The key to a happy life, successful career, strong relationships, and a general well-being has a good self-concept. Sometimes, however, that takes work. Julia T. Wood lines out four steps to developing a good self-concept in her book Interpersonal Communication: Everyday Encounters. She says the key is making a firm commitment to personal growth, gain and use knowledge to support personal growth, set goals that are realistic and fair, and seek contexts that support personal change.
Make a firm commitment to personal growth
The first thing to do when deciding to improve self-concept is actually making the commitment to improve self-concept. It is a challenge and takes work. It’s cliché, but things are easier said than done. This means not letting setbacks prohibit moving forward and persevering through resistance.
Gain and use knowledge to support personal growth
The first thing to do is identify what the current self-concept is and determine how that self-concept came to be. The second thing need is obtaining information about oneself. There are four types of information. The first is open information, which is known to both the individual and others. The second type is the blind area that others can see but the individual can’t. This might be something like an individual believing they are weak but others seeing strength. The hidden area is the area that an individual knows about but chooses not to share with others. The last part is the unknown area that no one has discovered yet. Obtaining all knowledge possible (and asking others for more information) can be very helpful.
Set goals that are realistic and fair
People who decide to work out for the first time will go to the gym and try and run three miles the first day. They burn out fast and give up quickly. The same concept applies here. Pick small goals, and work towards them. Don’t take on too much in the beginning and add or expand goals as the first ones get mastered.
Seek contexts that support personal change
If one wants to stop partying, they might not want to surround themselves with a party atmosphere. Someone trying to learn to be independent might want to move away from parents. Create an environment that will enhance the path toward final goals. Implementing supportive family, friends, and co-workers can also help one work towards creating a self-concept.
In the end, improving self-concept must be done for the individual, not for anyone else. It’s a slow process but important. People should periodically check their self-concept; it changes over time.