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4 Deep Truths to Revitalize Your Personal Development

If your well-being really matters to you, you realize that it’s worth it. Stop drifting. Be your own savior while you can. Revitalize your personal development.


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Jonas Ressem

4 months ago | 5 min read
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For when you’ve drifted and want to live better again

“Stop drifting… if your well-being matters to you, be your own savior while you can.”

This quote by Marcus Aurelius has been on my mind lately. It hit me hard — in the right place, at the right time.

When I first encountered the personal development scene four years ago, I was hooked. I was coming out of a depression, and getting in touch with this field helped me realize I could take control over my life and improve it. And in my view, I feel like I’ve succeeded in that.

But recently, I lost some of my drive for development. Although my life had gotten noticeably better over the years, I started to feel like it wouldn’t stay that way if I removed myself further. There’s a saying that “What got you here won’t get you there.” And I think it’s accurate.

Though it’s natural to want to enjoy life once it’s good, there’s a danger in resting too long on previous achievements. What’s more, when you’re not actively taking control over your life, you leave yourself vulnerable to external pressure and various distractions.

However, I also felt some part of me long for more. The psychologist Abraham Maslow explains that this need — for personal development or self-actualization — never truly goes away.

Though it might be hard to enact sometimes, it’s always there within us. When I became conscious of this growing need, I attempted to get back to personal development. But I admit it was only halfheartedly.

That was about the time I came across the Marcus Aurelius quote.

“Stop drifting… if your well-being matters to you, be your own savior while you can.”

Accompanying this insight, I’ve realized 5 deep truths that helped me revitalize my personal development — truths that will hopefully help you too.

1. Reimplement What Used to Work

If you’ve experienced growth in the past, then there must have been something you did right. But if you’re currently stuck, and you realize you’re not doing what you used to do, it might be worth re-implementing some of it.

There’s a reason personal development works. And it’s because you actively work at making an improvement. Though some growth can happen naturally, so can decay. And working is a good way to ensure the former. And what better place to start than with what you know works.

When I first started, I read a lot, meditated, and listened to podcasts. But over the years, the time I spent on these things lessened. Though I kept the meditation in some form, the reading lessened, and the podcast-listening almost became non-existent.

So, when I thought of what I could reimplement, I immediately thought of listening to more podcasts. And I’ve done that, to once again discover that it influences my thinking in a positive way. Personally, I like the Tim Ferriss Show.

2. Start Small to Manage Anxiety and Get Started

When it’s been a long time since you’ve done something, there’s usually a barrier to getting started again. You’ve done it before, and it feels like you should be able to do it, but still there’s something that prevents you. And it’s anxiety.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t help to convince yourself to do it. That’s not how it works. You cannot talk yourself out of anxiety, because the part of your brain that processes it doesn’t understand language; it only understands experience.

The only way to overcome it, is to retrain your brain to stop sending the anxiety signal when there isn’t any danger.

The first part of this exercise is to break your task into smaller steps, so the first step is incredibly easy and then each subsequent step increases in challenge. Getting back doesn’t have to be an all or nothing deal. Start with what you can manage.

The second part is to confront each step without distracting yourself, because that’s how you show your brain that everything is ok. The less you distract yourself, the better it can process that fact. And when it does, it will stop sending the fear signal.

3. Be in It for the Process, Not the Achievements

Though personal development can lead to different achievements, it’s not ideal to get back if that’s your only motivation. Because if you do it for some fixed goal, it’s easier to start drifting again once you reach it. Come back because you can stay in this game forever. Do it because there is no real end.

You can still, however, have goals along the way — and you probably should. Just make sure they’re tied to a long-term process or purpose.

When you have a long-term thing to work towards, it makes the trivial things dim in importance. It’s something bigger to live for, which brings significance to your daily actions.

There’s a saying that starting a business is personal development in disguise. Or as Jim Rohn expressed it:

“Become a millionaire not for the million dollars, but for what it will make of you to achieve it.”

Personally, this is something I’ve found helpful. I created an online book-experience called Onliving.life, which honestly I think I will never finish.

But that’s kind of the point. True personal development is a life-long project. Yes, you might drift at times, but when you do, get back to your principles and continue working.

4. Trust Your Unfolding

Just because you’re getting into personal development again, doesn’t mean you have to get back to where you left off.

Though reimplementation of certain things might work, you don’t have to do everything in the same way as before. You can of course do that, but you can also change things, omit things, or add something new.

You can go forward with what you got, then adjust your actions based on the feedback you get. Be resolved but flexible in your approach. And wherever your journey takes you, let it. Trust your unfolding and have experience be your guide. Life is a thousand iterations of the self.

The philosopher Robert M. Pirsig referred to this kind of living as Quality. Others have called it intuition; the gut-feeling.

In essence, it means you’re living life by what the totality of experience values. It’s an interaction between your organism and the world, not as separate things, but as a harmonious one.

If you trust it, you will over time move towards “the self which you truly are.”

And it’s an interesting and beautiful ride, characterized by self-direction, process and complexity, openness, acceptance and trust. Importantly, however, the psychologist Carl Rogers noted that:

“This is not an easy direction to move, nor one which is ever completed. It is a continuing way of life.”

But if your well-being really matters to you, you realize that it’s worth it. Stop drifting. Be your own savior while you can. Revitalize your personal development.

Want to live a more meaningful life? Get my free PDF here.

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Jonas Ressem

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From Norway. Building onliving.life. Exploring life through psychology, philosophy and entrepreneurship. Come explore with me: http://eepurl.com/dAtfdv


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