The Desire for Self-Improvement is Not Enough

This is a rewritten version of an older post from my series on habits. I hope to have the two posts I have already done rewritten and the third post up before the new year.

I once had a life coach. He quit life coaching after our time finished.  True story.


As a young student, my teachers would often write on my report card "has potential but doesn't apply self". I have described my life philosophy in many ways. I am an anti-perfectionist.  Why waste all the extra energy to get something perfect when you can do just good enough. I zenly describe myself as water flowing down hill. The water finds the easiest path to get to it's destination. I have known people who always get gung ho about everything. They always try and make sure they do there best.  If something is worth doing it is worth doing to the best of your ability. To me that has always sounded like a whole lot of unnecessary work. This is all a long winded way to say that I am lazy.

The oddest thing about my life philosophy of maximizing laziness is my love of people who are excellent at things. Ever since I was a child I have loved watching artists work or wood workers produce things. I watched all those PBS shows.  Now I subscribe to a bunch of creative youtube channels. I marveled at the great things they created. I knew that all these people put in a great deal of effort and had spent years building their craft, but for some reason I unconsciously assumed that if you had a talent for something it was always easy.

This idiotic belief manifested many ways in my life. I wanted to play guitar but I would never sit down day after day to practice. I thought maybe I had some skill at painting.  I bought a starter paint set.  One day without any previous practice or preparation I sat down and spent twenty minutes trying to create a masterpiece. What I made ended up being a horrific disaster. I didn't touch paints again for twenty year. In normal life this led me too look around in my thirties and realizes I hadn't really accomplished anything in my life and didn't seem to be going anywhere.

I decided that I needed to start living intentionally.  To try and be a better me while actually working toward larger goals. I tried to accomplish this by making lists of things I would do. Like New Year's resolutions these were supposed to guide me to long term change.  I might stick to these new plans upwards of 2 to 3 days. I would often be full of resolve when falling asleep. Tomorrow would be different. I would make positive changes in my life.

About five years ago I decided to get really serious. So I started what I called the slackers Guide to Life. I even still own the domain slackersguidetolife.com.  I planned to get myself out of debt, be healthy, and live a creative and productive life. I encountered a problem in that I didn't really have a plan on how to do that.  I decided not to buy anything for a year. I also planned to workout, eat right, and write everyday. I actually managed not to buy anything unnecessary for a year. Otherwise that attempt was mostly another failure.

Then I hit the big forty.  I realized it wasn't a joke anymore. I had gone half way through my life. I decided to take a much more proactive and scientific approach to productivity, habits and success.  So I looked into what science tells us about goals etc.

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