Every today has a better version called TOMORROW.
Let me start with a confession.
I hate the world of self-help, self-development, lifestyle gurus and all the crap that comes with the advice that “I am leading a bad bad life and I need to drastically change myself immediately for the better”.
Why? For the simple reason, most of the literature of self-help assumes that there is something seriously wrong with me and I should be guilty like hell thinking about my drawbacks, deficiencies and bad habits. And if I want to be the “best” version of myself, I need to address these gaps in a planned, meticulous manner to compete and survive in this world.
This is all bullshit. The trouble with self-help advice is that sometimes it leads us down the path of us not helping ourselves at all. Sometimes we get so caught up in someone else’s vision that we lose sight of our own. The “gap” which needs to be addressed, as advocated so blatantly by these self-help gurus creates a self of inadequacy within us rather than accepting ourselves as who we currently are in the present moment.
My point is simple. You are already the best version of yourself as of today. And the person you want to become will always be a moving target. There is always a version of yourself slightly ahead of where you are now. This “you” isn’t perfect and will always be a “work-in-progress”. Accept this fact.
You might want a better body, a better job, a better publication to showcase your writing. You name it and life comes up with an endless list of “betters”. But the question you ought to ask yourself is that, “What can I do TODAY to make a meaningful step in the direction of my goals?” Forget about preparing for tomorrow and thinking beyond tomorrow. Just live in the present and work with what you currently have, to be the best version of yourself that you can be right now, at this moment.
Just focus on being the person you know you could be if you just tried a little harder. It’s not scary impossible, but you’ll have to push yourself bit by bit every day to get there. Thus, if you give your best effort today and become the best version of yourself, today is a success. String together a series of “successful todays” and bingo, one day you will achieve your goals. Small steps do make a big difference. Simple as that!
And here are some ways to be the best version of yourself today.
Do one action every day.
The principle behind this rule is simple. Everything in this world starts with an action and a goal is nothing but a series of actions.
For example, if my goal is to be a successful writer, my very 1st action will be to write 100 words every day. And my mind did not procrastinate thinking about it because it is only a small action. I am not thinking about the next hundred steps I need to do or the ultimate goal I have in mind. My action for today is to write 100 words and that is it!
So start with making a list of actions and each action should be linked in its small way to your larger goal. In a nutshell, the action needs to be smart. For example, sporadic writing once a week will not help you to be a good writer but a small smart action like writing every day 100 words is a realistically, smart step towards your goal.
The key is simplicity. Simplicity is the key to get things done. Don’t overcomplicate life by focussing on hundreds of steps towards one goal. Instead, live in the present and focus on one action at a time and soon you will see the change you want in yourself.
Remove one energy-drainer every day.
Broadly speaking most of us do two types of activities every day.
· Activities we do well but do not enjoy and therefore drain our energy.
· Activities that make us fulfilled and happy and therefore boost our energy levels.
And our success or failure in life depends on deciding which business, job or passion project to pursue, just pick the one that you most want to do. Then do it to the best of your ability. Seth Godin calls this as “paying attention to your energy levels” in his podcast Seth Godin’s Startup School, which offers psychological insights into what drives the success of entrepreneurs.
Seth shares his early experiences of corporate life at Yahoo, and how he came to a conscious decision that he is not meant for managing people. So he chose to leave. He wanted to take a different path because he wasn’t motivated to do what he was doing.
In the same way, you can choose to remove one small “energy-drainer” (something that demotivates you) every day from your life. For example, your long term goal is to quit smoking but you are tempted every time, your close friend asks you to accompany him to the smoking zone. This is an energy-drainer for you, as every time you succumb to it, your mind is filled with guilt. So next time, he asks, politely, refuse. He may feel bad and you may feel terrible but you have moved a step forward towards achieving your goal.
The key is just doing what makes you happy and remove anything and everything (by starting small) that does not contribute towards your goal.
Help one person every day.
Helping is often underrated as there are no visible benefits it gives us to achieve our goals.
On the contrary, there are tons of benefits associated with the social activity of helping and the feelings of community that come from it — you’ll be mentally stimulated, you’ll learn new skills, you’ll be healthier, and you may even find something worthwhile to do. Helping is all about giving hope. You instill hope in the other person and your life opens up to a new promise and there is a guaranteed positive reaction resulting from your action.
And helping helps you more than others. Scientists have discovered a phenomenon called “Helper’s High”: helping others releases endorphins which, in turn, improves mood and boosts self-esteem. In short, helping others feels good and makes you happy.
And help can come in every size, big and small. It can as small as lending a helping hand to a junior developer by sharing some code snippers to doing some heavy-duty hard work by helping your new neighbor shift in her new house. The size, or the amount, of help, is not important as is the gesture of genuinely wanting to help. The keyword here is “genuine”.
Finally, stay focused and keep a positive attitude. You might succeed today. You might fail tomorrow. That is ok. Tomorrow is another brand new day for you to start afresh.
Remember, no one can do it for you. If you want to be a better person, you will have to do the heavy lifting yourself. There is no magic pill, no switch you can turn on instantly become a different person. The effort has to come from you, and you have to stick with it, come what may.
As Hideaki Sorachi has rightly said.
“You yourself have to change first, or nothing will change for you!”