Because I’m a blogger, I’ve come to know a lot of other bloggers. And because I blog about self-improvement, I tend to know many bloggers who also write about becoming a better person. Over the years, I’ve learned that those of us in this niche often write about our chosen topics because these are the things we struggle with personally. For instance, my buddy Leo from Zen Habits has a website about balance because that’s something that he’s not naturally good at. It takes work for him.
That’s why I started Get Rich Slowly too. I wasn’t naturally good with money, so I wrote about my progress as I tried to get better. Even today, after nearly a decade of reading and writing about the subject, smart money management takes work for me. It’s not a reflex.
I mention this because I’ve noticed lately that I don’t always take my own advice.
That is, I know what I ought to do in a given situation — and I don’t just mean with money, here — but I can’t always make the right choice, even when I know what that choice is.
- I write a lot about living for yourself and not for other people. In fact, that’s the whole theme of my (as-yet-unpublished) material on obtaining personal freedom. Yet, I still sometimes make choices in an effort to please others. These decisions range from the very small — whether or not to attend book group, for instance — to the very large — choosing which projects deserve my attention during the day.
- Along the same lines, I don’t think it’s fair for us to expect others to behave the way we want them to behave. We have to accept people as they are instead of trying to impose our wills on them. Sure, relationships involve some degree of compromise, but ideally both people can just be wholly themselves. Well, sometimes I want my friends to be something other than they are. I want them to be ideal versions of themselves. This is unfair of me.
- Despite my best efforts, I sometimes take things personally. I understand intellectually that nothing anyone else does is because of me. What others say and do is based on their experience and their reality — not mine. But having an intellectual understanding of this is different than having an emotional understanding.
- Finally, I sometimes make mistakes. I do and say things that aren’t true to who I am, things that are hurtful to others and to my own integrity. I know this is a very human flaw, but that’s no excuse. I’ve done some very dumb things over the past year. I ought to make better decisions.
It’s not that I expect myself to be perfect — although perfectionism is definitely something I wrestle with — but that I feel I’m capable of so much more.
Being aware of my mistakes is a great start, I think. I cannot change or improve if I’m not even conscious that there are areas that need change and improvement. But change requires more than just wishful thinking. Change requires action. If I want to be a better man, I need to be a better man.