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on self improvement

Here’s what I wrote a few weeks ago:

I don’t know about you, but I always feel a bit introspective by the time of my birthday (I'm guessing you do too). At least, more and more after I turned 25 and I started to realise that I was becoming a “real adult” on my ID card, but in my mind, I had just as many doubts about life and direction as when I was 18.

The only difference was that at 25 I was thinking more (and therefore also worrying more) about life than with 18. And now, turning 34, even more.

Trying to apply the wisdom that I hope to have been acquiring over the years, and trying to maintain a mindful attitude without overly projecting the future, I think this is the perfect time to do a little yearly life review. An opportunity to reflect upon the last year and plant some good intentions for the new turn around the sun.

To simplify things, I’ll pick 3 things that worked well last year, and 3 things that could have worked better. And I’ll pick 3 things I want to stop doing and 3 things I’d like to improve and do more of this year.

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Things that didn’t go so well:

  • The lack of consistency in my work and life practices. I have moved with the flow, and that’s not the kind of disciplined approach I believe my work or life practices deserve if I want it to make some tangible progress. The flow is important, but it needs to find me working.
  • My work-life balance. I have fallen into the trap of honouring busy-ness as a proof of my dedication to work, when in fact it just proves the previous point. Routine is far more important than being busy many hours a day.
  • The lack of bravery to take more risks, make more connections, and experiment with different things.
  • Things that went great:

  • Managing the Greenhouse mentoring group. This has been one of the most rewarding and meaningful work experiences of my life.
  • Starting to believe in my capacity to write, even if in a foreign language, after having my article published in Tiny Buddha. (Even if not working on this belief consistently, as mentioned in the not-so-positive points).
  • The courage to keep following my heart and what it tells me when it comes to tough decisions, like when making the tough decision to stop giving yoga classes, for example.


    Things to stop doing:

  • Using my phone in the first few hours in the morning. That time should be entirely dedicated to uninterrupted, creative work.
  • Big scale multitasking. Having too many projects at once just means having none done, ever. From now on, one single project at a time, to work on from start to finish.
  • Not having a working schedule. I need to set up a weekly routine, for structure and productivity.
  • Things to improve and do more this year:

  • Read a book per week.
  • Exercise 3-4 times per week.
  • Write every day.

  • There are ways in which I can help myself to achieve this, and one of them is to have a clear vision as to how I’m going to do it.

  • To read a book per week, I’ll have to dedicate at least 30 minutes to read every day. Preferably at the same time every day.
  • To exercise, I’ll have to find a regular class that I can join (now that I’m about to move place - again - I need to find some other gym and class that I like).
  • To write every day I need to make sure I do as a part of my morning rituals, together with meditation.

  • Reading, writing, and exercising, along with the things that I already like to see a part of my must-do routines (like meditation) are fundamental pieces of the big picture I’m trying to achieve. In tangible terms, is to be more prolific on my blog and start preparing for the marathon of writing a book.

    I should also commit to not being harsh to myself and give up as soon as I find myself going out of track. So, to help me to keep myself accountable, at least on the reading and writing part of my intentions, I’d like to express here that the materialised outcome of these intentions should be at least 1 blog post per week and, ideally, 1 book review post per month.

    I have always had the strong belief that we’re on this life ride to growth as Beings, and to appreciate the ride as much as possible. 

    The frustration we feel is many times rooted in regret. Mostly for the things we didn’t do when we had the chance to do them. And it always comes down to choices.

    When we choose to say yes to something we’re saying no to something else.

    So at this point, I suggest the following questions:

  • What is that I want to say yes to?
  • What can I do that uses my potential and promises a journey of growth?
  • My answer to these questions is reading and writing, and taking good care of my health, by meditating and exercising. Sounds simple, and it is. So it should be.

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    About the author

    Ana Batista is a psychologist focused on making change easy. Besides therapy, she teaches online courses and workshops on positive psychology, brain science, and self-authoring. 


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