I don’t think “self-improvement week” is a thing — yet.
For the longest time, Bill Gates has taken retreats specifically for the sake of self-improvement. He would go somewhere for a week or two with a collection of books to read and self-reflect.
I had never given this idea much thought, until recently.
I pride myself in being a polymath who does a great many things all at once. Here’s what one of my weeks look like:
And then last Friday I had problems with a build of Soul Reaper and had to switch back and forth between Mac OS X and Windows 10. And Windows kept doing updates. I “wasted” about 2 hours of my life waiting for updates I didn’t even care for.
I’m not easy to upset, but that did it. But I didn’t understand why it did. It’s insignificant when you think about it. Sure it sucks, but I should not have over-reacted on this, but I did.
During those updates, I “stormed out” and went in a quiet room, pen and paper in hand, and started jotting down things that had been bothering me lately. To my surprise, my page was completely full. “Overflowing” would be a better word.
I had been so deep down in the trenches for “so long” that I hadn’t realized that so many things were wrong around/with me.
I was so focused on the day-to-day grind, that I had forgotten the big picture.
And chances are that you too may be a victim of the same problem, without you even knowing it!
And then came the idea to just “pull a Bill Gates” this week. What if instead of spending 80% of my time on my productive activities*, and 20% of my time on my self-improvement, I take a week and spend 80% of my time on my self-improvement, and 20% of my time on my productive activities.
*Notice how I don’t use the word “work”? When you like what you do, it doesn’t feel like a chore. People seem to associate work with something you have to do to get by. And if people agree to that definition, then I need to use a term like “productive activity”, meaning something that works towards my goals. Something paid or not, it doesn’t matter. Something I want to do.
What do I hope to gain from a Self-Improvement Week?
One word: clarity.
Napoleon Hill, in Think And Grow Rich, writes about finding your “Chief Aim” as being the starting point to achieving great things. I think he’s right.
What is your Chief Aim?
He claims that 98% of the people can’t answer that question clearly. But it’s an old book. There were fewer options 80 years ago. I would guess even fewer people know their Chief Aim nowadays.
Because we’re always on the highway, going 100 miles an hour. We don’t take time to brake, pull over, and think for a moment.
I was in Spain for 3 months earlier this year, working 13 minutes away from the beach. And looking back, my most productive days were not days I was in front of the computer, but days where I took the time to reflect and brainstorm on the beach.
Every good idea I’ve come up with in my life that has brought me desirable outcomes has come from one of these places/moments:
- in the shower;
- during a walk;
- looking at the waves on the beach;
- hiking or atop a mountain;
See the pattern?
I did not have access to a computer to “distract” me from my reflection.
I did not set out to come up with these “incredible” ideas. They just happened, when I 1. did NOT expect it, and 2. finally freed my mind of the “clutter”.
It’s when you disconnect that you connect.
What’s on the agenda for the Self-Improvement Week?
One word: Nothing.
There are things I want to figure out about myself. Like the Chief Aim mentioned above.
There are books I haven’t taken the time to read or re-read. Now’s the time. I’m thinking of: Think And Grow Rich, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Principles, Good To Great, The Power Of The Subconscious Mind, etc.
I want to improve upon my 3-new-skills-a-month approach.
I want to fix the list of things that have bothered me.
I want to increase my wealth. Something I’ve never cared about before. Now I’ve got reasons I really care about for having money.
I want to inspire more people to aim and reach higher.
I want to come clean on mistakes I’ve made to people I care about.
I want to give gratitude to people who have shaped who I am today.
These are suggestions, not plans. I’m definitely not against plans, in fact, the result of those reflections will no doubt yield plans.
This week is about Brainstorming. Reflecting. Being self-aware. Rebuilding my confidence. Aligning my visions with my goals. Finding my Chief Aim.
In some ways, by foregoing my productive activities for the week, I’m setting myself up for the most productive week of my life, yet.
Your goals for a self-improvement week will be different than mine, than anyone else, really. It’s a personal thing.
I’m inviting you all to join me on this powerful idea.
You don’t have to do it this week, but schedule a time that would make sense for you.
Remember: there’s no better investment than in yourself.
I’m going to make Self-Improvement Week a habit. Maybe once every 3–4 months. I’ll experiment. I’ll see what works best for myself.
I suggest you do the same.
So get out of the trenches, brake, pull over, arm yourself with a pen and paper, and improve everything about your life!
You can do this!
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