I can get better.
I’d like to think I’m a person who is trying to constantly improve something about myself – whether it be work related, health or fitness related, or even more personal. I always want to get better. I know a lot of my close friends and colleagues are the same way. This is a very helpful trait to have in the business world because you tend to move up more quickly if you’re constantly on top of your game, trying to learn new things, get smarter and become more efficient. If you always feel like you’re not where you need to be, it can sometimes propel you ahead of others when it comes time for reviews, promotions, and new opportunities. It helps from a personal standpoint as well, because it’s nice to have awareness of yourself – and what makes you feel happy, angry, sad, jealous, confident, insecure, and the list goes on. When you have that awareness, you start to identify things that you can do to improve.
For example, a few months back I identified a problem with myself. “I’m tired all the time. How do I fix that? Everybody around me always seems to have more energy than me.” So I started Googling it, talking to people, and came up with a few things that I thought would help. I concluded that it was probably because I wasn’t eating well, wasn’t exercising much, and I was basically living on caffeine. I’m talking 5 Hour Energy in the morning and multiple coffees throughout the day. It had me feeling like I was in an overall “slump” even though I had just gotten a new job and everything else in my life was going super smoothly. So in an effort to feel better and more energized, I began exercising, eating more healthy, and slowly cutting back a bit on caffeine. It definitely helped. So check that one off the list.
But it’s never enough.
There is an issue and cycle here that I’m starting to identify. I’m finding that no matter how many things I check off the list of “improved”, there is always something else. When you are constantly worrying about what you can improve upon, your mindset overall becomes more negative because you feel like you’re still behind, or not where you should be. When you’re always worried about what can get better, you lose sight of what you have and why those things are great.
Here are a few examples that help illustrate this cycle:
A lot of CEOs and executive team members arrive early in the morning and stay later than everyone else. They’ve reached the “top” professionally, and I know they also have stressful jobs, but they still are working like they’re entry level. Also, for a lot of them, being a CEO isn’t enough – they begin advising, investing, buying other companies, consulting, starting other companies, etc. There is always something else to chase. That’s why I tell myself – even if I become a CEO of a company, I am not going to be satisfied with it when the time comes.
You get a raise at work, or you get a new job that pays significantly higher than your previous one. So you start immediately getting life upgrades such as new clothes, new cars, new furniture, and new places to live. For these types of people (I’m guilty too), your life always evens out financially. If your take home pay increases by $1,000 each month, you will not be in any better of a situation if you move into a place that is $700 more per month, you get a new car that is $400 per month, you spend $300 more at restaurants, and you add a few more bills to the mix that you couldn’t afford before. You’re still going to look in your bank account and see the same amounts at the end of the day. But you will have nicer things surrounding you. But again – it’s never going to be enough. You’ll get another raise and want more.
When some people try to consistently self-improve, they’re taking on a lot at once. A person who is trying to start a business, be healthy (which is a lot of work trust me), kill it at their day job, learn new skills, and sleep enough to feel rested – where does that person squeeze in time to be a good friend, a good spouse, a good parent, even? Something has to suffer simply due to the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day. Well, 16-17 if you get enough sleep. The point here is, yes self improvement is a great thing, but it depends what you’re sacrificing to become better. When you consider those things, are you really becoming better?
Don’t stop trying to get better. Always striving to be the best version of yourself is admirable and it’s how great things happen in this world. But – don’t lose sight of the fact that what you already have is great. Try to at least consider a few of the following ideas and say them to yourself. Are they true for you?
My car is sufficient and it gets me where I need to go, without problems.
My job is great and I’m fortunate to even have the job I do.
Looking back, I have actually accomplished a lot.
I don’t need a nicer place to live right now. I’m fine where I am.
I may not be perfect but I don’t live a super unhealthy lifestyle.
I have a great girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife/fiance who cares about me.
A few close friendships in my life are helpful when I need someone.
I have enough money to pay all of my bills, and more.
I’m aware of the importance of being a decent person. Some people don’t even have the awareness piece down.
Are any/some/all of those true for you? If so, then you are likely much more well off than you realize. Things aren’t so bad, and they may not need to be incredibly better right now. And when they do get better, there will always be another “better” that you start chasing. You’re going to get a black convertible Mercedes Benz but then feel sad that you can’t afford a Ferrari. You should keep trying to get better but balance that by realizing your current life is a huge blessing that you shouldn’t push to the side. I’m good with my Honda for now.