One of the criticisms I’ve often heard about self-help and self improvement literature is that readers are encouraged to believe that no matter the problem you’re facing, the solution involves a quick fix process.
Judging from some of the “five minutes or less” titles, I can understand someone coming to this conclusion. However, a devoted student of this genre knows that if you really want to change, if you truly want to succeed and sustain that success, then you must be in it for the long haul, for life. Because that’s how long it takes.
Oprah says you can have it all, just not all at once. But I think you can. It just takes time: weeks, months, years etc to learn how to incorporate a number of different elements into one life.
For some of us our Master To Do List is very long. We want to tend to our spirit, eat five serving of fruits and vegetables each day, stay organized, heed our calling, find the right spouse or decide to remain single, do our best at work, take care of the kids or decide not to have kids, exercise, get the right education or vocational training, buy the house, clean the house, explore our creativity, start the business, make and keep friendships—all of this and get at least 8 hours of sleep a night!
Further, we learned from Gail Sheehy in her book Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult life that we continue to develop even as adults. Thus our needs change over time. Our Master To Do list was different five years ago and will evolve further as time goes on.
You don’t just improve once in one area, and that’s the end of it, you must continue on the journey. To keep progressing you can’t just read one book, or listen to one teacher, you must flood your life with a variety of messages. Then carefully pick through them deciding what to digest and what to toss away.
Self-improvement is not an instantaneous process; rather it’s a mode of living--a lifestyle. Frank K. Levin in his book How to Read for Self Improvement says six hours a week should be spent studying. While Dr. Robert Anthony author of The Ultimate Secrets of Total Self-Confidence says a half hour of study every day or three and a half hours a week are sufficient.
I believe that consistency and persistence are of utmost important. I’d rather study for twenty minutes every single day, than to read sporadically for hours at a time. We learned form Henry Ford that it’s okay to break up huge projects into small parts.
“Opportunities always come disguised as hard work…” writes Mack R. Douglas in Making a Habit of Success. “…you must keep enduring, day after day, never turning back, and you will be successful.”