by Jimmy Warden
A question that’s worth asking yourself is, “what is your character like?”. You should ask yourself this question because it’s a question that has the potential to keep you focused on each day on how you can be better than yesterday’s version of yourself. It’s a question that makes you think through the lens of an observer. It’s also a question that helps you create a purpose for changing your life for the better. If we don’t question our own character, we’ll never be able to change.
This process of character improvement is a long journey, but it all starts with asking the question mentioned in the first line of this essay. Once you get an accurate description of your character, you can begin to come up with ideas about how you’d like to improve and how you’re going to improve. This cannot be accomplished without an honest. thoughtful self-analysis of your character. Do you get angry or upset over minor disturbances? Are you easily irritated when people don’t act in accordance to the way you’d like them to? Do you lack discipline? Do you lack commitment to yourself and others? These are a few basic questions that you could ask yourself to start your self-assessment, but if those don’t apply to you, then choose more precise questions to address your faults.
The next step in your process of character development is to come up with a plan. This is often where people fall short because they want to come up with the perfect plan, so they stress over how to formulate it, and think themselves in circles, and ultimately fail to take action. A goal without a plan is just a wish, so you might was well start somewhere. Once you start taking action with a plan you’ll come to one of two realizations. One, your plan is actually not bad as a starting point and you’re seeing some small improvements in your daily life. Two, the plan isn’t so great and you’ll need to and make some changes. Either way, you’re receiving important feedback regarding your plan, which will allow you to take the necessary steps in the future on your path for self-improvement of your character. Keep in mind, the small goal within the large goal should be to be a little better today than you were yesterday. This path of micro-progression can help you stay engaged and motivated while on the path. Try not to compare yourself to others because they aren’t you and their goals are different, even though they might seem the same conceptually. The only person you should be observing during this process is yourself.
The way you should try tp this is to detach yourself from yourself in accordance to the aspects of your character you’re trying to improve. For example, if you’re striving to be more truthful, really try to keep a keen awareness of what you say to people. Not just to some people, but to everyone. Carl Rogers, a famous psychologist, used to have his students do this. Often times, when we tell a lie, there’s a negative response that occurs in the body. It might take the form of a sharp chill down your spine, a sick feeling in your gut, or simply your conscience telling you that you’re lying. Try it out. Tell someone a lie. Notice what happens afterwards. I can promise you that you’ll have one of these feelings and it won’t sit well with you.
Speaking of your conscience, it often tells you what you shouldn’t do, not always what you should do (although there are many times when it tells you what you should do). One example of your conscience telling you what you shouldn’t do is when you have the thought of indulging in a guilty pleasure. Your conscience knows and often will tell you not to do it, but you often indulge anyway because you’ve built it as a habit. The more you detach yourself from old thought patterns that no longer serve you, the more likely it is that you’ll succeed in improving your character. The important idea to remember is you’re striving for small improvements, which will will compound to the large goal you’re trying to achieve. You can notice these changes, too, as long as you stay as consistent as you can and when you fail, just try again. It’s a matter of coming up with a system that works for you. It might be an accountability group, a habit tracker on a spreadsheet (or even a piece of paper), or even a good old-fashioned journal. Think about what works best for you to help you acknowledge the improvements you’re making.
The most important piece of this journey is your purpose for doing it. Do you have toxic levels of stress? Do you have habits you’d like to change? Do you have mental or physical addictions? Amidst any of these scenarios, do you also have people counting on you? Are you proud of the person version of yourself that you’re providing them? These are all serious questions that you should ask in order to develop your purpose for improving your character, but be real when you ask these questions. Admit your faults. Admit your shortcomings. Everyone in this world has plenty of parts of their character that they could be improving. This purpose will help you get up early on the days you want to sleep in. This purpose will help you put a smile on your face and give you a positive outlook on your job when you’d rather quit or call in to fake sick. This purpose will help you make better choices that support your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. It will help you conquer your anxiety provoking to-do list. This purpose will help you get through all of your struggles because a plan without purpose is purposeless. You just have to start thinking about it.
If you don’t question your character, you’ll never be able to improve it. You’ll continue to fall into the same habits, behaviors, and thought patterns that have been plaguing you for years. So you have to ask yourself, “what is your character like?”. From there, you have to formulate a plan to put into action and go back to the drawing board if it doesn’t work out the way you were anticipating. Most importantly, there needs to be a purpose for this plan to improve you character. It has to drive you. It has to be the fire beneath the surface of your being. So what will it be? Are you willing to make the change?