How to Stop Playing the Self-Improvement Game

self-improvement game

We’ve all dropped cash at some point on a book, seminar, talk, lecture, video or tchotchke we’ve been convinced will be the next thing to fix us.

Therein lies the problem.

Some of us can’t be “fixed.”

And that’s okay.

A lot of the self-improvement stuff out there, however, doesn’t tell you that.

Self-improvement vs Self-perfection

That’s because at some point, self-improvement turned into self-perfection, so now, instead of helping you be a better person at work, you’re in a constant race trying to be the BEST person at work.

Instead of simply enjoying life a little more, you must now be THE HAPPIEST PERSON ANYONE HAS EVER MET LOOK AT ME SMILING I'M A SMILER NOW.

Instead of gaining control over your finances, you are supposed to HAVE THE MOST STUFF AND AN ISLAND AND WHY ARE YOU STILL WORKING THAT SHITTY DESK JOB, YOU LOSER?!

Instead of giving you a framework for how to live your best life, where you are, right now, they send you on yet another pursuit of happiness (THE HAPPIEST), abundance (THE MOST ABUNDANT), truth (SO TRUTHY), or whatever you currently feel like you need to chase (THE HOTTEST BODY OF ALL TIME! ALL TIME!).

If they’re selling it, you just don’t have it yet (but buy this book, and maybe you will).

This is why self-improvement, in its current iteration of “getting better is synonymous with being perfect”, is bullshit. It’s a wild goose chase and for many people who struggle with life situations, illnesses or other circumstances beyond their immediate control, impossible.

This is why people need do less self-improvement and switch instead to a life of self-improvment.

Self-improvement vs Self-improvment

No, that’s not a typo, and yes, I’m basically a word genius for replacing “improve” with “improv” (even though my word processer really hates me right now).

The Art of Improvisation is something that’s changed my life as a performer. Through the principles of improv, I’ve built more confidence, become a better listener, increased empathy, decreased judgment and told more bawdy jokes than I ever thought possible.

But lest you think that improv is only for comedy, or that it’s something people only use when things are chaotic and crazy and as a last resort (“Oh no! Someone forgot the condoms…let’s improvise!”), I’m here to tell you that you, my friend, are about to learn about the wonders of improvisation for every day life.

Like many disciplines, improv is practice with hard and fast rules, most of which can be broken or molded to fit your specific context. In general, though, improv provides a beautiful framework that allows you to access your most authentic self (I call it your “weird”), build deeper relationships, experience emotion more fully, thrive in difficult circumstances and feel (not chase) more joy.

And it's all done by being who you are, where you are, right now. Broken, busted or otherwise. Literally, you could start right this second, no purchase necessary, no need to lose that last ten pounds or save a certain amount of money. If you're ready to simply show up, you're ready for self-improvment.

How nice does THAT feel? 

My Self-Improvment Mission

My mission is to take the principles of improv that have helped me so greatly in my life and share them with you as an alternative to all the self-help/perfection nonsense.

No more trite sayings where you’re supposed to give a deep “hm” to and double-tap on Instagram. No more plastered on smiles because that’s supposedly what positive people do (it's not). No more money sunk into books or lectures or whatever that are just gonna make you feel like one big “should” machine instead of a goddamn human being who struggles with stuff on the regular.

Self-improvment recognizes that perfection is the real enemy. Authenticity, empathy and creativity are often messy things and approaching them primly with the desire to avoid spills means robbing yourself of the beauty of true connection with yourself, with others and with what you seek to create.

Self-improvment is all about the practice. It’s about failure (you’ll do it a lot). It’s about doing the work to know and understand yourself, your perspectives and how you present yourself to the world.

Self-improvment is also about joy. And connection. And laughter. Wild, raucous, unconstrained gusto when you want, without fear of judgment.

It’s all about cultivating the things in your life that I hope you’d put on the list of “this is what I hope to be proud of when I die.”

It’s not about chasing a dollar, or an airbrushed version of success. It’s real and gritty and raw and undeniably human.

It means, like me, you might have some past trauma in your life that still rears its ugly head now and again and sends you into a tailspin. It means that you might have an illness or a situation that can’t be “fixed.”

But it does mean that you’ll have the tools to still be rad. You’ll be able to say stuff like, “I’m flawed AND I’m awesome.” Or “Damn, this sucks AND I’ll be okay.”

So I ask you to join me on this quest for self-improvment. I’ll lead the way for now, but I look forward to one day learning from you, too.  

Want to learn more about self-improvment? Download the Self-Improvment Glossary.  

Sarah J Storer