Benjamin Franklin’s Self Improvement Project


Benjamin Franklin authored his autobiography between 1771 and 1783. It is only about 175 pages long and has a lot of information you would find useful. Franklin could be referred to as the father of American self-help literature. His collection of Poor Richard’s Almanac stories and proverbs for the common man was extensive. In actuality, it was a compendium of Yankee knowledge gathered over many years.

Franklin’s autobiography contains several interesting and maybe helpful sections, but his depiction of his self-improvement endeavor may be the most compelling. As a young man, Franklin learned to recognize his own flaws as well as those of individuals around him that contributed to their failure. He was a sharp observer and rapidly picked up successful practices.

Benjamin Franklin's Self Improvement Project
Benjamin Franklin’s Self-Improvement Project

He began systematically working on himself in his twenties. He started by identifying the virtues he believed were most crucial to nurture, such as temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, and humility. He then created a straightforward daily log and decided which virtue he would concentrate on each week. His file included a matrix with a list of the virtues he intended to develop in his life running down the left side and a list of the days of the week running across the top. When he didn’t live up to his own expectations for the virtue he was trying to practice that day, he would then put a dot or a check in each box. His objective was to have a week without any grades that indicated success.

For several years, Franklin intermittently used this approach until he refined many of the qualities to the level that this approach enabled. Franklin was known to have mastered a number of these virtues, though he would have been the first to say he never attained perfection in any of them. For instance, he had a reputation for being arrogant, boisterous, and nasty when he was younger. He eventually saw how detrimental such kind of behavior was to his own achievement. He developed into a man of profound insight as a result of his consistent self-control and efforts to change his own habits and behavior. He developed a reputation for being a good listener, a man who rarely voiced his own viewpoint, and a person whom everyone admired.

Franklin suggests that you examine your own actions and routines and make an attempt to change them. You may do the same.

Make a decision as to what you want to work on changing about yourself first. Find the areas of your habits, behaviors, and practices that you wish to improve the most. Make a list of these areas for improvement and decide to concentrate on one of them each week or month. Franklin decided on a week because it didn’t seem excessively long or short. You might follow suit. Consider your day’s events each evening before you go to bed, and write down any failures you may have encountered or any very noteworthy achievements in your new behavior. Consider what you want to alter each morning and make a commitment to doing so.

Additionally, you’ll be more successful in this endeavor if you keep your tiny notebook with you and refer to it frequently during the day, both to remind yourself of the things you want to grow better at and to make sure you don’t forget to note your successes and failures.

Like Benjamin Franklin, you will discover that while you probably won’t be flawless, you will change in ways that will astound you and greatly contribute to your success in the future.

Try Benjamin Franklin’s approach to improvement and change. It is easy and won’t cost you anything.

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