“The goal is not to be better than the other man, but your previous self.”
So said the Dalai Lama. There is no doubt, either, that most of us would prefer to be better people. However, achieving not just self-improvement, but continual self-improvement, can seem almost impossible, especially in a world in which we are all so busy.
There are those however who say that ongoing self-improvement is more than possible. You could call it the art of continuous self-improvement.
Let us start with a definition of continuous self-improvement. Continuous self-improvement is a commitment to make little changes and improvements on a daily basis, with the idea that these small changes will build up to something major.
The conventional approach to self-improvement is to set a lofty objective and then attempt to achieve it in the shortest amount of time possible. While this may appear to be a wonderful idea in theory, it frequently leads to exhaustion, dissatisfaction, and failure. Instead, we should concentrate on ongoing progress by gradually and subtly altering our daily habits and actions.
It is all too easy to disregard the importance of making marginally better daily decisions. It’s not impressive to stick to the basics. It is not glamorous to fall in love with dullness. It is not going to make the news if you improve by 1%.
However, there is one positive aspect to it: it works.
How Does Continuous Self – Improvement Work?
We frequently persuade ourselves that change is only significant if it has a large, apparent result. We often put pressure on ourselves to accomplish some earth-shattering transformation that everyone will talk about, whether it’s losing weight, starting a business, traveling the world, or achieving any other ambition.
Meanwhile, a 1% improvement isn’t significant (and sometimes it’s not even perceptible). However, it has the potential to be just as significant, particularly in the long run.
At first, there isn’t much of a difference between making a 1 percent better or 1 percent worse decision. (In other words, it will not have much of an effect on you today.) However, as time passes, these modest gains or losses accumulate, resulting in a large gap between individuals who make somewhat better everyday decisions and those who do not.
But here is the amazing thing:
If you improve one percent every day for a year, you will be 37 times better by the end of it. 37 time better is very significant.
This is why tiny decisions may not seem significant when you make them, but they add up over time. And you’ll begin to live by those wise words quoted at the beginning, you’ll be better than your previous self.
Let’s move on to a few quick steps you can do right now to begin focusing on continuous self-improvement.
Step 1: Do more of what you’re already doing well.
We frequently squander the ideas and resources at our disposal because they do not appear to be innovative or thrilling.
There are several instances of major and minor habits that may help us develop in our lives if we practiced them more consistently. Every day, floss our teeth and do it for a little longer. Don’t miss a workout. If you can’t get to a gym, find a YouTube video and work out at home. Performing basic, boring, but necessary business chores on a daily basis, not simply when you have free time, is another great example. Say sorry more often, while also saying thank you more often too.
Progress in the area of continuous self-improvement is frequently concealed by mundane solutions and underutilized ideas. Often, you do not need any other information. You don’t require a more effective strategy. All you have to do now is do more of what you’re already doing.
Step 2: The Art of Self Improvement by Subtraction
In many circumstances, achieving continuous self-improvement is about doing fewer things wrong rather than doing more things well.
Self-improvement by subtraction is a notion that focuses on doing less of what does not work: it’s about minimizing mistakes, lowering complexity, and eradicating the unnecessary.
Some examples are as follows:
- Education: Make fewer mental blunders and avoid making dumb mistakes.
- Investing: Avoid making money moves that will lose money, and keep your risk to a minimum.
- Webpage design: Remove any on-page features that are distracting to visitors.
- Exercise: Make a plan to work out from home. You will miss fewer workouts this way.
- Eating: Reduce the amount of unhealthy meals you consume. Take the time to cook, even if it’s something very simple, rather than taking the easy way out and stopping for fast food. You’ll almost certainly save money that way, too, which goes back to the second point here.
In your everyday life, limiting the downside rather than seizing the upside is generally a better way to increase performance. Addition is more practical than subtraction. Avoiding little losses is one of the best methods to generate significant gains. Sounds a little crazy, but try it out, and you should find that it’s far more effective than you might think.
Step 3: Start Benchmarking Backwards
We frequently assess our progress by looking ahead. We set objectives. We set goals for ourselves and set benchmarks for our development. In essence, we attempt to forecast the future to some extent.
There is an alternative, which I believe is more useful: measure backwards rather than forwards.
When you measure backward, you’re making decisions based on what has already occurred rather than what you want to happen.
Listed below are a few examples:
- Measure your calorie consumption if you’re trying to lose weight. Last week, did you consume 3,500 calories each day? This week, aim for an average of 3,400 calories each day.
- Strength Training: Oh, last week you squatted 150 kilos for 10 sets of 10 reps? This week, give 155 kilos a shot.
- How many new folks did you meet last week in terms of relationships? Zero? This week, make an effort to meet at least one new person.
- Entrepreneurship: You only got two clients last week, compared to your usual five? This week, it appears that you should work on making more sales calls.
Backtrack a little and get a little better. What did you do the previous week? How can you make a small step forward this week? Benchmarking backwards can be very effective, especially when it yields the encouraging result you need to keep you moving forwards.