Is a long self-improvement list stuck on your refrigerator so you won’t forget any of the flaws in your personality that need improving? Do you have it taped to your bathroom mirror? Have you shared your goals with a friend who checks with you every day to see how well you are doing?
Do you have an internal “personal improvement list” so you can change your relationship, career, personality, weight, or any of the other myriad goals we humans strive to improve in our lives?
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How do these lists help you?
I’ll bet not as much as you’d like.
You see, the problem with the self-improvement business, for which I’ve written three books and created several websites, is that it seems so simple. Just follow those four steps to success — or five, or seven, or ten — and keep doing it day after day. Before long you’ll have a perfect relationship, a superb career that fits your talents and makes an outstanding contribution to the world, personal traits that make you admired by everyone, a body that is healthy and perfectly shaped, and an all-around super personality.
Do I sound skeptical?
I obviously believe in self-improvement, but when I watch people try to be the best they can be in every area of their lives, I want to tell them about Benjamin Franklin, the early American elder statesman we all learned about in school.
It seems that when Ben Franklin was a young man that a Quaker came to him one day and said something to the effect that, "Ben, I know thou hast good ideas, but by thy arrogant attitude thou wilt not make friends nor influence thine enemies." Now Ben, being the wise person he was, realized that if he were to become a statesman, he needed to change. Further, he realized that in addition to his attitude of superiority, there were several other things about himself that could stand revision and so made a list of all of them (there were nine if my version of the story is correct).
Knowing that changing everything at once was not possible, he set about changing these nine things one at a time over the course of nine weeks. During each week he would concentrate on just one of the items on his list. On the tenth week he would once again focus on the first trait he wanted to develop. Before long this early patriot and inventor was making many friends and influencing many people.
I suggest you use the “Ben Franklin Method” in working on that long personal-improvement list. Choose an area in which you want to see improvement and focus on that for a week, or maybe even two weeks.
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Before you know it, you will discover you have made great progress over-all without having to pay attention to ALL the many ways you want your life to improve at the same time. Knowing you’ll be getting to a goal some time in the future can help you relax and enjoy the progress you’ve made.
Good luck. I’d love to know how this approach helps you.