One principle for a better life.
I like principles because unlike rules or specific ideas, principles are designed to be applied loosely and broadly. Principles are things that are usually true, but sometimes don’t apply—usually helpful, but sometimes not.
And unlike a rule or a piece of actionable advice, principles sit in the background, quietly informing your decisions and perspectives. In that way, when good, principles can be far more effective than any sort of “do this, do that” imperative. This is one of the most helpful principles I’ve come across. It helps me steer my life. I hope you find it helpful as well.
PRINCIPLE #1: YOU ARE PERFECT JUST AS YOU ARE… BUT YOU CAN ALWAYS BE BETTER
Sounds like a statement you’d hear spoken by a master at a meditation retreat, right? The older I get, the more wisdom I see in it. You are already good enough as you are…….. but you can also always be better.
There is an inherent tension between self-acceptance and self-improvement. This tension is within each of us. On the one hand, we want to feel at peace with ourselves, to understand that we are good, valuable, worthy human beings and we deserve love and respect and the use of Yoga Toes every night 🙂
On the other hand, though, it’s abundantly clear that we have little clue as to what we’re doing most of the time. We mess up all the time. There are so many ways we could be better. We could learn more, achieve more, grow more, and that’s just for starters.
I love this principle because it bluntly acknowledges that this internal tension will never go away. It doesn’t matter how productive, competent, and awesome you become. Why? Because there will always be something that you’re “bad” at. That sense of inadequacy will never be conquered.
There is no perfection, only progress.
And yet, at the same time, you are still a worthy and valuable human being, regardless of how many mistakes you’ve made, regardless of how much room for growth you may have.
The beauty of this principle is that it shows that self-acceptance and self-improvement need each other. Having one without the other inevitably leads to dysfunction.
Self-acceptance doesn’t work without self-improvement. Self-improvement doesn’t work without self-acceptance. You are perfect just as you are…… but you can always be better.
Now, a few quick thoughts for helping you better plan and prepare to succeed in life. A common mistake I see when setting goals comes down to this:
Bad goal setting looks like this:
I want to be more present.
I want to use my phone less.
I want to be a better husband/wife/partner.
I want to start using my gratitude journal more.
What EXACTLY do you mean by that?
Imagine if your cookbook said: To bake the chicken, make sure the oven is hot. Not very helpful, is it?
Great goal setting has a “specific definition of success”.
I will spend 15 minutes device-free with each child after dinner at night.
I will have weekly phone-free date nights with my partner.
I will use my gratitude journal immediately after lunch each day for a minimum of 5 minutes.
See the difference? And don’t go crazy overreaching with goals. Only pick a few that REALLY matter and that would make the biggest differences in your life.
There are so many other things you might want to do……….
Write a book
Read more books
Travel back to Europe
Lose 10 pounds of fat
Decide what REALLY matters, make those goals specific, and say NO to the good so you can make the rest of this year GREAT.
Until next month, stay engaged and focus on what matters to YOU!