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Published on August 10, 2020

Why Constant Self-Improvement May Be Bad Sometimes

Why Constant Self-Improvement May Be Bad Sometimes

Our ability to grow into more than what we currently are is truly one of the defining traits of human existence. It is the foundation of most of our ambitions, dreams, and drives. Without it, the human race would never make significant steps forward. Learning how to engage in constant self-improvement and personal development is something that has enabled us to take ourselves and the entire human race to higher levels.

However, as with any activity, it can be overdone. There are downsides when you engage in too much personal development and constant self-improvement. That is what we’re going to discuss today—how constant self-improvement can, at times, harm us.

Where Does Our Need for Self-Improvement Come From?

Although self-improvement and personal development, in general, are excellent things to seek out in our lives, when overdone, they can begin to take a negative toll.

Think about why the vast majority of people engage in personal development. It’s often because they feel as though they aren’t currently enough, or that they could be more, or that something is wrong with them.

Whatever your reason is, it’s important to retain positive feelings towards yourself. This is because constant self-improvement can sometimes reinforce the idea that there are many things wrong with us or that we’re not good enough, so we need to force ourselves to improve.

And if you’re continually trying to improve simply because you believe something is wrong with you or because you’re not good enough, you may begin taking yourself down a negative road.

There is a massive difference between being realistic about yourself and saying, “I am not good at this particular thing, but I can get better if I keep trying” and saying “I need to get good at this thing because otherwise, I have no value.”

So, keep an eye on your mindset throughout this process. Because, yes, self-improvement is good in moderation while constant self-improvement can at times reinforce some negative mindsets.

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Don’t let your insecurities come into play, at least not too significantly. Don’t start saying things like, “when I accomplish this, then I’ll be good enough to have real value.” Those are dangerous phrases to include in your self-take in regards to your mental health.

This type of harsh and overly critical self-evaluation can form the foundation for many negative emotions and personal issues that we develop in our lives.

Don’t allow yourself to eventually dislike the person you see in the mirror because you’re constantly not meeting the increasingly higher standards that you’re setting for yourself. The scary part of constant self-improvement is that many of us do, at one point or another, fall into this trap.

You Always Have Potential

Here is something that I want you to take to heart.

When you begin to feel yourself falling into the trap of constant self-improvement because you’re not enough, repeat the phrase, “I may not be good enough, but I have the potential to get myself to where it is that I want to be.”

You should never feel unworthy. You always have value. You are always capable.

Remember that any change you want to make in your life is voluntary. You are in control of how your life goes. Very few changes we make to our lives are mandatory.

So, stop being overly harsh on yourself. Remember that we are human, and 100% of humans have flaws and make mistakes.

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It’s important here to make sure that engaging in constant self-improvement isn’t preventing you from accepting yourself.

It’s important to retain your self-care practices as that self-acceptance is one of the most valuable personal traits you can ever develop on your path to self-improvement.

Don’t Set Unrealistic Ideals and Live Your Own Life

Another trap you can find in a lot of personal development books is setting massive goals—the “if your dreams don’t scare you, then they aren’t big enough” mentalities.

For some of us, this might be okay. However, if you constantly set massive goals, live up to unrealistic standards, and have unachievable expectations for yourself, chances are eventually your drive is not only going to fade, but it’s going to turn negative.

Don’t get into the trap of trying to lead an unattainable lifestyle. Because that is where constant self-improvement can get dangerous because inevitably, we will fall short of the mark.

That being said, don’t let anybody tell you what’s realistic and what isn’t. You have to take the time to reflect on what a realistically achievable and positive life means to you.

Don’t go out and try to live the ideals that some book or motivational speaker told you to do. They are paid to say those things—to say what is popular because that’s how they build audiences.

You need to live YOUR ideals, not theirs.

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Practice the Attitude of Gratitude

Here is something else that I’ve noticed in a lot of people who don’t fully understand personal development. When they are engaging in constant self-improvement because they believe there is something better out there, they get selfish, and obviously, that’s not a good thing.

Don’t let this practice devalue the amazing things that you’ve already done and accomplished with your life.

Sure, there is always more out there. You could be the more productive, smartest, and most efficient person that this world has ever seen and live that way for 100 years, and there would still be more out there when you die at the end of your life.

Don’t get so caught up “trying to get more” that you forget to appreciate the things you already have.

Don’t fall for the trap that just because your life or a situation isn’t perfect right now that means that it can never be fixed or improved and that you should abandon it entirely for something else.

Don’t become obsessed with the mentality that your life always has to be perfect and that you always need more because if you live that way, inevitably you’re going to end up disappointed.

It was Victor Frankl, psychiatrist and best-selling author of Man’s Search For Meaning who suggested that success should never be our sole goal, instead, he believes that:

“Don’t aim at success—the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue.”

The Takeaway

If you want to engage in constant self-improvement, then be my guest. But be careful.

Make sure you never begin to adopt the mindset that you’re doing it to fix yourself or because you’re broken. Remember, you’ve done a lot of amazing things already and you’re simply looking to improve on some of the accomplishments you’ve already achieved.

Also, remember to be realistic. No matter how hard you try, you’re not going to be good at everything. But just because you aren’t good at something right now doesn’t mean that you don’t have the potential to get good at it.

And more than anything, remember that you need to accept yourself. Never let this constant self-improvement lower your opinion of yourself. You’re doing this so you can be more impactful in your everyday life and so that you can develop a stronger understanding of yourself.

Best of luck!

More About Proper Self-Improvement

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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Mark Lynch

Featured Life-Balance, & Personal Development Author

9 Ways to Stop Complicating Life and Start Living 8 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important to a Fulfilling Life Why Constant Self-Improvement May Be Bad Sometimes How to Stop Running Away from Difficult Problems in Life How to Get Yourself to Take Action Towards Your Goal

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Last Updated on September 24, 2020

17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

In the movie The Matrix, everyone was intrigued with the ability that Neo and his friends possessed to learn new skills in a matter of seconds. With the incredible rise in technology today, the rapid learning in the movie is becoming much more of a reality than you realize.

The current generation has access to more knowledge and information than any before it. Through the internet, we are able to access all sorts of knowledge to answer almost every conceivable question. To become smarter, it’s more about the ability to learn faster, rather than being a natural born genius.

Here are 17 ways to kickstart your Matrix-style learning experience in a short amount of time.

1. Deconstruct and Reverse Engineer

Break down the skill that you want to learn into little pieces and learn techniques to master an isolated portion. The small pieces will come together to make up the whole skill.

For example, when you’re learning to play the guitar, learn how to press down a chord pattern with your fingers first without even trying to strum the chord. Once you are able to change between a couple of chord patterns, then add the strumming.

2. Use the Pareto Principle

Use the Pareto Principle, which is also known as the 80 20 rule. Identify the 20% of the work that will give you 80% of the results. Find out more about the 80 20 rule here: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

Take learning a new language for example. It does not take long to realize that some words pop up over and over again as you’re learning. You can do a quick search for “most commonly used French words,” for example, and begin to learn them first before adding on the rest.

3. Make Stakes

Establish some sort of punishment for not learning the skill that you are seeking. There are sites available that allow you to make a donation toward a charity you absolutely hate if you do not meet your goals. Or you can place a bet with a friend to light that fire under you.

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However, keep in mind that several studies have shown that rewards tend to be more motivating than punishment[1].

4. Record Yourself

Seeing yourself on video is a great way to learn from your mistakes and identify areas that you need to improve. This is very effective for any musicians, actors, speakers, performers, and dancers.

5. Join a Group

There are huge benefits to learning in a group. Not only are you able to learn from others but you’ll be encouraged to make progress together. Whether it’s a chess club, a mastermind group, or an online meet-up group, get connected with other like-minded individuals.

6. Time Travel

Visit the library. Although everything is moving more and more online, there are still such things called libraries.

Whether it’s a municipal library or your university library, you will be amazed at some of the books available there that are not accessible online. Specifically, look for the hidden treasures and wisdom contained in the really old books.

7. Be a Chameleon

When you want to learn new skills, imitate your biggest idol. Watch a video and learn from seeing someone else do it. Participate in mimicry and copy what you see.

Studies have shown that, apart from learning,[2]

“Mimicry is an effective tool not only to create ties and social relationships, but also for maintaining them.”

Visual learning is a great way to speed up the learning process. YouTube has thousands of videos on almost every topic available.

8. Focus

Follow one course until success! It’s easy to get distracted, to throw in the towel, or to become interested in the next great thing and ditch what you initially set out to do.

Ditch the whole idea of multitasking, as it has been shown to be detrimental and unproductive Simply focus on the one new skill at hand until you get it done.

9. Visualize

The mind has great difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imagined. That is why athletes practice mentally seeing their success before attempting the real thing[3].

Visualize yourself achieving your new skill and each step that you need to make to see results. This is an important skill to help when you’re learning the basics or breaking a bad habit.

Take a look at this article to learn how to do so: How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results

10. Find a Mentor

Success leaves clues. The best short cut to become an expert is to find an expert and not have to make the mistakes that they have made.

Finding out what NOT to do from the expert will fast-track your learning when you want to learn new skills. It is a huge win to have them personally walk you through what needs to be done. Reach out and send an email to them.

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If you need help learning how to find a mentor, check out this article.

11. Sleep on It

Practice your new skill within four hours of going to sleep.

Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA, is a noted rapid learning expert. He says that any practice done within this time frame causes your brain to embed the learning more rapidly into its neural pathways. Your memory and motor-mechanics are ingrained at a quicker level.

12. Use the 20-Hour Rule

Along with that tip, Kaufman also suggests 20 as the magic number of hours to dedicate to learning the new skill.

His reasoning is that everyone will hit a wall early on in the rapid learning stage and that “pre-committing” to 20 hours is a sure-fire way to push through that wall and acquire your new skill.[4]

Check out his video to find out more:

13. Learn by Doing

It’s easy to get caught up in reading and gathering information on how to learn new skills and never actually get around to doing those skills. The best way to learn is to do.

Regardless of how unprepared you feel, make sure you are physically engaged continuously. Keep alternating between research and practice.

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14. Complete Short Sprints

Rather than to force yourself into enduring hours upon hours of dedication, work in short sprints of about 20-30 minutes, then get up and stretch or take a short walk. Your brain’s attention span works best with short breaks, so be sure to give it the little rest it needs.

One study found that, between two groups of students, the students who took two short breaks when studying actually performed better than those who didn’t take breaks[5].

15. Ditch the Distractions

Make sure the environment you are in is perfect for your rapid-learning progress. That means ditching any social media, and the temptation to check any email. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Before you sit down to learn new skills, make sure that potential distractions are far from sight.

16. Use Nootropics

Otherwise known as brain enhancers, these cognitive boosters are available in natural herbal forms and in supplements.

Many students will swear by the increased focus that nootropics will provide[6], particularly as they get set for some serious cramming. Natural herbal nootropics have been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic traditions to improve the mind and learning.

Find out more about brain supplements in this article.

17. Celebrate

For every single small win that you experience during the learning process, be sure to celebrate. Your brain will release endorphins and serotonin as you raise your hands in victory and pump your fits. Have a piece of chocolate and give yourself a pat on the back. This positive reinforcement will help you keep pushing forward as you learn new skills.

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The Bottom Line

Learning a new skill should be exciting and fun. Whether you use online courses, real world experience, YouTube videos, or free online resources, take time to learn in the long term. Keep picturing the joy of reaching the end goal and being a better version of yourself as continual motivation.

More Tips on How to Learn New Skills

Featured photo credit: Elijah M. Henderson via unsplash.com

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