Everybody wants improvement—a better job, a better life, to more consistently show up as your best self. But most people have a hard time figuring out where and how to start with the improvement process.
If you are feeling that improvement is too broad and you need a more narrowed or tighter defined field, the first step I suggest you take is the classic look in the mirror. Look for things you want to improve upon and at the same time, create an image of what could be, what you really want.
The picture you get is your ideal self. This is the motivation to improve. The image of your ideal self is your vision and it will be telling you to start now and speed it up!
Your logical mind will say ooooohhh is that right? Slow down. It seems hard. How do you plan to do this?
One key to the tension and mystery of improvement is you need both of these energies
The image of your ideal self comes from divergent thinking. It is creative and spontaneous, ideas just come to you, and there is no right answer here. This is the image you get from the deep look in the mirror. It’s fun, open and expansive. Convergent thinking is the logical, the ranking and it is the place from which the right answer is sought.
What almost everybody misses is the necessary separation of the two
Use divergent thinking to generate ideas and convergent thinking to implement them. This is what people miss. You’ve probably heard it said that there is no lack of ideas. Ideas are not the shortfall. The lack is in the development of ideas into something coherent, useful and applicable to create value—toward something like improvement.
Set time aside for divergent idea generation. Then separately apply convergent thinking to develop your best ideas. If you can master this little skill, you will never lack ideas or implementation toward improving anything. You will become masterful at improvement in any area!
Be careful when you share you divergent thinking ideas with someone who is locked into and stuck on convergent thinking though. That’s where the saying, that’ll never work, originated.
Here are two broad areas for improvement that will help you build a solid foundation that can sustain you through improving your performance in any difficult situation whether it is with a difficult employee, a boss or a family crisis. You won’t just survive you’ll thrive!
- Exercise. It is well documented that moving your body and working out will always lift your mood, inspire and energize your best self. The famous teen author, John Green—who suffers from sever OCD said the one thing that gets him beyond a thought he is stuck perseverating on is exercise. I have discovered this for myself and have seen this work with hundreds of clients who were stuck.
2. Reading. Books will counterbalance the negativity, the rejection and the energy drains of life. At 4:00AM when the world is resting but your mind won’t, books have the power to console, replenish and inspire. When you feel resistance, when you’re reluctant and weak, unsure you can do it, books hold uplifting energy in their pages.
President Lincoln said Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very far off after all. In other words books can not only give you new ideas they can show you that you are on the right track with your current thinking and approaches.
Use divergent thinking to generate ideas on how to build habits around these two areas and convergent thinking to implement. I shared my personal experience—from the Stone Age, when I was trying to become a better manager, create a fitness regime and free myself or fully possess myself all at once. You can read the first of three posts here.
Formal education will help you get a career; self-education will liberate you from all of life’s modern-day challenges.