Following Myself to the Letter

In Essays, Self Improvement

When I had a lot of these essays on my old website with my name attached to them, someone in my real life (as opposed to the virtual online world) told me the other day that they don’t believe that I follow even 50% of what I write on here. You know what? They’re right.

I want to explain that it’s not so black and white. I have failures, I am lazy, I don’t do what I should. I don’t always follow my advice or life philosophy, but the point is that each day I try, and I am getting closer and closer to achieving it. Perfection in life is not something to achieve, it is something to aim at.

If I think back to even a year or two ago, I am doing things which would be unthinkable for my former self. I’ve never considered myself someone who writes, yet here is enough content to fill a paperback novel (150,000+ words of content), and there is as much again in drafts!

I’ve also started a succesful business, moved to other side of the world, and learnt a lot along the way.

For myself, the point of writing is not to prove that I am right and provide concrete-solid arguments for everything I do (and don’t do). I’m not arrogant enough to think that the way I do things and the way I think are the best.

In fact, I would be surprised if in a year I held exactly the same opinions about how to live life. The whole point is keep reflecting and trying and reading and exploring. The point is to make sure that you are better than you were a day ago, a week ago, a year ago.

Now that is something that I am confident in.

I am a better and wiser person than I was a year ago, and that’s mostly to do with amount of thinking and writing that I have done.

Do I always follow everything I write to the letter? Of course not! But the big difference from my past self is that now I have a personal life philosophy and I am aware when I am doing something that goes against it.

Just being conscious of your mistakes and shortcomings is half the battle towards self-improvement.

For instance, I am a big advocate of the 80/20 rule, yet I have found that lately I’ve not been following it. I work many hours and often get little done and I wonder what happened to my day. Does that make my a hypocrite? Perhaps, but at least I am aware of the fact and I can correct my behaviour.

The same goes for my advice about not checking your email all day long. Just do it once or twice a day, and not doing it first thing in the morning. Lately I have been checking it literally first thing upon waking up, and most people can often expect instant replies from me throughout the day. The other day I realised…what the hell am I doing? Now I am back to checking my emails twice a day, and not before 11 or 12 o’clock.

Not so long ago I was like a ship drifting in the ocean without a clear direction. Now I am more akin to a commercial airliner, constantly making small adjustment to make sure that I am heading in the correct direction.

Another problem with trying to follow everything to the letter is that the scale we rate ourselves by is constantly changing. For instance, my current level of personal organisation would have been 10/10 in school but now that I have multiple businesses and I am also constantly studying, perhaps it’s only a four or five on my new scale. That’s because I have reached a new stage in my life where my old standards just aren’t good enough.

Often it is just a case of making small (and sometimes large) adjustments to the way you work and live, but sometimes a completely different approach is necessary.

It’s good to set your standards as high as possible and then try to live up to them, than to be realistic and end up being mediocre. If you decide you want to wake up at 4am everyday and you fail, you might find that waking up at 6am is not so bad after all. If instead you set yourself the task of waking up at 7am, you might not even achieve that!

The great danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling too short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.

~ Michelangelo

We are capable of incredible things, but we cannot do them at once. This doesn’t mean that we should limit our goals, it just means we need to give ourselves time to reach them.

Nothing of great importance has ever been achieved overnight. Even if we don’t know it, the preliminary steps take years, sometimes decades to complete and then everything appears to change overnight. Without that solid foundation, the change would never happen.

So yes, I would like to admit that I often don’t follow 50% of what I write, but at least I can say that honestly I try to the best of my ability and each day I get a little better. What more can a person do?