4-Step System for Self-Improvement

At the start of 2020, just after I turned 20, I was jobless and didn't know what I was doing with college and my life in general. I didn't know my interests - where I had a chance in excelling and becoming someone in a particular field, and on top of that, I wasn't improving myself overall.


Although I think nobody 100% knows what the fuck he/she is doing with his/her life, including me, I firmly believe that setting a good foundation is vital to a successful Path in Life, where you can then learn and implement new stuff into your Journey, which can lead to a certain direction.

 

In one year, I learned SQL programming by myself and became an SQL programmer and Data Analyst, started a blog, and later got into marketing where I landed a job as a Facebook Advertising Specialist at an EU-based Pharmaceutical company.


I got all of that by bribing everyone and...Just kidding, I'm no Pablo Escobar, I had 30 cents in my wallet back then and I couldn't even bribe a neighbors' cat to stop shitting in our garden, the little fucker.


Anyways, these are the 4 steps that worked for me so far after so many failed attempts to succeed.

 

1. Decide

I remember reading Atomic Habits by James Clear (if you haven't read that book, you can check out my MinuteBookReview where I try to give you description, opinion, favorite quote, and key takeaway in less than 60 seconds), but thinking that many people, including me, will eventually break the habit system that Clear offers us. I then remember thinking that something is missing - something crucial.


The most important step is usually the hardest and the good news is, that even though this step is the most important one, it's actually the easiest and all it requires is truthfulness. Let me explain.


Everything that you've done until now is due to you deciding that (unless you don't believe in free will). You are in control of your actions, your present, and your future. You control whether you're going to eat a burger or a healthy snack - sometimes all it takes is strengthening your mind for a few seconds and saying "no" to your dopamine-wanting-brain and then you can enjoy being uncomfortable knowing you can control yourself.

 

That's why the decision is the most important step in building a potentially successful Life. There are three questions you can ask yourself to help you decide:

  • Who are you?

  • Who do you want to be?

  • What are you doing about it?

Look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself these questions and answer truthfully.


If the answers don't seem to bother you, then you can click off this post. You're already either successful/complacent and don't seek something greater (there is nothing wrong with that) or you probably don't care. But why are you then still reading this?


If the answers do bother you, then it's time to change. It's time to decide. And believe me, when I say it, it's so easy.

It's easy as saying "I will learn how to program" or "I will become fit" or even something simpler "I will become a better person". But there is a twist. Noticed in the picture above, how all 4 steps are connected? That's because you need to implement 4th step into the 1st one as well, which is to believe.


Let's say I want to have a 9.0 average score this semester at my college. Of course, I can say that I'll be the best, but the words are empty if they're not filled with belief in oneself. And how does one get this "belief"?


By understanding that hard work beats talent and that you're as capable of reaching your target as the smartest student in the classroom. I'm not smart, and I never claimed to be. I'm not talented or at least not for every subject in my college. But what I do have is belief in myself that intertwines with hard work ethic, which keeps getting stronger and stronger every time that I come around that circle shown in the picture above.

 

So think about it. When's the last time you decided something and you believed in it so much you actually achieved your goal? It could be as simple as running a Sub-2-Hour Marathon... nah I'm just messing, but really though, it can be the last time you said no to Oreos or when you decided to clean your room (Peterson fans wassup?). Or it can be slightly larger as overcoming your PR in the gym or studying for 10 hours straight for days to pass a hard exam (Law Students, I feel you, don't quit).


The point is, you already have it in you. Your job is to bring that belief out, so the decision-making process can start.

So, look for common patterns, write it out - how did you spark belief in yourself previously? What lead you to decide that you want to achieve something?


Usually, the answer is common - you wanted it bad enough.


So, when / if you decide that you want (to) ________ (fill in the blank) bad enough, you'll be ready to take on the second step.


 

2. First step

The second step is the first step.. Wait, I haven't really thought this though lol.


What I meant to say is that the next move is actually starting and taking your first step in unknown territory. This is where you actually start exploring and discovering a new field.


The most important thing here is just to start - no matter where, just start whether it be your first workout, your first course, book, driving lessons, or even something as simple as waking up 1 hour earlier.


It doesn't have to be perfect and it most likely won't be. And that's okay because you'll be looking back, feeling grateful and proud of how far you've come.


Take me for example - I decided that I want to start a blog to write down my thoughts, and this is my first step. It's not perfect and half of the time, I don't know what the fuck I'm doing, but what does matter is that I need to overcome the fear of "what will other people say" and just go through with it by taking the first step.

3. Optimize

Since I started working as an Advertising Specialist I learned that the approach and the mindset I use when optimizing campaigns, can / should be applied to my life. How?

To put it shortly:

  • Stuff that works = keep + scale

  • Stuff that doesn't work = discard and move on

 

Let's take studying for example:

If you think that studying "doesn't work for you", then you shouldn't discard it altogether, but rather dig deep into it and think why isn't it working?

- Maybe you're not putting enough attention at lessons?

jk, we both know that you and I both can't listen 5minutes without our minds wandering off, thinking about irrelevant shit


- But on a real tho, maybe it's because of the way you study? Try shorter study sessions with shorter breaks, or longer sessions with longer breaks... Maybe the problem is in the way you're taking notes? Does it take too much time? Is the problem that beeping phone on your table? Or maybe the fact that you can't study without some music in the background? I know - bizarre, but you wouldn't believe how fucking weird we are, each individual being so different. The point is to optimize every now and then and find out what works for YOU.


TIP: What works for me is studying with chill music in the background after I cleaned my table and turned on my Forest app on my phone (this way I keep myself accountable and focused for my 50/10 study sessions). But on the other hand, listening to pop/hip hop music with a messy table won't give the same results. So, I stick with instrumental music and ditch the music with lyrics.


I also don't study page by page, but I scan the page, then try to repeat everything I could remember - it's not perfect and I forget 95% of it by the time I'm on the next page. But what I excel in - is scanning pages really fucking fast, and by doing that I still have time to revise that same pages over and over again until I am confident in myself that I cannot fail the exam (did you notice the presence of the 4th step - belief?)


 

Another example can be healthy foods intake:

- You don't like brussel sprouts? Then fuck them, throw them in the bin.

- You really really like avocado on a toast, but you're trying to cut back on carbohydrates? Ditch the toast, try the avocado on different stuff, such as those healthy wraps/tortillas you can get in every store.

- Intermittent fasting not working out for you? Ffs, if it ain't working, optimize and switch it the fuck up by trying keto diet instead, or vegan diet. Still not working? Maybe try the carnivore diet?


After some time of experimenting and optimizing you'll find something that actually works for you, but it won't work for others.


 

Nonetheless, you also have to understand that there are going to be bad days when dealing with habits that require mental/physical focus and dedication.

One day/week/month of not feeling motivated might just be "one of those days".

When that happens (because it will), take one step back and ask yourself "Why do I no longer feel like doing this?" Is it because I lost my passion? Is it because I just have a period of laziness? Do I lack discipline?


Most of the time the answer will be that you're just going through a short period where you just don't feel motivated, but looking long-term, you still have that passion and vision of you succeeding in that field. If this is the case, you should stick to the stuff you're already doing, because those days of you "not feeling it", will eventually pass.


But if you're confident that marketing/keto diet/books/skating/finance,.... just make your life miserable, then fuck, ditch them asap, we both want you, to be happy.

Search for another field maybe learning crypto instead of marketing, paleo diet instead of keto, podcasts instead of books, cycling instead of skating, entrepreneurship instead of finance, and so on... The possibilities are endless if you put your ego on the side and listen to what your heart and body is telling you.


If you've read Atomic Habits by James Clear, then I'd advise you to implement Clears' 4 Laws into this step, besides the stuff written above.

Source: James Clear, Atomic Habits


 

4. Believe

I once heard someone say: "Live as though you're listening to music - enjoy every second of it."

The last step is to trust the process and believe in yourself.

You have to understand that you're no different from any other successful person such as Ronaldo, Bryant, Musk, Goggins,... You have the same flesh and blood as they have and the only difference between you and the person who you want to be is belief, discipline, and patience.


I firmly believe that those three come together if you stay focused on the Journey and not on the finish line - because there is none. If you're focusing on your Path, there shouldn't be any finish line because you'll enjoy the feeling of reaching your potential so much, that you won't stop.


 

5. Extra tips

Here are some extra tips from me:

  • It won't be easy because it's not supposed to be easy. But if you make it a "hobby" instead of a job, you'll actually start to enjoy the rhythm.

  • Understand that there are going to be bad days where you just fall of your Path. The one thing that I'm still working on is understanding that I have and will fall off sometimes, and it may take days, weeks, or even months to get myself back together. When that happens, I shouldn't judge myself, but rather take one step back and observe the progress I've made. Then, I shall stand back up again, recalibrate, and go into the battle again.

  • Become comfortable in uncomfortable situations. We live in a dopamine-induced world when one can get a quick dopamine fix in a matter of seconds through food, porn, video games, youtube, and so on. That is why it's so important to put your body and mind, at least once a day, in an uncomfortable situation.

The last tip I can give you is overview of how implementing this system in my lifestyle changed my perspective on success:


Many of us have already seen this scheme representing two perspectives on success. A good friend of mine had an argument that every failure should be seen as a lesson and that's why the first representation of success should be correct (you can check him out here, he's a good lad).


Although that's absolutely true, I still think that some "lessons" can beat you to the ground and keep you there for some time. And that's okay. We are not machines and it's okay to feel beaten and to fail. But what determines your character and values is how you react to that failure - are you going to fight back or are you going to allow one particular setback to define you?


By implementing my system I found out that you view Life and success from another perspective. You start to enjoy the music, the ride, the ups, and downs because you now understand how beautiful life actually is, and also learn from having bad days by optimizing them and pushing forward. You look back from the mountain and see where you came from, and feel proud.





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