If only it were simple as dishing over $1 million…I still don’t think I would.
To improve oneself, there must be a dedication to the things that will bring on the improvement. For 10 or so years, starting in high school (secondary for my British readers), I smoked cigarettes and marijuana. At the time, they were social events that solidified my place in a group of people I considered friends. Well into college, I realized that marijuana was making it damned difficult to continue giving college my best. My dedication to college trumped my dedication to the friends as well as the highs I had accumulated whilst smoking. That improvement came overnight, like a slap in the face. Something similar happened a few years later with tobacco as well. Why it took so long? Weakness.
I bring these events up to talk about two very important aspects of self-improvement of any kind – dedication and weakness. It is important to recognize your level of dedication and all of your weaknesses at any given time. This will set you up for success, and bring about the change you want.
Ya Got Heart, Kid
First, what is dedication? For some, dedication simply means to act in favor or someone or something, e.g. I dedicate this book to orphans. And this is how I want to talk about it. To improve, you must be dedicated to yourself. Be selfish, so to speak. This is a difficult concept for some to grasp, simply because we as people as social beings and want to have others in our lives. To keep those people in our lives, we must be decidedly selfless!
So, how do we come to terms with this contradiction? Let’s look back at what we are trying to do, shall we? If your goal for improving yourself is to feel better about yourself, whether it be attitude or behavioral adjustments (anything from rudeness to alcoholism), you in fact are being selfless. These improvements help not just you, but those around you. Your reasons may be personal, but the effects are interpersonal. So our motives, while on the outside seem selfish, must have a selfless element. If you’re wondering why this must be, simply look to those people who are recovering alcoholics – they undergo a profound introspection during recovery. However, part of their final step in recovery is to carry out their knowledge to others in need.
In everything we do, or at least do seriously, we must have dedication to ourselves for the benefit of all. Self-improvement is no exception. Without proper dedication, failure is inevitable.
I had come to the conclusion that my blogging was part of my self-dedication, but I was completely incorrect. Just looking at how my blog is set up, I want other people to read it – friends and strangers alike. I want people to read about how I want to improve myself and I want their help. In fact, I find the strangers who read this blog are more supportive and encouraging than a vast majority of people I consider my friends. And I find that blogging has made me the same sort of person that these strangers are to me – posting, when I can, words of encouragement for people I’ve never met. My dedication is to you all as well as myself.
The Human Condition
This term encompasses all that it is to be human. And for most humans, we don’t like to see our weaknesses. But, recognizing your weaknesses will greatly improve your chances of success in all things. If you suck at social situations, suck at them well! Embrace your weaknesses and accept them as a part of your imperfect self. Denying them only makes them have more impact on your life.
Once we accept our weaknesses, it’s time to come to terms with them. How do they affect me? Are my weaknesses holding me back? How do I resolve them? Luckily, not all weaknesses are bad and shouldn’t be dealt with at all, for a time. For example, my current weakness as it relates to this blog are my eating habits. I eat more than I should and eat things I really shouldn’t. No self-control when it comes to food. However, this actually works to my physical advantage in that, if I changed my eating habits overnight, the weight would just slide right off me, leaving behind it a slough of extra skin. But since my food intake is still keeping some weight on me, my skin is able to use its elasticity to rebound back taught after fat leaves. Ah, the wonders of over-eating.
Unfortunately, most weaknesses, like mine, will eventually hold us back from our ultimate goal. My goal is to be fit and the best cyclist possible. Eventually, it will come to the point where my cycling will suffer because of my weight, and ONLY my weight. Then, it’s really time for some changes I won’t be happy with. Until then, my eating will probably continue to be a problem, but I’m working on it.
And that’s the point of this exercise. What are your weaknesses? When will they be a problem? Are they already a problem? How do I fix them? Unfortunately there’s no easy answer to any of these for someone else to point out. This is all up to numero uno. Look at yourselves, really well. Be honest about your weaknesses. Once you recognize them, they become less threatening.
The key to all of this is honesty. Be honest to yourself. Set goals that truly mean something. Honest introspection about your weaknesses and dedication can help you achieve anything.
When I used to teach outdoor stuff I had the idea of helping folk enhance their self-concept by their achievements. I couldn’t do this for them, but I could assist them in the process. Sometimes they could seem to be overwhelmed by their idea of themselves and their weaknesses, which would seem to me too harsh. So a balance is needed as well.
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Too right you are. I think this is a byproduct of our society’s view of healthy/fit/sexy. Too often people look to celebrities and famous atheletes as a guideline for themselves and thats just too harsh. Reasonable goals win the day!