I’ve been involved in the personal development world for several years, since I was in college. I believe that there’s a lot of good material – in blogs, in books, taught by coaches and trainers – which can help you to enjoy life more and to achieve your goals.
But what I’ve come to believe is that, on some deep level, we are who we are. However much you might envy Richard Branson or Steve Jobs or Oprah Winfrey or whoever your particular hero is, you are you.
Perhaps you’re reading this because you’re curious. Perhaps you want more from your life. Perhaps there’s something you’re desperately keen to change – your weight, your fitness, your financial status, your job, your happiness.
Hold up a second. Do you really want to make those changes … or are you trying to become someone you’re not?
You Are Unique
First off, you are unique. There is no-one in the world quite like you. Your personality, your interests, your skills and talents, your memories, your background – all of those combine to make one very special person. You.
It might not always seem that way. Perhaps you think you’ve got nothing in particular to offer the world. Maybe you don’t feel unique, you feel anonymous.
The truth, though, is that you do have an incredible amount of potential. If you feel as though you’re not getting anywhere in life, perhaps you’re trying to make the wrong changes.
Is it Right for You?
I’ve come across all sorts of systems and tools and tricks and hacks in the personal development field. The truth is, most of these aren’t my thing. I use a simple to-do list split into four sections, which helps me keep on top of the major areas of my life.
It’s not a system I picked up from a book. It might look totally different from how other people manage their week. But it’s right for me.
Similarly, after losing some weight a few years ago, I decided that what’s right for me is to have plenty of energy to enjoy my life. I don’t want to eat a raw food diet. I don’t want to spend hours in the gym. I don’t want to cut out sugar. I’ve got no ambitions whatsoever to be a magazine cover model or a fitness poster girl. Sure, there are lots of people who are fitter than me. But my personal mission in life isn’t to run a marathon.
If you feel pressured into making change, ask yourself whether it’s right for you. There’s no rule which says we all have to strive for the same things. Perhaps money doesn’t matter to you, but your fitness and strength is hugely important.
And bear in mind that what’s right for you changes over time. Maybe you’re not interested in having a significant other right now, but you’re pouring your time into your hobbies and passions. Don’t let other people push you towards what they think is right … you’ve got the whole of your life to try out other directions.
Build on What Works
So how do you change, if you’re not being led by others?
You build on what’s already working. Rather than seeing your life as something broken which a guru needs to come and fix (the “I Can Make You Thin” and “I Will Make You Rich” school of thinking), start seeing the potential which you already have.
Look at your skills and talents. Look at the things which you love to do. Start to do more of that, instead of trying to shoehorn yourself into someone else’s box; it won’t be the right shape for you.
Sure, part of personal development is trying out different things: how else would you find something new to enjoy? But there’s no need to construct some checklist of attributes which you feel you should have. You don’t need to be an early riser. You don’t need to hit the gym every day (or at all). You don’t need to write a book. You don’t need to live a carbon-free lifestyle. You don’t need to cut out caffeine. You don’t need to be a millionaire.
Sure, there are plenty of folks who are passionate about each of those things – and you can definitely be inspired by them. But don’t try to become them. Let them be their own unique people … and concentrate on being yourself.