Addressing the misconceptions people have about self-improvement

Recently, I wrote a blog which addressed the misconceptions that people have about self-care, which can be found here. In particular, I mentioned that the terms self-care and self-improvement are sometimes used interchangeably, even though they don’t mean the same thing. A vague definition of self-improvement is that it is the improvement of one’s knowledge or character by one’s own efforts. The journey of self-improvement is an ongoing process of continuous learning, and it gives you the opportunity to build on your strengths and work on your weaknesses. The benefits of self-improvement are that you grow as a person while growing your skills, and examples of self-improvement include improving personal relationships, being more proactive, or acquiring more skills for success in the future. However, there are some misconceptions surrounding self-improvement, which I talk about in this article.

One of the biggest misconceptions people have about self-improvement is that all you need to do to undertake self-improvement is to think positively. Positive thinking is something that I have recommended in previous articles, as it can help reframe your mind when it comes to dealing with challenges. For example, one self-improvement goal for you may be to improve your spoken communication skills. It’s all well and good saying that it’s a self-improvement goal and being really positive about it, but that’s only 10% of the battle. In addition to positive thinking, you will also have to think about the genuine motivation behind the self-improvement goal, what obstacles you are likely to face, and how you will go about overcoming these obstacles. A lot of people underestimate the planning process involved when undertaking a self-improvement goal, and positive thinking on its own will not be enough.

The term self-improvement sounds fancy, and hence it is easy to think that it involves major, mind-blowing changes such as running a marathon, or reading 5 books in a month. And this is what puts people off undertaking self-improvement goals, as they don’t think they have the time to make such a major change in their life. It’s worth noting that self-improvement is a very broad term, and I mentioned in the first paragraph that it is the improvement of one’s knowledge, character or lifestyle habits by one’s own efforts. Therefore, self-improvement can also be one by making small and gradual changes rather than making major changes, provided that it helps improve your life. Therefore, even really small things such as being able to manage stress effectively can count as an excellent self-improvement goal.

Furthermore, despite what I said in the previous paragraphs about self-improvement goals, people think that all you need to do to undertake self-improvement is to set goals and meet them. For example, that may be waking up at 6am for the next 30 days. If you’re a musician, your goal might be to play a new piece. Once you meet the goal however, what’s next? The mistake that a lot of people make is that they think they don’t need to do anything more after that. The problem with this is that it is easy to revert to old habits after accomplishing a goal, which only leads to a temporary change. Self-improvement is meant to have long term benefits and improve your life going forward. However, achieving a goal and not doing anything after that only changes your life for the moment, which is the counterintuitive thing about improvement. You can use goal setting as part of the self-improvement journey, but your goals should help improve your life going forward rather than it being part of a tick-boxing exercise. Therefore, when you think about setting self-improvement goals, you should ask yourself the question on how this self-improvement goal will benefit you in the long run.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog and that you found it insightful. Self-improvement is something that can be extremely rewarding. However, knowing the misconceptions associated with self-improvement is something that is important, and I wish you all the best with your self-improvement journey!

34 thoughts on “Addressing the misconceptions people have about self-improvement

  1. I think for a lot of people it’s the first step thats the hardest. I know whenever I undertake a new goal or a new hobby it can take a while for me to intertwine it into my routine. They say it takes 30 days to create a habit. I think giving yourself grace when doing new things is needed, we wont get it right the first time or even the second. We will mess up, but its the act of persevering that is the most important in my opinion.
    A great post Niraj, with a lot of though provoking points!

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  2. The first steps are the hardest. But, you made several excellent points! I know I personally have a fear of failure and imposter syndrome, but I work hard to overcome them!

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  3. I think that once a person decides to take these steps, they should do things that are achievable and ones that they can maintain. It saves disappointment as when the task is too big and you find it hard to carry on you would be more likely to give up.Smaller achievable goals/tasks will keep you in better mind and encourage to reach the next goal.

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  4. It is so true. People think that they don’t have to keep working on themselves after achieving what they first set out to do but we should always be striving for more else it is easy to become too complacent and fall back into old traps.

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  5. An interesting read with some solid points, for some they might look to achieve small goals that then helps them to achieve longer or bigger goals, they might want the wins to keep there motivation to there overall goal, some will just give up or have a low expectation in goals or self-improvements. This is a good discussion point.

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  6. These are all sound advice. My issue however is about consistency. When I set some self improvement goals, I start out strong and then the enthusiasm wanes a few weeks in. I guess I am just impatient when I want to see results and I don’t, then I quit. This is something I really need to keep working on.

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  7. I think this is where I have been making a mistake as after I achieve an objective, I just stop as I dont know what to do next. Your article explains on how to continuously keep improving myself

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  8. Awesome post! And I so agree! Thinking positive is only 10% of the battle, as you said. It takes a lot of hard work to self-improve! I self-improve through reading and learning. I’m also trying to watch what I eat, exercise and live healthier. The latter is the hardest I think. LOL Thank you so much for posting!

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  9. Another thing people tend to forget about self-improvement is that results are earned, and not something you automatically get just because you’ve tried some new good habits. Great piece. Thanks for sharing!

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  10. I know what you mean about people having misconceptions about self-improvement or thinking that it simply entails “thinking positively.” Plus, you didn’t mention this, but I always found the term “self-help” to be somewhat unfairly diminutive, (like “oh, this person needs HELP”), anyone agree? (Meanwhile I can’t stay away from the self-help section of the bookstore)

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