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How to Stay Motivated on Your Self-improvement Journey

Eight tips to master momentum on the roller coaster of personal development.

Key points

  • Self-improvement can be an unpredictable, wild ride.
  • To keep motivated, embrace the challenges and triumphs along the way.
  • Both your personal and professional lives can benefit from self-improvement.
Itai Aarons/Unsplash
Source: Itai Aarons/Unsplash

Self-improvement allows us to better ourselves both personally and professionally. It involves a conscious effort to enhance skills, knowledge, habits, and overall well-being. Although it's good to strive for self-improvement, motivation can sometimes take work. Self-improvement can be an unpredictable, thrilling experience, much like riding a roller coaster.

Highs, lows, challenges, and triumphs come from striving for personal development and growth. Lke roller coasters, self-improvement journeys also contain difficult moments. Along the way, challenges, obstacles, and pitfalls may threaten progress and test motivation to continue.

Eight Tips to Navigate Your Self-Improvement Journey

  1. Progress in nonlinear: Progress in any endeavor often involves periods during which growth appears to stall or plateau despite continued effort. Plateauing can be frustrating, but it is a natural part of the process. Setbacks or obstacles may cause regression or delays in progress. Never expect a straightforward path to success. Accepting that progress is non-linear means you can approach your goals with patience, resilience, and adaptability while staying motivated.
  2. External factors influence growth: The people we interact with daily, including family, friends, peers, and mentors, can profoundly influence our growth. Supportive relationships and positive role models can encourage personal development, while negative influences or lack of support can hinder progress and motivation. Socioeconomic factors, such as income level, employment opportunities, and access to resources, can also significantly impact the ability to grow and thrive.
  3. Setbacks are learning opportunities: Viewing setbacks as learning opportunities involves reframing challenges as stepping stones to growth rather than seeing them as barriers to success. By embracing setbacks with a growth mindset, you can cultivate resilience, deepen self-awareness, and gain a better understanding of your circumstances.
  4. Face your fears: Facing your fears with resilience can result in positive outcomes. Studies show that people who face their fears and stressors are motivated to put forth more effort to resolve problems or grow, and they tend to perform better. Challenges like facing your fears also foster personal self-discovery and growth. I've found that it's best to resist the immediate fight/flee/freeze response and use mindfulness strategies to calm your mind and promote a relaxed and collaborative problem-solving atmosphere.
  5. Balance is key: Balancing personal growth involves seeking continuous improvement while also accepting yourself for who you are and practicing self-compassion. Your health and personal relationships are the foundation of prosperity; unless you are protective of them, your career and financial accomplishments could come tumbling down. Developing a plan for work-life balance and well-being is critical to finding sustainable success.
  6. Celebrate every step and enjoy the journey: Acknowledge and appreciate your progress, no matter how small or incremental it may seem. Think of different ways to celebrate your achievement to motivate you to continue your chosen path of self-improvement. Celebrating achievements doesn't have to be extravagant or costly. It can be as simple as giving yourself a high-five or informally getting together with supportive friends.
  7. Embrace life's complexity: Accept and appreciate life's intricate, multifaceted nature rather than seek simplistic, black-and-white interpretations. Acknowledge the diversity of experiences, perspectives, and emotions that make up the human experience.
  8. Focus on progress, not perfection: If you keep waiting for something to be perfect (like your athletic performance, business plan, or resume), you may never put it out in the world. At some point, it has to be good enough, and you have to pull the trigger. Perfectionism reduces productivity and fuels performance anxiety; it can be a real roadblock to success. In my therapeutic practice, clients with perfectionism commonly experience depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorder, workaholism, extreme religiosity, and psychological rigidity (black-and-white thinking).

Not only does self-improvement contribute to overall well-being and happiness, but it's also a valuable asset for your career. Employers appreciate employees' commitment to self-improvement, as it demonstrates initiative, motivation, and a drive for excellence. Self-improvement also fosters a sense of empowerment and control over your life while on the roller coaster of self-improvement. A great byproduct is increased motivation, confidence, self-esteem, and a positive self-image.


LePine, J. A., Podsakoff, N. P., & LePine, M. A. (2005). A meta-analytic test of the challenge stressor–hindrance stressor framework: An explanation for inconsistent relationships among stressors and performance. Academy of management journal, 48(5), 764-775.

Spinks, N. (2004). Work-life balance: achievable goal or pipe dream?. The Journal for Quality and Participation, 27(3), 4.

Kenny, D.T., Davis, P. & Oates, J. (January 2004). Music performance anxiety and occupational stress amongst opera chorus artists and their relationship with state and trait anxiety and perfectionism. Journal of Anxiety Disorders 18, no. 6: 757-777,

Sassaroli, S. et al. Perfectionism in depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and eating disorders. (June 2008). Behaviour Research and Therapy 46, no. 6: 757-765,

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