It’s hard to be a personal development blogger, because of two reasons.
- I have to practice what I preach.
- My posts are irrelevant to 99% of the people.
I have to practice what I preach, and sometimes, that’s hard. At those times, I’m glad I’ve published a post or two about those topics. Those posts act as extra motivation to do what’s hard but right.
Sometimes, I have a strong inclination to do what’s easy. Two days ago, I started a new task at work. It was a task that I was enthusiastic about. I wanted to dive into it head first and get it done as soon as possible.
My experience taught me that starting a complex task without a plan results in wasting time at best and in a disaster at worst. That’s why I’ve published the post An Analytical Way to Making Decisions and Solving Problems.
Yet, there I was, wanting to start a complex task as soon as possible without thinking it through first. You can’t foresee all the complications of an assignment before getting deep into it. Nevertheless, having an outline of the action steps can save a lot of headaches later.
If I didn’t publish that post a few days ago, I might start the task at hand without thinking about it first. Now, it was tough to do that. I had to practice what I preached. It was a close call, but I did what’s right but hard. And I’m glad I did.
The Paradox of Right Actions
That’s how the right actions feel like. They’re hard while you’re doing them, but they feel good afterward.
There’s a good reason for that. We’ve evolved in an era where we had an entirely different set of challenges. Our brains and nervous systems are optimized for a different period. As a result, they drive us to act in a way that we regret later.
My Imperfections Are My Inspiration
Don’t think that I’m perfect because I’m writing these posts. On the contrary, I’m writing these posts, because I’m imperfect. My weaknesses and failures are my inspirations for my posts. My posts act as lessons to me.
After a hard working day, I’m inclined to spend half an hour watching funny clips on YouTube. What could be wrong with that? There’s nothing wrong with that for 99% of the people, but I aim to be in the 1% of the people who want to make the most of their lives.
When I write about strategies to save half an hour a day, I get objections that those strategies would cause stress and anxiety. I’m fine with that. I’d rather have stress and anxiety than wasting half an hour every day.
Wasting half an hour every day is wasting 7.6 entire days a year. If you consider only your waking hours, it makes 11.4 days. If you consider 8 hour working days, it makes 22.8 working days.
What do you prefer? Wasting 22.8 working days in a year or having stress and anxiety? I prefer stress and anxiety.
What could you do with that wasted time?
- You could work toward your goals and reach them 22.8 days earlier.
- You could do something meaningful like going on a vacation for 11.4 days.
- You could do nothing and truly relax and recuperate.
Doing Nothing Is Good
You might say that watching funny clips on YouTube is doing nothing. It isn’t. To me doing nothing is sitting on a couch with a cup of coffee and doing really nothing, not even thinking about something. That type of resting does add value to my life.
Don’t be afraid of stress and anxiety. It only occurs during the transition phase while you develop your awareness. Once you have awareness around how you use your time, wasting it causes stress and anxiety, not the other way around.
Freedom from Yourself
Take a moment to answer the following question.
What does freedom mean to you?
Most of us define freedom as having no external limitations. Now, reflect on the following question.
What would you do if you had absolute freedom?
Would you drink as much alcohol as you want? Would you smoke as much as possible? Would you waste your time as you please? Would you eat your way to obesity? Would you spend your life sitting on a couch?
Yet, that’s what our default programming is trying to make us do. That means we have to take into account our internal limitations as well when we think about freedom.
Freedom not only means having no external limitations, but it also means being free from our own urges.
The beautiful thing is when you work on your internal freedom, letting go of your urges and distracting thoughts, external freedom comes as a by-product.
We have evolved in a different era. That’s why our default behavior doesn’t serve us most of the time. That’s also why doing what’s right feels hard at the moment, but you’re glad you did it afterward.
That’s what personal development is all about, doing what’s right even if it feels hard at the moment. That’s why personal development is irrelevant to 99% of people.
Most people would like to be free, but they miss an essential part of freedom, freedom from their own default thoughts and behaviors. Once you reach that kind of freedom, external freedom comes as a by-product.
Software developer with a Ph.D. and 15 years of experience. I write daily on personal development and life lessons. Sign up to my email newsletter to receive a weekly overview of my latest content on personal development and life lessons.