5 Practical Life Improvements for Self-Help Haters

Todd Brison

Image purchased by the authorvia iStock

The best way to fight airy-fairy “self-help” suggestions are wage war with practicality. Here are my top 5 ways to do that:

Adjust your goals into your existing life, not the other way around.

Every time I’ve failed at something, it’s because I tried to squeeze it into an area of my life where it just won’t fit.

Start small. I know you’ll want to go all in, but go all in on something little at first, then get bigger. This gives you the immediate feedback of completing a small victory, while also building the groundwork to to more.

Be honest. Every time you lie to yourself, a 6-year-old drops her ice cream in the sand. If you have 6 kids under the age of 10, you aren’t going to have hours and hours of time to work on that novel.

Use what you have. Do what you can.

Set Your Own Standards

Whether you are in a corporate environment, school, or a self-employed role, there will be folks who will think you’re doing too much.

Maybe you are, maybe you aren’t. I don’t know.

What I do know is that if you set your own bar by the actions of other people, you will get the life they have, not the life you want.

Paint a clear vision for what you want (no matter how outlandish), break out the steps small enough to fit into your existing life (remember rule #1?), and then follow them.


Don’t look back

Consistency trumps erratic bursts of effort.

If you say you’re going to write on Monday, don’t give yourself any excuses. Whether it’s at 5:00 A.M. or 11 P.M., get it in. You can do it.


If you miss a day, do not punish yourself. Write next Monday. Do not allow 1 day to ruin the next 364.

Do it for somebody else.

Up until I realized I wanted to marry my wife, I was a Simpsons-watching, carb-chomping, late-sleeping college kid. But when I realized Kate would probably prefer a husband who didn’t constantly have pizza sauce on his pants, I started to shape up.

Tapping into the needs of others can motivate you. You can only do so much for yourself, after all. I mean come on, how much money or fame do you actually need?

There’s an important caveat here — What I don’t mean is “chase the goals someone else wants for you.”

Remember, this is your life. You set your own bar. Just make sure your goals serve other people as well.

Love yourself. Forgive Yourself.

At the end of the day, guilt, shame, and regret are probably the most crippling emotions. I know people who wake up hating themselves. Maybe you’re one of them.

But I have to tell you something — You’ve got to live with yourself for a really, really, really long time.

You are uniquely created for something with exactly your set of abilities, background, and talent. I know that much is true.

Do everything you can as well as you can, remember that something is better than nothing, and move on.

You’ll get another shot tomorrow.

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