When self-improvement tips don’t improve your life

“Tingling pain in my wrist”

“How to change careers late in life” 

“How to improve my marriage”

“Why isn’t my kid sleeping?”

“Not enough money for college”

“Mind racing in the middle of the night”

“Time management tips for super-busy people”

Our Google searches reveal a lot about us. Comb through my internet history and my library book check-out history and you’d learn a lot about my struggles.

You’d discover which aspects of new motherhood haven’t gone well for me, that I’m struggling with fatigue (which ironically didn’t begin until after my kid started sleeping through the night), and that I’m on a never-ending quest to simplify my life and possessions. 

Honestly, my Googling and reading has helped. A lot. I’m a very unlikely person to write a blog post about the shortcomings of self-improvement tips because I LOVE them. I devour self-improvement books (I haven’t read a novel since 2013ish), I’m an unapologetic fan of systems, and I have a career as a life coach for goodness sake. 

But you know what? I’ve tried an endless amount of things to improve my fatigue, and I’m STILL TIRED. And I’ve read a bazillion books on time management, simplicity, and minimalism, but my life is still more complicated than I want it to be.

So I’ll be honest, there are moments when I don’t feel too happy, even when I’m working hard to implement all those valuable self-improvement tips.

You too? Do you have those frustrated moments when you focus in on the reality of your life and realize it’s not what you want it to be?

When we base our happiness, our peace, our joy, our life fulfillment on our circumstances, we’re going to be really disappointed. 

Because our circumstances will never ever EVER be perfect. Or even close.

And self-improvement tips only go so far. 

I’m here to drop the hard truth on you (and on myself—because I need it too) that you absolutely cannot “life hack” your way out of every single problem. 

You can improve your life through intentional action fueled by God’s strength, but there will always be negative aspects of your circumstances that need “fixing.”

So maybe we’re pursuing the wrong route to peace in life. 

We’re pursuing a second-rate route—self-improvement—as if it’s the best route.

The surest, only, true route to peace is to change your perspective, not your circumstances. 

You know that popular verse from Philippians? “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (4:13). My new NIV Bible says this instead: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (emphasis mine). The updated wording points us to the beautiful context surrounding that verse.

See, Paul was imprisoned when he wrote those words. We don’t exactly know the details, but I imagine it was rough.
Check out what he says in the verses before 4:13 . . . the buildup makes that verse so much meatier and more valuable in teaching us about how to focus on perspective over circumstances.

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:11-13).

The answer to your problems and Google searches is not “73 tips to change your life.” 

The answer is shockingly, beautifully simple.

It’s Jesus.

You can focus on him and feel peace no matter how much your life is falling apart. 

Satan wants you to think you can’t be happy till you fix your life. You need to DO stuff, and it all depends on you.

Jesus says all you need to be happy is him. And good news: He did/does/will do all the heavy lifting. He gives you strength to focus on him, to find contentment in any circumstance. No Googling or list-following required.

Diana Kerr is a certified professional life coach for go-getter Christian women. She coaches on what she herself struggles with. For a FREE workbook from Diana related to this blog post, click here to download “3 Lies about Time Christian Women Tell Themselves & 3 Truths That Will Set You Free.”  


For more encouragement in finding joy during difficult times, watch today's Your Time of Grace video.