A No-Nonsense Guide on How to Achieve Real Self-Improvement

Self-improvement is omnipresent these days. We all want to become better versions of ourselves, and for that, we consume content, enroll in online courses, or read books. The self-improvement craze is real, but the results are often unsatisfactory. Most people buy into the trend without realizing how personal growth actually works. On this basis, here is a no-nonsense guide on how to achieve real self-improvement.

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Self-improvement isn’t an exact science, and journeys vary. There are countless ways to learn novel skills, improve your physique, or build a business. As such, self-improvement is a highly personal undertaking. 

Personal growth has been an integral part of my life for the last decade. 

I’ve tried numerous courses, built various online businesses, read over 100 self-help books, and embarked on many personal growth adventures, including digital detoxes and mindfulness challenges. 

Those experiences taught me that you need to base your self-improvement efforts on three focal principles: 

  • focusing on systems instead of outcomes;
  • emotional resilience and self-discipline; and 
  • a personalized approach without comparisons. 

With these tenets in mind, you’re on your way to real self-improvement.

The Case For No-Nonsense Self-Improvement - fushimi inari shrine in Kyoto
Picture by Romeo A / Unsplash

A guide on how to achieve real self-improvement 

Self-improvement isn’t sorcery. It’s an accumulation of virtuous habits that provide results over time. 

To cover the primary aspects of personal growth, I’ve divided this guide into four sections. 

First, we need to address the problems with today’s self-improvement “culture.” Secondly, it’s essential to analyze the inner workings of self-improvement. Third, I’ve outlined a few useful tips to apply to your self-improvement journey. Finally, check out my list of some of the most helpful no-nonsense self-improvement books. 

The problems with self-improvement today

Self-improvement has become a cultural phenomenon in recent years. 

Especially in 2020, when millions of people spent the bulk of their time at home, personal growth challenges became a trend – fueled by social platforms and mainstream media attention. 

In other words, people now want to improve their lives to be part of a cultural trend. Personal convictions matter less – it’s the culture that counts. And that’s where the problem lies. 

Personal development – the word “personal” already says it – only works on an individual level. You can naturally share your self-improvement with other people and get help from coaches, friends, or other sources, but the journey remains inherently personal. 

That’s why buying into the “culture” of self-improvement doesn’t work. If you’re serious about building new skills and taking your life to the next level, you need to embark on a quest that only involves your current self and your future self.

In simple terms, you need to focus on your life without following come-and-go trends.  

Aside from the cultural mania, the modern personal development industry is so large and multifaceted that it becomes harder and harder to find quality content. The internet is full of scammers who sell self-help courses to make money, not to help people. 

Along similar lines, consumers believe in the myth that taking part in a class or reading a book will improve their lives without additional effort. 

When you couple the cultural furor with the industry’s flaws and people’s unrealistic expectations, you can see why self-improvement doesn’t work for most people

That’s why we need a different approach: one that rests on personal habits, self-control, smart decision-making, and the right tools. 

How self-improvement actually works 

Away from online gurus and Tiktok videos, there is a way to achieve real self-improvement. 

Most people, however, don’t want to hear about challenging habit-building processes and spartan self-discipline. They prefer fads of “once-in-a-lifestyle-transformations” and “become a millionaire-today-with-crypto-currencies.” 

If you’re still reading, you’re probably aware that real-world self-improvement doesn’t ensue in one big eureka moment. It happens in small chunks through productive habits that you follow every day. 

As James Clear writes in his groundbreaking book Atomic Habits

“Success is the product of daily habits—not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.”

Consequently, if you want to experience real self-improvement, you need to start working on three aspects of your life: 

  • What kind of goals are you chasing? Where do you want to be in the long run? 
  • Which habits and productive activities will take you closer to those objectives? 
  • How can you come up with the self-discipline to follow these habits every single day? 

Your path to real self-improvement 

Now that we’ve analyzed the basic premises of how self-improvement works, it’s time to get into the details. 

To get started, ask yourself in which areas you want to improve. If you’re new to self-improvement, it’s best to start small with one or two projects and work your way up from there. 

As an example, building a six-figure online business will be next to impossible if you have no experience in online ventures. Similarly, looking like Jason Statham in a few months won’t work for people who’ve never seen the inside of a gym. 

Making your first 1,000 dollars online, losing 10 pounds, or reading 20 books this year, on the other hand, are achievable targets. 

Once you’ve identified your goals, determine which habits will secure their completion. Don’t obsess over the outcome. Focus on establishing a productive system. In other words, find out what you need to do every day. 

If your goal is to make 1,000 dollars online, start by learning how to make 10 dollars a day. For people who want a better body, the first step is to build a gym habit. And finally, if you’re trying to read 20 books this year, you first need to concentrate on reading 20 minutes every day. 

To sum up, instead of thinking about transformations and life-changing moments, break self-improvement down into small, daily habits. 

Once you’ve incorporated these into your daily routine, they will automate themselves and guarantee tiny improvements every day. Over time, you’ll realize that small but consistent wins will be the key to long-lasting personal growth. 

A few no-nonsense self-help books to get you started

Cialdini’s 1984 book is still one of the most highly-regarded psychology books. In this context, Influence explains the science of convincing people and how you get others to say yes.

There aren’t many personal growth books that provide as many timeless lessons as The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The primary message concerns “character ethic.” As such, aligning your values with universal principles is crucial to making progress in life.

Mark Manson launched a new era of self-development literature with this book. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is all about curating your priorities and carefully choosing where you give f*cks and where you don’t.

Clear’s masterpiece is arguably the world’s number one book on habit building. Atomic Habits outlines the origins, formation process, and power of habits – giving the reader both scientific insights and practical habit-building tips.

Useful links on A No-Nonsense Guide on How to Achieve Real Self-Improvement 

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