Ironically, this blog post on “how to be your best self” has been the worst on my site since I first published it on May 30, 2020.
Most posts I publish get at least one hundred views a month. Some get thousands. This post?
Read it as I weep:
But just like you and I can do better to be our best selves, so can this post. I believe in its potential and have lofty aspirations.
So what if I apply these strategies for being your best self to this post? If they’re any good, they should work, right?
And if so, they might help you figure out how to be your best self, too.
Let’s see how it goes.
Part 1: Experiment Like a Scientist
1. Less Why?, more What?
Asking Why? leads you to wallow in the past and create false narratives. Morass like, “Why are people not enjoying my post on how to be your best self?”
Instead, ask What? to focus on how to proactively deal with your situation. For example, “What can I do to make this post more valuable to readers?”
2. Blow sh*t up in your face.
If your experiment fails, that’s fine. It’s called trial and error, not trial and perfection.
At the very least, setbacks teach you what you can’t do…yet. And, as JFK said, “An error does not become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.”
This post has been an error-fest. Too long. Too obvious. Too conventional. So I keep trying different things—photos, titles, edits, rewrites. Now, I’m trying this whole meta concept of applying its be your best strategies on itself.
And if it doesn’t work out?
I won’t cry myself to sleep cuddling one of my son’s stuffed animals for comfort. I’ll keep a growth mindset, learn from the evidence in front of me, and continue tinkering to make it better.
3. Aim for the unspectacular.
“To aim at results that cannot be achieved—or that can be only under the most unlikely circumstances—is not being ambitious; it is being foolish.”Peter Drucker, Managing Oneself
Despite what self-help podcasts affirm, taking a positive attitude and repeating some self-love “I can do it” mantra to yourself in the mirror every morning doesn’t mean you can. Sometimes you can’t.
Deluded dreams only blind you from reality and lead you astray.
They also make for blog posts nobody reads.
When I initially published this post, I deludedly envisioned it would teleport to the top five of Google search results for “how to be your best self.”
Surprise, surprise, that hasn’t happened. Currently, it’s 67th:
Rather than wait for the Google gods to acknowledge this post’s greatness, I need to be practical: chop down my grandiose goals into incremental improvements and little wins I have control over, do those, and measure their effectiveness.
If they work, keep going.
And if they don’t, then I’m better off accepting the reality that I don’t have what it takes and repointing my fingertips toward typing about topics I have proven results in, like fasting, floor sleeping, mind-opening, packing, and bug eating.
4. Stop your ego from coddling you.
Self-justification is your overprotective ego coddling your feeble, fragile identity with lies and excuses that back up whatever it wants to believe. It happens when you experience the pain of dissonance between two incongruent thoughts.
In the case of this failing blog post, my dissonance is:
- I think the strategies I’ve summarized for how to be your best self are worth sharing.
- Nobody cares about what I’ve written.
I could let my ego explain away the dissonance with bunk like, “It’s not your fault. It’s Google’s. The algorithm is unfair to small publishers like you.”
Or I could apply the tips from my more successful post on how to stop justifying yourself, such as:
- Turn to humility instead of ego: “Your post simply isn’t as helpful, interesting, or well-written as those that rank above it.”
- Be actively disconfirmation biased: “What other evidence can I find that proves this post sucks?”
Part 2: Exhibit Like An Artist
5. Quit mining your belly button.
As self-awareness sensei Tasha Eurich has written, whatever gunk you pull out of your navel-gazing is probably not your best possible self. Your actions define who you are, not your thoughts.
So, in the case of this post, rather than twiddle my thumbs worrying and wondering why it’s the worst, I’ve got to fiddle with it to fix it.
And even if such behavior feels forced at first, if you think it could be the path to being your best self, give it a shot. “No one can tell you’re acting,” writes Ellen Hendriksen in How to Be Yourself, “Guess what else? Eventually, you won’t be.”
6. Play golf with your identities and approaches.
“The human personality invariably contains myriad personality dispositions, emotional tendencies, values, attitudes, beliefs, and motives that are often contradictory and incompatible even though they are genuine aspects of the person’s psychological make-up.”Jongman-Sereno, K. P., & Leary, M. R, The Enigma of Being Yourself
Give up on digging for authenticity to find your “true best self.” Allow yourself to be many inconsistent selves.
Then pick the self that suits your current situation like a golfer choosing a club for their next shot:
- Be selfless and sometimes look out for number one.
- Be open-minded and stick to your guns on some topics.
- Be straight and have a gay experience.
Or not. Whatever. Keep your options open and identity flexible.
The same applies to the strategies in this post. None of them are foolproof or set in stone. Sometimes doing the opposite might work better. And maybe admitting and accepting this will make the ideas seem more credible—authentic, even?
Update: But don’t hack too hard at your personality.
Personality is different from identity. Personality is largely hardwired and best to be worked with rather than worked against or challenged.
See my Q&A about the surprising science of personality and how to use an understanding of your CANOE personality traits to your advantage.
7. Make yourself unrecognizable.
“You are only unable to change because you are making the decision not to.”Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga, The Courage to Be Disliked
“Yourself” is constantly changing. You’re not the same person at 20 years old as at 30, 40, or 50. At least hopefully not.
This post, too. It’s unrecognizable compared to its first version. And who knows how’ll it’ll evolve in the future? That’s the fun of it.
8. Remember what’s better than best.
Different is better than best.
So be one of a kind. When you’re one of a kind, you’re unbeatable. And when you’re unbeatable, by definition, you’re the best.
So for this post, I need to keep finding one-of-a-kind strategies and ways to explain them. The more I do, the more likely it will stand out and catch people’s attention.
9. Only worry about one imaginary person.
“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.”Lao Tzu
Everyone else has too much anxiety about their own life to spare any energy to care about yours. And on the rare occasions that other people do think about you, what you think they’re thinking usually isn’t what they’re actually thinking, anyway.
Want to impress someone?
Focus on impressing your future self.
Does that mean I don’t need to worry about what others think about this blog post?
That makes no sense.
If I want people to read it, I have to worry about what they think about it.
So then is this strategy’s cliché drivel?
Cliché, certainly. And sometimes not worrying about what other people think is a bad idea. Speaking of which, I think this strategy’s worth keeping in the post.
10. Think about your great-great-grandchildren.
What would you want your grandchildren to tell their grandchildren about you?
This is one of my favorite “GPS” questions to ask yourself from time to time.
As for this post’s legacy, I guess I hope it will inspire you to do something to be your best self in some small way.
It’s been a year since the last time I updated this post.
But it’s still not its best self. Far from it.
My next move?
Something sorely missing from the 10 ideas above that I’m now starting to realize is crucial for being your best self:
11. Straighten your mirror.
The mirrors we see ourselves (and our blog posts) in are of the funhouse variety. So we need to seek well-meaning, somewhat qualified, and brutally honest outsiders— “demotivational speakers”—to set us straight.
With that in mind, I’m going to send this post to some close friends and fellow bloggers for their input. And I’m going to ask you for help.
Yes, you reading this now.
What ideas do you have for improving this post?
You’re the perfect person to provide feedback because you’re part of the audience I’m looking to attract and help. So any input you share would make my day.
Please let me know in the comments below.
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About the author
I'm Chris. Canadian, husband, dad, writer, investor, athlete, and obsessed explorer of the secrets to living a never-boring, always improving, unfollowable life story.