Self Improvement is a beaten up term. Such a pure and noble meaning, yet it's been dragged through the mud to connotate seminars in low end hotel conference rooms and people who chant, "I manifest everything for life's highest purpose", but live otherwise unremarkable lives.
Self improvement has a stigma to it. It's embarrassing to be into it. So embarrassing, in fact, that some of its modern day figureheads have tried to rename it. Personal Development. Lifestyle Design. Self Actualization. Fluffy euphemisms, some of which admittedly do sound pretty cool.
But I'll come out and say it. I love self improvement. I don't need to call it anything else,I like it for what it is.
Life is unpredictable. New people come in without warning, best friends move to Tempe, Arizona. The unexpected happens constantly. New opportunities you've never even fathomed fall on your lap, and accidents happen that change everything.
I don't know about you, but when I try to predict what my life will look like in any significant distance in the future, I'm almost always dead wrong. Sometimes comically so.
I've only been alive for twenty seven years. I can't even imagine trying to predict what things will be like by the time I'm 80.
But the one constant in life that I can count on, as long as I'm alive, is myself. I'll always be here. Anything I put in to bettering myself will improve my life forever.
If I learn something important now, it will be there to guide me for the rest of my life. Habits I start now are more than likely to follow me to the grave. Exercising and eating right will prolong my life and keep my body functioning properly for a long time to come. I'll be able to talk to and have relationships with more people if I speak more languages. The more I know and discover the more I can help other people live life like they want to.
Self improvement has the practical potential to make every second of life better.
In other words, self improvement is the ultimate investment. If other activities are the equivalent of spending money, self improvement is the process of investing it.
There's nothing wrong with spending, but something should be invested as well. And, like interest, the effect is compounded. A little bit every day becomes a ton in a year or two.
Self improvement isn't a wholly selfish pursuit either. When you work on yourself and improve yourself, you become more pleasant and satisfying to be around. I'm no Ghandi, but I know that I've been able to positively impact a lot of peoples' lives in ways I would have been incapable of before.
For me, Self Improvement is the ultimate hobby. It should never totally consume one's life, but I think we all have dead time we could fill with learning or bad habits we could replace with better ones.
Reject the idea that self improvement is for losers or that it's all new age wishful thinking. Yes there are losers who are into it (don't they need it the most, and aren't they at least DOING something about it?). Yes there are paths in it that aren't particularly effective, but that's true of anything.
I love self improvement and will never stop being a part of it. If I can do anything for the field I hope that I can show people that it is a cool thing to do and share ideas and techniques that have really made a difference in my life.
I love self improvement too. The reason I think people bash it is that they don't believe you can really improve yourself as easily as you can. They are afraid of it.
People doubt themselves and doubt others all the time. People are afraid of the unknown, its human nature.
If you think things through clearly and look at the risks and rewards of taking action... I have realized that taking action almost always leads to improvement and rewards.
Sometimes it is difficult, but I always end up happier and better off when I do things that I fear.
The CEO of a company I worked for this summer once told me, "Do the things you fear and the death of fear is certain".... and I really have found that to be true.
I've been interested in self improvement for a long time. I'd get into stuff like "Mega Memory", language tapes, or "7 Habits of Highly Effective People". For a while I didn't really like to talk about being interested in this stuff because it was slightly embarrassing.
Bettering oneself isn't embarrassing, of course, it's the association with "those types of people". You know... the people who read all the books, go to all the seminars, and then don't do a thing about it. Maybe the most embarrassing part is that I was one of those people to a degree. There were a LOT of things I'd start and either not finish or not get results from it.
Is this the fault of the program or the book? Not at all. It's up to ME to follow through and implement the things I learn.
About three years ago, I read the excellent book Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. At that time, I made a list of the top 5-10 people in my life that I was to and had similar goals with. I sent out emails to them every once a month with what I was working on.
Eventually, I fell off from this habit. Not sure why - I'd had gotten good advice, stayed in touch with people I like, and it was a positive experience. I started re-thinking building my counsel a little over a year ago.
The challenge is, I've got a diverse set of goals and ideas. I write, I do business, I travel, I create art, I adventure, I'm looking to establish a strong family, and so on. I have friends who are writers or artists that aren't interested in business. I've got friends in business that pretty much always stick to their one city. I know guys who are pretty simple, work a normal job, don't make any art or do any entrepreneurship, but have very strong and good families. I know very successful businessmen who travel and adventure, but aren't interested in having kids.
So I was thinking - how do I balance this all on my counsel?
And eventually, the idea hits me. I need multiple, relevant counsels.