Working on your personal development is a positive thing. You take the time to improve your habits, behaviors and the way you view the world to be healthier and happier.
I think personal development is crucial for any business owner and in general anyone who wants to succeed in their career choice. It rounds your skills and makes you a stronger person capable of tackling challenges that you couldn’t even imagine.
But as much as I like to write about it, it’s important to recognize that it can also get out of control and become what I call personal development neurosis.
When I discovered the world of personal development, I went all crazy on it reading everything I could and trying all the techniques I could find to change my habits as fast as possible. I wanted to change all negative aspects of my personality to achieve my goals.
But instead, the only thing I was managing to do was to stress me out. Instead of feeling better, I started to feel worse about myself. How was it possible for others to be able to change so much in their lives and I was stuck with my old habits.
My anxiety levels skyrocketed!
I set out to become happier and more productive and instead I felt depressed and couldn’t bring myself to work.
Let me explain; I wanted to change all those habits because I felt broken and I had to fix and repair all these flaws to be able to grow and achieve my goals. Because I was starting from the wrong point of view, I was only managing to make things worse.
I had a massive case of Personal Development Neurosis, where trying to improve my life was only making me more anxious and depressed. It was having a negative impact in my life.
I completely ignored the most crucial part of personal development: That it is personal.
I was trying to become like all the people who were writing those articles and books. I wanted to achieve just as much as they did. However, not everyone was doing the same things, and all those authors were still struggling with a lot of challenges.
In essence, my perfectionism wasn’t letting me understand that I couldn’t copy the techniques that others employed to change. It’s not like anyone holds the ultimate truth about personal development. They have their own experiences that share with the world, just like I’m doing right now.
So instead of trying to fix absolutely everything in my life, I decided to change my point of view first. Instead of thinking about me as a broken person, I started to think about developing Alex 2.0, an improved and happier version of my base self.
It may seem like a small change, but it showed me a completely different path.
It allowed me to be ok with making mistakes along the way, with having a harder time with some habits and an easier time with others. It opened my eyes to the idea of sustainable changes, where I’m not trying to force myself to follow any particular method, but be open to adapt it to my specific case.
If you feel like you may have a small break of personal development neurosis, you can follow this quick test to find out.
- Are you setting too many goals for yourself? This usually leads to a lack of focus and overwhelm; it’s a sneaky form of self-sabotage. And let’s be honest, trying to change ten different habits in one month is just insane.
- Are you beating yourself down when you fail to achieve one of your goals? This was the biggest sign for me; if I start to have negative self-talk, it’s a clear sign that I lost my focus and I went back to trying to fix things.
- Are you anxious all the time about what you need to do? Changing your habits doesn’t have to be a chore. If you are always feeling stressed, you need to stop and reevaluate the way you are trying to achieve your goals. Anxiety is not the way to a positive change.
If you answered yes to any of those questions, you might be going down a difficult path, if left unattended all the effort you are putting into improving your life will turn into a nightmare.
The first step is to realize you are not broken. There is absolutely nothing to fix about yourself. Personal development is all about creating the lifestyle you want, so, you need to define a clear goal for your efforts.
And like any other goal, it needs to be simple and entirely realistic. The easiest way is to break it down into smaller chunks, and those need to feel easy to accomplish. This will help you build momentum.
Also, realize that changing your habits takes time. I have never found anyone doing it overnight. You shouldn’t add unreasonable expectations to the process, instead, add small celebrations for every step you take in the right direction.
When you celebrate every victory, you are essentially refueling your energy to keep going. It’s a positive feedback loop that will lead you to success, step by step.
You don’t need to tackle everything at the same time. Pick the things that will benefit the most and stick to those, this is not a race, and there is nobody competing with you. This is your path, it’s exclusive to you, so honor your individuality.
And remember, if you have experienced personal development neurosis at some point, rest assured that you are not the only one. Probably those you admire have faced it too, and just like they have done it, you will overcome it.