One of the hardest things to do is to say yes to your own wants, dreams, and desires. For the longest time, I’ve been extremely focused on what’s “right” and what’s practical, and I’ve realized that I have put my own needs and desires to the side for way too long. Simply put, I want to build a better relationship with myself.

The process of improving your relationship with yourself is more difficult than it might seem, but it’s totally worth the time and effort. The steps to improving your relationship with yourself are to learn yourself, understand where you are, and decide where you are going. I’ve broken down the steps that I’ve been taking over the past few months to improve my relationship with me.

  1. Access Your Situation

The first step towards saying “yes” to yourself is accessing where you are now in your life. What is the state of your career, love life, living situation, and parenting relationships with your children, and so forth? One of the areas that is most often neglected is the area of personal finances. Sit down and take a hard look at your bills, debts, and savings. Are you where you want to be in every area of your life?

  1. Address Problems

Once you have completed your assessment, you’ll be able to identify areas for improvement. I call these “problem areas,” but they may not actually be problems, just areas for growth. For me, there are holes in my finances that need to be plugged, areas for growth in my career, and some repairs that need to be done in my relationships with loved ones. Once these areas are identified, you can create a plan to address them.

  1. Create a Plan

This is probably the hardest part, but you need to create a plan to address problems and areas of growth. Your plan will be unique to you, and your timeline will be also. Some problems can be fixed in a day (leaky faucet); other problems may take years (saving a marriage or overcoming an addiction). As you create and work your plan, ask for help and talk to others. You can’t do it all yourself.

  1. Be Flexible

Even the best laid plans usually change, so you have to be flexible. You may have had money designated for one purpose, only to have it diverted. You may want to go to marriage counseling, but your partner refuses. This is where you have to learn to say yes to YOU. You can’t control each and every thing that happens to you, but you can control what you do to and for yourself. Learn to prioritize you, so that you can better take care of others.

  1. Forgive Yourself

Along your journey, you will make mistakes. As you reflect on the past and how you got to the position that you are in, you may find yourself stuck mentally on past mistakes or poor decisions. Part of the process of creating abundance in your life is learning to let go of the past, and to forgive yourself. If you live in the past, you can’t create a brighter future.

You may be surprised that I didn’t mention “loving yourself.” That is because, while it is extremely important to accept certain parts of yourself that you cannot change, it is also important to change the things about yourself that are not making your happy.

You must first access your situation and what is and is not making you happy before you can address underlying issues like self-esteem and even depression. (It’s important to seek professional help if you are experiencing depression or have thoughts of harming yourself or others.) As you work though these steps, you’ll be able to decide the best way to move forward.

As you create your plan, don’t be afraid to think BIG, and outside of the box. Your plan doesn’t have to be practical, and it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone except you. I want to do things like learn French, tour Europe, and publish books. Other people may not be happy with those things, but in order to improve my relationship with myself, I have to make ME happy.

Just as it’s important to meet the needs of your mate, it’s important to meet your own needs, too. Take the time to work through these steps, and you’ll develop a greater understand of self, and you’ll be working towards building a life that makes you content.