You want to be the best you possibly can, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But have you considered how your search for near-perfection is affecting your sense of self? Some people who begin personal development end up pushing themselves too hard, trying to reach unrealistic goals. Others succeed at every work- and school-related goal, but neglect their physical and mental health in the making.
It’s surprising to think personal development could ever go awry, but sometimes it does. Before diving into a journey of betterment, think about what you want out of the experience. How will you achieve it, and is it realistic for what you can accomplish? Keep your limits in mind and avoid overestimating or underestimating yourself. You might discover that reorienting your goals is what you need to succeed.
The Inferiority Complex
Millennials and Gen Z’ers are always made aware of how we lack in comparison to older generations. Article after article comes out detailing our failure to buy houses, fix the economy or stop eating avocado toast. More of us are living at home to pay off debts and loans and save up enough to support ourselves. It’s no wonder why many of us feel pressured to meet expectations — whether these are our own or someone else’s.
Setting expectations isn’t a bad thing. It gives you something to look forward to each day, and it allows you to put energy into a worthy endeavor. Loading up on self-development classes, books and instructive videos, however, won’t help if you don’t know why you’re doing it. Many life coaches reel you in with a question to make you aware of your weaknesses. Clicking through any self-help site, you’re likely to see, “Is your life going the way you want it to?” or “What you can you do today to improve tomorrow?”
You take the offering because why not? It sounds great, and you’ve needed a pick-me-up lately. But are you doing it because you want to or because you feel obligated? Does the method work for you, or do you power through it because it counts for something, and maybe it’ll take effect later? Feeling like you don’t live up to your peers or dreams creates a desire for improvement that spins into an obsession if unchecked.
You always want to be the best, brightest and fastest, but piling on different techniques will stress you out. Perfectionism rears its ugly head — but you can cut it off.
Combating Negative Feelings
The key to practicing beneficial self-development lies in grounding yourself in today. You’re doing a bunch of different things to improve your future, but have you taken the time to sit with the present? Take stock of what you’re grateful for now, and accept your flaws for what they are.
Avoid thinking of your habits and faults as stains you need to scrub away. Self-improvement is often gradual — a lifetime effort for some. You don’t need to reach the ultimate contentment in two weeks or even two years, and that’s okay.
Improving yourself works better when you think of yourself as worthy from the beginning. Many personal development courses start from a place of lacking, but you can spin this on its head. View yourself as a complete and fulfilled individual. You’ll be less inclined to hop on every new trend to fix what’s “wrong” with you. Instead, you’ll view these tools as opportunities to build on and improve what’s already there.
Choose methods relevant to your interests, and avoid personal development systems focusing on the negatives. You may decide that going to college and gaining more knowledge is a great way to develop yourself. If you choose this route, search for some of the best colleges nearby and select one that’ll be conducive to your growth.
Every college is different, but above all, you want a welcoming school with happy students, professors and administrators. Improving your personal development works best in a bright, positive environment. Auburn University currently ranks number one as the nation’s happiest college due to its friendly people, safe town and abundance of resources. Add this school to your list of prospects if you prefer a setting filled with school spirit and inclusive of all mindsets.
Personal Development Is Individual
Yes, you say it’s common sense — personal development is obviously individual. But when outside influences contribute to your mindset, your desires can get tangled up with others’. Don’t be afraid to unplug and reflect on your growth periodically.
Many people ride the self-help wave because they’re competing with each other. Achieving peace of mind is hard when you’re pressuring yourself to be better than the next person. Social media contributes significantly to FOMO — or fear of missing out — creating a “compare and despair” attitude amongst millennials and Gen Z’ers. We see our peers prospering and push ourselves to reach the same levels, not knowing many of our acquaintances are displaying a facade.
Always be aware of your motivations. What’s the “why” behind your actions? Self-improvement is a matter of the self — not of peers, parents or relatives.
Make a Healthy Path to Self-Discovery
You create your life path, which means you control your self-perception. Others will have their expectations of you, but you’re the only one who can choose your future. Trust in yourself when following self-development trends, and employ healthy ways to upgrade your life.
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