Make a list of all the characteristics which you have and wish you didn’t such as getting angry too quickly or lying and so on and work on these. From this list, which should include dozens of things, choose the 10 main ones to work on.
Revelation occurred in the mount of Hira.
Why did the Prophet (saw) isolate himself in Hira?
To reflect, ponder and worship Allah. He (saw) was also tired of the shirk occurring in Makkah.
What can we learn from this?
That we need to spend time pondering and thinking about the signs that Allah has made clear to us so we become closer to Him. To also think about our day in terms of sins we have committed.
Having alone time helps to accomplish this.
The Prophet (saw) would spend time pondering so we ponder too over sins and so on daily.
When you feel down for no reason then know that it could be due to a sin so repent, give some sadaqa and do some self reflection .
The Prophet (saw) would always reflect. Try and see what you’ve done well that day and what you need to improve.
Try to do muhaasaba everyday. This is taking account of oneself. As Umar (ra) mentioned, take account of yourself before you are taken account of.
Think about what you have done today, the bad points and repent and improve. Have you drawn closer to Allah? One of Imam Ahmed’s (rh) companions said that he was with him for 25 years and there was no day except that he improved from the previous day!
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَلْتَنظُرْ نَفْسٌ مَّا قَدَّمَتْ لِغَدٍ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ
O you who have believed, fear Allah . And let every soul look to what it has put forth for tomorrow – and fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do. [Qur’an 59:18]
According to some of the great imams of the past, this Verse is evidence to show one should take account of themselves (Muhaasaba).
This means thinking everyday about what a person has done, how they did it and why. Trying to make sure they do it to please Allah and do it in the way the Prophet (saw) did it.
This constant self reflection will help one to humble oneself, realise ones shortcomings and work on oneself constantly as opposed to the one who goes by days, months, years and is heedless of his shortcomings leading to ignorance of his own state, a hard heart and a heavy accountability on the Last Day.