The entire concept of self-improvement (as marketed and sold at bookstores) is a flawed, nasty machine, favoring those with a sprinter’s willpower into a marathon race. As someone who is undergoing a “summer” cleaning, it’s a difficult process. Everything that I’ve ever read on the concept of improving oneself has this instant technique where all tasks are performed concurrently rather than consecutively. Take, for instance, diet plans like South Beach. It promises that if you are to cut all simple carbohydrates out of your diet at once, that you’ll lose weight. If X, then Y. Simple logic—and correct, to boot—but it ignores that the simple carbohydrates exist for a reason. They provide quick energy, and are perfect for people who use a lot of energy or need a lot. It also neglects the idea of this thing called exercise; losing weight on a South Beach style plan (or any of the diet plans that don’t incorporate exercise into the plan) results in total body weight loss versus body fat loss. Simply put, they’re get-results-fast plans—not legitimate, self-improvement plans.
The same goes for life-improvement rather than body-improvement techniques. Anyone, including myself, can come up with axioms by which one should live their life, and it will probably ring fairly true. The problem with axioms are that they are easily consumed and just as easily discarded. I don’t have a mantra. I never will have one, I don’t think, because my life changes. The closest thing I have is”Do what makes you happy, healthy, and better.” But even that will change because eventually what makes me healthy and better will not make me happy.
I’m on a journey to be a better person. I’m getting there slowly but surely. I’m growing up (or at least I’m attempting to do so). That journey is not at the end of a book or a 90-day program but at the end of a lifelong quest towards that goal. If I don’t achieve it, well, then I get to try again. Programs can die at the drop of a hat, by one mistake, by one crazy night; goals only die when you give up on them.