Success Engine: Taking Self-Improvement Too Far

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Today At A Glance

  • Question: Are you taking self-improvement too far?
  • Deep Dive: Why It’s Good To Have Expectations
  • What I’m Thinking About: The Powerful Effect Of Appearance

reading time: 3 minutes


Are you taking self-improvement too far?

As the saying goes, you can have too much of a good thing. Unfortunately, self-improvement ideas are not immune to this problem. When taken too far, many self-improvement ideas can be harmful.

In this week’s deep dive, I’ll explain why not having expectations can be harmful.

Deep Dive

If you like this week’s deep dive, my full-length video and article go even deeper.

Why It’s Good To Have Expectations

The Argument For Having No Expectations

There’s a relationship between expectations and happiness. In general, we tend to feel happy when our expectations are met and unhappy when they are not. To understand this concept, imagine how you’d feel if you didn’t receive the raise you expected. Then compare that to how you’d feel if you did.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffet has been quoted saying:

“The secret to happiness is having low expectations.”

Sadly, some people take this concept too far by aiming to have no expectations. This idea leads to problems.

Why It’s A Bad Idea To Have No Expectations

There’s a notable difference between realistic and unrealistic expectations. For example, it’s reasonable for Buffet to expect his employees to fulfill their work obligations and follow SEC rules. It’s unreasonable for Buffet to expect his employees to work 20 hours per day without ever taking a vacation.

Unrealistic expectations are problematic because they are hard or impossible to meet. This obstacle promotes an endless cycle of failure and disappointment.

In contrast, realistic expectations are helpful because they clearly define what you will and will not accept. They define the boundaries of a relationship and establish order. Without them, you lose control.

For example, imagine the consequences if a country didn’t expect its citizens to obey the law. Or, consider the outcome if the military didn’t expect troops to follow orders.

Given this information, it’s clear that your goal should not be to eliminate all expectations. Instead, you should strive to have realistic expectations that support your ideal lifestyle. That might look like:

  • Building an intimate relationship with the expectation that you and your partner will be honest, faithful, and non-violent.
  • Expecting that you and your business partner follow the rules of your company’s operating agreement.
  • Letting your employer know that you will work hard without neglecting personal time.
Identifying Unrealistic Expectations

Here’s a question you can ask yourself to determine if your expectations are unrealistic.

Do facts or logic suggest this expectation is possible?

In general, if facts or logic do not suggest your expectation is possible, it’s probably unrealistic. For instance, it’s unrealistic for Buffet to expect his employees to work 20 hours per day. That’s because doing so leads to burnout and exhaustion.

Want More?

Check out my full-length video and article on taking self-improvement too far.

What I’m Thinking About

The Powerful Effect Of Appearance

The way we look can have a significant impact on how people treat us. It may not be fair, but appearances often shape initial impressions and influence how others interact with us. Let me share a personal example to illustrate this point.

During my college years, I used to fly frequently. However, I noticed I received little respect from the airport staff.

I wondered if my casual attire and youthful appearance contributed to this treatment. So I decided to test my theory.

On my next flight, I wore a suit instead of casual clothes. To my surprise, the airport staff treated me with more respect and courtesy. They also seemed more attentive to my needs and were eager to assist.

So I continued flying in a suit until I graduated, and each time I experienced the same great service.

So here’s my question for you.

Is your appearance holding you back? If so, how can you change it?

DISCLAIMER: Please be aware that the information presented in this email is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as personalized financial advice. The creator of this email is not a licensed financial advisor and any decisions made based on this information are at your own risk. It’s important to consult with a qualified financial professional before making any financial decisions, as this information does not consider individual investment goals, risk preferences, or financial situations. Please remember that past performance does not guarantee future results, and all investments involve risk, including the potential loss of your initial investment.


Chris Thornham 80/20 Financial Planner
Take Control Of Your Finances

Reduce financial stress, reach financial freedom, and achieve financial goals like buying a home, paying off debt, and investing for retirement.

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