I loved a presentation by Trendwatching last week about ‘betterment’ and how betterment in our lives is the thing we are all doing now.
Trendwatching monitor global consumer trends (and sell this information to big brands) and they are seeing that in general, people are moving away from consumerism and pursuit of wealth to the pursuit of their best version of themselves.
This is also known as self-actualisation
And it can particularly be seen by the major shifts through the health and wellness industries where everyone is all about clean eating, green living and mindfulness. There are also ethical and spiritual sides of this.
And big brands are picking up on this with even Kitkat transforming their bus stand adverts to give passers by a back rub. You see, they can’t just convince us to buy a Kitkat, they need to be demonstrating how a Kitkat improves our life (whether or not it actually does of course is open to debate).
This whole betterment thing really resonated
I feel it’s a process I am going through, particularly in a professional sense (the yoga-loving, brilliant parenting and partnering, and inner calm elements of a potentially ‘better’ me haven’t even been looked at yet!)
In my life, ‘betterment’ has has shown itself in terms of things such as moving away from an industry that I no longer loved – tabloid news – and recreating my work life doing things I actually enjoy doing.
When it came to my previous business, Talk to the Press (an online press agency which I sold in 2014) I always used to feel as though I had a love hate relationship with it.
I loved elements of it: such as owning a successful business, building the business, all the girls that worked for me over the years, having posh lunches with commissioning editors. Yet I hated other elements (the ludicrousness of the ever rising bar within the media as to what made a story ‘good’ particularly in the news/real life sector, the behaviour of our clients on both sides – case studies and editors).
And my betterment task was to work out how to extract the good parts into my new life, while leaving behind the bad.
There is science behind this betterment stuff too
Remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? As humans to survive, our needs are prioritised according to this image. And we only move on to the next set of needs once all the ones the level below are fulfilled.
Although we humans seem to have an inbuilt tendency to think the worst, actually our lives are pretty good right now (collectively).
We all have roofs over our heads, food, family, support, the NHS, we’re not living in a war zone, we mostly have jobs and we can pretty much do and be whoever we want.
And that means more of us are finding ourselves at the top of this pyramid where the only thing to do next is work on improving ourselves and realising self actualisation: fulfilling our true potential and realising what we can actually become.
So how do you get to a better version of yourself?
I guess it’s a question of thinking of some of the following
Try and conjure up a vision of a better you
This can actually be quite hard, especially as our imaginations are often limited by our day to day lives. Many of us have spent years trundling along, just getting on with whatever it is we are doing and it takes boldness to stop and change direction and a real mind leap to imagine any different way.
But if you could do, be, think, feel anything, live anywhere, look a certain way, whilst still being yourself, then what would that be.
The important thing is that whatever you think must still be within a realms of being yourself just without current limitations.
Ie, there is no point me saying I’d like to look like Angelina Jolie as that will never happen. But I could have in mind a vision where I look like a more poised, confident and polished version of me.
Admit what is not working for you
For me, this all began in 2014 when I admitted that the business I had created didn’t make me happy. When I had Talk to the Press, I used to walk around with a leaden weight at in my stomach that nagged at me, not matter how well the business did, that ‘small problem, I don’t actually like doing this.’ I thought because I had created it and it did well, I was probably stuck in it. Then I realised, actually, I wasn’t.
Now, it’s scary to not know exactly what you will do next, to leave friends behind, to bow out of an industry you’ve been in for 15 years. But no matter what, I no longer have that feeling in my stomach. It’s gone.
And that is what I always kept at the forefront of my mind.
If I was feeling scared or worried about what I would do next, I’d tell myself ‘At least you don’t have that feeling in your stomach.’ Me without that pit feeling at the bottom of my stomach is a better version of myself.
A boxing star who I happened to hear interviewed on Five Live at the weekend put this brilliantly when he said:
‘You can’t be more if you don’t know more.’
You have to find the time to learn new skills that will take you in the new direction you want to go. In the first year after selling Talk to the Press, I went to college, did online courses, and joined in those FREE lessons at the Applestore that you see and think ‘I must do those’ but normally don’t do.
I categorically could not be doing what I do now without the new skills I learned in that year.
In fact, the only reason I know about this betterment trend is because I watch videos from organisations such as Trendwatching as part of educating myself!
Have faith in yourself
I haven’t got all of this sussed and I’m often one (as my friends and partner will tell you) to voice insecurities.
But actually, beneath all of that, I do have a fundamental belief in myself to be able to do certain things such as solve problems, spot opportunities and make doors open. I believe that everything will be ok.
You have to believe in yourself because whilst others will support and encourage you, they can’t actually make things happen for you.
That is down to you.
Does betterment ever end?
I’m wondering though if the journey of self improvement ever ends. In reality, it surely must last a lifetime?
One thing I notice from working with a number of super successful people (all my lovely clients) is that they always want to do, be and have more.
It seems that we humans are inherently driven and even the richest people with every single box checked never actually sit back in a zen-like state, and put their feet up and say
‘Cheers, I’ve now arrived.’
So the destination of perfect self-actualisation is one that none of us will probably ever meet. But that doesn’t stop the journey towards it from taking you every step closer to your own better version of yourself.