You Never Walk Alone: The Self Journey is less lonely than you think

When we start our self journey to improvement, often times we feel that we have to do this completely alone. Let go of everything and embark on a journey to find yourself away from the influences of everyone and the world. Forget everyone that you knew. This is far from the truth. We humans are social creatures and we need each other to thrive.

Think of every movie you’ve seen. Even when the main character wants to change, there’s always someone, no matter what their role is in the main characters life, to help or inspire change: the wise sage that imparts mystical wisdom, the friend with endless support, the family member who the change is for, or even the stranger that triggered a forgotten desire that’s been hidden deeply in the depths of the heart. Sure, the focus is always on the main character but the point is the main character is never alone.

How does this translate to our own self journey? Just like the main character in the movie, we are always surrounded by people even when it feels like we’re not. Years ago when I was 18 years old and just recently moved to a new state, in a new town, and recently graduated from high school, it felt like I was completely separated from everything and everyone that I knew.

During this time, I started to seriously reflect on my life and decide what my next course of action was going to be to accomplish my goals. Looking back now with fond memories, I was a brooding, ‘edgy’, young adult who felt like the whole world was against me and that to change my life for the better, I had to do it completely alone. That was my mistake.

Even when you’re on your self improvement journey, there are others who will help you along the way.

It wasn’t until I got older and now, at 25 years old, that I realised that I was so wrong. We are always surrounded by people who help us in some way and in the ways that we least expect it. Call it the ‘Will of The Universe’ or fate or God’s Plan but I’d like to think that there’s a reason why we meet certain people at certain points in our lives even if the encounter is for a moment or if it lasts for a life time.

At that time we may not understand why we meet certain people but when we look back in hindsight, we will. There’s always something that we can learn from each person that we come across and it’s up to us to choose how to interpret the meaning behind it. A good or bad experience is relative because what at first seems like a ‘bad encounter’ with someone, later on turns out to be a ‘good encounter’ and vice versa because it may have been just what you needed.

Of course, I’m not saying we should seek out ‘bad people’ in order to learn something from them. The point of this post is that for each and every person that we meet, there’s always a lesson to be learned from the meeting and it can help us move forward.

Have you noticed that, when you wanted to change something in your life, or improve yourself, or even when you just need help, you meet just the right people to help trigger these changes?

I can think of a handful of examples: when I started to want to improve my outlook in life and go from a reactive person to a proactive person, I started to read Dr Stephen Covey’s ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’. When I got back in touch with my high school crush and driven by the desire to see them again, I applied to university in the same state. When I caught up with my old highschool friend again, I was inspired to start my own WordPress blog. During the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and I had just lost my job, I met a mentor who helped me improve my resume and job application skills.

To this day and probably until the time I leave this earth, this will keep happening. This will also keep happening to you. Even now I still get signs in the form of human encounters. Whenever I get a bad day at work and when a coworker moves on, it’s a sign for me to start applying to a new job. Whenever I start to stray and crave McDonald’s, my lovely boyfriend gently reminds me of the time the staff forgot to put my apple pie in my bag, and I get fired up again and stop craving (even now as I write this sentence, I’m all fired up again!).

While yes, we do need to face our own fears and problems, this doesn’t mean that we have to do it all alone. There is strength in numbers. This doesn’t mean that we expect others to solve our problems for us but that to ask and accept help from others when we need it.

Whenever I want to do something new like apply for a new job or to start a new habit, I tell my family, friends and my boyfriend for accountability. Whenever I start to feel like I’m slipping back to seeking comfort at work, I get a terrible encounter with a coworker or a customer and this fires me up again to keep finding jobs to apply to. Even to all the motivational YouTubers and countless people on Reddit who I will probably never meet, I’m grateful for watching their videos and reading their stories because this helps me to keep striving for my goals as I go along my self journey.

Once you start to sow even the tiniest seed of change in your mind, life will slowly send the people that you need to help you. You never walk alone in this life. Help will always come in ways that we least expect. It’s important to lean on the strength of others and to be grateful for everyone that you meet because each person teaches you something that you needed in that moment.


Love Yourself: The Answer To Living More Authentically

You might be wondering “Claire this is a proactivity/self-improvement blog – why are you talking about self love?” Hear me out: self-love and proactivity are linked and come hand in hand. Without including self love as part of your self-improvement journey, it’ll be tougher to see yourself as a proactive person that makes better, lasting changes for yourself.

Loving yourself doesn’t mean you ignore the bad and ugly parts of yourself and only loving the good parts. It means accepting everything about yourself, including all the bad choices that we make, the bad things that we go through, and who we were in the past and who we are in the present moment. Loving Yourself involves listening to your own voice, trusting and believing in yourself even when no one else does.

As we get older and navigate our way through society, it’s easy to be drowned out by the voice’s of others and by societal expectations of who we’re supposed to be and not who we want to be. In turn, this makes the process of improving ourselves even harder because a lot of doubt can come up as we’re trying to make changes in our lives.

Throughout my life, I’ve been called different labels by other people in different parts of my life: my friends, coworkers, relatives and even my immediate family. I’ve been called things like fat, no initiative, procrastinator, shy – lots of things that you wouldn’t associate with a self improvement blog. Surprising, right?

Even though I had so many attempts to make improvements throughout the years, nothing seemed to really stick until I started on my self love journey around 2019. It’s because no matter how much I wanted to change, deep down I believed in all the things people said about me. In the end nothing changed until I slowly learned to love myself.

With the rise of the ‘self-improvement’ movement and all it’s related movements, initially I got sucked into a ‘toxic positivity’ mindset. I thought that to be truly happy I needed always love myself and that meant always being in a happy, positive mood. This lead me to not really addressing the things underneath that held me back and I’ve been feeling stuck until now.

I didn’t truly understand what it actually meant to love myself until late 2020 when I discovered BTS’ music (though that’s a story for another time). Through the messages of the songs and what the group stood for, I learned a lot about self love and in turn, self-acceptance. Embracing myself not just for the person that I am today, but embracing my past self, my past failures and my past mistakes.

To quote Kim Namjoon (stage name RM), Leader of BTS from his 2018 United Nations Speech:

‘Maybe I made a mistake yesterday, but yesterday’s me is still me. Today, I am who I am with all my faults and my mistakes. Tomorrow, I might be a tiny bit wiser, and that’ll be me too. These faults and mistakes are what I am, making up the brightest stars in the constellation of my life. I have come to love myself for who I am, for who I was, and for who I hope to become.’

After learning to love myself, I embraced everything about me including my faults. I stopped seeing these things as something to be ashamed of and instead, as RM said above, ‘the brightest stars in the constellation of my life’. In loving myself, I started to accept all of my bad days, my ugly days and even the days where I feel like I’m at my lowest. It’s during these points of my life that I learn to accept who I am and love the person that can get myself through all of those days.

Eventually, as my love in myself grows, I realise that what people or society says about me doesn’t really matter. Just being myself and being alive and human on this earth is more than enough. What I say about myself is what’s most important and I’m the only one that can determine myself.

In turn, when you love yourself, you’ll start to live as how you want to live and pursue the things that you want to pursue. You stop caring about the perception of others and you’ll start to do things that helps in growing your self love and stop the things that harm it. It’s freeing because no matter what happens in life, no matter what people say about you, it won’t matter because your own self-love will show you the truth within and help you stay on course, whatever that may be for you.

For some of us, it’s still tough to love ourself depending on our environment. To the people out there in situations where it’s hard to love yourself, my message to you is: you’re not alone because you have yourself with you. Right now you may be going through a rough patch in life but never forget to thank yourself for getting through the day. The ‘you’ that’s going through struggle right now is just as loveable and deserving of love just like everyone else out there. The more belief and love you have in yourself, eventually the opportunities to live authentically will grow.

I will admit that there are days when it’s hard to love myself. When those days happen I give myself a break and do something relaxing. I count all of the things that I’m grateful for and I talk to myself and pick things about myself that are good and tell myself that it’s ok to simply exist and be myself.

While these past few years with the pandemic may have been tough on all of us, don’t forget to love yourself. Life is full of ups and downs but as long as you stay true to yourself and live full of love, you’ll be able to reach the authentic life you desire.

Proactivity in Day to Day Life

When you’re starting your journey to be proactive, it’s really hard to see how it can improve your day to day life. But once you do, the rewards are plenty and you start to appreciate the beauty of every day life and living as a human being on this earth.

When I started my self improvement journey back in 2016 (way before this blog existed and way before I truly knew myself), I started to read Dr. Stephen Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It was a transformative book for me and the first habit: Be Proactive, is my favourite habit which serves as the inspiration for this blog.

Realistically, it’s not always easy to be consistent and actively maintain proactivity. It’s easy to miss a day, to miss one item on the routine and to have something else going on (usually it’s something important that we can’t ignore) take up your time. We’ve all had that happen to us in many forms: family, work, school, you name it. Let’s not forget the many ways that COVID changed our lives. I’ve had all of that happen to me for the past five years, so I know the true struggle of trying to change and trying to make it stick.

With all these outside forces it’s easy to slip back into a reactive state. I use state instead of “life” because we can change the state of our being, just like in physics how matter can undergo different changes of state. Whether or not this change of state leads to a “better” or “worse” situation for us depends on what we do.

When you fall off, the best way to get back on track again is to start small. It doesn’t matter if it’s 1%, 0.1%, 0.01% or even 0.00000000000000000001% if it’s one small change that made you feel better.

How does this relate back to the post title? I find that after slowly injecting proactivity into my life, I can see it everywhere in my life. When I’m stuck in traffic, instead of getting angry I could turn on a podcast or listen to BTS on Spotify. Whenever I feel stuck on an assignment, I go out and walk my dog. If I feel angry, I water my plants (because who can stay angry while watering plants?).

The key thing to take away from this is we all have the freedom of choice. Even though I haven’t met any of my goals yet or I don’t have a lot yet, I’ve found it quite astounding at the many things that I can do within my life the way it currently is. Once we realise this and practice this in small steps, we can see the value in it and do more of it everyday. We start to appreciate ourselves and realise that even though it is small at the beginning, we have influence in our lives and the world around us.

Here’s a story about me: back in May 2021, I lost a job that I really enjoyed, due to COVID. The company decided to downsize and this included scaling back on their staff (resulting in me getting the boot). Instead of making a scene, I calmly accepted the verdict from my boss and finished my work day. After a few months of tough job searching I found a new job and I’m still at this company at the time of this writing. I thought it was a blessing to finally have work again (which it was and I’m grateful for it) however six months down the line, due to increasing demand and being overworked and stressed out (like we all are right now), I woke up one day and decided to make changes so that I could reduce the influence that work had on me (it wasn’t a good work environment and COVID made things worse) by going back to university and continuing my studies. This lead to me being able to make changes to my availability and getting a better work life balance. I’m still working at this place but instead of focusing too much on work , complaining about it (there’s nothing wrong with complaining as long as you do something about it) and accepting things as they are, I’m slowly making changes so that I can get to where I want to be and that I’m ready once opportunities show up.

While the Franklin Covey website provides more in-depth information on the first habit (which you can read here) here is my own process that I do to use proactivity in my everyday life. You may have heard something or do something similar already:

Step 1: Identify What You Want To Change

Whenever I want to change something in my life, I always try to identify what it is and why I want to change it. For example; I worked 5 days a week at odd hours and at odd lengths (some days I work for 4 hours and sometimes I work for 8). Shift work took a huge toll on my sleep pattern and mental health to the point that sometimes I’d be falling asleep while driving and believing it’s a miracle that I even got home alive (which, it is).

I wanted to change my work availability and wanted to find a new job. To do this, I decided to up-skill by going to university again and doing my Masters. This way, I have reduced availability and a better work-life balance.

Ask yourself: What do you want to change? I find that this question works for most things throughout my day. You may not be able to make huge changes immediately, but it’s the small changes that matter. For example if I want to change how I feel about being stuck in traffic, I put on a podcast so that I stop feeling miserable and start to see the time spent in traffic as time to learn something new or as a way to relax.

Step 2: Figure Out What Options Are Available To You

When I made the decision to go back to university, I’m grateful that I was in a place that I was able to do so. I had the idea for months but it also took me months to decide. It wasn’t until after speaking to my family and friends that I finally applied and accepted the possible changes that could go along with it.

The truth is, not everyone has the same options at certain points in time. There could be different factors that prevent us from getting certain options to make the changes that we want BUT this doesn’t mean we are out of options. Situations and circumstances can change. Do your research to see what options are available for the change that you want to make. If the options available at the present moment aren’t good for you, another valid option is to wait.

While you wait, let your imagination run wild. When I forget to set Spotify, the next best thing I can do is think of things in my head. Oftentimes what may seem like the silliest, improbable solution, may actually be very possible. It’s one of the many superpowers that we have as humans.

Step 3: Stick To Your Changes By Being Accountable

Once you’ve selected an option that you like to work towards making that change, stay on track by being accountable. This can come in many forms: telling your friends, keeping a habit tracker app, joining online communities, posting online on social media apps etc. I believe in technology being a tool that we can use for good, depending on how we use it.

When I say that I’m going to do things, I always tell my friends because they’re a supportive group of people and we encourage each other to live better. As an example, at the moment I’m part of a 30 day plank challenge with some of my friends and we notify each other once we’ve done the daily plank challenge. Seeing everyone do their planks makes me want to go on and continue with the challenge too.

If you don’t have a friend group, there’s always Reddit and Discord. There’s a community for anything that you can think of and the good thing is you can stay anonymous (if you’re feeling shy). If you need an accountability buddy, I am always contactable via my blog 🙂

Step 4: Always Remember Why You Wanted To Change

It’s normal to lose our way or have doubts while we want to make changes in our lives. To stay proactive, I recommend to always remember your reason. This reason will drive you and help you stay on track.

On my off-days where I don’t feel well or don’t want to study, I remember that the reason why I started my Masters is because I don’t want to be stuck at the same work place or the same kinds of job roles for the rest of my life. Whenever I’m craving McDonald’s, my boyfriend reminds me of the (last time) that we went, and for an unknown reason, the staff forgot to put my apple pie in the bag (which I really wanted) and every time I remember, I’m reminded of my health goals. At the time of this writing, I haven’t been to McDonald’s for about a month now!

Creating change is slow. At the start of aiming to inject proactivity into our every day lives, we need to be constantly aware and always remember why we want to change. Over time it will be easier to be proactive and see the rewards in our every day lives.