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What are the Core Ideas of Self-Improvement? | Scott H Young

Systems

Systems organize your behavior and decisions with formal rules. They are often built off of concepts of scientific management and organizational theory, but it is applied to your personal life. 

A productivity system is one type of system that is aimed at helping you get work done by organizing the things that need doing and telling you when to do them.

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What are the Core Ideas of Self-Improvement? | Scott H Young

What are the Core Ideas of Self-Improvement? | Scott H Young

https://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2020/03/23/core-self-improvement-ideas/

scotthyoung.com

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Key Ideas

Habits

Habits form a core idea in behavior change. It requires that you change your behavior by regularly doing something.

To get fit, you need to have a habit of eating well and exercising. To have loving relationships, you need good habits of communication.

Goal-Setting

Goal-setting is required to decide what you want and planning how to get there. Just having an idea of what you want to achieve is usually not enough. Setting a goal needs to be paired with plans, systems, or habits to make it achievable.

Goal-setting should be SMART (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.) However, some people argue for being completely process-oriented and ignoring outcomes.

Systems

Systems organize your behavior and decisions with formal rules. They are often built off of concepts of scientific management and organizational theory, but it is applied to your personal life. 

A productivity system is one type of system that is aimed at helping you get work done by organizing the things that need doing and telling you when to do them.

Emotional Self-Regulation

Much of self-improvement has to do with managing or listening to our emotions.
Emotional self-regulation includes overcoming fears and anxieties or dealing with motivation and willpower even if they are separate from subjective feelings. The way you think about things affects how you feel, which affects what you do. How you feel affects your thoughts and actions. Your actions affect your feelings.

Learning

Learning is a synonym for studying. But it is also a basic psychological process: Every time we change from experience, we get better, we're learning.
Learning is a core concept of self-improvement because it's how we understand the other tools better.

Values and Meaning

A core concept of self-improvement is considering the purposes themselves.

  • It is considering what you ought to value in life. You might want to change some of your vices and enhance your virtues. You might decide happiness is the meaning of life or how you feel in the moment.
  • The second part is how you find meaning.

Thoughts and Beliefs

Thoughts are the things you say to yourself in your mind. It is an important part of the quality of life and as a way to achieve something. Thoughts can create emotional feelings.

Beliefs are sometimes classified as a propositional statement in your head. Others see it as a probability. Still, others might say beliefs don't really exist in our heads at all. Yet it is a central part of self-improvement.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Self-control
Self-control

It’s your ability to resolve conflicts between your short-term desires and your long-term goals.

For example, successful self-control means sacrificing immediate pleasure (cookies a...

Why self-control matters

People who have high self-control aren’t missing out on enjoyment. Not being able to resist temptation and enjoying life are not the same things.

They tend to eat in a healthily way, exercise more, sleep better, drink less alcohol, smoke fewer cigarettes, achieve higher grades at university, have more peaceful relationships, and are more financially secure.

Biological limits to self-control

Research showed that self-control is ultimately limited by our biology. We can’t exercise effortful self-control indefinitely – the brain has to do regular maintenance to remain functional.

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Practice loops

Practice loops are useful as a concept to think about learning any skill. A practice loop is an activity or group of activities you repeat over and over again while learning somet...

Loops and drills

Many loops aren’t straightforward repetitions. You may never write the same essay twice. The loop isn't writing a particular essay, but the overall process for writing essays.

In the same way, each thing you learn may have more than one loop. Drills are smaller loops to focus on smaller parts of the bigger loop.

Designing Your Practice Loop

Step one involves figuring out what your loops are. These are the activities you repeat over and over when learning something.

Next, analyze the loop for different parts to see whether you can make improvements. It will result in faster learning.

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When to Study
When to Study

Studying time is more efficient if it is spread out over many sessions throughout the semester, with a little extra right before the exam.

Cover each piece of info five times from when you fi...

What and How to Study

Testing yourself, so you have to retrieve the information from memory, works much better than repeatedly reviewing the information, or creating a concept map (mind map).

After the first time learning the material, spend the subsequent studying to recalling the information, solving a problem or explaining the idea without glancing at the source.

What Kinds of Practice to Do
For a particular exam, use the following:
  • Mock tests and exams that are identical in style and form.
  • Redo problems from assignments, textbook questions or quizzes.
  • Generate your own questions or writing prompts based on the material.

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Mark Twain

“It ain’t what you know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

Mark Twain
The most useful learning
Most people think about learning as adding knowledge and skills. You now have a new fact in your mind that didn’t exist before.

The most useful learning isn’t usually a strict addition of new knowledge, but first unlearning something false or unhelpful.

Types of Unlearning
  • Straightforward refutation of the old idea. This complete refutation is atypical. More likely the new knowledge doesn’t contradict the old one, but it may modify it in some way.
  • The new knowledge revises a simpler picture by filling it with more complex details. This is similar to adding new knowledge, although because the older, simpler view of the issue has been overwritten with more detail, there is some unlearning going on.

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External Improvement vs. Self-Improvement
  • External improvement: Money, fitness, credentials, status, friends, etc. 
  • Self-improvement: Habits, thought patterns, confidence, beliefs, learned skills and behavio...
External improvement...
... that doesn't arise from self-improvement is from circumstances or factors outside your control. Winning the lottery may be great, but if you’re broke right now, that’s not a strategy to bank on. Instead you need to start by changing your own behaviors, skills and habits.
Life Strategy
Your total life strategy is a collection of every habit, behavior and thought pattern, conscious and unconscious, that you use to solve the problems you have in life, meet your needs and stay alive. 

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Taking action = eventual success
Taking action = eventual success

Inaction is the biggest cause of our failures and our miseries. If we could consistently do the things we know we should do, we would be more successful, and our lives would be better. Yet w...

Explaining inaction

Some possible but weak reasons why action is hard:

  • Talent. But the world is full of brilliant stars that flame out and mediocre minds that build empires.
  • Preferences can explain our failure to try, but don't explain our inner struggles with inaction.
  • Capacity for effort. If your capacity for doing things is lower, it does not explain chronic bursts of activity with inevitable crashes in your goals and projects.
  • Motivation. Some people with the most reason have the hardest time taking action. 
Confidence
Motivation and expectation of success create a feedback loop:
  • Your motivation to complete a task depends on the value of the reward and your expectation of success. 
  • Your expectation of success depends on your motivation.

If your projects tend to fail, your expectations are low, and motivation fades. If your projects tend to succeed, your expectations go up, and motivation stays strong.

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Self-Reliance

It's "a reliance on internal resources to provide life with coherence (meaning) and fulfillment” (Baumeister, 1987: 171)."

Ralph Waldo Emerson and Self-Reliance

Self-Reliance is the topic (and title) of an 1841 essay from US philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson.

He argues strongly that self-reliance, self-trust, and individualism, amongst other things, are ways that we can avoid the conformity imposed upon us.

Examples of Self-Reliance
  • Thinking independently: The ability to think autonomously goes hand in hand with trusting your own instinct.
  • Embracing your individuality.
  • Striving towards your own goals, bravely.

It’s important to remember that self-reliance is not about cutting yourself off from everybody.

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Consistency matters more than frequency

We usually make effort unsustainable. For example:

  • We work out like crazy for a few days (usually at the beginning of the year) and never go back to the gym.
  • We try to med...
Identity-based Habits
To build the identity of the person you want to become, ask yourself what the behavior of a person who has the habit you want to develop is. For example:
  • What is the behavior a person who is in shape? They go to the gym consistently
  • What is the behavior of a prolific writer? They crack open a notebook every day.
Raise Your Level of Intensity Gradually
When something becomes effortless, raise the level of intensity, to the point where you can get there without too much resistance, but it’s still somewhat challenging. To put it more concisely, bend but don’t break.

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MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses)

A recent study suggests that MOOCs do not disrupt world-class education as initially thought, nor are they accessible to the entire world.

  • Online learners are concentra...
Self-learners
  • Teaching yourself anything can be draining and quite a lonely process.
  • When you care about what you are learning, it can lift your spirits and makes you more confident.
  • Having a few peers can make it a whole lot easier.

If you have a long-term system that you regularly practice you can increase your odds for success.

Find a reason

Don't just learn something for the sake of it or because you're excited about the idea of loving X. You may find yourself unable to sustain your energy and stop midway, or you may be doing an endless series of courses without actually putting them to any use.

  • Consciously find reasons that learning X is the absolute best possible use of your time right now.
  • Ask what makes you excited about X.
  • Hang around an online community of people who love X and go down the rabbit hole.

If you make sure that you really desire to learn X, it will no longer remain a task, but become an adventure. You will hunger after knowledge and have the energy to find answers to your questions.

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Self-awareness is not just a buzzword

Self-awareness and introspection have the ring of a self-help guru's empty promises, but they are the starting point that leads to every improvement. They are not the solution to everything,...

Self-awareness = self-understanding

Understanding your own desires, emotions, failings, habits, and everything else that makes you tick. The more you know about yourself, the better you are at adapting life changes that suit your needs.

Self-improvement is impossible without Self-Awareness

You can read every productivity tip out there and you can adapt the routines of geniuses, but it's completely pointless if you don't know yourself well enough to put the correct advice into practice.