Key Point: Numerous self-development pundits and I believe that slipping on the ice of perfection, stuffing ourselves with oversized tasks, and accepting victory too soon are the three big minefields preventing sustainable personal development. I have made the argument that continuous personal growth and value creation is like oxygen, it propels our life’s purpose. Yet many of us struggle with making as much progress as we would like. Why? What helps? What gets in the way?
Applying the Character Triangle is a self-development bonanza. The more we live the three character values in a connected way accelerates our overall personal growth because the triangle is such a strong base. And as stated in The Character Triangle and subsequent blogs on this site, sustainable personal development requires a habit system.
So when we receive a cue, take self-accountable, respectful and abundant action, as well as reward this behavior, a helpful reinforcing habit system evolves. This really is the reinforcing side of the personal growth process. So what really gets in the way? Stephen Guise, a blogger for Pick the Brain, has written a great piece, The 3 Deadly Personal Development Pitfalls. I have named his identified “pitfalls” as the three development minefields. Check out Guise’s examples below:
“1. Perfection Permafrost
Permafrost is a geology term that describes soil which remains frozen for two years or more. When someone wants to improve and somehow they remain frozen, it’s likely that they’re stuck in perfection permafrost. It’s easy to happen and it’s easy to see why it happens
Personal development by its definition requires new actions, not perfect actions. A few years ago I wanted to exercise consistently. I tried so many different strategies, even designing a complicated point system that rewarded me for my efforts and punished me for my laziness. These days, I exercise regularly. After years of trying various methods, what works?
Nothing, but everything.
There was no single method that caused me to become consistent, but it was the process of continually struggling to do it for years. I realized the difference in the way I felt when I exercised. I saw the benefits over time and occasionally felt the consequences of not doing it. My mind finally accepted that it’s as essential as brushing my teeth.
But whenever I find myself thinking about the best way to exercise, the best time to exercise, or when and what I should each with different exercises, I hesitate greatly. The mistake is when we create this false dichotomy – either do it right or don’t do it. Note to self: It’s better to exercise at 2 AM after eating a huge bowl of ice cream than to never exercise!!!!!!
The solution is simple. Replace “do it right” with “do my best” and you’ll melt your perfection permafrost instantly.
2. Going Big = Going Home
“I’m going to climb a mountain!”
Hmm, why don’t you tie your shoes first?
Personal development in hindsight looks a lot more like a gradual slope than a steep hill. Our minds simply aren’t built to make huge leaps overnight. When it seems like we make a huge leap, it’s usually the result of days, weeks, months, or years of preparing ourselves for it.
It fine to have a goal of climbing a mountain. In fact, goals should be big. But tasks should be small. When you confuse a goal with a task, you’ll overwhelm your mind as it tries to make climbing a mountain one giant step. It’s more like 33,392 steps. Even supercomputers execute instructions one at a time – they just do it really fast.
Break your huge goals into tiny, minuscule, so-easy-a-caveman-could-do-it, steps. Then you’ll step closer and closer. It will happen faster than you thought once you get moving.
3. Accepting Your Trophy Too Soon
How many people have lost weight, held up their super thin trophy, and put the pounds right back on?
I recently read a study about goal achievement with a surprising result. Those who told friends about their goal intentions were less likely to achieve their goal. The researchers suspected that they felt a sense of satisfaction from saying their goal and getting the favorable, positive response from friends. In other words, they may have felt like they had succeeded before they had even started!
“Oh, that’s great you’re going to lose 30 pounds!”
Yes it is, but according to this study, it might be a better idea to wait until it’s done to tell people about it. The one exception might be if you’re telling someone to keep you accountable. The pitfall is seeking praise and affirmation in advance of goal completion.”
- Ask and honestly answer the following: Did you do your best today to ____? Not to be perfect, but did you make more forward progress today?
- Did you do your best to take small steps today? Not big unsustainable leaps but one step after another so that your are a little further downfield?
- Have you been realistic, humble but yet celebrated specified milestones along the way? Give yourself a trophy when you achieve milestone results, not for announcing your best intention.
- Go back to the first minefield and remember you are not perfect. It is a never-ending process.
- Doing the above will develop a habit system of progress.
Stepping over minefields in The Triangle,