Here I am referring to the many articles and books somehow implicitly promising to make a ‘better’ me once I have traversed the steps laid out – to be an effective communicator, an altruistic entrepreneur, an inspirational manager, a dynamic rain-maker, the domestic goddess, a more exciting lover, etc. But there really is no ‘7 steps’ or 8 or 10, in there?
These are guides at best, and some better than others. They can be valuable as catalyst for self-reflection – prompts for looking at who we are, how we relate to others, how we impact our environment, how our thoughts and actions are influenced by others, how we do what we do and why, and where we are heading. And only for those who are prepared to do so. Otherwise, they become checklists to be applied mechanically and thoughtlessly, like a band-aid to cover up.
One thing is undeniable – life, yours and mine, cannot be prescribed. There is no checklist, certainly not one prescribed by someone else or with externally imposed ‘steps’ to make a ‘better’ you, a ‘better’ something. Truly, what does ‘better’ even mean?
We can chart a course then choose to stick to it no matter what – uncompromising and unrelenting,or we can merely go where the wind and wave take us. The former must feel wearisome, the latter uncertain. Or we can navigate – course correcting and all the while keeping our hands at the helm and the destination in sight.
Course-correcting requires the ability to differentiate the destination from the route – the goal from the when and how-to. It requires active participation.
Are you off-course in this moment? Is that ok? Like a daughter who put a halt to her career progression to care for a sick parent. Is she off-course? Most likely. Is it ok? Most likely. Will she get to her destination? Eventually, and not as soon as she had desired and certainly not in the manner she had planned.
So perhaps the important thing is to read these self-improvement materials with a willingness to reflect and an open-ness to awareness of Self.
Navigate your life with insight and good judgment.
“It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment.” Marcus Tullius Cicero