People are perfectionists by nature. Whether at professionally or personally, we all want to continually grow, learn, improve and excel. And because of that, there’s a whole lot of self-improvement advice available out there. In fact, it has become big business – the “self-help” industry is worth billions of dollars.
But much of the self-improvement advice commonly touted by training programs, videos, TV series, online products and coaches can be misleading. There is no “one size fits all” approach to self-improvement and some of this advice may in fact be having a counterproductive effect.
Here are 4 common self-improvement myths that may be holding you back.
Performing at the Top Means Constant Peak Performance
The truth is that even top performers – from CEOs to professional athletes to rock stars – sometimes experience variability in their performances. It’s important to expect that you will too. Linear and unwavering improvement is unrealistic and the expectation that you will never deviate from perfect performance is a recipe for disappointment and letdown. If you can understand and appreciate the peaks and valleys in your performance, you’ll be more patient with yourself and less likely to get discouraged.
Benchmarking Yourself Against Others Will Make You Better
If you compare yourself to others and use their level of success as a benchmark for your own, you’re not alone. Whether intentionally or subconsciously, people do this constantly. While you might think it stimulates motivation through healthy competition, the reality is that comparing yourself to others can have very negative effects. For example, comparing yourself to somebody more successful or accomplished can break your self-esteem if you fail to match up with them. Other times, comparing yourself to those who are less successful can be stifling to personal development.
Instead, try your best to take mistakes in stride and analyze experiences as opportunities for improvement. Rather than focusing on whether you have attained what somebody else has or what they’ve achieved, focus on your own values and measures of success, and on living up to your own goals and aspirations. This will allow you to gain clarity on what’s truly important to you and why.
There’s a Set Formula for Improvement
The same way that benchmarking your success against others is an unproductive means of improving, so too is believing that emulating somebody else’s path will work for you too. While it’s great to be able to draw inspiration from somebody’s journey, it’s important to understand that there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for self-improvement. Even in your own journey, adaptability is as important as a great plan.
As they say, even the best laid plans often go awry. What matter is most is how you adapt, reevaluate and adjust.
Tunnel Vision Focus Stimulates Improvement
If you want to achieve a goal, you need to dedicate yourself unwaveringly to its fulfilment – right? Wrong.
In a study conducted at the University of Chicago, researchers found that while goal-setting increased how much time participants spent thinking about goals it actually decreased how much time they spent actioning them.
Instead of visualizing a goal with tunnel vision, you need to approach it in smaller intervals. Think of your endgame and know what you want to achieve. But once you’ve gotten underway, deemphasize the outcome and focus on the small victories you achieve along the way. Think of the aspects of achieving the greater goal that you actually enjoy without focusing on the pressure of the end result.
While there are myths and advice on how to be your best self, there’s ultimately no set formula for success and self-improvement – it’s a unique process for each of us. Whether in business or in your personal life, success and self-improvement are ultimately the result of a true understanding of your own unique goals, challenges and strengths, and a willingness to embrace the journey.