self improvement

The Seven Stages Of Failing At Self Improvement

Self Improvement is a lot like riding a horse (or a bike).

Sometimes you go too fast and you fall off.

Or you go too slowly and you fall off.

And you might do everything right, and still fall off.

Don’t hate the player hate the game right?

Bottom line is you must stop yourself from freaking out as you fight to stay on.  Just accept you’re going to fall off every now and then. It’s fine because you’re supposed to fall down – it’s part of the journey.  (But no one said you had to lay there in the fetal position.)

When you find yourself face down in the mud, your growth comes from how fast you get up,

There are many stages of failing at self-improvement and I thought I’d share a few (I’m not making light of your challenges, I’m trying to make you see – it’s part of the process – you’re doing just fine!)…

Stage 1: Fall off pony. Bounce. Laugh. Climb back on. Repeat.

This usually happens before the effects of drinking the kool-aid wear off. The sun is still shining, you got too excited and might have bit off more than you could chew, but you aren’t ready to quit yet!

Stage 2: Fall off horse. Run after horse, cussing. Climb back on by shimmying up horse’s neck. Ride until sundown.

At this point in the self-improvement game, you’ve dig your heals in yelling “I’m a soldier!”. You’re going to MAKE it happen or die trying – damnit!  With grit and determination you launch yourself back into your routine, family and friends be damned!  (Until the next tumble anyway).

Stage 3: Fall off horse. Use sleeve of shirt to stanch bleeding. Have friend help you get back on horse. Take two Advil and apply ice packs when you get home. Ride next day.

This is where doubt creeps in and you start secretly wondering what you’re doing wrong.  It didn’t sound this hard at the time, right?  And now, well maybe you aren’t meant to be a better person anyway. You sleep on it, wake up, shake off the cobwebs of questions and talk yourself into giving it another try – today’s a new day!

State 4: Fall off horse. Refuse advice to call ambulance; drive self to urgent care clinic. Entertain nursing staff with tales of previous daredevil stunts on horseback. Back to riding before cast comes off.

This is where you begin crafting an internal story of how hard or impossible it is to make this change.  You might’ve found a way to drop the old story at the seminar, but now your mind is thrilled because it gets to craft a brand new one! So it begins yammering,   “See I told you old dogs can’t learn new tricks.  Why are you even bothering with this nonsense?” (You’ve now forgotten 50{54c12dad2cc2b53ae830e39915b1a3e70288dbcbbeb8bbf8395437c5dc3c512c} of the course and are fearful you might revert back to your old habits.)

Stage 5: Fall off horse. Temporarily forget name of horse and name of husband. Flirt shamelessly with paramedics when they arrive. Spend week in hospital while titanium pins are screwed in place. Start riding again before doctor gives official okay.

At this point, you’re starting to wonder if everyone who said this was a load of crap was right. You question why you can’t get it right, becoming frustrated with yourself for “not getting” it. Depression or anger steps in to replace fear, as you begin to get angry at the world.  “It’s pointless”, you mumble to yourself over and over, “no one cares any way – just a bunch of selfless jerks.”

Stage 6: Fall off horse. Fail to see any humor when hunky paramedic says, “You again?” Gain firsthand knowledge of advances in medical technology thanks to stint in ICU. Convince self that permanent limp isn’t that noticeable. Promise husband you’ll give up riding. One week later purchase older, slower, shorter horse.

Your own friends are beginning to mock you.  You feel worse than you did when you didn’t know any better.  In fact, if you’d known it was going to be this hard, you would’ve just stayed “asleep”.  When does  it get easier?  Maybe your goals shouldn’t be so “lofty….

Stage 7: Slip off horse. Relieved when artificial joints and implanted medical devices seem unaffected. Tell husband that scrapes and bruises are due to gardening accident. Pretend you don’t see husband roll his eyes and mutter as he walks away. Give apple to horse.

This is where you just give up.  At best you try something new again, later.  Worse case scenario?  You do nothing – you quit on YOU.

Unfortunately at this point, many people get addicted to looking for solutions and turn into a seminar junkie; always looking for a quick fix by trying to find an answer of what they need to DO to become the person they KNOW they can BE.

My point? It’s a bunch of crap (but funny).

I’m not sure what stage of self-improvement you’re in, but I know this.  It doesn’t matter. And there is no where to “be”.

Your evolution is an organic process; the point of ALL of it is the JOURNEY.

When you resist the journey or try to short-cut the process to get their faster, you end up mostly spinning your wheels.

Frustration comes into the picture because you’re trying too hard to change your movie from Forrest Gump to Top Gun, instead of just making Forrest Gump the best darn movie it can be.

You are who you are and most of the time you miss the point of YOU.

So while you can mix it up, maybe Tom Cruise or Val Kilmer will walk onto your set,  but until they do?

Try just loving the one your with…



Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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