THE KEY TO SELF-IMPROVEMENT

In the course of writing these blogs and my books I often wonder what is the most important key to improving yourself and living an amazing life. When I was writing A Happy Life for Busy People I recall asking myself how I could write a book about making people happy when different things work for different people. I answered that by finding universal truths that do apply to everyone and that are uniquely able to be customized by the individual. Through doing so I had solved the problem of ‘the same but different’. The next question was, if people needed to improve themselves how could I make it affordable. 90% of the tools mentioned in my book are less than $5 and many can be done for free. As a bonus I also made them fun to do so people were more likely to stick with them. There was also the question of time. A book that mentions happiness for busy people couldn’t very well give you a complicated 12 step process that required a great deal of time. Although the set up may take you some time, depending on what you choose, the actions required to use the insider secrets shared in that book only take 2 to 5 minutes a day. Less time than it take to enjoy your morning coffee. Many you can even do while enjoying your morning java juice.

I thought I had solved all of the challenges that a determined individual might face when trying to improve their lot in life. The tools were able to be customized to fit the reader. They were so cheap anyone could afford to begin improving their life no matter what financial state they were in. They only took 5 minutes at most a day. Many of them could be done while drinking your morning coffee or some other daily ritual. They were even fun! Still, I encountered people I know had read my book that seemed not to be experiencing the full and rich life they so truly deserved. This greatly disturbed my otherwise congenial spirit. It was, after all, why I wrote the book in the first place.

I learned the one thing all of those wonderful folks were missing – effort. The next question was naturally, “Why are they not putting forth the effort when it is minimal and fun?” The answer, as is the case in many things in life, was not that simple. People didn’t give the effort for many different reasons. I had to learn what they were. It would not only allow me to better help people live an amazing life, but help me stay committed to the changes I was seeking to make in my own life. Let us look at some of those reasons now.

The main reason people do not act on changes they know will change their life for the better also happens to be the key to making it as effortless as possible. That reason is their why is not strong enough. If, for example, you want to get in better shape to look better in your clothes, that could be rather motivating. If you have the unfortunate experience of going through a heart attack and almost dying, that is a lot more motivating. By no means am I suggesting one goes through a heart attack to strengthen their why. It does give us a clue as to a tool we can use. Let us create 2 lists. The first can be fun. Think of the great benefits you will get by obtaining your goal. You will look better in your clothes. You will be able to climb the stairs without seeking oxygen and a Sherpa. You will have more energy. If you have to bend over you can…well…get back up. The second list may not be as fun, but may be more motivating. Think of all you stand to lose if you don’t act on your tools of self-improvement. In this case, you may miss out on some fun events because you lack the energy or physical ability. You will miss out on extra fun with your spouse because ill health negatively affects libido. Use both the carrot and the stick.

Another reason, one I am guilty of on occasion is thinking too far ahead. As the great quote from Martin Luther King Jr. says above, just take the first step. Jack Canfield put it brilliantly in the movie The Secret. He mentioned that the average headlights on a car shine 100 feet ahead. Yet, by continually looking 100 feet ahead you can drive from New York to Los Angeles, 100 feet at a time. Can you think how ridiculous it would be if you only took trips if you could see the entire journey at once? We would never go anywhere! I would never make it to the tropics! That is a scary thought. Why then, do we do this will our self-improvement journey? We may not be able to see how a gratitude journal can help us chance our mindset. How do you really set up a vision board? Sometimes we just have to jump in and figure it out as we go. This leads us to the next problem.

This definition of success sucks! For a better one, I go back to quote one of my mentors Earl Nightingale. “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” I put the word in italics for a very good reason. If we only celebrate achieving goals we are missing the point entirely. One of the best ways to assure you live an amazing life is to find ways to enjoy the process. Life is a journey, not a destination. Every day that we work on ourselves is one day closer to a better life. In fact, if we work on ourselves every day, the end of the day is a better life than the beginning. Have you every thought of life in this fashion? Even mistakes and terrible days bring us more enlightenment. We either win, or we learn. Nobody is perfect (my beautiful Margie comes close, but then again I am biased) do not expect yourself to be. Feel free to laugh at your silly mistakes and be grateful for all of the lessons learned.

There are a million different reasons to not put forth the effort in improving your own life. What are some of yours? Once identified, you can begin to discover ways in which you can override them. That journey in itself is reason for celebration! Something to tell yourself, or better yet hang on the mirror, is something I tell Margie all of the time –

DO NOT WORRY. YOU GOT THIS!!!

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