It’s that time of year again. People everywhere are talking about New Year’s Resolutions and goal-setting for 2017. And this can be ‘good way’ to start the year. Having something to aim towards often revives flagging levels of motivation and inspiration. However - if you want to succeed, the first step is making sure you feel good about yourself. As you are. Now. Not when you’ve got that new job or promotion. Not when you’ve lost that 10lbs. Not when you’ve finally moved house or found a potential spouse. ‘You.’ Right here. Right now.
If you have a deep-rooted belief that you’re not good enough as you are, it doesn’t matter what changes you make outside of yourself. Unless you work on yourself at the same time - by building your self-esteem, letting go of past pain and striving to be the best person you can be - no amount of money, fast cars, weight loss, or shoes will make you happy. Any external change will only create short-term happiness. Once the novelty has worn off, your past demons will resurface and you’ll be back to square one.
The first step to building self-esteem is to forgive yourself for past behaviours. To make peace with the choices you made and actions you took. Chances are you made many of those decisions out of fear. Fear of not being loved or respected. Fear of being alone. Fear of being rejected. Fear of being ridiculed. Fear of failure. When we’re scared, we make irrational decisions. So forgive yourself for not only the choices you made, but for being scared. You are only human after all.
Once you’ve done this, focus purely on being a better person from this moment forward. And start to identify yourself as that person - as if you are already the person you want to be.
Here are some simple changes you can implement, starting today, to help you feel good about yourself:
1) Recognise your strengths
Write a list of all the things you like about yourself and what you’re good at. And for each one, write at least three examples of where you showed this characteristic or skill. The first step in believing in yourself is to acknowledge yourself and your successes. And once you’ve identified those characteristics, endeavor to do your best to show them each day.
2) Show self-care
Where are you not respecting, loving or caring for yourself right now? What behaviours are you exhibiting right now that are doing you more harm than good? If you’re not eating well, maybe add a green salad to each meal. If you’re not exercising, start with a 10 minute walk every day and build it up. If you’re working too hard, maybe make a promise to yourself you won’t answer the phone past 6:30pm. Start with small, achievable steps you can take and seek to build on them as you go.
3) Be kind to yourself and others
Beating yourself up and criticizing yourself is not practicing self-care. And neither is criticizing others. For you to harshly judge someone else, you have to harshly judge yourself first. You can’t do one without the other. Your judgment of others is simply a projection of how you judge yourself.
Stop trying to be perfect. You’re chasing a standard that doesn’t even exist - so you’ll never even reach it. Allow yourself to make mistakes. As long as you learn from them, mistakes are healthy and essential for personal development. Once you are kinder and more compassionate to yourself, you will find it easier to be kinder to others and more respectful of their differences. This is crucial if you want to have happy and healthy relationships moving forward.
4) Listen more and talk less
If you want to grow and develop, either personally or professionally, focus on listening. Listening provides a great opportunity for you to learn something. You’ll never learn anything if you keep talking. Listen to other people’s life stories - you might find inspiration on how to tackle your own issues.
Listening is great for building relationships. People like people who show an interest in them. Conflicts are resolved more easily when you really take the time to listen and understand where the other person is coming from.
5) Do a kind deed every day
You’d be surprised at how much even just a smile can make to someone else’s day.
Working on self-esteem is a journey. Attending personal development workshops, using online resources, reading self-help books or working with a life coach or therapist can help. Make yourself a priority in 2017 - and the rest of your dreams will follow.