How to go from „wanting” to „doing” – personal development without the added bullshit

How to go from „wanting” to „doing” – personal development without bullshit

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Welcome back and I hope you’re having a lovely Tuesday. If you’re reading this article at work, bored and moody, tired and droopy-eyed, I hope this will help you evade your day-to-day routine for at least 5 minutes, reflect on life or maybe even crack a smile.

Today I’m delighting you with a post that’s slightly different from the usual subject matter of this blog – how to go from „wanting” to actually „doing” when we hit so many roadblocks, from the classic and ol’ fashioned laziness to lack of motivation.

If you also want to start a diet tomorrow, read Kant’s „Account of Reason” someday, be a more generous person...but only on Christmas, drink less coffee...but only after you finish this cup, then this article is dedicated to you.

But first, a disclaimer – no, I don’t have any qualification to give you personal development or motivational advice. The beauty is that everything relating to such topics is open to interpretation – it may work for you or not. Still, more than one perspective can’t hurt, right?

So, how do we get on with the „doing” part when we’d rather watch paint dry? How do we manage not to abandon a project or get discouraged halfway? Let’s discover together...

Personal development without bullshit – from desire to action

#1 Identify what you want and when you want it

Most of us want many things – to hit the gym, to start a new diet or learn a foreign language...when do we want all of these things? Starting tomorrow. Someday. When pigs fly. In a mythical time yet to be discovered by humanity.

Here is where most of us get it wrong when setting such limits. If we say that we’ll hit the gym starting tomorrow, if tomorrow we get lazy, we completely abandon the plan and the day is lost. If we say someday, it’s not specific enough and it gives us room to come up with a bunch of excuses like...the dog ate my homework.

So, how do we get our butt off the couch? We set a reasonable objective. If we spent 25 sedentary years, we won’t start going to the gym tomorrow. Or we will but we won’t stick to it. For that we need motivation and, at this point, we most certainly don’t have it.

The first step is to identify what you want and be patient with yourself when setting an estimate timeframe for achieving that goal – if you’re lazy, stressed, lack motivation or time, you won’t move mountains in 2 days.

But the fact that you identify what you want and when you want it already puts you one step ahead.

Desire involves something static, within the realm of imaginary, something that might happen. Plans, goals, objectives, on the other hand, involve action.

#2 Find out what stops you

Man, I wanna go to the gym but I am literally bursting at the seams with laziness and Mcdonalds is so close.

I want to be more patient but I’m not patient enough to do anything about it.

I want to read more but I don’t have time for anything and words are so tiring after 12 hours of work.

I have 1000 book plot ideas but I haven’t written a word since The Stone Age.

I want to save money but there’s not enough money to be saved.

Do you relate to at least one of the statements above? Me too, and I think many of us.

Do you relate to at least one of the statements above? Me too, and I think many of us.

Whether we experiment roadblocks such as chronic procrastination, lack of motivation or faith in our own strengths or even external factors that keep us stuck, we all fear something or hit something along the way that makes us unable to take action.

In my case, that thing was the fear of failure. But, just like a mistake admitted is half forgiven, an acknowledged roadblock is half overcome.

I know, it sounds like pseudo-motivational bullshit and I promised I wouldn’t deliver that but I swear to you it’s really not and you’ll see why in step 3....

#3 Discover what motivates you

My fear of failure used to always stop me from trying anything or even doing anything. How did I overcome it? I answered two questions in my head that I hope will help you, too:

  • If I start this, what can I gain in 6/12/24 months?
  • If I don’t start this, what can I lose in 6/12/24 months and will I regret those losses?

From here on out, it was easy to figure out that not writing would have been worse than writing and being judged on it or for it. This is how I got the motivation I needed and this is how I managed to bring these words to the internet for you to read right now.

If I saved 1 EURO a month, what would happen in a year? If I didn’t save at all, what would I lose? And the examples are endless.

If neither of the above is helpful for you, there are other means to motivate yourself:

  • Notifications and memento’s – it’s a lot easier to do nothing if you let yourself do nothing – if you annoy yourself, on the other hand, via constant notifications on your phone to do the thing or if you set the most annoying ringtone possible to motivate yourself to go jogging in the mornings..something will change. Make a goal list, 10 post it’s, 4 spreadsheets and 5 tables glued to the walls of your room, if it comes down to that. You won’t be able to ignore them forever
  • Get organized – I recommend a website such as Trello because it allows you to set any objective or task and add an execution date quickly and easily. It’s so satisfying to move a task from „Doing” to „Done”, I promise! And this comes from someone who didn’t use to do a single thing in an organized fashion
  • Write down your progress – what helped me so so much and might help you, too was keeping a score of my progress. I started going to the gym and I kept doing it precisely because I wrote everything down. Seriously. I wrote the day I went, how much time I spent, what workouts I did, for an entire year. Then, to not disappoint Cristina from the past who was way more active than present day Cristina who only wants to watch Netflix and be a lazy seal, I motivated myself to get out of the house, even when I didn’t feel like it. The fact that you can visualize the progress from the day/week/month before helps you stay focused on the overall goal, even if, let’s say, you only hit the gym 2 times a week instead of 5 times a week. Doesn’t matter – you’re still going!
  • Reward yourself for the little things – the best motivation is intrinsic motivation, we all know that, but some moderate degree of extrinsic motivation is good, too. You ran 15km this week? You seriously deserve a snack, let the carbohydrate devouring commence. You haven’t fallen asleep during this week’s meeting? You deserve one of those Starbucks diabetes-in-a-cup things with 10 layers of whipped cream. Tiny victories should be celebrated however you chose to and they don’t stop you from achieving your overall goal, quite the opposite, they make you feel like you gain something, no matter how small

#3 Make peace with the up’s and down’s

If you’ve moved past that first (and hardest) step – starting thing X, you’ll deal with a lot of up’s and down’s. That’s normal in any personal development plan.

Maybe yesterday you ran 10km and today you decided to eat like a pig. Maybe yesterday you wrote 2500 words and today you haven’t even written your own name down. As long as you develop the habit of going to the gym, writing, singing, doing anything, you’re miles ahead of other people who are certain they’ll only eat arugula and spinach....starting tomorrow, of course.

#4 Don’t let yourself be governed by cliches

Cliches are good in certain amounts, hence why I used them in this article, too. However, many motivational speakers serve us cliches such as „The power is within you” or „It’s all in your mind.” as a nirvana of personal development, as the only valid answer to a dilemma, completely ignoring the specifics of every individual’s situation.

Every cliche also bears a tiny bit of truth, but internalizing 5000 motivational quotes you don’t actually believe in won’t bring you any closer to anything, it’ll only frustrate you.

There is no fireproof recipe to personal development or making the stride from planning to acting, there are only general principles and advice that may work or not.

I hope mine helped you, even if just a little, and this article wasn’t a complete waste of time.

If it was, I accept complaints/insults down below. :)

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