The Dark Truth about Self-Improvement that Nobody Talks About

I’m sure you all know the following feeling:

We are unsatisfied with the way our lives are going, so we buy a self-help book or follow a self-improvement training — right?

Most of these books & trainings talk about setting clear goals and creating to-do lists.

This makes sense, and having a clear purpose & goals in life is definitely the way to go, BUT…

Yes, BUT… But here comes the problem:

Imagine you have a list things you need to do every day, like reading a book, going to gym, or waking up early.

While it might feel good to do these things, it can also become overwhelming and stressful.

I should be…

Imagine coming home from a long day of work, totally tired.

You see your to-do list and you think to yourself:

  • I should be reading
  • I should be working on my side hustle
  • I should be going to the gym
  • I should get up early in the morning

You get worried. You get stressed.

“I have to do them all. Or I won’t improve my life. I won’t achieve the life that I want.”

Photo by Christian Erfurt on Unsplash

Sounds familiar?

The danger with this (mental) checklist is, that if we don’t do everything on this list, it creates stress, it puts pressure on ourselves.

Okay, there are a few ways you can respond to this:

  • “Nobody told you it was going to be easy”
  • “Change is hard, but it is necessary”
  • “If you want something bad enough, nothing will stand in your way”
  • “Without struggle there won’t be triumph”

While all of them are actually true, it’s only one part of the equation.

Let me tell you a short story.

The Story About The Cute Little Village

There once was a beautiful small village, surrounded by beautiful mountains, trees and stunning-looking nature. Everyone in this village was always trying to be better. To DO better.

Photo by Sorasak on Unsplash

All the people in the village had a list of things they thought they should do every day, for example:

  • read more books
  • exercise
  • wake up with the roosters
  • work hard
  • study
  • take care of loved ones
  • etc etc etc

They believed that doing all these things would make them the happiest people in the world.

But there was a problem.

The list was long, and sometimes, it was hard to do everything on it.

When the villagers couldn’t check off all the items, they felt sad and worried.

They thought they weren’t good enough because they didn’t do everything they were ‘supposed’ to do.

Photo by Jevgeni Fil on Unsplash

One day, a wise old owl (yes yes I know, I’m letting my imagination run free) flew into the village.

He saw that the villagers looked tired and unhappy. The owl asked: “Why are you all so sad when you live in such a beautiful place?”

The villagers told the owl about their list and how they never seemed to finish it.

The owl nodded and responded: “It’s good to want to learn and grow, but you also need to be kind to yourselves. It’s okay if you don’t do everything on your list. What’s important is that you try your best and enjoy what you do.”

When the owl said this, it kind of made sense, right?

It’s important to realize that “life” is not just about always improving, but also about accepting ourselves and being happy with who and where we are right now.

The villagers didn’t realize that always trying to improve, without being happy with themselves, was like trying to fill a bucket with a hole in it.

No matter how much water they put in, it would never stay full.

Photo by Lucas van Oort on Unsplash

They were so busy looking at what they hadn’t done that they forgot to see all the good things they had done.

So, let’s discuss some practical tips that they can do to fix this.

What can the villagers do to become happier, while STILL working towards their goals?

Actionable Steps and Timelines

As you may understand from the story above — just trying to do better is only ONE part of being happy.

The other part is being okay with where you are right now.

It’s like giving yourself a high-five for the good things you do and not being too hard on yourself when things don’t go as planned.

My suggestions to “fix” this issue. Add the following to your to-do list:

  1. Reflect on your current self-improvement goals and identify any associated stress.
  2. Begin a gratitude journal to document small wins and moments of joy.
  3. Set aside time for self-reflection and meditation to foster self-acceptance.
  4. Evaluate your progress and adjust your self-improvement goals to be more aligned with self-acceptance.

There are multiple ways to do this, but whatever you do — don’t make the same mistake as the villages.


Remember that the real pitfall of self-improvement is forgetting to love yourself just the way you are.

  • Try new things, but be proud of who you already were.
  • Enjoy today, don’t only think about tomorrow.
  • Find a balance that allows for growth without sacrificing well-being.
  • Remember the villager’s story.

Thanks for reading!

If you’ve got questions or thoughts, drop them in the comments and I’ll get back to you! Follow or ???? if you’d like to see more content like this. Or buy me a coffee, this stuff is magical 😉

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Michiel Schuer


Enthusiastic about learning new things, side-hustles, and translating my personal experiences into motivational stories.

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