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Strive For Consistent Improvement Instead of Perfection : Why and Steps to do so.

    strive for improvement

    If you think about it, right from the moment we are born, we start walking on the path of consistent improvement.

    We learn to make sense of objects around us, we learn to walk, run, talk, write, read, and do so many other things.

    As we grow up, we come to know more about the world and gather a lot of subtle knowledge about life.

    So, whether we realize it or not, we are already improving over time.

    I mean, take a look at yourself. You are not the same person you were ten years ago. You have gained so much knowledge and have gone through so many experiences that have molded you into a different person over time.

    The challenges you face and the setbacks you endure turn you into a wiser and stronger version of yourself.

    And all this happens without you even realizing it.

    Now imagine what would happen if you consciously strive to improve yourself.

    Imagine how your life would turn around if you consciously pay attention to your weaknesses and address them over time. That is how each of us should be living our lives.

    The Idea of Continuous Improvement

    woman reading

    When people talk about improvement, they usually refer to the idea of perfection.

    There are a lot of people out there who want to be perfect in everything they do.

    The idea of creating a perfect life seems attractive to them. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I am talking about the idea of continuous improvement throughout your life.

    In fact, I believe that perfection is an illusion.

    And if you keep pursuing it, it will only lead to disappointment and disasters. That’s because no matter how good you get at something, there will always be room for improvement.

    So, even if you reach an impressive level, you will remain dissatisfied with yourself and your life.

    Think about this for a second. If you are a software engineer, you can strive to be perfect but never quite reach there. No matter how much you sharpen your skills, you will always make mistakes with your code.

    Even the greatest coders of our time can’t write bug-free software!

    So, having a mindset of perfection will only lead you to disappointment.

    On the other hand, if you seek constant improvement, you will gradually develop your skills, characteristics, and different aspects of your life. And you will be happy with the progress you have made instead of being sad about how much more you have to improve! This will lead to a more fulfilling life.

    Also, with this particular path, you have two choices.

    You could either choose to improve incrementally or you could strive for improvement through breakthroughs.

    Let me explain each path in brief.

    Incremental improvements involve making small changes over time.

    These small changes accumulate after a while and lead to significant progress and improvement. Also, you don’t have to use too much of your attention, time, or energy to make these smaller changes.

    For example, if you want to become a better writer, you could first focus on your vocabulary. Just by learning new words every day, you can enhance your writing skills to a great degree.

    Breakthrough improvements, on the other hand, involve making bigger changes.

    These changes can help you make a lot of progress all at once.

    However, they require deep review and analysis of how things are working and how they could work after the said changes.

    Going back to the above example, if you want to become a better writer, you could decide to overhaul your entire writing style. This would require you to learn about various writing styles, learn completely different sets of words, change your tone, and so on.

    Why It is Important To Constantly Improve

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    So, right about now, you might be wondering why it is important to constantly improve in the first place.

    Well, as I mentioned above, it is happening regardless of whether you realize it or not.

    It’s just that… when you take conscious control of this process, you can direct your life in the direction you want.

    Instead of just wishing to be better at certain things, you could actually do it!

    With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of consistent improvements.

    1) Higher Likelihood of Achieving Dreams

    Success means different things to different people.

    And you are bound to have your own definition of this word as well. But I think we can all agree that success means a general sense of well-being and happiness in all aspects of our lives (health, wealth, career, relationships, spiritual wellness, and so on).

    Now, it is only obvious that if you keep improving yourself and the different areas of your life, you are bound to be successful eventually.

    For example, if you keep addressing weaknesses in your health, you are bound to become healthier. If you keep improving your skills, you are bound to become more successful at your job or business.

    I think it is safe to say that success is an eventual outcome of striving to improve. This is why some of the most successful people on the planet make sure that they keep improving themselves no matter how good they already are.

    2) Healthier Relationship

    Relationships are one of the most important spheres of human life.

    After all, everyone has people in their lives that they love and care for. We also have people we work with and acquaintances we meet every now and then.

    For a healthy life, it is important to have healthy relationships. One strenuous relationship can take your mind off of all the other spheres of your life.

    For example, if things are not going well with your spouse, you will obviously not be able to focus properly on your work or health.

    So, when you consistently work on improving your relationships with all the people in your life, you naturally establish strong bonds that last a lifetime.

    This improvement can be by improving your communication skills, interpersonal skills, empathy, compassion, etc. The importance of this shouldn’t be underestimated. It can make the difference between a fulfilling life and a discontented one.

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    3) Improved Health

    This is a straightforward benefit of consistent improvement.

    When you focus on changing smaller things about your health, it leads to bigger improvements in your physical, emotional, and mental health.

    For example, if you can run for 5 minutes right now, you could aim to increase that number to 7 minutes. Once you get there, you can take that up a notch to 8 minutes, and so on. Gradually, your stamina would be so developed that you could even run a marathon!

    In fact, this is how great athletes are made. They focus on improving day after day and that incremental improvement leads to big achievements in the future.

    It’s a really simple concept once you get the hang of it.

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    4) Greater Resilience

    When you are focused on improving yourself consistently, it is only logical that you will improve how you react to challenges and recover from setbacks.

    You will probably work on your emotional intelligence, coping mechanisms, self-awareness, perception, and other things.

    Doing so will help you bounce back stronger from any difficulties or tragedies that life puts you through.

    This improved resilience can make a huge difference in your life. It can make you fearless and can help you understand that challenges are meant to make you stronger.

    As such, you become more open and pursue your dreams with more enthusiasm. You are also able to return quickly to a healthier emotional state after facing setbacks. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to live a more balanced and satisfying life.

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    5) Better Self-Control

    Self-control is very important in one’s life.

    It is basically your ability to regulate your thoughts, behavior, and emotions to either achieve something or to stay away from certain things.

    For example, if you are working on something important, your self-control will dictate whether distractions will be able to disrupt your focus or not. The more self-control you have, the more you will do what you are supposed to do.

    And this applies to every area of your life. For instance, if you are trying to lose weight, your self-control will keep you away from fatty and sugary treats.

    Now, the path of self-improvement also makes you strengthen your mental and emotional control over time.

    By learning how to deal with temptations and impulses, you slowly develop more self-control. You are also able to change your subconscious behavior which may lead to bad habits and decisions.

    How To Ensure Constant Improvement

    hands on a piano practicing

    The journey of constant improvement requires constant focus and determination.

    If you do things haphazardly, you might not be able to stick to your path.

    So, it’s better if you come up with a plan and follow it religiously.

    One of the most successful models you can implement in this regard is the PDCA model.

    It stands for Planning, Doing, Checking, and Acting.

    It is a highly praised system that countless people and organizations have used to ensure consistent improvement in their lives. Let’s take a closer look at it.

    1) Planning

    This first stage involves identifying the problem and gaining clarity on it when it presents itself.

    As we all know, problems are inevitable in a person’s life. And one of the first things that make us anxious about problems is that we don’t quite understand their full extent. In other words, we are not clear as to what the problem entails and what we can do about it.

    So, this first step requires you to first understand what the situation is.

    Try to figure out what or who is being impacted by it and what the possible consequences are.

    As the great Albert Einstein once said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”

    This is exactly what you need to do.

    Next, you need to come up with some potential solutions.

    This should be a little easier because of your enhanced clarity about the situation at hand. Let’s take an example to understand this better.

    Let’s say your phone keeps buzzing throughout the night as it keeps getting notifications from various apps. Now, there can be many solutions to this. You could keep it in silent mode, place it away from you, put it on “Do not disturb” mode, switch it off, and so on.

    Now, some solutions might be better than others.

    For example, you might not want to switch your phone off because you might want your family members to reach you in case of an emergency. So, in this case, keeping your phone in a smart “DND” mode is advisable. This will silence all the notifications except the ones you want to get.

    2) Doing

    After you have identified the best solution to your problem, it is time to implement it.

    After all, you won’t know how good your solution is until you actually test it.

    So, going by the same example above, you could set up your DND mode in such a way that it automatically turns on at a certain time at night and turns off in the morning when you wake up. You could also select the apps whose notifications you want to get during the night (important work apps, for example). Consider this a trial phase for your potential solution.

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    3) Checking

    This next step is where you review how well your solution is working.

    After a few days have passed, you can try to understand what works and what doesn’t. If your solution works just fine, that’s all well and good. However, if it doesn’t, you shouldn’t get disheartened. In fact, most of your solutions will eventually need some tweaks to make them even better.

    So, let’s go back to that same example and see what you’re supposed to do in this step. Let’s say you realize after a few days that you are still getting too many notifications. In this case, you can block even more apps from bypassing your DND mode. And if you feel like you missed some important calls from important people, you can add them to your “allowed” category.

    This checking step helps you monitor your solution constantly and make changes that make your life easier.

    4) Acting

    So, now that you have made your solution perfect, it is time to apply it for the long term.

    This will help you solve your problem and improve the quality of your life. But you can also take things one step further and see if this solution can help in other areas of your life.

    For example, if you tend to get distracted while at work, you can set up another DND plan to block certain apps (like social media or messaging apps) that keep distracting you. If you are spending time with your family on a weekend, you can have another DND plan for that. This way, you will always be able to focus on what you need to at the present moment.

    Stand-Alone Techniques To Improve Yourself

    woman practicing violin

    While the PDCA model helps you solve problems in a way that consistently improves the various areas of your life, there are other things you can do to improve yourself.

    Let’s take a look at some of the most effective (and fun) ones.

    1) Read As Much As You Can

    Walt Disney once said, “There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”

    I couldn’t agree more.

    Books are a treasure trove of knowledge and wisdom.

    They can teach you about things you had no idea existed. They can show you the ins and outs of life. And they can take you on adventures that turn out to be important life lessons.

    No matter what you like to read, you should make sure that you spend at least half an hour every day reading. It could be fiction, non-fiction, blogs, magazines, newspaper, or anything else!

    Reading gets the cogs in your mind going and they encourage the development of your creativity.

    Also, make sure that you check out the works of authors from different countries. That will give you an even broader perspective on the world and life.

    If you can, you should also try to check out books from genres that you don’t usually read. This, too, will open your mind up and expose you to new information and insights!

    2) Set Bigger Goals

    Wise people often say that you can only achieve what you set out to achieve.

    For example, if your goal is to run one mile, you will only run one mile!

    This will also affect how much you train yourself. If running only one mile is your goal, there will be no need to exercise or opt for specialized training because anyone can run a mile.

    However, if your goal is to run 20 miles, now that would require special arrangements. You will need to strengthen your body, stamina, and even your mental fortitude. Suddenly, a bigger goal mandates you to improve things about yourself that you wouldn’t have otherwise.

    So, if you want to improve yourself constantly, you need to get into the habit of setting bigger goals.

    You need to be comfortable aiming higher.

    This can be a little scary at first because you will wonder whether you can even achieve the goals you are setting. But that’s what constant improvement is all about.

    It turns you into the person you need to become in order to achieve what your heart desires.

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    3) Engage In A New Hobby

    Hobbies are highly underrated in our society.

    People generally look at them as pastimes that you engage in mindlessly for entertainment purposes.

    But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

    Hobbies are, in fact, one of the most effective ways of learning new skills and developing different aspects of yourself.

    Let’s take an example. If you start playing a sport, you will not only have fun but your physical and mental health will improve greatly. This is especially effective if you don’t usually get time to exercise at home.

    Plus, playing a sport with other people helps you learn essential skills like teamwork, communication, problem-solving, and much more.

    As you can see, hobbies are not just pastimes. No matter what you like to do, you can always learn some great lessons from it. This is why it is important to engage in as many hobbies as you can. In fact, you should step out of your comfort zone and adopt a hobby that you might not really be comfortable with. This will further help you develop things about yourself that are usually ignored.

    4) Identify In-Demand Skills

    This is another great strategy to push yourself to constantly improve.

    As we all know, the world is a dynamic place.

    Things are always evolving. What is relevant today may not be relevant tomorrow. So, in order to make sure you stay on the right career path and keep making progress, you should identify and learn in-demand skills.

    You can do this in two ways.

    First of all, you can learn new skills that can help you advance your current career path. Let’s say you are an interior designer at a company that specializes in a particular style of design. Now, to grow as a person and get promoted to higher positions in your industry, you could try to learn other styles of design. You can also learn vital skills like presentation, communication, and networking.

    The second way you can do this is to learn new skills in a totally new industry. Granted, this might be difficult to do. It would require you to devote time to two separate industries and that might take a toll on you. But it will ensure that you always remain marketable. And let’s not forget. It will put rocket boosters to your journey of self-improvement.

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    5) Sign Up For A Training Session

    If you feel like you can’t learn new skills by yourself, don’t get disheartened.

    Self-study is not everyone’s cup of tea.

    What you can do, instead, is enroll in a training session.

    This will help you learn a new skill or subject in an organized or structured manner. You will also not have to bother about finding the right resources as the trainers already do that.

    So, see if there are training centers nearby where you can learn the skills you want. Or, these days, you can do that online. There are so many websites that help you level up from the comfort of your home. The experts will guide you and even advise you according to your unique needs. What’s great about these online courses is that you can try them out before committing fully.

    So, go on a browsing spree and try out a bunch of things. And stick to what works and feels right!

    6) Change Your Mindset

    You won’t want to constantly improve yourself unless that motivation comes from inside you. There has to be something that pushes you to continuously become a better version of yourself.

    One way this can work is by changing your mindset.

    When you change how you look at yourself, life, and the world around you, you can make conscious choices about who you are, who you will become, and how you should live your life.

    In the context of self-improvement, you can develop a growth mindset. This type of mentality makes you believe that you can do and achieve anything you put your mind to. It tells you that you don’t always have to be where you are right now. You can always develop the right talents and abilities through hard work and determination.

    Such a mindset will also change how you look at failures.

    You realize that failures are stepping stones to success and not dead ends. You realize that you can always improve yourself and pass the barriers that prevent you from making progress today. This teaches you that you have much more control over your circumstances than you think. And there is nothing more motivating than this.

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    7) Find A Mentor

    What better way to keep improving yourself than by finding someone who constantly motivates you?

    If you find the right mentor or coach, they can serve as your guide, cheerleader, motivator, supporter, etc.

    So, it’s important to find someone who has already walked the path that you are walking on right now. It’s even better if they have achieved what you aim to achieve in life.

    Also, a mentor can be anybody.

    It could be your parents, siblings, friends, neighbors, high school teachers, sports coaches, or anybody else.

    The point is to find someone who can be there for you along the way.

    So, even if you falter at times and fall into the trap of inertia, your mentor will push you and motivate you to keep improving yourself. They can shine a light on the areas that could use improvement and guide you on how exactly you can do that.

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