Don’t Feel Guilty About Improving Yourself in 2020 and Beyond

I hate being right sometimes, I really do.

Having been a student of life and human nature for the past half-decade, I’ve learned to observe patterns. I can’t predict the future, but I have a pretty good sense of where the zeitgeist is trending.

I’ve been banging the same drum over and over. Today, I’m going to bang it one more time just so the message is crystal clear to you.

This message is not just the message to embrace for 2020, but one to embrace for the foreseeable future.

In my book, I talked about the growing inequality we have in our society. You have the obvious inequality that everyone agrees on— wealth inequality — but then there’s the growing psychological gap that’s creating a whole new mental category of have and have nots.

Your psychology, the way you think the world works, and your perception are so strong and binding that they might as well be scientific laws.

You operate as if they were anyway. Society has continued to split into two factions — people who see infinite upside and people who think the sky is falling.

This gap has been growing for a while. On the one hand, you’ve seen people creating tailor-made careers, earning great money, and having insane levels of flexibility.

On the other hand, you’ve seen growth stagnate in many industries and you’ve seen people devolve more and more into a helpless attitude — they need a villain and a savior to cope with their living situations.

Even though most people, by all objective standards, are living like royalty compared to past generations, they’re caught in a psychological trap because humans have a hard time thinking outside of the comparisons they make in their immediate environment. You can see this clearly in America, where the people in our country are blind to the true plight of many parts of the world.

Photo by Tom Ritson on Unsplash

Anyway, I’ve given prescriptions about what to do in these times. Prescriptions that would’ve helped you had you been following them pre-2020 and prescriptions you should take seriously now:

  • Brainwash yourself — At this point, brainwashing yourself in a positive direction is necessary just to outweigh the exponentially growing levels of negativity in society. Self-improvement can be a life-saving tool in a society where mental health issues seem to be at an all-time high.
  • Build rare and valuable skills — When you have a multi-disciplinary skillset, you have the ability to adapt to uncertain times. I’d hate it, but if you stripped of all my income, network, and audience, and left me with my skills, I could still find a way to pay my bills without needing an employer.
  • Prepare for the unexpected — The 2008 financial crisis left an imprint on me as it happened when I was about 20 years old. I saw how many people got blindsided, including my own parents, so it taught me to be on the lookout. As I made more income, I saved money. I made sure to have multiple sources of it. And I knew never to get too comfortable.

I’ve had the best professional year of my life in 2020, amidst all the chaos. And I’m not going to apologize for it because I’ve been banging the drum for years about this mindset.

In your case, regardless of where you’re at in life, understand that these prescriptions will help you if you implement them. Also, learn how to deal with other people in society.

As will happen at any time where you see inequality, envy and outrage will spike. It’s not as popular to talk about self-improvement right now because many people are struggling.

People will try to shame you if you’re still focused on your goals. They’ll make it out to seem like you don’t care about the state of society if you’re not constantly negative and outraged like them. You’ll be told that you’re selfish if you try to seize opportunities during this time.

What should you do?

One, just ignore them. But going deeper, just understand that they live in an entirely different universe than you do. Don’t get upset with them, because they genuinely believe the things they’re saying.

Many people sincerely believe the sky is falling, society is crumbling, democracy is at risk, we’re all in danger, and that evil is at an all-time high. They have their reasons. Let them have their reasons.

You focus on yourself. The good news? The results will pan out the way they pan out either way.

If society crumbles while you’re working on self-improvement and you end up in a gulag somewhere, it is what it is.

But if you stay focused on yourself and the world recovers, you’re going to be ten steps ahead of the game.

Not to dive too deep into politics, but the sad thing is, if you know who wins, some people will end up spending 8 years of their lives being miserable. 8 years. Almost a decade lost to outrage.

Regardless of who wins, your life will more or less still depend on your actions and decisions anyway. Yes, laws affect all of us, and politics is important. Simple solution — stay informed up to a point, don’t bathe in outrage, exercise your civic duty when it’s time, and go about your life.

Stay focused on your mission. I’ve gotten push back every time I write an article telling you to not to bend during tough times.

Why? Because people are full of it. Everyone loves to talk about self-improvement when things are going well. Few stay consistent with their messaging no matter what.

Well, I’m going to stay consistent. I’m not going to let anyone guilt me into stagnation, nor should you.

Here’s what to do from now on. Work on your projects silently. Do your self-improvement in the background.

On the surface, act just like everyone else. Don’t brag whatsoever because we’re in an increasingly envious society. I talk about self-improvement in public because it’s my job, but in my normal life, I understate everything I do.

Don’t underestimate the ‘crabs in a barrel’ effect. Be vigilant.

Last, just remember that it’s not selfish to want to first help yourself, your family, your community, and your tribe.

You can’t save the world. You have no control over complex geo-politics. If we’re being honest lobbies run the government anyway, not votes.

Some people use this ‘save the world’ ethos to abdicate themselves of responsibility for their own lives. Don’t be one of those people.

Forget the culture war.

Win the war with yourself instead.

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