Self Improvement And Motivation - "How To Change Your Life?"

The need for self improvement and motivation is often one of the big starting points in the whole business of "how to change your life".

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But, before we go any further with the subject of self improvement and motivation, let's pause and reflect for a moment.

What is really implied here?

Firstly that "I have a self", and that this "self" that I have is incomplete, not fully functional, or in some way in need of improvement.

Secondly, that I need motivating to improve myself and change my life, and this is often because there is a part of me (or maybe several parts of me) that don't want to see any "self improvement" and are actually quite happy with how things are right now thank you very much!

Let's briefly deal with the second point:

Why do you need help on how to motivate yourself?

Why can't you just decide to do something and then just do it?

What's stopping you?

Self Improvement And Motivation - Key Themes

[1] There is an "elephant in the room"!

The internet is awash with "self-help" materials - articles, books and courses on "how to motivate yourself". Endless advice, tips, tricks and lists of "self motivation tips".

However in my view, and based on my own direct lived and observed experience, much of this completely misses the point:

If you can identify and deal with whatever it is that's stopping you then you will never again need help and tips on self motivation

And this is the whole point of this site.

[2] Who do you think you are (and why)?

Let's look a little more closely at the "self" bit of this business of self improvement and motivation.

If you were able to dedicate sufficient time to the enquiry of: "Who am I?" - or if you don't have the time but are prepared to take the word of those who have pursued this enquiry [at least as a working hypothesis] what you would find is this:

There is no separate "I" in the sense of an ego as a "stand alone entity" that is distinct from everything and everyone else.

We did touch on this briefly in Another big lie

I have been down this line of enquiry myself - as a by product of some extremely testing situations that have persisted over many months and years.

It is quite scary [but ultimately liberating] to see all the layers of who "I" am peeled away.

So if I asked you right now: "Who are you?" What would immediately pop into your head: "mother of", "wife of", "ex-wife of", "manager at", "director of", "free thinker", "free spirit" etc?

The thing is, if you persist with this and look deep enough in your never ending quest to try to "find yourself" (does this sound familiar?) all you will find is a large amount of ideas about me, thoughts that I have, concepts, ideas and images of me - all the stuff that makes up "how I see myself" and that defines "my self-image".

[3] At the crustacean rock bottom sea-bed level of your THINKING mind, what you will find is that there is nothing there except an "operating system" of largely automatically pre-programmed thoughts and responses that runs the bag of bones that we like to THINK of as "me".

There is no thought based self to improve!

There is just a large bunch of software that we can upgrade, tweak and re-install!

As with any computing system it is very useful to have some degree of insight and understanding into how the hardware side of things functions, how the software runs and also some understanding of the operating environment.

Or to put it in more conventional language, it is helpful and resourceful to have cognitive insight and to become informed and educated about the processes and mechanisms of self improvement and motivation, and to have access to some transformational tools and processes that can facilitate that change.

So as we acquire new thinking skills and functional skills, let us not fool ourselves for a moment longer that "I am improving myself".

Before we move on to consider the motivation aspects of "self improvement and motivation" there is one further important point that we need to make, and that is to with "ages and stages".

[4] In the more advanced phases of our experience of "how to change your life" we come to experience the paradox that in order to drop the idea of who we think we are, we first need to have a strong coherent and healthy sense of who we think we are in order to be able to drop it!

I have met and known many people over the years in various stages of personal development and spiritual growth, and I have observed many people struggling because they have never fully "got their act together" in the first place.

So this really is all about "ages and stages".

For anyone under about 30 years old reading this, or for anyone over 30 who feels that they haven't "got their act together" yet, please forgive me as I don't mean to sound patronising but I respectfully and lovingly suggest you largely disregard most of what I have said so far in this article and that you focus more on the resources that we will be looking at below.

Offering 18 powerful workbooks with daily email support. Access your own inner wisdom. Release stress, blocks and what holds you back. Realize more of your potential!"

Now let's explore the mechanics of how we think and why we function differently

A useful place to start with the cognitive aspects of "self improvement and motivation" is to look briefly at personality types and thinking styles.

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Whilst knowing about this won't change you [as we all have various levels of immunity to change] what it will give you a quick view "under the bonnet" of the mechanics of self improvement and motivation.

There are many different personality types and thinking styles, and several mainstream and well regarded models and assessment tools, and these are quite useful in helping us to understand the fundamentals of self improvement and motivation - which are based around:

  • Why we do what we do - what drives us

  • How we are different and motivated by different things

  • How our thinking styles are very different

The following links are to my change management site and each page has a brief overview of the subject and very useful links to further high quality resources:

Myers Briggs Type Indicators

Katherine Benziger - Thinking Styles Assessment

Enneagram of Personality Types

Howard Gardner: Multiple Intelligence

George Kelly: Personal Construct Psychology

Conscious Competence - Stages Of Learning

Emotional Intelligence - Self awareness in the emotional dimension

Free Personality Quiz
How well do you know yourself? What is your next growth step?

Motivation and the psychology of motivation

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Understanding the psychology, motivation and drivers that underlie our differing types of motivation offers a useful background to understanding another dimension to self improvement and motivation.

So here's a working definition of motivation:

"Motivation is the activation of goal-oriented behaviour

Enough focused action will in turn lead eventually to the successful achievement of a goal."

Here are more links to informational pages and resources on my change management site:

Define Motivation - Understanding the inner drivers

Motivation Theories - Getting people to take action

Maslow's hierarchy of needs - A paradigm shift

ERG Theory - Practical application to leading change

Herzberg Motivation Theory - Satisfied and motivated

Acquired Needs Theory - Goal seeking achievers

Process theories of motivation - Personal needs drive behaviour

Books on Motivation

Understanding the stages of change and transition

self improvement and motivation, how to change your life,change your life, managing personal change, It's very easy to wade into some form of self improvement and motivation oriented activity without fully "counting the cost".

There are several well researched and well documented phases that we all pass through in our experiences of change.

This is especially relevant when we are on the receiving end of imposed (and usually unwelcome) change.

The late Elizabeth Kubler-Ross was one of (if not the) first to identify and document the stages that we pass through as we comes to terms with serious and terminal illness. Her model was intially referred to as "The Kubler-Ross Grief Cycle".

However, as thought leaders in the business world became increasingly aware of it, and came to see the wider applicability of the model in organisational change situations, the model has been redefined as "The Change Roller Coaster".

In the world of work and business, thought leader William Bridges has identified 3 distinct stages that we all go through - and especially in organisational situations of imposed change.

Unfortunately, most CEOs and senior management remain wilfully ignorant of these insights as they steam ahead with their "big picture" corporate restructurings and change management initiatives and leave a trail of emotional debris and devastation in their wake.

I commend these models to you as they do provide a very useful framework for anticipating and addressing your own personal emotional roller coaster whether you are on the receiving end of unwelcome and unpleasant imposed change in your work situation, or if you are embarking on your own journey of self improvement and motivation.

These are further links to resources on my change management site:

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross: Mapping the Impacts of Change

William Bridges: Navigating The Transitions of Change

Books by Elizabeth Kubler Ross

Books by William Bridges

The hard core way to change the way you think to achieve self improvement and motivation

There are some people who really do need and benefit from the various "talking therapies" but frankly for most of us there is no real benefit in spending much time becoming informed about how and why we think the way we do.

We will spend a load of time and money and end up with a mass of information, but it won't change us!

Being informed is NOT the same as being transformed.

So, bearing in mind our reflections above about nature of the "self", I would suggest that it is far more resourceful and beneficial to "change the software".

Put bluntly, change the way you think and you will change your experience of life.

If you want to go "hard-core" in your quest for self improvement and motivation then I suggest you need NLP and Self Talk in your tool-kit. I say this based on extensive personal practical experience of this.

These are powerful processes and techniques that go to the root of the often necessary re-programming of your mental software.

Details and personal review here:

NLP - How to change the way you think

Self Talk - How to change self defeating thoughts

    Knowing others is intelligence;
    knowing yourself is true wisdom.
    Mastering others is strength;
    mastering yourself is true power.

    Act without doing
    work without effort.
    Think of the small as large
    and the few as many.
    Confront the difficult
    while it is still easy:
    accomplish the great task
    by a series of small acts.

    Rushing into action, you fail.
    Trying to grasp things, you lose them.
    Forcing a project to completion
    you ruin what was almost ripe.

    Therefore the Master takes action
    by letting things take their course...

    [Tao Te Ching]

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