How To Improve Your Self-Improvement Efforts

Improving your self-improvement looks like an infinite loop.  Improving your improving your self-improvement would be chapter 2. It is not a trivial idea.

We all want to be better at something, yet few of us know what we are doing.  Buy a book and read some if it. Take a course. Watch a video series.  Listen to a mentor.  None of these will harm and most will add something to the improvement effort.  But, getting a little out of many things is not the same thing as having an improvement plan of attack.

The enemy of self-improvement is the absence of knowledge.  Knowledge about ourselves and knowledge about the world we live in.  The knowledge can range from know nothing to know everything.  There are four resulting extreme conditions.

  1. We know nothing about ourself and nothing about the world
  2. We know everything about ourself and nothing of the world
  3. We know nothing of ourself and everything about the world
  4. We know everything about both

Most of us fall towards the middle where we know something about the world and something about ourselves.  The middle is not an efficient place to be.

Efficiency matters because both time and money resources are limited.  We seek the greatest result for the least input.  That is how you define efficiency.

The self is an easier place to start than the world.

The first part is to isolate and resolve conflicts.  Things like I want to be wealthy, but I don’t want to devote the time, money or risk to get that way.  I want to be healthy but I don’t like to exercise and I love rich food.  I want to have strong relationships but I want others to put in the work.

Conflicts kill the best of intentions.

The second part is to find the holes.  What voids are there in your self.  Hockey Hall of Fame coach, the late Roger Neilson, once told me that his fundamental task as a coach was to refuse to allow his players to keep their mental crutches.  Excuses.   What he meant was that we can all do better than we think we can do, or we all can do something we don’t know about, and a good coach refuses to let you use your false self belief against being your best.

We know more about ourselves than we know about the world.  How do we discover what is there?

Amazon.com has 103,456 books in the category self-improvement.  131 of them are on becoming a better CEO.  Amazon Canada lists only 60,808.  I suppose Canadians must have less need for improvement.

Starting with the books is a mistake.  We must first discover what we know of the world and again assess its validity and the parts that are missing.  The key is to eliminate the irrelevant. There are too many possible additions and the time to assess them all is prohibitive. We can safely decide to ignore the least important aspects.  I intend to devote little time to becoming a better tornado storm chaser or crochet specialist.  Each of has interests, some of which can become a passion.  Start there.

Suppose I want to be a better parent, better manager, better spouse, better with money, or in better health.  What would be the personal attributes?  That one is pretty easy to address.  Empathy and understanding works well for parent, manager and spouse.  Self discipline works well with all of them.  Awareness and reward works for all and is especially important in rewarding yourself.

Maybe I should begin with a book or maybe some videos that emphasize these personal attributes.  Maybe meditation.  The key is to notice them and notice how I am relating to them.  Learn a little more about others.  Impatience will be the enemy.

Reflection.  It is like the key to financial planning success.  Record, review,  revise.
If I know where I am and where I want to go, the journey is near complete.  All that is left is to acquire the tools or techniques that will get me there.  These may be books, mentors or advisors who can help.

It is a mistake to work on what others want from you.  It cannot work until you want it and can deliver it.  Motivation comes from within.  Know what you want and how it completes you will work.

Where am I? Where could I be?  How do I get there?  What must I do today?

Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario.  In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.

Please be in touch if I can help you.  don@moneyfyi.com  866-285-7772

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