Self-improvement is essential.
And with September being self-improvement month, it’s an opportunity to look back and see your progress. It’s vital that you improve in life. Most people are content with mediocrity, and quite frankly, it’s easy to see why: Self-improvement is hard. Learning to look at the parts of you that are insufficient and admitting that you need work is not a pleasant experience.
It’s hard on the ego.
And if that weren’t enough, actually making the changes and staying committed and disciplined toward them is even more challenging. It requires you to sacrifice and “burn off” those inadequate aspects of your character that are hindering you from becoming all you have the potential to be. Self-improvement is essential because the better you become as a person, the better your life becomes as a result.
But for clarification purposes, let’s delve deeper into this concept.
Why Self-Improvement is Essential (The Matthew Principle)
“To those who have everything, more will be given. And from those who have nothing, everything will be taken.”The Matthew Principle, 13:12
View the image and Bible quote above…
I understand this may seem a little “removed” from the idea of self-improvement, but bear with me; it’ll all connect in a moment. These concepts [the image and Bible quote] directly relate to how success and failure work. Maintained gradual improvements start small but begin to compound over time. And if sustained for long enough, the improvements increase non-linearly (as depicted in the image above).
The reason being is that each improvement increases the probability of another improvement.
This process then leads to explosive growth and development. As a result, your small and incremental improvements are anything but small and incremental. You get compound interest on those gradual refinements. This idea is a rule in the New Testament known as the Matthew Principle.
And this is a very encouraging concept.
It entails that you can drastically improve your life with small, incremental improvements that are well within your grasp. And that’s incredibly motivating to know! However, the scary thing about this principle (that’s equally important to understand) is that it also works in reverse.
The Matthew Principle in Reverse
The Matthew Principle can be harsh.
It’s representative of how life works and operates in everything you do. It states that the more you wander off the path and toward the edge (bad habits, poor attitude, wrong choices, etc.), the greater the probability you’ll fall off the cliff.
What this means is that each deterioration in your life promotes another deterioration. And if left unchecked, these errors in judgment can accumulate into disaster.
People’s lives rarely end up in shambles from a single event. Instead, it is the slow and steady accumulation of poor choices and bad habits continually repeated over time.
For example, you don’t become overweight from one day of eating junk food or skipping one workout.
No, there’s some lag time involved. It’s an uneventful process of one poor choice after another: It’s picking Netflix instead of the gym, choosing the greasy cheeseburger over a salad, etc. And the cumulative effect of these repeated errors eventually leads to an overweight and unhealthy body.
This insidious process is how failure occurs.
And what’s more, it applies to every area of your life: Health, finance, relationships, career, etc. So the question then becomes; how can you use The Matthew Principle in your life for self-improvement?
A Simple (But Effective) Strategy for Self-Improvement
Now you know why self-improvement is essential.
But how do you actually start improving yourself? What are the practical steps you can take? First, you begin by humbling yourself. Many people reject the idea of small, incremental improvements because they believe themselves to be above or beyond them.
So, realize that this is a humble thing to do.
You are not above any type of improvement, regardless of how small or insignificant it may appear on the surface. Any progress is still progress. Once you humble yourself in this way, you’re ready to begin the process of self-improvement using the Matthew Principle.
Let’s delve into the practical steps.
1. Establish Your Aim
The first step is to determine what you’re aiming at.
What’s your goal? What are you trying to improve in your life? You may have numerous things that you feel could stand some improvement; that’s fine. But for the time being, choose one thing you want to improve above everything else.
Is it your health, finances, career, dating life, social skills?
For the purpose of this exercise, let’s say it’s your social skills. Maybe you’re a bit awkward and tentative when meeting new people, and you want to become more charismatic in social settings. Great, you’ve established your aim.
The next step is to…
2. Make Success Easy
This is where humility comes into play.
You have to break your objective down into easily attainable goals; little things that you can do every day with minimal effort put you on the path. People in the self-improvement space often tell you to aim high and set lofty goals. And I agree, you should.
However, in the beginning, you need to build confidence first.
And confidence comes from learning to do the easy things well. So piggybacking off our earlier example from step one, if your goal is to improve your social skills, you should make a list of all the things you can do to assist with that aim.
It may look something like:
- Read books on how to interact with strangers
- Watch YouTube videos for tips and advice
- Get out there and meet one new person a day
- Make more of an effort to interact with people you see while living your life (going to the gym, grocery store, colleagues at work, etc).
Once you have your list, pick one EASY thing you know you can do, and start doing it daily. Make it ridiculously easy, something that will hardly get in the way of your daily routine.
3. Maintain Your Efforts
The final step is the tedious part of self-improvement: Maintaining your efforts.
It’s at this stage that you need to be patient with yourself and your progress. Reward your incremental improvements. Don’t become cynical about them just because results are slow or progress is minimal. No, remember what I said earlier: Any progress is still progress.
And here’s the strategy for maintaining your efforts; once a week, make another improvement.
If your first week, you decided to meet one new person a day to improve your social skills, the second week, buy a book and begin reading about the topic. And the week after that, take a tip or two you learned from the book and apply it in real life, etc.
As time passes, these micro-improvements will begin to take on a life of their own.
And with persistence and continued effort, the Matthew Principle will start working with you rather than against you.
Self-Improvement is Essential: Start the Process Today
Self-improvement is essential in every aspect of your life.
It’s not easy, and it’s a never-ending lifelong commitment. However, I can tell you from personal experience that by living in alignment with your moral code and adhering to your values, your life will become happier and more fulfilled. One of the most rewarding feelings is looking in the mirror and feeling proud of the reflection staring back at you.
Money can’t buy that experience; only living well and committing to your own growth and development can.