Tony Robbins says that Progress = Happiness.
There are a few variations on that.
But the basic idea is that Growth or Progress or whatever is crucial for life. Especially for individuals.
You can’t feel content. You can’t feel accomplished. You can’t feel good…unless you’re growing.
For many, that means growing in our personal lives. Personal improvement. Finding ways to make ourselves better. And it doesn’t have to be something huge. It can be small. In fact, most big things start very small. Smaller than we even realize.
But there are stumbling blocks to personal improvement.
One big one is TIME. How do you find time to improve? Especially if you’re working a full-time job, raising kids, being with your wife and friends?
Here are a few suggestions for finding the time for personal improvement…
1. Mindless Entertainment
Smartphones came into our lives around 2008. They drastically changed how we spend our time. When they first came out, many thought that the phone would replace the desktop or laptop computer.
That wasn’t the case.
What actually happened was we continued using desktops at the same pace while also using smartphones at an ever increasing pace.
In a sense, smartphones took up our free time. One of the reasons for this is social media. With desktops, social media was something you did after sitting down and logging into your account. You checked it once in awhile.
But with the phone, it became possible to check it all the time. And social platforms changed their design to tap into this ease of use. It benefits them the more you use it.
All of this is fine.
But you’re here because you’re interested in personal improvement. One way to improve and to find the time to do it is to cut back on mindless entertainment:
- Social Media
There are no right or wrong answers. We all need getaways. But most of know that Instagram doesn’t really provide value to our personal lives. Any value gained can easily be gained by logging in once a week for a half hour and looking at immediate friends and family.
If you use social media you probably use it 2+ hours per day. That’s a lot of time right there for personal improvement.
2. Too Many “Things”
Let’s say you want some getaway things. Some mindless things.
That is totally fine.
For millennia, man has needed rest. A day of rest. I like what Gary Vaynerchuk does. He goes all out most of the time, but his mindless entertainment is watching the New York Jets.
It doesn’t matter what your things are. What matters is not having too many of them.
Again, this only matters if you want to find time for personal improvement. Your life is likely too full. You need to cut things out.
You might even have too many ideas for personal improvement. It might be working out, reading more, having more date nights and more time with kids.
All those are great. But start with one at a time. Cut out something and really focus on it.
3. Personal Growth At Work
Let’s say you work full-time. Let’s say you work a little more than full-time. 50 hours a week. Then you have a commute. You have time with family. You have a little time for relaxing. It all adds up.
In most jobs, there is some way you can work in personal improvement. You’re looking to eat better? Start with your lunch break at your job. See what you’re eating and start eating a healthy meal at work. Turn your work time into your personal growth time.
Or use work relationships and interactions to improve your personal communication skills. Instead of dreading talking with your coworkers, lean into it. Try to get better at it. Try to ask better questions. Try to start more conversations.
That commute to work? Instead of music on the radio, put a podcast on. One that covers a topic that you’re interested in. Then dive into that topic with more podcasts. Then even audio books.
4. Recurring Growth Activities
I’m a believer that if it’s not on the schedule or calendar that it won’t get done. You can talk about doing something every week, but unless you have it blocked off, it’s not going to happen. Especially beyond a month.
Most New Year’s resolutions, for example, last less than a month. You go to the gym the first time. Lots of energy and excitement. You go again. Less energy, but you’re still feeling good. The third time comes and you’re running low. The fourth time comes and you don’t even go. You make an excuse.
By that point, you’re not tracking on a calendar. You’re not building a routine. It’s over.
When you start something, get it on the calendar and get it recurring. You need to build a habit. Small at first. Just do the work and do it consistently.
As Jerry Seinfeld says, Don’t break the chain.
You might have to adapt your scheduled time. That’s fine. You might learn that 9:00 AM seemed fine at first, but now it’s not fine. Adjust. Find a new time. Keep doing it until you find one that works.
5. Small Is Okay
We tend to have big ideas for improvement. Big ideas make us feel good. We talk about them. We feel proud. Just for having the idea.
But we know that having ideas is absurd. Nobody is rewarded for ideas.
It also breeds disappointment.
The idea of losing 30 pounds seems big when you’re in the gym and after a week you’ve only lost one pound. Who would continue on with that type of progress?
Small things are okay. Jordan Peterson often tells people to clean their room. It seems foolish. It’s too small. But it works. It’s a start to personal improvement.
Find something small that you control and fix it. Then do it again. Then do it again.
Clean your room. Clean your hair. Clean your bathroom. Clean your yard. Clean your diet.
Start with something small. They don’t take as much time as you think.
Personal improvement is simple, but it’s not easy. We often use time as an excuse for not making changes. Even changes that we really want to make and see a need for. But the reality is we probably have more time than ever.
We feel good when we take on as much as possible. But it doesn’t make us happy. This isn’t the Great Depression. We don’t need to hoard things. We have a lot of things. We have a lot of activities.
But back to the basics. Then identify what you want to improve upon and begin doing it.