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Greetings! Happy Labor Day.

As promised, I’ve begun my September blog extravaganza, which will be devoted to personal success and being our best selves. Or, to put it differently, getting our personal shit together.

Why is getting your personal shit together important? Because what you think, what you believe, and what you do every day — whether it’s how you spend your spare time, or what job you have, or your deepest beliefs about men and women — will have a huge impact on your love life.

That’s what I mean when I say that dating and relationship success is an inside-out job. If you work on yourself, improvement in your love life will follow. You’ll attract better people. Dating will be less painful. Relationships will be more successful. You’ll still have challenges, because that’s life, but you’ll see real improvement. The more you improve your self, the better results you’ll achieve.

This may sound obvious, but the average person doesn’t buy into this kind of thinking. You’ve probably noticed that a lot of people play the blame game in dating and relationships. They gripe that today’s women and men aren’t what they “used to be,” that you can’t succeed without some key factor that’s difficult to obtain (lots of money, good looks, tall stature, natural charm), that online dating is full of losers, that marriage is just a vehicle for divorce. They’ve had bad experiences and they look for some kind of explanation for those bad experiences. Most of the time, that explanation revolves around anything outside of themselves. But not once have I seen someone who plays the blame game succeed at love.

You’ve probably also noticed that many believe that “outside” things can solve your problems. Getting a better job or making more money can score you tons of women. Losing weight or “finding your feminine energy” can score you better men. Sure, these things can help increase your numbers or even get you higher quality dates. But they won’t lead to long-term success if you don’t do the inner stuff.

A lot of dating advice, especially dating advice for men, is geared toward short-term success. A lot of relationship advice relies on old gender stereotypes and quick fixes. Those things can help in the short-term, but they won’t take you to that level you want to be. That level that you dream about, where dating is FUN, where you’re meeting great people you really connect with, where relationships are rewarding over the long-term. So what will?

Working on your own shit.

What does that mean? Well, we’ll be exploring what that means over the next several months. It means identifying your core values, the ones that will determine how you live your life. It means taking responsibility for your life and refusing to play the blame game. It means identifying the areas where you struggle (whether it’s lack of confidence, anxiety, depression, grief from past betrayals, a lousy childhood) and digging into those areas instead of trying to work around them like most people. It means taking on the habits of successful people, instead of those you’ve picked up unconsciously throughout your life.

Some time ago, I picked up an old success classic: Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. For reasons I won’t bore you with, I DNF’d. However, I did love one aspect of the book, and that was Covey’s focus on the fact that success begins with you. Not business savvy, not money, not power, not opportunity… but YOU. It starts with your character, your values, and how you choose to live your life. He states that what we see — in others, in the world — reflects the world not AS IT IS, but AS WE ARE. In other words, our worldviews, including our views of men, women, and relationships, are nothing more than our own perceptions, customized by our own limited and skewed beliefs and experiences.

He also says “… it is futile to put personality ahead of character, to try to improve relationships with others before improving ourselves.” Exactly.

Success in dating and relationships, like success in any area of life, starts with the core you. This doesn’t mean you have to eschew all dating or escape your relationship to go fix yourself. Working on yourself is an ongoing thing that never stops, and you can do it while you pursue everything you want. And you should, because working on yourself never stops.

I’m doing it every day. I’m working on myself all the time. I’ve been with my husband for over 9 years now and I’m happy. But boy did it take a shit load of dates, relationships, and fuck-ups to get here. It took me 39 years just to get to a point in my growth trajectory where I could meet someone with whom I could be happy. And I’ve grown a lot since being with him too, which has kept us together. I’m working on my shit all the time, and I want you to, too. We’ll work on it together — I’ll share, you share, we’ll all help one another succeed. Then we’ll take over the world.

I’m not kidding.

The world needs more folks who work from the inside out. They make better friends, better partners, better bosses, better employees. Let’s show the world how it’s done.

Have a great Labor Day, and see you Wednesday.