How To Be Better at Anything

We all want to be better. Better at our work. Better at home. Better friends, spouses, parents. We just want to be better.

After all, better is, well, BETTER!

So the big question is how? How do we get better at anything?

Person drawing a graph

While I think there are is a ton of great information available to help us do anything from improving our physical health to being the best parent ever, sadly most of it won’t work for you. Nor me. It really won’t work for anyone.

But before you tune out and return to binge watching the latest season of The Walking Dead with a tub of Haagen Daaz, stick with me for a minute.

Because while the well meaning tips and tricks that we ALL turn to (yeah, I include myself) won’t give us the silver bullet we’re so desperately wanting, there is a good news. Something that can help you really start moving toward your goals.

First, there are a couple reasons that nothing you read, hear, or otherwise find are gonna do you a lick of good. And there’s something you can do about it.

This Is The Part That Sucks

  1. The first, most glaring problem is that most everything is full of hype. And I don’t just mean the type of late night infomercial fluff that makes you want something. No, I mean the kind of hype that gets right past your bullshit filter and seeps right into your soul.

See, I believe that in large part, we’re all full of crap. Not always really, and few of us are outright liars.

No, what I mean is that we unintentionally deceive ourselves, and sometimes even other people. Again, not that we’re trying to be malicious, as most of the time we are very well intentioned. But that seed is buried deep within us and grows every chance we give it.

And it’s that little seed that does the most damage. What that little pest does is sells us on the idea that things actually can be better. That somehow, if we just have this handy dandy little doodad, or know this one little secret, that everything will be better.

And therein begins the problem. We buy, or buy into, the thing and it just sits there. It doesn’t DO anything. We get it, and nothing changes. So we get filled with just a little doubt the next time we think things can get better.

If it only stopped there, we’d be ok. However, you know as well as I do that it doesn’t.

  1. The next problem we run into is that most of us eventually learn from our mistakes and we start to really make some changes to improve whatever it is that we want to develop. We work harder, turn up the bullshit meter and filter out all the crap, we grow and we learn.

And we end up in one of the positions. The first is exactly where we started. The second, a moderate improvement, but nowhere near where we wanted to be. And the last is the worst. It’s exactly where we knew we wanted to be, only to get there and realize it’s not what we wanted in the first place.

Yeah, that last one really stings. Mainly because that’s the one where you put in the hours, but hate the outcome.

So what the heck! What can we do to avoid all that trouble, doubt, frustration and pain? How do we grow and develop into a worthy ideal? How DO we get better?

Well, remember how we said there was good news?

This Is The Part That Will Make You Smile

Ok, short and sweet, I’m glad that you haven’t gone back to your steady diet of Netflix and YouTube. Because I’m gonna let you in  on a little ancient secret that I’ve learned along the way. Ready?

You’re not alone.

We all get sucked into those dreamer traps. That’s kinda the crappy part of our brains is that they are so easily tricked. It’s almost like there is a reset button on our common sense and logic that says “Well yeah, makes total sense that they got their rock hard abs using that ab wheel. I mean look at em. They’re obviously real. And they have abs. And if I act now, I can too!”

But that’s not how stuff gets better! And we KNOW that! That’s the part that’s so frustrating!

Here’s the trap we fall into. We see something, we want something, we get something (or consume something in the case of information), and we believe that’s it.

NO! If we want to get “better”, then we need to change one little part of that value funnel. We need to start at “want something”, and get out of the funnel altogether! We need to move to a different part of our brain that figures out two thing: why and how.

The why is going to become the scale on which we measure every decision we make in the future. It will help us gauge what the best possible choice in any decision is based on the rock bottom reason we have for wanting that thing to begin with. Nothing happens to make you “better” than to understand “why?”

The how is where we chart out those future scenarios so that we can map out the best and most direct way to get from where we are, to where we want to be. It’s rarely (if ever) perfect, but without that map, we’ll never really know where we are headed. And when you don’t know where you’re headed, you’ll ALWAYS get there.

So this map needs to foresee every possible hurdle and obstacle in the way. Let me give you a quick example.

Let’s say you want to lose 10 pounds. Now, look at your current reality and understand why that’s important. For discussion, let’s make it that you “want to fit into that favorite pair of jeans that you used to love.”

Now, take it a step further and think about all the reasons you loved those jeans. The way the made you feel, the way they actually felt when you wore them, the compliments you’d get, the envy others would feel. Whatever it is, own it!

Once you have the why really dialed in, take a close look at the how. In this situation, it would probably help to have a “by when” as well, but let’s just assume it’s 3 months (totally doable by the way!).

Start to map out the things that would have to be true to make that happen. 10 pounds over 3 months is a little less than one pound per week. What will you do to lose one pound per week? Eat less? Eat better? Workout more? What will you do to make that a priority?

Once you have the plan, and this is the part that almost everyone glosses over at first, what will stop you from becoming “better”? Are the holidays coming? Do you have a lot of junk food in the house? What does your schedule look like? How can you build in the time into your schedule to preplan foods and gym time?

You’ve likely heard the saying “Failing to plan means you’re planning to fail.” I like to also think that whatever we fail to see as a possible obstacle, will be the very thing that trips us up along the way. So think it all the way through.

You Can Be Better

You can do this with whatever it is that you want to be better at. Everything from work to home, from you personal life to your family life. Apply these two simple questions and everyday will be better.

What keeps you from getting “better”?

Answer in the comment section below!

Short Guide to Continuous Improvement

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