5 Tips for Improving Self-Improvement

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Everybody wants to do better. Ben Franklin was a master of many things. But he pursued “the arduous task of arriving at moral perfection.”

Moral perfection may not be your goal, but I bet there’s parts of your life you’d like to improve. There are over 100,000 books on Amazon on self-improvement. The sheer number is proof that books alone won’t do the trick.

Part of my work is coaching writers whose full-time job is something else while they write a book. To do their best work and keep things in balance, they need to be as productive as possible. Here are five tips I share with them.

What Works for Most People Will Probably Work for You

We human beings are more alike than we are different. If you want to be more fit, be more productive, sell better, or be a better parent, start with what works for most people. It’s the advice that’s most likely to work for you.

Be wary of “new” advice that flies in the face of things we’ve known for decades. Human beings have changed little in the last couple of thousand years. It’s unlikely that this new “truth” will live up to the hype. Instead of jumping on the bandwagon, stand off to the side and see what happens to the bandwagon. Then decide whether to pursue that advice.

Experiment to Find What Works for You

You’re a lot like most other human beings, but you’re also unique. When the advice that works for everybody else doesn’t work for you, experiment to find what works best.

It’s easy to over-research stuff like this. Do your due diligence, then try something. If it works, great. If not, try something else.

Keep Records

Keep records of whatever it is you’re trying to improve. Keep records of the things you try to get better. Without those records, you’ll fool yourself.

Work on One Thing at a Time

You need to know whether the changes make a difference. And you need to make sure you’re doing what you intend to do. So, work on one area of self-improvement at a time. Change just one thing at a time.

Baby Steps Win the Day

Don’t go for big, dramatic change all at once. Make small changes, small improvements. Try to get just a little better every day.

Improving this way is like watching your money grow with compound interest. Each day of improvement builds on the previous days, and big changes happen over time.

Bottom Line

If you want to get better, don’t rely on self-improvement books alone. Pay attention to the advice that works for most people. Experiment to find what works for unique you. Keep records so you don’t fool yourself. Then, change one thing at a time. Improve one baby step at a time.3

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What People Are Saying

Jonathan Becker   |   23 May 2019   |   Reply

I’ve found that writing my thoughts in a daily journal helps me keep track of how I’m doing and feeling. Of course, I have biased sled views, so I seek external feedback. Feedback might be uncomfortable, yet I need it to truly improve. Thanks for sharing your insight.

Wally Bock   |   30 May 2019   |   Reply

Thanks for adding to the conversation.

Hamilton Lindley   |   24 May 2019   |   Reply

We can’t learn much from books if we don’t execute on the ideas to find what works. Recording progress is a great way to see what works and what doesn’t. Thanks for bringing good advice, as always, Wally.

Wally Bock   |   30 May 2019   |   Reply

Thanks, Hamilton. It’s also important not to confuse assessing progress with measuring progress. Not everything important can be counted.