Self-improvement, the deliberate quest to make oneself better in various aspects of life, often begs the question: What’s the point? This quest can sometimes feel Sisyphean, constantly striving for a better version of oneself without ever reaching a final destination. However, from a psychological perspective, the essence and value of self-improvement extend far beyond mere achievement or tangible success. It encompasses growth, fulfillment, and the profound understanding of oneself and one’s place in the world.

The Psychological Basis of Self-Improvement

Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology, emphasized the process of individuation—becoming an individual, or the realization of the self. This process is deeply interwoven with self-improvement, as it involves acknowledging and integrating different aspects of oneself, including those that are unconscious. Jung famously stated, “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” Thus, the point of self-improvement is not just about enhancing skills or achieving goals but about reaching a deeper understanding and acceptance of oneself.

The Drive for Self-Actualisation

Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs culminates in self-actualisation, which he described as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming. This intrinsic motivation propels individuals towards realizing their potential and seeking fulfillment in their unique capacities and talents. Self-improvement, in this context, is a natural expression of this drive, a manifestation of the human tendency to strive for a state of completeness and deeper purpose.

The Role of Self-Improvement in Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman introduced the concept of emotional intelligence (EQ) as the ability to recognize, understand, manage, and reason with emotions. Self-improvement plays a crucial role in developing EQ, which is vital for successful interpersonal relationships and personal satisfaction. By working on oneself—cultivating empathy, self-awareness, and emotional regulation—one enhances their EQ, leading to more meaningful connections and a richer, more compassionate life.

The Search for Meaning

Viktor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor, and the author of “Man’s Search for Meaning,” posited that the primary drive in human life is not pleasure (as Freud suggested) but the pursuit of what we find meaningful. Frankl’s logotherapy is based on the premise that finding purpose in life is essential to psychological well-being. Self-improvement is deeply tied to this search for meaning, as it involves exploring one’s values, passions, and purposes and aligning one’s life with them.

The Impact on Well-Being and Resilience

Self-improvement fosters well-being and resilience, equipping individuals with the skills and mindsets necessary to navigate life’s challenges. Psychological research has consistently shown that personal growth initiatives—ranging from mindfulness practices and learning new skills to fostering positive relationships—contribute to higher levels of happiness, reduced stress, and greater resilience against adversity.


The point of self-improvement, from a psychological perspective, transcends the superficial layers of achieving and accumulating. It is about embarking on a lifelong journey of exploration, fulfillment, and the realization of one’s fullest potential. It is about becoming, as Maslow articulated, “everything that one is capable of becoming.” Thus, the pursuit of self-improvement is inherently meaningful, serving as a vehicle for deeper self-understanding, purposeful living, and ultimately, profound personal transformation. In this light, self-improvement is not just a goal or a destination but a way of being in the world, constantly evolving and unfolding in the quest to live a full and meaningful life.