Assume your temperament will always be somewhat childish and impatient, and set your rules accordingly.
Many plans for self-improvement rely on the idea of wholesale personality change—that if we work hard enough for long enough, we can overcome a fundamental weakness once and for all.
It’s a romantic idea, and our personalities do indeed change over time. In fact, we tend to underestimate how much we’ll change in the future. We can deliberately improve ourselves, no doubt. But is massive change our best bet for self-improvement?
Here’s a thought experiment: what if we set out to better ourselves without trying to alter our basic temperament? What options would we have?
- We’d simplify our plans.
- We’d make small, gradual changes.
- We’d focus on the long-term.
- We’d avoid temptation instead of resisting it.
Big, immediate changes are glamorous, but they’re difficult to execute and prone to failure. It may be better to plan for change as if we’re not going to.