Home improvement is a $300 billion industry.

I enjoy a trip to Home Depot as much as the next person, but dang! It’s hard not to be surprised by a number like that.

Why do we start home improvement projects?

There are a number of reasons, like necessity (broken plumbing waits for no man), the desire to improve the value of one’s home (remodeling a grimy kitchen) or wanting a new toy (I keep reminding myself that as an avowed minimalist, I don’t need a leaf shredder).

Here’s my favorite reason, though: by improving their living space, we hope to improve our loved ones’ quality of life.

This is a great reason, but I’m here to suggest that self-improvement is often a better way to achieve this outcome.

Don’t be fooled by its name; self-improvement isn’t really about ourselves. It’s about growth in the service of others. Could it be that reading five books on family communication is a better way to show our love than a Viking range? (Plus, the books will be about $3900 cheaper).

What if we pushed back our next home improvement project and instead spent that time working on a self-improvement project, one designed to make us more effective as mothers, husbands, bosses, or citizens?

Home improvement can be very noble, but make sure to consider self-improvement, too. You may find that it creates more good than new granite countertops will.