How do you close that gap between what you value and how you behave?
Service to humanity has helped me close that gap by forcing me to walk my talk. I’m far from perfect. Like everyone, I make mistakes and often fail to live up to the things I consider important. But writing has made it easier to stay consistent with those values instead of falling into excuses.
Imperfections are part of life. I think it’s sad that some people feel that because being perfectly consistent with your values is impossible, that there is no point trying to debug the inconsistencies. Some self-improvement cynicism is the result of demanding the impossible, expecting perfection instead of progress.
My goal has been to notice gaps between my philosophy of life and my behaviors. I’m certainly nowhere near perfection, but even in just a few years of deliberately pursuing this strategy, I’ve made improvements.
Here are a few of the inconsistencies I’ve debugged over the past few years:
From Slob to Productive
Productivity and organization were important to me, but I was a messy, undisciplined procrastinator. Focusing on building the right habits and training myself has almost completely closed this gap.
Unhealthy to Fit
My health and energy levels were important to me, but until a few years ago, I rarely exercised and didn’t have great eating habits. Fast forward to today and I eat a vegetarian diet while exercising regularly.
Non-reader to Literary Glutton
I would have read less than a dozen books in 2018 to date. Over theà last few years I’ve averaged about 15 books each year.
Night Owl to Early Riser
After reading about the potential benefits of waking up early for productivity, I made the switch from waking up at 7:30-8:00 back to 3:00.
Unconscious Spender to Budget Maker
After seeing how my finances weren’t being guided, I put in place a more thorough system for recording and budgeting my expenses.
I point out these changes because none were instantaneous. Even after I had decided my beliefs on an issue, it took work to change my behaviors. The moment I declared productivity important to myself, I was still a slob. It took a few years of effort to reach the point I’m at today.
From an outside perspective, however, nobody sees that effort. I still get comments from friends that assume I was somehow born productive, early-rising or health-conscious. They don’t see the failed attempts I had in implementing my goals, the days I slept right through my alarm or the four failed thirty day trials I went through before exercising stuck.
I need to take some of the blame for this, because I generally only write about my self-improvement efforts after the fact. Since self-improvement involves so many missteps and dead ends, I don’t usually find it useful to write about something until I’ve made significant progress in it myself. You only have to look at the current ups and downs of my dating life to see why I don’t share too much advice on that yet.
Training your courage like a muscle was a better strategy for me than relying on willpower.
I’m still finding new tools, but the fact that this list is small shows that self-improvement doesn’t need to be overly complicated. One good tool, if practiced, can debug a large range of problems.
Nobody can be perfect. But there is still immense value you can get from debugging those inconsistencies. Making the gap between your walk and your talk a little bit smaller.
WORDS ON MARBLE!
“Owning a home is a keystone of wealth…both financial affluence and emotional security.” – Suze Orman
“Landlords grow rich in their sleep.” – John Stuart Mill. Buying real estate is not only the best way, the quickest way, the safest way, but the only way to become wealthy.” – Marshall Field
Don’t wait to buy LAND, buy LAND and wait! “He is not a full man who does not own a piece of land.” – Proverb
“Real estate is an imperishable asset, ever increasing in value. It is the most solid security that human ingenuity has devised. It is the basis of all security and about the only indestructible security.” – Russell Sage (August 4, 1816 – July 22, 1906), financier, railroad executive and Whig politician from New York, United States.