I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on self-help books and seminars over the past three years. I’ve devoted thousands of hours reading blogs and listening to podcasts about personal growth and self-improvement with the goal of finding the answers that would “fix” me. After my divorce I became addicted to the idea that the answer to my happiness and healing was in a book, podcast or a blog. I kept waiting to read or hear that magic “Ah Ha” tip that would change my life forever.

“Hi, I’m Jasmine. And I’m a recovering self-improvement addict”.  When I was faced with several unexpected challenging transitions in my life, all in a very short period of time, I became compulsively consumed and obsessed with self-improvement and personal growth. Don’t get me wrong, some of the most powerful breakthroughs I have had in my personal growth have been due to a seminar I attended, a book I read or a life coach that I worked with. But it was as if I was never satisfied with what I read or heard, I wanted MORE MORE MORE!

What Is Self-Improvement?

Let’s start with talking about what self-improvement is. Self-improvement is wanting to improve upon your knowledge, thought patterns, or character by one’s own efforts. The goal is to reach a point where you no longer feel the need to improve yourself.

Comparable to nirvana. A transcendent state in which there is no longer desire. It’s as if some people strive to get a Self-Improvement PhD and life will be perfect. If you find yourself picking yourself apart and comparing yourself to others when you are reading self-help books, is that really helping? Can self-improvement be poisoning your mind?

“Things do not grow better; they remain as they are. It is we who grow better, by the changes we make in ourselves.” ― Swami Vivekananda

Can you be addicted to self-improvement?

The Webster Dictionary defines addiction as: A compulsive, chronic, physiological, or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, behavior, or activity having harmful, physical, psychological or social effects and typically causing well-defined symptoms (such as anxiety, irritability, tremors, or nausea) upon withdrawal.

When you think of an addict, you probably envision someone who is addicted to alcohol, drugs or sex; not a 40-something professional who is reading “Girl Wash Your Face” before she turns in for the night.

Placing importance on self-improvement doesn’t necessarily mean that you are addicted. When looking at whether or not there is an addiction, ask yourself this, do you keep repeating the same patterns and behaviors no matter how much you try to improve yourself?

According to Market Research, the self-improvement market in the United States was worth $9.9 billion in 2016 and is estimated to grow to $13.2 billion by 2022.

So, if it works so great, why are people constantly waiting for the next self-help best seller by Tony Robbins to be released or the next TED Talk by Brene Brown to go live? Wouldn’t you read one book, listen to one seminar and have achieved self-improvement nirvana?

The truth is that self-improvement, personal growth and self-care are all constant. That is why there are millions of book options and thousands of seminars with different approaches.

It is healthy to want to work on continuing to develop yourself, but do you ever take time to be in the present and appreciate who you are in that moment? Take a minute to process the tips and tools you have read and reflect on how you want to implement them into your life before you buy the next best seller.

I’m certainly not suggesting you should never purchase another self-help book again. But keep in mind, those books, blogs, podcasts or seminars, all they can do is give you ideas, suggestions and recommendations. It’s YOU that has to put all of it into motion.

Those tools are just someone else’s opinion on what you should do or they’ve done research on what “could” work for some people. They are just that, opinions.

If you have focused on self-improvement for quite some time and feel as if it may be taking over your life, I encourage you to take a break. In your efforts to continually improve, you can end up sending yourself the message that you are not enough, you are lacking, or that you are not worthy just as you are.

As you take time to slow down and look at all that you are trying to improve, it can be helpful to allow yourself to look at the ways you are succeeding in life and give yourself credit for even your baby steps.

“No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you’ve come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself.” ― Madonna

Accepting Yourself Does Not Mean Complacency

Just as placing importance on self-improvement doesn’t mean you have an addiction; accepting yourself does not mean that you stop growing or improving. Accepting yourself simply means that you are able to look at the big picture and acknowledge your strengths in conjunction with the areas you would like to develop.

Striving to develop yourself and work on self-improvement can be positive if you are balancing it with acceptance. It becomes toxic when it becomes your addiction. Acceptance doesn’t mean that you can’t still read the books, listen to podcasts and attend seminars to develop who you are. It means that you allow yourself to also see the amazing qualities you currently have, today.  

Self-improvement can become a never-ending project; you can always find something else that needs to be changed. To break the self-improvement addiction, you have to take a step back and decide to be happy with who you are now.

Read more: addicted2success.com

Sit back and take a moment to think about where you are and where you want to be. Daydream about having a thriving business that generates enough revenue to create financial freedom for life. Dream about having supportive relationships that inspire and push you to work harder.

Dream about being the most optimized version of yourself in your mind, body, and spirit. There’s less stress about all the major growth areas of your life. That daydream is the goal of many success-minded individuals. Guess what? It doesn’t have to be something you only fantasize.

We started this journey to create success, achieve optimal time freedom, and build financial security. We have a vision and purpose of making an impact on everyone around us. It’s not an easy or straightforward success path. At times, achieving our goals requires more than we feel we’re capable of producing. 

You can accomplish all the goals you’ve sent if you put in the challenging and consistent work to create the foundation for success — a plan for achieving those goals in a set amount of time. The path to accomplishing your dreams doesn’t start with open-ended goals. 

“You will either step forward into growth or you will step back into safety.” – Abraham Maslow

You have to use modern personal and professional growth strategies that push you into becoming the most optimized version you can be. Not preparing for growth and expansion will crush you. Achieving success has hurt just as many people as failure has. When you accomplish significant life and business goals, you reach a different level. That place requires higher-level action and a healthier mindset to continue the growth. 

Here’s how to prepare for exponential success and the strategies to have in place to keep your success from becoming a nightmare. 

Create Growth Systems

Growth in every area should be the goal, but it can also be the leader’s downfall. Success-hungry leaders need to have the systems and structure in place to handle rapid change and its effects. 

We can only handle so many things during any given time in our journey. If you got more clients than your business can fulfill, it would feel overwhelming and not possible. If you spent too much time saying yes to those in your life, you lose the self-care boundary you need to thrive. 

It would be best if you had systems and a plan to manage expansion. You may have heard stories of businesses that have been featured by Oprah on her TV show back in the day. They would experience an explosive increase in sales that crippled their businesses because they weren’t prepared. 

It’s called the “Oprah Effect,” and it happens to those that aren’t prepared for growth with systems and a future vision. The time to understand and put systems and structure in place is before the journey to growth starts. Build your life and create a success mindset for where you want to go, not where you currently are in your growth. By the time you start to experience results, you’ll be ready to fulfill the expansion. 

Have a Future-Minded Strategic Plan 

It’s not too late. If you’re ready, you have an opportunity to put systems and a strategic plan in place to handle growth. Technology, software, and access to knowledge of the Internet allow us to build and handle growth. You can partner, hire, and learn what you don’t know. 

You have to build and do the work with the future in mind. The future work involves a different level if you’re consistent — the expression is to “act like you’ve been there before,” and you’ll then have the muscle memory. 

Having a strategic growth plan means you have established healthy habits that are in line with your values. You have support teams in place — even if that’s outsourced help through professionals. 

There is no aspect of your life and the goals you’re playing catch up on because you weren’t preparing. Rapid success is the goal, but you know you have to be ready for it. Building the life of your dreams means putting the systems and structure in place that get you there. Do that as you create because it’s too late. 

“The best vision is insight.” – Malcolm S. Forbes

You can accomplish all of the daydreams we talked about at the beginning of this article. If you’re willing to put in the real hard work and have a plan for the results that work will bring — you won’t be overwhelmed by the fruits of a successful life. Take a few minutes to get honest about where you are right now and where you’re striving. Think about what that place will look like and plan according. Don’t become another success statistic. 

Read more: addicted2success.com

What verb tense is your mind spending most of its time in – present, past or future? How about the members of your team – what time frame are their minds working in? You might consider those questions to be a bit weird or out there, but if you stop and examine the nature of your language and the quality of your thinking, you may find they’re more relevant than you’d initially think.

If you want to examine it, start by paying attention to the language you and your team members are using. Is it reflective of minds being in the past, the present or the future? Here are some clues to listen for.

If you hear a lot of discussion about the way things were before COVID-19 disrupted everything then you or your team are having trouble letting go of the past. Tip off phrases include, “I wish that…,” “I miss…,” and “I’m sorry that…” Thinking back to the past can be a source of energy and motivation when we’re reflecting on peak experiences or how to apply lessons learned. There’s a big difference though between reflecting and ruminating. When we ruminate, we stew. The ancient root of the word actually means to “chew over.” The sense of loss or regret that comes from spending too much time and attention chewing over the past can mire you in the mental and emotional muck that keeps you from taking constructive action in the present.

The flip side of being stuck in the muck on the way things were is freaking out about the way things might be. This is what happens when folks start catastrophizing about things that haven’t happened yet and may not ever happen. The mind can spin out of control into what Richard Carlson and Joseph Bailey in their classic book, Slowing Down to the Speed of Life, called thought attacks. When you start hearing language (either in your own head or from the mouths of others) like, “I’m worried that…,” “I’m nervous about…,” and “I’m overwhelmed by…,” those are clues that you or your team members are over indexing on the future tense. Anxiety, fear and dread are the kinds of emotions that flow from that time frame of mind.

And, as I wrote about last week, your feelings flow from your thinking and the actions that lead to results (positive or negative) flow from the emotional state of feelings. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to the connection between leadership and the time frames of mind. Clearly, the only verb tense in which anything can get done is the present tense, so, as a leader, that’s where you want your team to direct most of their thinking, time and attention. That’s not to say that you’re not working on preparing for and creating the future. It is to say that you’re making strong connections between what’s done today and what happens tomorrow. As Gandhi wrote, “In regard to any action, one must know the result that is expected to follow.”

Focusing your leadership on the present tense and how it creates the future gives you and your team a sense of agency and control. One way to do that is to regularly ask, coach and lead around the question, “What can we or should we be working on or doing today to put us in a better position one month from now, three months from now or six months from now?” Before you ask the question, you might push the mental reset button by asking everyone to clear their mental chatter by taking three deep breaths. But before you do either of those, check in with yourself. What time of frame of mind are you in? If you need to make your own adjustment, now is a great time to do it.

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