If you’re interested in home improvement the best course of action is to focus on one project at a time. If you try to open up too many projects all at once you’ll feel stressed and anxiety ridden, not to mention confused about where to direct your attention. You’ll be overwhelmed. The quality of all the projects will probably take a hit if they get completed at all.
From the behavioral point of view there’s no reason why self-improvement should be any different, except that when you’re working on yourself the projects you undertake are less tangible so there’s an even greater chance that you’ll quit when you try to do too many things at the same time. You won’t be constantly confronted with visible reminders that you still have work to do so it will be easier to rationalize giving up.
When you feel that spark of motivation to improve your life it’s easy to go overboard, to decide on a sort of general overhaul where you’re going to change every facet of your existence all at once. You’ll start to exercise, to eat healthier, to pursue that hobby you’ve always been interested in, to improve your communication skills, etc. etc.
If you’re feeling the spark we definitely do recommend that you make a list of all the areas of your life that you’re interested in improving but we don’t recommend that you try to do them all at once, for the same reason that you shouldn’t try to do a bunch of home improvement projects all at once. In the behavioral sense you want to make sure that the process of self-improvement is positively reinforcing to you. A positive reinforcement increases the likelihood of similar behavior in the future. When you’re focusing all your attention and effort on just one project your chances of getting good results go up dramatically, and these good results act as powerful positive reinforcers.
After a while the particular self-improvement project you’ve been working on won’t be a project anymore, it will be a hardwired behavior, something that’s just part and parcel of your existence. Then you can move on to the next task, and the next, and the next, using that same mindful strategy of focusing all your attention and effort on what you’re doing. You’re asking way too much of yourself by trying to do it all at once, you’re setting yourself up for failure. A so-so effort gets a so-so result, and that’s what you get when you spread yourself too thin. Give everything you have to just one area of improvement until you feel reasonably certain that maintaining the set of behaviors in this area will be pretty easy for you, just a typical part of your life. Then move on to the next project, and before long you’ll have given yourself the complete makeover you were interested in to begin with.