How to Make 2018. Better

Monday, January 8, 2018

I am always a bit sceptical towards those who claim to be "passionate about self-development". Self-development just sounds like a bunch of nothing, a bunch of motivational quotes without any true value, reminds me of NLP, and I have nothing good to say about that one.

However, by no means does this mean I am a stagnation proponent!

For a moment there I though I might be a member of a group that doesn't view self-development as a goal. But that is not true. Of course I want to be a better person than I was yesterday.

Maybe I just have an issue with the term "self-development", maybe I have an issue with how often it is used, especially by those who try to sell you all sorts of bullshit.

What I don't have an issue with is reading books, reading newspapers, traveling, having meaningful talks with people. Self-development is something that follows naturally.

Strive for learning new things and understanding things you hadn't understood so far.

And why not—strive for being the best version of yourself this year. Here are my suggestions. 

Be Open To Constructive Criticism

Listen to what people say about your work, be it experts or just someone who happened to notice something about it.

On one hand, yes, you should try and deal only with people who make you feel good; but on the other, if you unfriend someone for pointing out something about your work in a nice and polite manner, what are you ever going to learn?

And are you only going to listen to those who praise what you do and pretend to not see the flaws? 

Be Self-Confident

I have known the importance of this for almost two decades, but only recently have I lost an opportunity because I wasn’t self-confident enough. I naively thought that asking lots of questions was a sign of me wanting to learn and do things right (because it was from my end), but ultimately it cut me off of something I could (and should) have had.

This was deeply disappointing (learning how the world works almost always is), but if nothing, it taught me a lesson. 

Honestly, though, I don’t know how to have both self-confidence, either real or faked, and stay true to myself in terms of asking questions when I don’t know things and double-checking when I’m not sure. That’s confusing, I admit it.

Stand Up For Yourself

I am a beginner at this. In fact, I haven’t gone much further than just acknowledging that I should indeed stand up for myself.

But I should. Because it turned up that those clichés from teenage magazines, such as “if you don’t take care of yourself, nobody will”, or something along those lines – are 100% true. Only the stakes are much, much higher when you’re (almost) 30.

Stand up for yourself this year. Don't do things you don't want to do, don't be quiet if you want to speak. Especially if you need to speak.


Read because reading is good, to say the least, and read especially if you write in one way or another (and it seems that everybody does these days).

Read because I tell everyone reading is the secret to good writing, and it is.

Read because my friend asked me recently if I read literature in English (not so much!)—she said it was apparent in my blog posts that I didn’t. I felt embarrassed, but that is an example of good constructive criticism!

Read because you will learn something, and no, I’m definitely not telling you to pick up a self-help book in order to do so. And even if you read a crappy book, you are likely to learn it’s not “could of”, though in all honesty I believe or hope that my readers know that already. 

Get Out Of You-Know-What Zone

Can you keep a secret?

I hate the concept of getting out of the comfort zone, and comfort zone in general.

First of all, it has become overused and almost lost its meaning. And second of all, because, well, comfort zone is comfortable and getting out of it is stressful as*. Who needs more stress in their life nowadays?!

But doing so not for the sake of doing it but for the rewards that ultimately come along is the thing.

For example, I had a temp job that consisted mainly of speaking on the phone with a bunch of strangers in English. First of all, I am not a fan of phone talks with stranger in my native tongue. Second of all, English not being my first language also meant I didn’t have a proper telephone manner.

For my colleagues, the whole intro with introduction and asking if that was so-and-so and asking them “How are you” and knowing where exactly that question goes was quite natural; for me it wasn’t, because we don’t ask strangers that in Serbian. Not once I said “may I speak please to…” instead of “may I please speak to…”.

But I did all that, day after day, for four weeks. Eventually it did become a habit. I like to think I’m not afraid of telephone anymore. So I did something that felt awful in the beginning but ultimately led to my personal development. 

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

A dear friend of mine recently tweeted that she hated herself after having had three pieces of cake.

I know she has been going through a long and complicated weight-loss journey, but still, as I told her: it was just a cake! I honestly believe an effing cake is not worth it, and it shouldn’t have such impact on anybody’s self-love.

Okay, on the other hand, she probably didn’t really hate herself, but just the discourse itself is negative and harming. 

(I like eating, and so what? I like training as well but sometimes I feel lazy and don’t mind the way I look (and my mother would tell you I should). It really doesn’t matter.)

For the past two or three years I had been making New Year’s resolutions about developing and maintaining morning and evening routine, each including an hour of screen-free time.

I couldn’t keep it. It so appeared that I kind of moved to the other side of the world—keeping in touch is a bit more important than a resolution that doesn’t really make a significant difference in my day. I mean, I never forget to wash my face or eat breakfast anyway—so does the exact order matter?

I won’t be sticking to the resolution this year—some good mornings and good nights go higher on the priority list than a trend on the internet. 

Stay True To Yourself

So many people are promoting the idea of being an entrepreneur and making money out of something you love doing. That’s great and I’m always happy to hear someone is making their dreams a reality.

But if it doesn’t work for you, so what? If you’re happy with your job as it is, why would you risk it all and venture into the unknown?

Even if you could use a change, does it really have to be something that’s in fashion right now? Just do you.

And if that’s selling everything you own and setting up a dog sweater knitting workshop in a park, you go, I’ll be rooting for you!

But if it’s not, who cares? You do you, remember that. 

Think With Your Head

This is similar to the previous item—you don’t have to nod your had to everything that’s popular with the general public if it doesn’t agree with you.

I became involved in an issue I’m very passionate about last year and almost whenever I voiced my opinions, I would be labeled as a bigot.

I do mind, but I deeply and honestly believe those people are wrong and are stating their opinion based on current trends in politics and political correctness, not facts and common sense.

I think in relation to this particular issue a grim year is  ahead of us all—but I will not change my opinion, because I trust myself and my intelligence and am able to tell which of the two opposing views is the right one.

So go ahead and use your head for what it was meant to be used.

Get your information, think about it and make a decision. Whether it be should you date a particular person or enter a PhD program or support a political idea. 

Unsubscribe And Unfollow

In the past I advised using which proved wrong for two reasons: 1) you probably know they shared your data (if you signed up) with who knows whom, and 2) they didn’t really unsubscribe, but just moved all those “unsubscribed” mail in Trash without it landing in your Inbox first.

So apparently, there’s no easy way to tackle the growing pile of electronic messages. There’s no shortcuts to Inbox (0), as the saying goes.

My piece of advice? Any time you receive an email you don’t need or want to see in your Inbox, hit Unsubscribe. I’ve been real generous with handing out my email address to every website in the universe, and it has resulted in clogging my precious space, and consequently, time.

Unsubscribe it is! (And for starters don’t even sign up, which is a way easier way to tackle this issue.)

Same goes for people you’re not super excited to see in your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feed.

Leave shallow emotion out of it: yes, it can be unpleasant to be unfollowed by someone you like, but do you really want to spare someone of the unpleasantness and be annoyed every time you see a piece of their content? I thought so.

(Don’t unfollow though just because a person told you your photographs could use a bit editing; and especially if that’s true 😉)

Easy With Photoshop

Just because there is a way to have flawless skin in a photo, along with super long legs, it doesn't mean you have to use them all at once.

What is that you're looking for by making your face unrecognizable? If you ask yourself this, you might be surprised with the answer.

In the meantime, be aware of this: people are probably laughing at your selfies. And you certainly don't want that.

Instead of a Conclusion

Make 2018. the year of making peace with yourself and your inner demons. But don't ever stop trying to turn them into pets who like nibbling on cookies and milk instead of your own insecurities. Be well this year. Cheers!

*I swear I did this unintentionally. "adjective as" is a Kiwi way of phrasing things, sweet as being the most common example. I am assimilating! :gasp:

photos: Unsplash

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