The Fallacy of Self-Improvement

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster…” – The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is one of my all time favorite books. Not only does it read and flow well, the story has an excellent moral that has stuck with me since my first time reading the book. That being said, there is lots of debate over the real meanings of the story so, if you disagree, go write about it on your own blog.

Gatsby is always working to have what makes him happy – to chase an unattainable future ideal. There is nothing wrong with striving to be more excellent every day. But constantly working towards something that has no end goal is the same thing as spinning your wheels to see how fast the car will go.

Now, I definitely think that it is a good thing to have to work at things that aren’t necessarily fun. But this mindset is different than just building your endurance through intentional discomfort. What we’re talking about is a person who never has the ability to make dreams into realities because that person is too busy chasing the dream, itself.

Fight Club has a few crude ways of saying something similar about self-improvement. The problem with it is that it never makes us happy. There is always more about our “self” that can be improved.

I’m trying like crazy to get better about that. My obsessive personality lends itself to constantly trying to find a better way to do something. I’m constantly making “perfect” an enemy of “good”. Do yourself a favor and accept that if you’re trying, where you are probably isn’t as bad as you really believe it to be. If you’re still that concerned, as someone who you know will be honest with you to give you some feedback – whatever the subject.

Figure out where you need to go – specifically – and get to work. Will you ever get there? Only time will tell. But at least the destination is well-defined. You’ll work better as a result.


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