This Is What I Use to Improve Myself

It wasn’t easy walking into my art studio today. My legs felt like noodles and threatened to buckle with each step. All thanks to a sadistic, unforgiving man.

His name is Cody, and he’s my personal trainer.

What’s ironic is that I actually pay this guy, twice a week, to put me through the paces. Squats, burpees, push-ups, bench press, curls, and lots of other torturous exercises.

Cody and I talk about diet, the physiology of exercise, and how to work around injuries. Cody is well educated in these things, and keeps me on track with my fitness goals.

I used to work out by myself, but wasn’t happy with my progress. Old martial arts injuries and unfamiliarity with proper form were holding me back.

My wife had been working with Cody, and one day he reached out to me. I decided to invest in myself and hire him.

Grow faster with the right instruction

I took up landscape painting in my late thirties. I was largely self-taught, and realized I would grow faster with the right instruction.

So, I invested in several workshops with one of the top landscape painters in the United States (Scott L. Christensen). I even spent a week living at his studio and studying in a private salon. I learned volumes, and much faster, than I could from self study alone.

“Cold Country” Oil on panel, by John P. Weiss

What is the tool I use to improve myself?


When we shell out money for instruction or coaching, we become more invested in the outcome. Coaches, consultants and teachers hold us accountable. Also, they often push us even further than we push ourselves.

“At the end of the day, if you’re wasting your time by not investing in yourself, you’re going to waste away — and that would be the greatest waste of all.”
― Richie Norton

When folks who are battling alcohol use disorder or addictions embark on recovery, they often tell family and friends about their sobriety goals.

Going public means others will ask how you are doing. They can help with your recovery, and hold you accountable.

I recently hired a professional designer/blogging coach, to help me improve my online efforts. His specialty is helping creators craft authentic, professional brands.

The investment isn’t cheap, but it forces me to work harder. It motivates me to produce better content, which will benefit my readers. It holds me accountable in reaching my creative goals.

Accelerate your personal growth

How about you? Are you holding yourself accountable? You don’t have to invest money to leverage the power of accountability.

You can start by publicly sharing your goals with your spouse, family and friends. Maybe even post your goals on social media, and share updates as you work toward them.

If you can afford it, I recommend investing in yourself with the right coach, consultant, trainer or teacher. Paying for help tends to solidify your commitment and follow through.

If money is tight, consider the wealth of on-line education at your fingertips. Websites like, and others. Many artists and creators provide instructional videos. Also, don’t forget your local library.

“Maybe you’re not perfect, but you’re willing to actually look at yourself and take some kind of accountability. That’s a change. It might not mean that you can turn everything around, but I think there’s something incredibly hopeful about that.” — Brie Larson

Who’s holding you accountable?

We often gravitate towards people like ourselves. People who share similar interests, perspectives and even habits.

There’s nothing wrong with this, unless they’re holding you back. Preventing you from becoming a better you.

Maybe you love golf, sports and craft beer. So you’ve assembled a group of like minded buddies over time. Away from work, it’s all about hitting the links, watching the game and guzzling IPA’s.

Except, deep down, you’re not happy. You’ve put weight on, eat poorly and neglected some things that matter a lot to you. Like the book you were writing awhile back. Or maybe that distant decision to go back to school.

The people you hang out with have a huge effect on your life. If your friends are kind of unmotivated and like to drink every weekend, then that’s probably what you’ll be doing, too.

If your friends are weekend hikers who like to get outdoors and explore, then that’s probably what you’ll be doing, too.

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said:

“You‘re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

It’s not that your friends are ill-intentioned when it comes to your personal growth and well-being. It’s just that we can become lulled into a lifestyle that may not be moving us to where we want to go.

Who’s holding you accountable? Who’s pushing you to write that book? Train for that marathon? Finally dive in and create that start up? If your current pals aren’t helping you grow, that doesn’t mean you have to abandon them. But it does mean you need to make some changes, and find some positive influences.

A kind of symbiotic energy

For a lot of people, the solution is hiring a coach, teacher or mentor. Another option is to start hanging out in new environments. Instead of the pub, make it the gym. You’ll meet others who are trying to improve themselves. Or maybe it’s a local computer club, or evening art class.

There’s a kind of symbiotic energy that happens when like-minded people bent on self-improvement start hanging out together. They hold one another accountable, and great things can happen as a result.

Embrace accountability. Commit to someone else about your goals or intentions. Write them down in a journal. People who write down their plans are more successful in carrying them out.

By associating with inspiring people who hold you accountable, you’ll accelerate your personal growth, change in ways unimagined, and move closer to your dreams.

Before you go

I’m John P. Weiss. Fine artist and writer. Get on my free email list here for the latest artwork and writing. No spam, privacy respected.

(Originally posted at

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John P. Weiss

I write stories and essay about life, often illustrated with my photography and artwork.