You wake up one day and decide things have to change. The life you have been living up to now has been good, but it could be better. So you set off on your journey of self-development. Guns blazing.
It starts off well. It always does. Then comes the pushback. Then comes the triumphs. Then comes the doubt. Then comes the fulfillment. Yeah. Becoming a better person is not easy.
Here is what the never-ending journey to a better me has taught me…thus far.
1. It’s hard
But then again, so is anything worth having. You will often find yourself wondering whether the early mornings, structured routines, and consistent focus on self-development is worth it. It is.
2. It takes time
Again, not a big surprise. However a truth that we like to overlook. In a few months you will look back and be amazed at how far you’ve come. Another year later, and you will barely recognize your old self.
3. Start small
Our desire to go from zero to hero means that we take on more than we can handle. After a while, we realize the error of our ways, become demotivated, and give up. There is a better way. Start small. Forget the quick fixes and instant gratification. Trade them in for a life of steady accretion.
4. Don’t forget to scale
To grow means to be challenged. Initially, your one small step will be scary, but eventually, it will become your comfort zone. Incrementally keep stretching yourself.
5. Be consistent
No matter what you want to achieve in life. It lies on the other side of consistency. Small things, repeated over time, will become the big things.
6. Choose people wisely
Forget about the adage of “the five people you spend most of your time with”, start with the one or two that are closest to you. Don’t try and change them. It won’t work. Instead, tell them about your journey and ask them to support it. It will make all the difference.
7. You will fail
No-one is perfect. Not even your heroes. We are all subject to the human condition. There is no escape. Failing once means as little as winning once. Smile. Take a deep breath. And jump in again the next day. Remember that thing about consistency?
8. It never stops
You will always be working towards your goals. Celebrate them when they arrive. But realize that the self-development journey never ends.
9. Seek action over words
Don’t fall into the knowledge trap. It is easy to procrastinate because you want to “learn more” before you take action. Don’t. Take imperfect action and learn from your mistakes. The quicker you take action, the quicker you can make that action yours.
10. Do not become obsessed
Self-development could lead to self-centeredness. I am glad that you want to be better. But never forget that you are not an island. Do not alienate the people you love.
11. You should help others
The ultimate result of becoming a better man is to create a better society. You contribute. You lead the way. You help others to rise above their circumstances. The work you do is inward, but the effect has to be outwards.
12. Your goals will change. Set them anyway.
If you set your goals well, they will provide you with direction. So set your goals, but do not become overly attached to them. They will change. They are supposed to. You’re a dynamic human being, living in a dynamic world.
13. Do not follow every piece of advice.
It has become easier than ever to get your hands on the information you need. You are seconds away from blogs, podcasts, webinars, social media, guru’s, and celebrities all foaming at the mouth to impart their wisdom to you. Be selective about those you allow to rent space in your brain.
14. Try it before you knock it
Some self-development practices seem strange. Journaling and meditation for example often get overlooked. Instead of reading every research study on it to determine if it’s the right thing for you to do. Simply try it.
15. Do the work
There are no shortcuts. There are ways to work smarter. But working smarter does not mean working less. It simply means working hard with directed focus. To get from point A to point B, you will have to do the actual work. Even when it sucks.
I salute people who put in the effort every day to become a better version of themselves. It is much easier to lay on the couch and let the world pass you by.
In the end, mediocrity is something you choose. But so is greatness.
The choice is yours.