The systems and habits approach to improvement is a great method for slowly improving over time. It can help improve in areas where you struggle and leverage your strengths to accomplish more.
But the true value of working towards improvement is because you can slowly close the gap between the life you had hoped for and the life you have.
In Springboard, Launching Your Personal Search for SUCCESS, author G. Richard Shell says, “Happiness researchers report that people look to see if there is a ‘gap’ between the life they actually have and the life they hoped to have. If the gap between these two is getting smaller, their Overall Happiness is higher. If the current situations falls far short of the one they hoped for – or if the gap is widening in the wrong direction – Overall Happiness falls.”
But how do we close that gap? The answer many times is to focus on improvement. If we expected to have more success than we have at the moment, then it is easy to start to let that negatively impact our happiness.
This isn’t the only factor to being happy or not but it certainly lends to our overall sense of being happy or unhappy.
By realizing that we have to do things differently if we want something different, we can start to slowly change our habits. We can change the systems we use in those areas. Over time we can start to change enough that we start to close the gap.
The key is to start slowly and not expect a significant improvement right away. It will take time to change ingrained behaviors and thoughts. But if we start small, we can be more consistent in the new actions we take. This can then result in new ways of going through life and can slowly start to move us closer to the life we hoped for rather than the life we currently have.
Most people don’t really put improvement and happiness together. Instead, we often put happiness as the hoped-for outcome of an improvement journey. But the journey is just as important as the final destination. If we put off happiness, hoping to find it at some point, we will likely find a shallow reward at the end, not a a feeling of ultimate happiness.
But slowly closing the gap over time means that throughout the journey there is opportunity to increase your level of overall happiness. Improvement by itself is enough to help push you towards a happy and fulfilled life. This isn’t true only at the end of the journey, but along the way as well.