There’s so much pressure in the modern day to be continually improving: to attain ‘success.’ And to feel fulfilment at every moment.
As a millennial [defined very broadly as being born between 1980 and 2000], we’re expected to manage everything. From work, play, and having the perfect instagram feeds to being polite, never feel depressed, support a family, and de-clutter our lives all the time.
And yet, the price of food compared to our wages has a wider gap than it used to. We tend to work longer hours. Having access to work emails on mobiles doesn’t help us balance our time on things which will sustain us.
And yet, where on earth do you start on the path to self-improvement? With so many different theories to follow, never-ending research papers and variable results depending on the person, it’s hard to know how to begin.
The Inner Drive
I bought my first self-help book when I was around 12-years-old, and every step of my path has focused on the idea of improvement. Thinking back, I can’t remember a time I didn’t seek reaching some unknown potential. I was quietly obsessed with unlocking inner strength. Although I can’t explain where this unwavering faith in my possibilities comes from, I’ve had it for decades.
I’ve tried everything from CBT and taking up Karate (green belt, you know) to Desire-focused Planners, looking at my use of language and a regular practise of loving-kindness meditation to unlock this consistent sense of betterment.
A Key to Long-Term Success
It’s hard to advise what may work for different people, except via trial-and-error, but one method that’s at least worth considering is the idea of “Small Steps Add Up.” There’s a Japanese term described as Kaizen, which focuses on improving in 1% increments. The philosophy also considers the whole of self-improvement as a journey, rather than a destination.
As a seeker of my potential since I was young, I wage inner wars about this idea: that I can never truly reach my fullest potential because we change with life experience. Yet, it is through striving to be better that allows us to improve.
Remembering Your Level
This week, a friend and fellow write Ellie Di Julio posted about a multi-story car park sign, and the meanings associated with its message: Remember Your Level.
In the midst of that post, she wrote something that really struck a chord with me:
“But the key to leveling up is knowing where you are now.”
This is so often the missed-out-step in self-improvement. How can we measure if a 1% increase, collective baby steps, make a difference without knowing where we started?
I’m currently running my Bring About Balance group program, and it’s been interesting to watch how various people ‘take stock’ of their current situation, and what may be working well, as well as the perceived desires for change.