- The old-school view of self-improvement is that there are things wrong with you - and you need to fix them.
- The reality is a bit more difficult to internalize - that everyone is just fine the way they are, and most people don't have the capacity to be perfect, but that they can always improve.
- Committing to being just a little bit better every day is much more effective than getting frustrated about either where you're at or where you want to be. Everything that's in between is what matters.
I’m a big proponent of meeting people where they’re at. People are individuals and have individual goals and needs, and it only makes sense to treat them like it.
There’s a certain old-school “one size fits all” mentality that pervades a lot of the fitness atmosphere.
The formula is simple - you must hate who you currently are - you must want to improve - I can help you improve - give me money. But while trainers are often good at selling themselves, or advertising themselves, only the best are ever really good at helping people make serious improvements.
Worse, the extension of this is simple - many trainers actively focus on making people hate who they currently are, when they’re probably just fine as is. These trainers invent non-existent problems (or hype unimportant ones) so that they can offer you solutions. This is essentially just a classic case of the nocebo effect.
I don’t believe in shaming people. I don’t believe anyone should hate who they are.
But for some trainers that would create a kind of paradox - how can I fix people when they don’t think that they’re broken? And I think that this is why the industry often falls prey to fat shaming and worse. The fitness industry loves to lionize impressive physiques, and it loves the classic “before and after”.
The reality is that many people, genetically, just don’t have a great hand. Not everyone can be the most jacked person on the planet, no matter how much effort they put in or how smart their training is.
But another, and I think far more important reality, is that everyone can be a little bit better today than they were yesterday, and there are virtually no non-responders. Almost everyone will improve, if given the right guidance and plan. Very few people can be the best, by definition, but virtually everyone can be better.
What does that leave?
I think everyone can (and should) try to be a little bit better every day, and I think that no one should be motivated by the goal of dramatic results right away. Committing to improve yourself even a little bit here and there is a huge long-term investment which will pay off in the long run, even if it doesn’t feel like you’re making much of any progress from day to day.
I think that loving yourself means believing that you’re just fine the way that you are - but that doesn’t mean that you should commit to stagnation or just refuse to learn anything new, because we constantly have to be moving forward just to stay alive. Living is growing. You need to constantly open yourself up to new experiences, new possibilities, new skills and habits, in order to be as adaptable and prepared as possible.
It’s been said many times before, but this is the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. A fixed mindset tends to believe that skill is innate and can’t be improved, while a growth mindset believes that hard work and effort are what it takes to succeed. While the answer is always somewhere in between, the reality is that a growth mindset, even if it doesn’t lead to much better results, is still a vastly better mindset in terms of the personal benefits you'll get from it.
Believing in our ability to have effective change in the world is certainly much better than the opposite. It wasn’t until I got interested in fitness and self-improvement (and believed in my ability to change) that I began to work my way out of depression. Believing that you have the power to change things - shockingly - often enables you to seek out the ways in which you do have power to change things, even if you can’t change everything. Classic self-help books of all stripes are all based on this single basic rule.
Victor Frankl’s classic book, Man’s Search For Meaning, centers on how he learned to find meaning in his life in the midst of a Nazi concentration camp - and how finding meaning gave him purpose and the ability to succeed and survive. Sometimes, I think that this book has a lot more relevance to our modern problems than we're willing to admit.
Find your meaning - find what makes you want to grow - and follow it. You won’t be perfect every day, but you don’t have to be a boundless fountain of positivity and perfection to make yourself just 1% better each day. Learn from what you can, and keep moving. There’s nothing wrong with you today, and you won’t be perfect tomorrow - but you can still be better.
There are two things you need to accept if you want to improve - that you’re fine the way that you are, but that at the same time, you can always be a little bit better every day.
About Adam Fisher
Adam is an experienced fitness coach and blogger who's been blogging for 5+ years, coaching for 6+ years, and lifting for 12+ years. He's written for numerous major health publications, including Personal Trainer Development Center, T-Nation, Bodybuilding.com, Fitocracy, and Juggernaut Training Systems.
During that time he has coached hundreds of individuals of all levels of fitness, including competitive powerlifters and older exercisers regaining the strength to walk up a flight of stairs. His own training revolves around powerlifting and bodybuilding.
Adam writes about fitness, health, science, philosophy, personal finance, self-improvement, productivity, the good life, and everything else that interests him. When he's not writing or lifting, he's usually hanging out with his cat or feeding his video game addiction.
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- Progress VS Perfection
- Winners Always Quit, And Quitters Always Win
- There Is No Goal
- I'm Probably Never Gonna Set A Record (But That Doesn't Mean I'm Not Trying)
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