growth, which is precisely what you want to achieve.
There is no growth in the zone of comfort, and you won’t be able to become the person you want to be by staying comfortable. Instead of looking for the loophole that will get you to your destination with as little fear and discomfort as possible, embrace these feelings for what they are and rush out to meet them.
The journey of becoming a better version of yourself is a painful and complex one. You won’t be able to snap your fingers and get there overnight.
As long as you arm yourself with plenty of patience and perseverance, and as long as you keep at it, you’ll wake up one day and realize you are no longer the person you once were.
Granted, you will not yet have become your best future self either – but you will certainly be well on your way.