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The Insanity of Self-Improvement: Are We Meant to Be Perfect?

06/14/2013 03:13 pm ET | Updated Aug 14, 2013

I'm starting a movement today. I'm calling it "Jumping off the Self-Improvement Treadmill." And, I hope you'll join me!

Now, don't get me wrong -- I have a healthy respect for improving your life. I've made incredible changes in my life by making a plan and working hard. It has taken years, but I have gone from a minimum wage-earning high school dropout to a six-figure executive with a wonderful life. You could kinda say I'm a poster child for improving your life with a plan.

But as appreciative as I am of that, now I feel like life is a list of "should be's." I should lose that last 10 pounds. I should do a better job at sending birthday cards. I should plan healthier meals. I should learn a language to keep my brain sharp. I should... I should... I should.

You would think after all these years, I'd be getting close to being done. I've been at this a long time! But, here's the insanity of the self-improvement culture -- YOU NEVER FINISH. And I'm starting to wonder when I finally get to say "I'm Perfect!!"

I guess it boils down to the question: Are we meant to be perfect? It's a funny question, because the answer is, "Of course not." Then, why do we have such a focus on self-improvement in our lives? Or, is there a drawback to wanting to be better?

Yes, there's a drawback. Here I am years later and I can't shake a sense of dissatisfaction in myself that exists all the time. It's reinforced by women's fashion magazines that prod me about my looks and business journals that promise I can climb the corporate ladder. They tell me the goal is to be smarter, younger, thinner and more successful than I am today. And, they convince me that I can be.

Maybe I was naive; maybe I didn't realize the consequences. But, being dissatisfied with who you are can become a habit. It's an underlying nagging in the back of your mind that you're not good enough. It leaves a damage all its own. We are left with a constant yearning to be better- when we're pretty great already.

So, starting today I will get off the "trying to be perfect" bandwagon. Here is my new pledge:

• I will stop reading about how to be happy and just start being happy. I will be happy because I'm kind, happy because I'm loved, happy because it's a beautiful day.
• I will stop buying self-improvement courses and I'll spend that money on drinks with a friend, buying a bouquet of flowers or watching a wonderful old movie.
• I will eat only things that taste good, and every once in a while I'll drink a little too much alcohol. And, I'll do this with fun people, laughing the whole time.
• I will stop giving advice to others and just be sympathetic and love them. I will shut my mouth and let them say everything they have to say. I'll be someone you can say things to even when no one else wants to hear it.
• Instead of criticizing my body, or worrying about gaining weight, I'm going to think good thoughts about it every day.
• I'll remember to feel grateful for my wonderful life. When I catch myself being dissatisfied, I will think of how I jumped off the treadmill and appreciate the wonderful things I have.

I know this isn't going to be easy. I am addicted to the promise that we can all be better and should follow the rules to attain perfection. But I'm jumping off the bandwagon. It's going to be tough, but I think I'm going to be happy.

I'd love to hear your stories and what you did to jump off the Self-Improvement Treadmill at www.FirstClassWoman.com. Join the conversation and get inspired; sign up for the newsletter and please share this blog and my website.

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