The Incredible Torture of Self-Improvement

The Incredible Torture of Self-Improvement

March 30, 2018

Research shows that a few important things trigger happiness.

One of those things is taking a journey..

When we take on a new task, we are happy. We have a purpose and we have the excitement of something new.

And when we take a new journey that ends with us improving ourselves–that’s doubly effective.

Knowing that: Why is improving ourselves so damn hard?

Let’s use fitness as an example.

Being fit fixes everything. It helps brain function, provides more energy, gives us self-confidence, and fights off sickness.

And the path to fitness and all of those rewards is easy. It’s so easy it’s literally not believable.

To get fit, all we have to do is pick an exercise or two, do them every day, and record it.

That’s it.

On paper, it appears that there aren’t any obstacles to getting that done.

But there are.

The first obstacle is the every day part. To do something every day, it has to become an ingrained habit. Do you know how long it takes to create a new, ingrained habit?

Twenty-one days.

Do you know how long twenty-one days is? An eternity.

Let’s say you want to run a half-mile every day. The first day? No big deal.

Second day? No problem.

Third day? I’m sore, but I’ll go.

Fourth day? I’m tired. I just need a day off.

Fifth day? I have a work project that has to be finished.

Sixth day? Dinner with friends.

Seventh day? I don’t feel like it anymore.

Twenty-one days? I can’t even make it a week.

But do you know what’s worse? Writing it down.

Our minds are evil creatures. We rationalize and mis-remember constantly.

When a friend asks us how many miles we ran last week, we often (mistakenly??) include the miles we had planned to do. Why? It’s easier that way.

And that’s how running ten miles in our imagination equals five miles of real-life work.

The cure, of course, is to write it down.

If we write it down, it’s real. Progress is documented and factual. With each log entry, success becomes inevitable.

Just write it down.

But do you have any idea how hard it is to write something down every day? Even though there’s 24 hours in a day, there seems to be absolutely no time for a ten second window to record something in a log

For example, earlier in the year I bet the internet I could walk over 3 million steps in a year.

I love to walk and where I live is very walk-able. I think I can reach that goal.

The problem is writing it down. I have all the time in the world to write it down every day. Open spreadsheet, type number.

It takes seconds.

And just the other day, I went to bed and forgot to do it.

How is that possible? How is it so hard to do something so easy and so beneficial to my life?

As Alanis Morisette once said, “Why is it such work to stay conscious and so easy to get stuck–and not the other way around?”

It’s super hard. But it’s worth it.

We’re all in a battle: a battle for own happiness.

The blueprint for victory is simple.

Twenty-one days of doing and recording.

We can do it.


My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.