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self improvement for men

The 31 ways to be a better man

These are 30 lessons I’ve learned about becoming a better man. I’m not the best version, but I’ve Improved and this guide can help you too.

Ed Latimore
Ed Latimore
Writer, retired boxer, self-improvement enthusiast

The premise of this article is simple. I wrote it when I had just turned 31. Here are 30 ways to become a better man. If you follow these simple steps, you won’t be a perfect man, but you will be the best version of a man that you can be.

[To read the original post on how to be a man, click here—>How to be a man: 9 qualities that makeup masculinity]

How to be a better man: 31 real things the modern man does to live life to the fullest 

1. Be true to yourself

Be comfortable in your own skin. Never be afraid of being disliked.

If you live true to yourself, you look forward to rejection. As long as you are happy with the life you have, let people fall out of it who want you to change or disapprove.

As long as you don’t hurt or take advantage of innocents, do what makes you happy. This is the surest way to be successful and respected.

This doesn’t count if you’re putting your livelihood at risk by breaking the law or hurting people, but never let others make you feel bad for what you want, what you like, or how you want to spend your time on this planet.

2. Seek out mentors

If you’re unsatisfied with any segment of your life, you’re a fool if you don’t seek out mentors with success in the area you wish to improve. Learning from others who have already done what you’re trying to do is the biggest lifehack I can think of.

I’ve watched many men remain losers because they refuse to cut their ego and ask more accomplished men how to improve their health, increase their dating options, and fix their finances. Real men have no problem asking for advice from men who are better than them in a particular area.

3. Get into the top 20% of a skill

If you really like something but aren’t good at it, you still have a good chance of getting in the top 20% of all people doing it if you practice and get top-rate instruction.

The top 20% isn’t a bad place to be. In fact, it’s quite successful compared to the average population. At that point, you can probably make a little money with your skill.

It doesn’t matter how bad you initially are if you like doing it. You’ll be more likely to put in the hard work needed to at least become above average.

Always have room in your life for a skill you really like doing but aren’t the best at.

4. Make personal development a lifestyle

Most people can improve their life.

There are only a select few who can’t.

All the people I’ve met who never do better and continually fail had the following attributes: lack of humility, no self-awareness, inability to suffer, and the inability to take responsibility.

If you only have one of these traits, or even two, there is hope. But if you think you’re always right (no humility), don’t know when you’re wrong to correct (no self-awareness), can’t do hard things for a long amount of time (inability to suffer), and always blame others (inability to take responsibility), you may as well be dead.

5. Build self-discipline

I grew up poor and I learned something valuable from it.

Growing up poor means you miss out on some of the more entertaining aspects of life, but that isn’t the worst part.

The real damage is if you grow up poor because your parents have no discipline. Your bank account will always be empty until you learn the self-discipline that your parents never taught you.

I believe that the greatest damage children sustain is from growing up in a household where delayed gratification and personal discipline aren’t enforced.

Being strong in the face of things meant to distract and weaken you is part of what it takes to be a successful man. This is accomplished through the power of self-discipline and you have to take full responsibility to stay resolute when others around you falter.

A huge part of being successful in life is having emotional discipline and self-control. If you can’t control your emotions, then your emotions will control you.

6. Don’t date your friend’s ex-girlfriends

Never ruin a friendship over a relationship.

After a particularly horrible incident, there is a rule I began to adhere to that I learned from pimps. If a girl left one pimp for another pimp, the new pimp did two things.

First, he made her give him all of her earnings for the night. Second, he went to the old pimp and told him what happened straight up. The actions forced the girl to be loyal and the pimps to settle things like gentlemen.

The point isn’t to run your friendships and relationships the way pimps do.

The point is to have a clear set of rules for handling exes that all involved understand. The idea is to behave with integrity towards your friends and there are few things that lack more integrity than setting your sights on a current or former lover of someone you call a friend.

This is just one of many reasons why you should end a friendship. 

7. Don’t be friends with girlfriends of your friends

There are very few reasons to actually be friends with a friend’s romantic partner. No matter what type of sexual relationship they have, there is nothing to be gained by being a friend to both.

This is another low-integrity move.

You can be friendly and get along when they bring them around, but there is no good reason to be legitimately friends with a friend’s lover.

Some people will argue, but no matter how cool you all are it creates a fundamental problem: conflict of interest.

In a perfect world, we’d all be happy, get along, and have the same interests and agendas. However, in the real world, you have to pick sides.

8. Avoid “the friend zone”

Men give attention to get sex. Women give sex to get attention.

This is a gross over-simplification based on what each sex’s highest priority is, but it is accurate enough to make some useful predictions.

It explains why more women than men believe that men and women can be “just friends”.

It allows us to better understand the frustrations of each: men aim to avoid being “friend-zoned” (giving attention without sex in return) and women aim to avoid being “fuck-zoned” (giving sex without attention in return).

It allows us to define what a “hoe” is. For men, it’s a guy that gives his time up without regard to what he gets in return, and for women, it’s one that gives her sex up without regard to what she gets in return.

9. Becoming a better man helps to attract better women

I have only loved 3 women in my life. The latest one is my fiancé.

Despite being of different ages and backgrounds, they’ve all had remarkable similarities.

  • High artistic talent (but not a professional artist)
  • Almost never drank
  • Non-smokers
  • Strong father figure
  • Respected men
  • No tattoos
  • Restrictive diets
  • Introverted
  • College degrees
  • Only had sisters

It’s important to note that I was definitely not searching for a girlfriend when I met any of them (in fact, for two of them I was definitely trying to avoid a relationship.

However, they caused powerful emotions in me and I fell for them. The point here is that I am ridiculously discerning. I don’t even like hanging out with girls. But these commonalities showed up in the 3 I fell for.

A wise man once remarked that these traits are all products of discipline and self-restraint. These traits also promote femininity, which motivates men to act more masculine. While different men are looking for different things at different times, I don’t think there is a man alive that is repulsed by anything on this list.

Become more attractive without turning into a d-bag

Get the short free guide here

10. Travel more

better man want success in life are good relationships with people to see the world
Stopping through the Mexican jungle while traveling the world.

The single biggest motivator in the world is travel.

Nothing has made me want to be successful more than the freedom of being able to experience any place in the world at any time I want to.

In fact, when people ask me how to get motivated to be a better man, I tell them to take a trip somewhere. It doesn’t need to be far, but it needs to be someplace new.

It’s one thing to read about a place online or see a friend’s vacation pictures they post on social media. It’s a completely different experience to have drinks on the beach, even if it’s just an 8-hour drive to Wildwood, NJ.

As long as it pushes you out of your comfort zone and gets you to see things that aren’t part of your normal surroundings, then the travel is worthwhile and has an incredible effect on your drive to become successful.

Don’t let the price tag of travel intimidate you. There are so many low costs ways to see places that you haven’t seen before. Even if you use bus tickets and stay in a cheap motel, traveling to unfamiliar places has a uniquely motivating effect.

Seeing different sights inspires you to think of you can do it more often. It forces you to set goals to figure it out. How can you find the motivation to work hard when all you know is what’s around you and that environment isn’t very inspiring?

11. Make yourself as attractive as possible

Get as good-looking as you can.

Your life is so much easier when people think you’re attractive. The most respected and successful strong men know that appearances matter at least as much as ability.

Forget the obvious part of this equation where you get more dates and are invited to better social situations. In general, people treat you better and are more responsive to you. It likely means that you’re in good health.

You’re more likely to get hired for jobs.

You’ll be given opportunities that others are excluded from.

Unfortunately, many men don’t think it’s masculine to care about their appearance. The reality is that appearances matter so much that it’s irresponsible and decidedly not masculine to not care about how you present yourself to the world.

I remember when I used to use the price of good clothing as an excuse for not caring about my appearance. Then I figured out that working out (Which is free–no, you don’t need a gym. Just use bodyweight exercises) makes anything look good on you.

Better men get better opportunities and a big part of that is looking better.

Once upon a time, my roommates and I didn’t pick a person to sublet because, despite everything being good on paper, she looked like a total slob. Yes, people are that shallow.

It’s nothing personal. It’s just simple human nature.

Rather than bitch, moan, and get in your emotions, use it to your advantage. You’ll be a better man for it.

12. Learn how to forgive

The most important skill to develop is the ability to forgive. 

Holding grudges and being angry only hurts you.

The other person can’t feel it. Only you carry that poison around.

There’s a quote that sums it up best: “Holding on to grudges is like holding on to a ball of fire and expecting the other person to get burned.”

Forgiveness is a complicated topic, but the basic idea is that you’re able to release any negative emotions you have towards a person for any wrong you think they’ve committed against you. You feel like they owe you something.

If you can do this, your heart will live without the burden that holding a grudge creates. It’s a heavy burden that only gets heavier the more you feel like you’re owed something for what you’ve endured.

Don’t confuse forgiveness for justice. Strong men know that bad people must be punished, but this doesn’t mean they allow it to weigh heavy on their emotions. Once a misdeed is handled, the idea is to harbor no ill will towards the offender.

One of the best books on forgiveness is “A Course In Miracles”. I strongly recommend anyone read it who is ready to forgive themselves or the world.

Let me help you go even further, even faster, with better results

  • Are you tired of feeling stuck, unsure of how to make the tough decisions that life throws your way?
  • Do you struggle to communicate effectively, even when the stakes are high?
  • Have you fallen into a bad habit or way of negative thinking that is costing you time, money, or relationships?

I’ve been a homeless alcoholic whose addiction nearly ruined all of his friendships. I held delusions of grandeur that protected my ego from the harsh reality—I was a loser, and I couldn’t stand the face I saw when I looked in the mirror.

But over the past 15 years, I snatched my life back to become a champion boxer, published author, expert chess player, and devoted husband and father. Along the way, I’ve learned how to change my thinking, inner dialogue, and external communication to make better decisions.

Let’s talk so I can help you do the same faster without hitting rock bottom.

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13. Learn to discern great friends from good friends

Good friends are the ones doing dumb shit with you. Great friends are the ones trying to get you to improve your life.

Most men surround themselves with only good friends and resent great friends. Great friends surround themselves with other great people and it makes their greatness grow.

The problem with good friends is that you can have a good enough life with them. You won’t be great, but you won’t be terrible either. They don’t lift you up, but they also don’t pull you down.

That’s cool if you’re happy with everything (see lesson 1), but if you want to be better, very often it requires changing who you spend the most time around.

14. Let useless friendships go

On the subject of friends, you may have to cut old friends off. I haven’t had to do this much, but it’s happened.

I didn’t make it a big deal. I simply stopped accepting their invitations and stopped going to see them. Eventually, they got the hint.

I generally don’t recommend a passive approach to things, but there are times when subtleties are superior to overt tactics.

Your personal judgment and experience will tell you which and when.

The Four Confidences is a little guide that’s big on advice for building confidence

This is a short book that answers the burning question of our time: “How do I build confidence?”

The Four Confidences is based on cold, hard experiences. Not theory. The same way I got confidence in my athletic, academic, and social abilities is what I share here. When I wasn’t confident enough to stay sober, I relied on these techniques to help me stop drinking.

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15. Try to understand and forgive your parents

If everything goes according to plan, your parents will die before you.

My father died when I was 18. No matter what, they’ll die and you’ll die one day as well. Your parents usually go first.

Not only will they die before you, but they are going to leave you alone on this planet for quite a few years until you pass on.

This means that no matter what they want for you, it doesn’t really matter. You must live your life according to what you want because you’re the only one who will have to live through it.

Click here to read my guide on forgiving your parents.

16. Understand what money buys—and doesn’t buy

There are many ways to be unhappy with money, but there are only a few ways to be happy without it. And of those few, most of them require you to ignore–or at the very least, rationalize away–the comforts, conveniences, and advantages that money brings.

Happiness is having more than enough money to cover your living expenses and basic leisure. If you can pay your bills and enjoy yourself without stress, you’re pretty successful.

If people remembered this and nothing else, they’d relieve a huge chunk of stress in their life. There is nothing more liberating than being able to buy groceries without checking the price.

If you aren’t motivated to make a lot of money, then you can still have an enjoyable life by not incurring extra expenses and being disciplined.

You’ll have limits, but successfully navigating them will keep your head above water. Read this to get my full thoughts on how to climb out of poverty.

I had to learn the hard way how to stop being poor. Read this so you don’t have to.

17. Learn how to be alone

Anyone who’s ever seriously wondered how to be better inevitably reaches the conclusion that it takes a lot of time and energy. This means that it’s something that requires you to spend a lot of time working on yourself alone.

Men need solitude to better themselves. However, they don’t always need to be alone. There is also a time to socialize, but this is where the discretion from previous steps comes into play.

If you can’t find people that you like to hang out with and you reside in a reasonably populated area, be patient. No company is better than the wrong kind of company. If you are true to yourself, you will eventually make friends.

If you’re somewhere without a lot of people, you might have to move if being happy is important to you. Normally I’d say “see lesson 1” but this particular point is beyond negotiation. See lesson 18.

[To read the original post on how to be a man, click here—>How to be a man: 9 qualities that makeup masculinity]

18. Nurture your relationships

No matter how much money you make or how good a time you are having, if you don’t have people you like to share it with then it’s meaningless.

This is one of those pieces of advice that equally applies to men and women. Sure, men don’t need to spend as much time with other people, they still need some connections.

We all need people to share the ups with and help us during the downs. There have been numerous studies to show the value of social connections on health and longevity.

It is a special kind of torture to be around people but not really feel connected with them.

19. Remember that you’re judged by the company you keep

Want to know the character of a person? Look at the length and caliber of their friendships. Look at the social circle of the most respected men; they do not keep people around who around them who do not reflect their values.

Who you follow and who follows you is the leading indicator of what’s important to you. And everyone is a follower of someone or something.

Birds of a feather flock together (See lesson 13). The following is a general guideline rather than a hard rule: once a person is 18, take a person’s age and subtract 14.

Be worried if they don’t have any friends longer than whatever you get.

While this isn’t always a bad thing (significant life improvements often necessitate a new social circle), it is definitely something that you should think of.

20. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

This is a cliché for a reason.

If you take the extra bit of energy to fix a problem or address it the right way from the beginning, you save yourself from plenty of headaches down the line.

Paying bills on time keeps you from paying the bill later on top of the fines. Using condoms is cheaper than plan B. An abortion is cheaper than raising a child.

21. Keep an 800 credit score with your friends

If you owe money to friends or loved ones, pay it when you said you would or as soon as you have it; whichever comes first.

If you have to choose between paying back a friend and paying back an institution, always pay the friend back first.

A better man knows that friends are faster than banks and understand if things come up. Friends also know if you’re bullshitting and friends hate to be bullshitted.

If you want to be respected by people, even if you’re enemies, always be a man of your word. Aim for an 800 credit score with your friends and you’ll never suffer in times of need.

22. Spend the money to get a decent car

I’ve owned 9 different cars. Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • The more money you spend on a car upfront, the less money you spend on repairs. Keep this in mind when you go to buy a “beater”.
  • As long as you get your oil changed every 3000 miles and pass inspection, your car shouldn’t have any serious surprise expenses.
  • Buy your car outright if you can, but as per the first point of this lesson, it may be more cost-effective (long term) to take on car payments.
  • Unless your home is in New York City, your dating life is going to be very expensive or non-existent without a car.
  • With Uber and Lyft, there is no reason why anyone should ever get a DUI again.

23. Get your drinking under control

Most people drink too much.

If you want to be a better man more respected man, then it’s imperative that you get your drinking under control.

If you’re going to piss people off, 24 is about the age where “I was drinking” becomes an inadequate excuse. You’re going to lose friends and the respect of people around you.

It doesn’t matter if they drink too. You’ll be “the guy that no one can drink around” and since most social events involve alcohol, you won’t be invited.

You also won’t be invited because most people will think you’re an asshole.

If you’re ready to put booze in the past, then use my 6 steps to quit drinking to help you get sober.

24. Don’t pay attention to haters

There’s a lot of talk about haters.

Here’s my honest-to-goodness experience. I preface this by saying that my life and results are not typical:

If you discount people that you’ve actively wronged (intentionally or not), then most people don’t really care about you — for better or worse.

They may not like you enough to congratulate you (and if you consider them a friend, this is a different problem entirely), but they aren’t actively hoping for you to fail.

They’re too busy making sure their own problems don’t eat them alive.

Here’s a guide to help you deal with haters if you have them.

25. Luck = preparation + opportunity

Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

Another cliché, but my goodness is this one powerful. Based on my experiences in life, I think I have the formula for success and luck.

Mind you, I’m not the first to put it this way, but I think my take on it can help someone.

Life is the sum of infinitely many opportunities. The only way to take advantage of these opportunities is by acquiring skills or being in the right position.

Your life will make significant improvements if you increase your skillset and put yourself in positions where your skillset will be noticed. As another old cliché goes, the harder you work the luckier you get.

26. Believe in something

I have no idea if there is a higher power or not.

After studying physics, I am 100% of the belief that the universe was intelligently designed. The concept of the afterlife does not violate what we know of the universe.

Treating other human beings with love and respect makes me feel better so I do it anyway.

For all intents and purposes, I carry the beliefs of a Christian or Catholic. I don’t officially follow any religion, but I find many of the tenets about living to be an ideal to strive for. Not only that, but I find that — all things considered equal — I tend to enjoy the company of people who have some religious beliefs rather than not.

I think I understand why.

Ignore the rituals (church) and consider the following: It costs the same initial amount of energy to believe in a higher power that it does to not. The difference is that the believers get the benefits of believing while the atheist gets the burden of explanation.

Believers live with a purpose, trust in a plan, and have a standard of behavior that inspires overt beneficial actions. Atheists are arrogant enough to believe that everything just appeared here and there is nothing greater than themselves.

This is probably why atheists are usually people I have no interest in being around or becoming.

27. Learn about women but don’t obsess over them

Focusing so much time and energy on Game was simultaneously the best and worst use of time in my 20’s.

I have a love/hate relationship with “game”.

Men NEED it today to have a shot at anything more than a mediocre love life. However, Game is not just about how to get laid or read body language. It’s about navigating the social-sexual landscape with your eyes wide open.

The greatest mistake a man can make is selecting the wrong woman from a position of beta weakness and supplicating naivety.

On the other hand, the power you experience learning Game is corrupting and intoxicating. Going from powerless to having control over your love life can ruin you and the relationships around you.

The game also makes you incredibly cynical and this WILL have an impact on other areas of your life.

Still, every guy needs to learn Game if for no other reason than to learn how to be respected by women and protect themselves from the worst the dating world has to offer.

28. Be more protective of your time

Time is the most valuable thing you can give someone.

The next most valuable thing you can do is stake your reputation on them.

One step down is giving them access to your resources. Way down the line is money.

The progression of value looks like this:

Time > Reputation > Energy »> Money

The trend here is that the more easily something can be renewed, the less important it is.

You can never get back time. This is why it’s the most important thing. As you become a better man, you’ll realize that our reputation is hard to rebuild and easy to destroy, but the only reason why it’s below time is that it can actually be replenished.

If you’re ever in doubt about who is on your side, look at who invests their time into you and who stands up for you in your absence.

29. Understand the difference between malice, stupidity, and apathy

Never attribute to malice that which can be attributed to stupidity or apathy.

When someone offends you, it’s because they don’t know or don’t care about your problems.

You’ll enjoy your existence more if you learn to not take life so personally.

30. Self-improvement comes with jealousy

If you want to make people uncomfortable, improve your status relative to theirs.

If you suddenly start doing worse than the people around you, people react with pity and they are usually very good at it.

However, people seem to have genuine difficulty adjusting to a person whose status and position increase. Especially if this change is relatively rapid.

I would imagine this is why most people end up with new friends when they make significant life improvements.

The main point is that when you make significant improvements in some area of your life, there will be those people who simply cannot adjust to the new you. It’s up to you to decide how much time you spend around them.

31. Two years is all you need to make a difference

I don’t know if I’ve saved the best lesson for last, but I certainly have saved the lesson that’s made the greatest impact on me until the end.

You only need 2 years to change any part of your life you are unsatisfied with. Financial, dating, work prospects, health, etc. 2 years is assuming you put an earnest effort in but you aren’t obsessive.

You could become obsessive and make changes even quicker, but it should not take you any longer than 2 years to change your life – if you really want to be better. This means that if you were to fuck up until you are 30, you could have a respectable life by 35.

There are books, videos, and websites on any topic you want to learn. Put on a podcast or audiobook while you’re driving or working out take advantage of the time you’re using to work on your body.

You can even follow people on social media learn directly from their posts about developing the proper mindset.

No matter what though, all that matters is that you start because the time is going to pass anyway. In 2 years will you be better, doing the same shit or even worse off?

Now that you know how to be a better man, what should you do now?

There’s only one thing to do.

If this post gave tremendous help or insight, or you simply enjoyed it, sign up to my mailing list for useful tips from someone who’s taken what he’s learned the hard way and broken it down so that you can learn it the easy way.

[To read the original post on how to be a man, click here—>How to be a man: 9 qualities that makeup masculinity]

Become more attractive without turning into a d-bag

Get the short free guide here
Ed Latimore
About the author

Ed Latimore

I’m a writer, competitive chess player, Army veteran, physicist, and former professional heavyweight boxer. My work focuses on self-development, realizing your potential, and sobriety—speaking from personal experience, having overcome both poverty and addiction.

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