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Keys to Personal Development: Be the Tortoise and Win

Modern life is all about getting things done quickly. Microwave ovens, streaming movies, and cell phones perpetuate this lifestyle. However, personal development is more effective when done slowly. Significant changes take time. It’s also about the journey. The process of changing can be more meaningful than the benefits gained by the change.

Why personal development takes time:

1. Old habits take time to extinguish. It’s not easy to quit smoking or give up candy. It’s also not easy to stop thinking negative thoughts or procrastinating. Your current habits limit your life, enjoyment, and success. Even when you recognize their negative effects, though, it still takes time to get used to new ways.

2. If it were quick and easy, everyone would be successful. To attain a high level of success in any area of your life, time and effort are required. There are no shortcuts to success. Accept that developing yourself is an ongoing process that will continue for the rest of your life. You’ll avoid the urge to rush.

3. New habits take time to form. It common to hear that new habits require 21 days, 30 days, or 42 days. The truth is that it varies. Studies have shown that habits can require as long as 9 months to be established. It depends on the habit and the person. Real change requires the development of new, effective habits.

4. Your desires will change. When you’re hungry, all you want is food. When you’re lonely, all you desire in companionship. As your needs are met, your goals will change. It’s impossible to predict what you’ll want five years from now. Consider Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:

  • Self-actualization – living your purpose, finding meaning in life

  • Self-esteem – respect of others, confidence, achievement

  • Love and belonging – friendship, family, intimacy

  • Safety and security – health, career, personal property

  • Physiological needs – food, water, clothing shelter

We all start at the bottom of this hierarchy and work our way up. Only when the needs of one level are met can the next level be addressed. If you try to skip levels, your life becomes a mess. You probably won’t have goals related to realizing your inner potential if you can’t feed your family. Increasing your social circle is the furthest thing from your mind if you recently lost your job. Since you can’t predict what your future goals will be, your personal development will be a long-term process.

5. It’s all about the journey. Overcoming your fear of public speaking isn’t just about making more money at your profession. It’s about conquering your doubts and perceived limitations. If you could eliminate your fear by snapping your fingers, life would be too easy. Much of the enjoyment and meaning of life come from the battles we fight.

6. Repetition is often the most important component. Personal development is like getting in shape. There’s only so much change that can happen in one day. It’s when your efforts are repeated over the long-term that results happen.

Brushing your teeth once doesn’t accomplish a lot. Not brushing your teeth one day doesn’t do much either. It’s only after repeated brushing or neglect that the results become obvious. Crash dieting, winning the lottery, and studying all night for a semester exam rarely result in success. You’ve had similar experiences. Your personal development journey requires consistency to attain long-lasting results.

Instead of looking for the quick fix, search for strategies that require effort and commitment.

Relish the fact that you’re changing your life and putting in the work to make it happen.

Success is easier than you think, because so few people can keep a long-term perspective. Win the personal development race by being the tortoise.

– Mike Acker

President of ADVANCE

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