Self-Development: Step One

Quite a few people have the idea that they should develop themselves and ride the highway of personal development.

And most people give up before they get anywhere.

Why do people give up?

They usually start off by addressing symptoms of their dissatisfaction instead of laying a foundation for growth.

That sounds nice, but what the heck does that mean?

The best way to get anywhere is to begin at the beginning. Step one. Here it is:

COMMIT to CHANGING YOUR LIFE.

What do I mean by “commit”? I mean make it your primary life’s mission. Devote yourself to your own evolution. Consistently follow through on making yourself on the best version of you that you can be.

Sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it?

But committing to a full life is pretty terrifying. For one thing, you have to face your bullshit machine and shut it off. All of your excuses, justifications, and rationalizations for bad habit and self-destructive behaviors have to be addressed and eliminated.

Intentional, willful evolution is a lifestyle choice and it has to become habitual.

In fact, the secret to leveling up your life is the act of reprogramming your habits: taking responsibility for yourself and consciously changing your unconscious preferences. Excellence in the short term is defined by effort. Excellence inb the long term is habitual. It’s a default setting — a default setting you have to establish and maintain, even though it feels unnatural at first.

I figured this out after years of successfully changing things in the short term and failing over and over again in the long term. And before that, I failed at everything in the short term, too.

Life was hellish before I decided to cure myself of my neuroses (chronic depression, all kinds of anxieties, etc.) and abandon the “personality” I developed in childhood in order to cope with my life.

This concept fully clicked in my mind after my birthday in 2016.

For decades, I wanted to be a person who was in good shape and had the energy to do all the things I want to do with my life, but I couldn’t sustain a workout regimen. I’d start and, as soon as I started noticing benefits, I’d find a way to quit. After my birthday, I decided that I’d try to build an exercise routine into a habit. I got the idea while watching an episode of Family Guy, where Brian discovers “runner’s high”. The episode is skewering exercise addiction, but all I could think was “Why can’t I get addicted to exercise? What a great problem to have!”

I meditated, thought deeply about it, and decided that I would try to make it a habit. I joined a Boxing gym and went to a class. After a brutal 1000 calorie burn, my brain swelled with excuses and justifications for not showing up again. I had aches and pains and didn’t want to go back.

I responded by embarking upon an LSD trip (note: I am not recommending illegal behavior; just sharing a personal experience) where I focused my subconscious brain on the idea of becoming obsessed with exercise. I dug deep into myself and demanded to know why I was wussing out. Why was exercise important to me and what need was I hoping to fill?

I got answers and decided to keep going long enough to make it habitual — no matter how much it hurt or what stupid excuses my brain would come up with to quit.

This was in November.

Today, April 3rd, I can say that the habit “stuck” and I am truly obsessed with exercise. Most weeks, I go to the gym 3 days out of 7. Occasionally, I have an ache that needs rest to heal or an a super-important work obligation that can only be tackled during my “gym time”, but, even then, I refuse to skip more than one class per week.

Speaking of “gym time”, it helped me, in my habit-making, to set 3 specific times for “gym time”, meaning my schedule is always set in stone on those days at those times and I go out of my way to honor that time. The habit took about 3 weeks to stick and about 3 months to fully embrace psychologically. Now, it is just a part of my life that I enjoy. And, 6 months later, I am getting results – less body fat, more energy, less lethargy, an overall glowing sense of well-being, and, most importantly a deeper willingness to tinker with my habits and upgrade my lifestyle overall.

By establishing one overwhelmingly healthy habit, I have reprogrammed myself to augment that habit with more healthy habits (B vitamins, hemp protein and flax seed supplements, getting 8 hours of sleep per night whenever possible, etc.) as well as becoming comfortable building other habits (developing a deeper curiosity about other people, brainstorming about ways to help others to reprogram themselves, and a whole lot more).

And by tackling this habit, I realized the true Step One: I committed to a lifestyle of intentional development. If I can permanently level up in one way, what’s stopping me from leveling up EVERY PART OF MY LIFE?

In my teens and twenties, I was cynical, lazy, depressed, hopeless, and unable to rise above mediocrity at much of anything. And when I was able to rise above mediocrity, I was so terrified of people and the world around me that I had no idea how to share what I could do with others. I spent most of my thirties overcoming my problems and learning to trust and enjoy life.

And now, I want to see YOU overcome your bullshit and grow into the superhero you were born to be.

What’s stopping you?

Commit.

Don’t wait until “things are lined up”. Conditions will never be “perfect”. Do it now.

You’re worth it.