Upon undertaking the journey of self-improvement an individual typically finds they go through three stages of emotions in the quest to live a more fulfilling life.
When a decision to self-improve is made, one commits to deliberate effort addressing what they want in life; typically this comes in the form of setting goals and undertaking research to inform and inspire such as books, recordings etc.
This is a discovery stage, where everything is new and many of the ideas is all new information. The improver will have feelings of elation as they embrace the words of great minds, gaining knowledge that is ‘life-changing’.
Because of its newness goals are achieved a lot quicker usually because niggling issues, ignored for years are addressed. Tangible improvements are seen to health, wealth and social life.
You think to how you were in the past and why you didn’t take control of your life years ago. But there is a naivety as the results are only ‘quick wins’, with many bigger challenges ahead, which leads to…
The bigger the ambition, the bigger the repetition.
Routine and repetition are hard – requiring more time, effort and behaviour change.
- It’s easy to lose weight – its hard to get 10% body fat without a major overhaul in your life.
- It’s easy to get a better job – its hard to keep moving in a career without time, effort and building connections
- It’s easy to start to save – its hard to become a millionaire without the drive and sound strategy to get there.
There is no shortcut to this except lots of work.
The self-improver goes back to inspirational content for motivation, but a cynicism is developed, new reads come off as hokey, cliché and repetitive; one even notices self-improvement books all seem to be the same advice rebranded and repackaged. The creators who seemed like philsophers now seem like hacks and snake oil salesmen.
The major end-goal payoff is little to none and this drags the self-improver across to the next stage.
The unfufilment stage is reached when the individual puts pressure on themselves in their own desire to achieve; fatigue has set in because of repetition and a number of set-backs towards that end goal.
They don’t realise it, but they are improving, but because the results are intagible the feeling of euphoria is absent to assist with driving forward.
Self-improvement reads have lost all value, and its this time the self-improver realises they are on their own.
With unfulfillment comes doubt – “do I really want to be a…”, the 10% body fat ambition takes a few nights off as you go to a sugar fix to deal with your stresses. The concept of self-improvement is no longer new, and they are now trapped in the journey of their life.
What is the answer?… Learn to enjoy the journey
Enjoy the journey
When goals are set, an easy mistake made is forgetting that they are essentially a journey, that will require many repetitions. Upon achieving the goal an individual ideally at the minimum will be wiser for the journey, at best mastery. Wanting an easy way around the journey is nothing but a bucket list, a tick list that is shallow, with no substance and nothing of real interest or ambition behind it.
In my first years of self-improvement I developed resilence to setbacks and learned an appreciation that if I really want something I can’t expect instant results. And for someone who always wants to achieve, that wasn’t always easy – even now its easy to fall back into unfulfilment.
When I started self-improvement, I thought the goals would make me a better person, when actually its the journey that has molded the character I have become.
It’s the journey that taught me how to believe in myself and kick those self-doubting voices in my head right in the balls.
The journey was when I learnt to forgive myself if I failed or I slipped on my goals and it’s the journey that made me get through if I felt like I hadn’t ‘achieved anything worthwhile recently’.
I take full pleasure in the journey, as if I let myself be driven down by the boredom, then I am just creating a prison in my mind. I created an alteration mindset that sees the bigger picture in all routine.
For example, I congratulate myself every morning when I get up early in the morning to go to the gym. There was nothing particularly special about going to the gym, its what I did every day, but it did result in me being able to squat 120kg.
I reflect on my life and rather than thinking ‘why didn’t I start this sooner?’ I think ‘how far I’ve come since I started.’
Everything I wanted at 18, I now have, so when I feel down about the continued journey I remind myself how lucky I am.
The journey isn’t endless highlights and results, its the trudging and disciplined routine to reach that goal.
There are two approaches to it:
- Enjoy it, embrace it and learn from it.
- Bitch about it and feel sorry for yourself every step of the way.
Only one will make the journey much more pleasurable, but the choice is yours.
Routine is 99% of life, so you better start enjoying it as from my experience that is where the good stuff comes in – the things you didn’t plan or expect to do happen.
Enjoy the journey.