Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

What’s the Point of Self-Improvement?

I came across this article, entitled ‘What’s the Point of Self-Improvement Anyway?‘, in my regular Pocket Hits email. It should only take you a few minutes to read, so take a look, and then come back to this blog post.

It talks about ‘self-improvement junkies’ and ‘self-improvement tourists’. I’d put myself in the former category.

I listen to regular podcasts – mostly for entertainment, although Sofie Hagen’s Made of Human podcast offers some useful insights into how other people deal with life. And The Infinite Monkey Cage sits comfortably at the intersection between education, entertainment and information that the BBC aspires to.

And when I’m not listening to podcasts, I listen to audiobooks. Whilst I’ve been listening to an increasing amount of fiction of late, I have listened to various informative books, such as Algorithms to Live By.

I read blogs like Lifehacker. I pay attention to the news, and like to learn about making subtle changes to improve my life. I wear a Fitbit, to motivate me into exercising a little bit every day. I read Martin Lewis’ weekly Money Tips email, to find out ways of saving money.

But I also identify with this quote:

For the self-improvement junkie, the purpose of self-improvement is not the improvement itself, rather it’s motivated by a subtle form of FOMO (fear of missing out). The junkie has this constant gnawing feeling that there’s still some magic tip or technique or piece of information out there that will create their next big breakthrough (again, both real or imagined).

The fear of missing out is something that I do struggle with from time to time. It can masquerade as a social media addiction, or feeling like you need to read every last thing that your friends, or people you follow share with you. As much as I love Pocket, my fear of missing out something important can result in having over 100 articles saved up to read. And sometimes, I ain’t got no time for that. Seeing the large number of unread articles, with no prospect of finding time to read them, can be anxiety-inducing. Though right now, that list is at 0, thankfully.

Self-improvement is continuous, but there should be an end-game. Maybe I need to decide what that is, and how I will know when I’ve achieved it. I assume it’ll be the point where I’m happy with my life, in that I have enough free time to do the things I enjoy, spend time with the people I want to spend time with, and have enough money to do it. If that’s the case, then I’m not there yet.

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