In the article “Unwavering drive to learn“, I challenged you to recognize the limit of your wisdom and knowledge, and actively seek to learn and grow. Only by doing this can you truly come to reasonable conclusions on issues and jettison unmerited and uninformed assumptions; and only upon doing this can you possess the right mindset for success.
But that article only deals with your understanding of the outside world; that is, things that are beyond your control.
But what about the number one thing that is within your control…yourself and your actions?
Self improvement, and the desire to constantly improve, is key to your success as a person!
- “Fair-weather” self improvement
One aspect of self-improvement is what I would call “fair-weather” self improvement. In other words, you just take some steps to change when you feel like it, or when you feel a strong external pressure to do so. So, if you just had another bad day at the office and think you could do a better job than your own company, you start to think about starting a business. Then you read a blog like this, etc.
Fair-weather self improvement is an excellent impetus for starting to think about change in your life. It’s the way I got started. There’s a problem, though: it usually does not provide the continuous flow of energy and dedication you will need to accomplish the end goal. In other words, for a while you are fed up and try to start your own business. But then you start to realize how much work it takes, how it makes you feel uncomfortable, etc.; and your mission ends there. Your fair-weather drive towards improvement only lasted while the weather was fair, and while you were romanticizing the idea. You didn’t have what it took to follow through.
- Continuous improvement
The only way to meaningfully change yourself is through continuous improvement. This is similar in concept to my article “Integrate accomplishing your goals as part of your daily routine“. As you know, after a while, it may become “not fun” to try to improve yourself. It was fun for a while when you were excited. But now, isn’t it a bummer to have to spend my free time working on my venture when I could be watching TV? Doesn’t it get annoying watching out for those little habits entrenched in your daily routine that you are trying to change?
Clearly, if your only motivation for improvement is an immediate excitement, you will never succeed. So it stands to reason that those who are able to master continuous improvement are motivated by something else…something more esoteric.
I don’t know if there is any one thing that motivates people towards continuous improvement (i.e. one mindset you “must” have). For me, it is the challenge. I love to master a new skillset; to achieve new goals. It’s also wanting to be able to have more meaningful relationships with my friends and family. It’s also about being able to live the kind of lifestyle I want, and not spend my day doing things I don’t want to do. By the end of the day, it is just a hell of a lot of fun.
So I think the best trick to motivate yourself towards continuous self-improvement is to try to think of a long term, high-level “ideal” state for yourself (like in setting goals). What matters to you the most? Friends, family, money, leaving a dead-end job? Motivate your actions by one of these–rather than fleeting, short-term happiness–and I am sure you will be better off in accomplishing your goals.