September is Self Improvement Month, but we engage in self-improvement throughout the year. Whether we up our exercise program a notch, vow to eat healthier or volunteer, many of our actions are driven by the urge to improve ourselves.
Why Do People Want to Improve Themselves?
Some people view certain aspects of their bodies, personality or behavior as negative and want to bring them up to par. Others want to be the best. A few are believers in the philosophy that self-improvement gives meaning to life.
Perhaps we want to improve ourselves because that’s one way we can control our environment. As Aldous Huxley wrote, “There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self.”
Setting goals for self-improvement is, quite simply, a natural human quality. That does not change as we age. A MetLife study that included 45- to 74-year-olds found that having a purpose in life is fundamental to meeting basic needs. The larger study listed financial freedom, good physical and mental health, deep relationships, a sense of purpose, and belonging as goals of most adults, no matter what their age.
Kaizen - Change for the Better
The Japanese term, kaizen, means change for the better. Although kaizen is more commonly used when talking about productivity, it can be applied to daily life. And, because the philosophy surrounding the term concentrates on incremental change of 1%, it’s more likely to be effective.
Kaizen utilizes psychology to develop a loop of goal-setting and success that leads to additional goal-setting and success.
Aging and Setting Goals
Age affects the kind of goals we set, as well as their breadth.
Research indicates that older adults who set attainable goals are less likely to experience depression. The goals set by older adults tend to focus on independence, relevance, companionship, and security, according to an article in Psychology Today.
Seniors spend more time on activities they find meaningful than younger folks, who are mostly preoccupied with making a living, according to the MetLife study mentioned above. With the boon of more time, today’s older adults are developing different objectives than the generations that preceded them, as well as novel ways to accomplish those goals.
Increased longevity is resulting in older adults developing new purpose in life, which may include a second or third career, volunteering, learning new skills, traveling, and making long-term relationships.
Setting Self-Improvement Goals
Most people have similar goals, related to health and happiness. Few meet their goals. By focusing on SMART goals—specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based—you can see and measure the difference.
Say you want to look good for a grandchild’s wedding or improve your golf score.
- Specific-What, specifically, do you want to do to accomplish your goal? Do you want to lose weight or take points off your average?
- Measurable-How much weight do you want to lose? 5 pounds? How many points do you want to reduce? 3 points?
- Attainable-This is where the kaizen philosophy of incremental change comes in. If you work on an incremental basis, it’s easier to reach your goals. After all, it’s much easier to focus on losing 1 pound a week or changing your putting stance than to work toward larger goals.
- Realistic-Is it possible, given the constraints of your time, ability, other responsibilities, and budget, to complete the task?
- Time-based-Set specific goals within specific time frames. Lose 1 pound per week. Practice 5 times a month instead of 4.
Sugar Hill Can Help
Sugar Hill Retirement Community’s wellness and activity programs, as well as our delicious (and wildly popular) cuisine can help keep you healthy so you can accomplish your goals. Request a brochure, a tour or more information by calling (603) 569-8485, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or contacting us online.