The Kaizen Newsletter #57 (04/08/2020) - The Self-Improvement Fallacy

Thoughts on self-improvement, productivity tools and creating your user manual

Hey friend 👋,

Welcome to the 57th edition of the Kaizen Newsletter ⛩, a weekly newsletter where I share my thoughts, new ideas I learn and make weird connections between self-improvement, productivity, product, tech, sports, anime.

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One of my good friends, Cullin, wrote a beautiful piece on the dangers of self-improvement and it really resonated with me. I had so many different ideas and realized that I was going all over the place. Instead, I decided to write a shorter piece and focus on one thing: the self-improvement fallacy. Hope you enjoy.

I’ve been on this self-improvement journey for the past 3 years now and there’s been a lot of ups-and-downs since.

Self-improvement has brought me some of the happiest moments in my life, but oftentimes, I would get confused and ask myself “what the hell am I doing?”

Borrowing Cullin’s metaphor, embarking in self-improvement is akin to hopping on a never-stopping train that’s going full-throttle ahead.

And what’s difficult about going full-throttle is that we never know when we arrived at the destination. You try and become better every single day, but for some reason, it seems like this “day” never comes. It seems like no matter what you do, it’s never good enough.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we can somehow measure our self-improvement progress?

Self-improvement is all about the process, becoming better every day, hardening your mental abilities and being able to face the ups-and-downs of life.

It’s almost impossible to measure progress for self-improvement because nothing is tangible.

And I believe that’s what creates the self-improvement fallacy.

The fallacy is that if you only focus on self-improvement by itself, it won’t lead to anything.

This might be controversial, but would you consider yourself “self-improved” if you were mentally strong but poor?

In my opinion, no.

To be able to measure any amount of progress in self-improvement, you have no choice but to tie it with other goals.

In a way, I view self-improvement more as a way of living than anything else, almost like a religion. It’s something that guides me and that I can incorporate in my everyday life that can help me bring me closer to my goals.

I know that self-improvement is a never-ending journey. You always want to be better than you were yesterday, but without adding goals, then self-improvement just becomes pointless.

Now, on to the newsletter.


🤔 Thoughts

🛠 Thoughts on Productivity Tools

When I first learned about Notion around a year ago, I created an account, but never actually used it. Why?

Because I didn't know how to use it. Why would I use Notion for just writing down my notes if I could just use Evernote?

If I didn't take FULL advantage of Notion by implementing a whole system, then it wouldn't be worth it, right?

This was the thought process I had when I initially discovered Notion and it ended up collecting (virtual) dust for the longest time.

This meant that for every new tool that I wanted to use - it was all or nothing.

I had to understand and implement all of the best practices before using the system.

But in a recent twitter interaction with Khe He, a Notion expert, I got reminded that no, you shouldn't actually do that.

Before diving into the newest productivity tool that everyone is raving about, you should be more intentional with the "job-to-be-done" that you are trying to solve.

And start with ONE at a time.

If I go back to my Notion example, initially I wanted to have a template for my note-taking, a template to track the books I'm reading, a template for which articles I'm working on, a template for my newsletters and finally a home dashboard that will contain all of these in one page so I can track everything.

Instead, I should've asked myself "What is the job-to-be-done that I truly want to solve NOW." And work on solving that issue. And slowly, but surely, I would be able to build up to a very nice Notion workspace.

📝 Thoughts on creating your User Manual

I remember how excited I got when I saw that Rishi talked about filling in his user manual in his most recently penned essay on his thoughts about his internship at High Output, a new leadership development company created by Steve Schlafman.

What exactly is a user manual? Well, think of it as a guideline of who you are as a person and how you work with others. As described in the User Manual Template, "the original idea of a personal user manual is to help others learn more about you." But a consequence of creating your user manual is that you also get to learn more about yourself.

I wish the concept of a user manual would be adopted by more companies, as I feel it's one of the best onboarding activities that you can do so that you and your team can get to know each other quicker and better. Right away, you're able to understand the pulse of your team.

Now, imagine if user manuals would become the norm? That everyone would start having their user manual on their website. Wouldn't this facilitate finding co-founders? Obviously, you would still need to interact with them and get to know them better, but a user manual could be one heck of a filter to find out if you are compatible with a person or not.

I'm super bullish on having your own user manual, and will definitely take the time to fill mine out.

🐦 Tweets

When building communities, think of building your MLC.

HOCKEY'S BACK! And it wouldn't be the same without a crazy McDavid goal eh?

The new Gold/Blue dress. What do you hear?

🙏 Shoutout

Shoutout to Shelby. We had an amazing call this past Sunday where we nerded out on how to bypass procrastination and learning new languages!


👋 End Note

If you want to know what I'm up to now, you can check it on my website here.

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