I think that if you are reading this, you spend a lot of time looking for the “answers”. How to be successful, motivated, happy, a leader… the list goes on. You won’t find exact answers here. What you will find is an idea: being your best self is important. You will also find a few explanations of how you can start on that path. It’s a good path. Consider each point for yourself to see if aiming to be better sounds like something you are willing to do.

Assessing Your Starting Point:

When embarking on a journey of self-improvement, it is crucial to take the time to reflect on what you tend to do most. Then think how those patterns may affect your long-term progress. What would my life look like in 5 years if I took advantage of my tendencies? For example, if I used my work-ethic or my enthusiasm. The same is true for tendencies you do not like. Understand that what you do will have a real impact on your future.

Asking about yourself will provide you with more answers than reading the rest of this article– but I still recommend reading it — because the insight into areas you can improve is all in your own knowledge of yourself.

Then, you plan to act in ways that support your goals. 

Overcoming Obstacles and Taking Action:

Like I hinted at above: it is essential to take what you learn and apply it to your daily life. One of the most significant obstacles in the pursuit of self-improvement is the lack of courage to do what is needed (or even just to try something new). It may appear as laziness, but it often stems from a tendency to conform to others or withdraw oneself. To overcome this, shift your focus from worrying about obstacles to getting creative and finding innovative ways to move closer to your goals.

Remember, obsessing over problems does little to help you, while actively solving them leads to progress. One way I like to think about obstacles is to try and reduce them to a task. If you don’t have food, you go to the grocery store. If you don’t have a first line role, you work on your skills. If you encounter something tricky, lucky you. Use it to learn and grow.

Nothing easy was ever worth doing.

Celebrating Progress:

Research on gratitude has shown that acknowledging and appreciating progress is a powerful motivator. Embrace the concept of “the gain and the gap” – not only recognizing how far you have come but also identifying areas where you can continue to improve. After all, you cannot stop improving if you are looking to better yourself for real.

One more cool thing happens when you make progress. People notice. When someone acknowledges your improvement, take the time to ask them how you have grown. Their words will not only help you feel capable, they will also help you re-assess yourself to know what the next thing is. Celebrate all your wins to realize that winning is in fact possible. 

Sustainable Action and Future Thinking:

Your future self holds the potential for greatness in many ways. But sometimes aspirations are stressful. Your vision for yourself in the future and how it really unfolds are different… there is always uncertainty.  But you can actively work from the inside out to become the person you envision. The way to do this is to identify aspirations one-by-one so they are crystal clear in your head.

For instance, if you aspire to be a good listener as a friend, invest time and effort into developing your listening skills. Remember, self-improvement is continuous. So you need to have something aspirational in your future to continue towards. An example of when I took a long-term perspective was realizing that I would either have to retire without a contract I was happy with, or improve as a player. That itself allowed me to cultivate habits that supported my growth.

Expecting the Best from Yourself:

The concept of positive expectancy is a state of mind where you believe in your ability to achieve good results. To cultivate this mindset, don’t just go back to mantras or other ‘jedi mind tricks’.  When you have started to act like the person who gets great results, it will be hard to hold onto negativity. Let go of ideas that no longer feel accurate, but be the kind of person you can say good things about. Have great expectations. 


As the hockey off-season is starting, seize the opportunity to work on yourself as an athlete. Assess your starting point, overcome obstacles with creativity and work, celebrate your progress, embrace sustainable action, and foster a mindset of positive expectancy. 

Remember, the best work you can do is investing in your own growth. 


Kyle is the co-founder of My Mental Game and a professional hockey player in France. His passion is for solving the problems that athletes typically face. Read more about him here.