The closing of a year is always a good opportunity to reflect on how you're doing in your life. What have you achieved this year? What lessons have you learned? What aspirations, resolutions or goals do you have for the year to come?
One of the most frustrating aspects of personal development is that we set our sights too high and then feel disappointed with ourselves for not being 100% patient, compassionate, dedicated to losing weight etc etc
flickr (CC) photo by Solar ikon
How to Avoid Painful Duality
If a good cook burns one meal, does that make them a failure in the kitchen? No. If you are trying to cultivate patience and you blow it once in a while it doesn’t automatically classify you as an impatient person. It may mean you have work to do on the issue, but it’s not a driving test you don’t fail because you messed one thing up.
Rather than see yourself as patient or impatient, how about embracing the grey area between. The fact is, we are all mixed, sometimes we are at our shiny best, and sometimes we're cranky because we're stressed, don't feel well etc. If you see it all in black and white you might be making things too hard on yourself. But by working in the grey areas you can accept your fallibility while trying to cultivate the traits you most want to possess.
Instead of subjecting yourself to painful self-scrutiny over a brief spell of loss of patience, how about noting why you lost it and what you can learn from the event to try and keep cool in the future? Patience is something you can cultivate and the odd set back shouldn’t be allowed to put you off in your noble efforts.
Acting leads to Achievement
If you are trying to do something, in that moment you are doing it, and therefore you have it. When I was in my twenties and embarking on my chosen path, some around me were fond of the saying "try means fail". It didn't help. I felt I failed a lot while repeatedly trying to set my course. Later, when I became interested in NLP, I learned of something called the "as if" frame and I liked it. Simply put, this means that if you are acting "as if" you are patient, fit, compassionate, in that moment - you are. And the more you play with it and act it out the more you settle into those ways, and the more they become part of you.
This was later confirmed by a spiritual teacher who told me "while you are trying to be God conscious you are being God conscious". So moment, by moment, when I really try to apply myself to my meditation, or my prayer, I am fully absorbed and making progress. It definitely helps to know that.
Trying's OK and the more you put your heart into it, the more it sticks and becomes part of who you are
Moment by Moment Awareness Helps
When it comes to personal development, there's a lot we can learn from the productivity experts. Those who know how to get things done often speak of planning and reviewing and working in small focused chunks of time.
Here’s a three step process that can really help you cultivate who you want to be:
1. Heartfelt Intention
Regularly reflect with full focus on the direction you want your life to take and on the qualities you want to cultivate. Daily is ideal. Try writing your thoughts out in a journal and reflect on them throughout the day. Be careful who you share them with too. Your aspirations may be personal and precious to you. Keep them safe and water them well.
2. Review and Adjust
Check in often with how you’re doing. What progress have you made? Every little step is significant. What have you learned? How can you apply that learning to help you in the future?
It’s the action that stops the intentions paving the pathway to nowhere… But acting without direction is as useless as intention without action. So the two go hand in hand.
Set your intention, refine it and nurture it, and then take baby steps towards it. One foot in front of the other. Turn mistakes into learning opportunities and keep tip-toing forward. And when you look back at the end of next year, you will see how far you have progressed along your path of true personal development.
This article is featured in the Personal Development & Happiness Carnival at the Next 45 Years & Live the Power Unlimited
Other articles you might find of interest:
How Planning on Paper can Work Wonders for Your Productivity
Journaling to Cultivate Confidence