Copyright (c) 2011
Personal development is a choice that you have to make – again and again. Unlike the clothes you buy, the car you drive, the latest faddy diet or accessory, personal development is for life – literally and figuratively. Personal development is not something that you should dip in and out of – nor is it something that is a once of choice. Not too many people will tell you that personal development requires a daily, lifetime commitment. But it does. And personal development is not a choice to be made lightly – because, once on the road, there are enormous dangers in trying to turn back, Pandora’s Box will have been opened! And it can be scary for people to realize that there life is how it is because of their own choices and decisions. Bizarrely, it can be even scarier for people when they realize that they can change everything, start over and live the life that they want.
Unfortunately, much of the conventional wisdom out there would have you believe that personal development is easy, quick and painless and something about which you make a once in a lifetime choice – as in ‘I’ve read a book and now I understand’ or ‘I’ve done a course that has changed my life’. Life is not that simple. In particular, life is complicated by the fact that the way we’re hard-wired will always leave the subconscious mind yearning for a return to the simple, mundane, ordinary, not-too-bad life. This is a psychological fact. On top of that, those who have actually experienced a life changing moment of truth are very thin on the ground. However, all the evidence suggests that those who actually do find themselves at this cross-roads have arrived there by virtue of the fact that they’ve actually run out of road – they’ve hit rock bottom. I know very few people who have descended all the way down to rock bottom. Maybe if more of us did we might have a big enough reason to wake up from our not-so-bad existence and realize the potential and possibilities of life. For most ordinary people life is ordinary, with its challenges, worries, ups and downs. We don’t become desperate enough to take a once and for all leap into the unknown because our known is not so bad. Consequently, we trudge along from day to day in the fog created by our subconscious mind’s obsession with our formative years. If you want to transform this routine half-life, you’re going to have to get used to taking action – real action – every single day. In fact, it’s more like moment-to-moment action that’s called for. Of course, you trudge through life out of choice and each thing you do or don’t do moment-to-moment is the result of choice also. But it’s your subconscious that makes these choices. And it makes them out of a preoccupation with the past and a longing for the future to be as dull and boring as the present. And, as a result, we short-change ourselves, going through life without realizing that we’re missing it.
But, if you’ve arrived at the point of restlessness or mild dissatisfaction that you simply cannot shake, then you will have browsed personal development websites, you might have read a couple of books, you will have arrived at reading this article. And you will have come across all kinds of advice from all kinds of people, from those that would have you believe that if you get that new car, condo or yacht, your life will be different, to those that will tell you that, to get what you want out of life, all you have to do is believe and leave the rest to universal energy. Sure enough, universal energy is responsive to our input – quantum physics has proven the communicative and responsive nature of the energy that you, I and the universe are made of. But this responsive universe exists moment to moment, in the same way that life must be lived moment to moment. And that presents most of us with a big challenge – you have to choose to be present and engaged, moment to moment.
The point that I’m making is that personal development is a moment-to-moment thing. If you do really and truly want to change your life the changes are derived from the small changes that you make moment to moment. That means commitment, vigilance and the perseverance to pick yourself up and start over each and every time that you falter. A client once asked my ‘Does that mean that if I falter forty times today, I have to pick myself up and start over forty one times?’ The simple answer is yes. And that is why the steps that you take need to become part and parcel of who you are and what you do moment to moment.
This means that you need to find ways of choosing to be focused throughout the day, rather than allowing your subconscious mind to focus on the conditioning that inevitably results in a mundane life. This means that, for example, even those who meditate to focus their mind first thing in the morning but don’t take steps to maintain their focus during the day will inevitably falter and, perhaps, never realize that it’s during the cut and thrust of the normal day that you need your focus most. And that will only lead to frustration, disillusionment and the conclusion that this personal development thing was of no benefit in the first place.
But it is. It is life-changing. It is transformative. And the amazing thing is that it is all these things as a result of tiny, apparently insignificant, steps that you take moment-to-moment. Like, for example, choosing to brush your teeth in a non-routine way, choosing to break with routine and have something completely different for dinner or, indeed, something as ridiculously simple as choosing to sit in a non-routine place to eat that dinner. You see, by breaking down the small routine in our lives, our minds become attuned to the ease with which routine can be broken. Once you break up your small routine by doing little things differently, you begin to dismantle the very fabric of your repetitive life. When you do this everything changes – you open yourself up to a world of unlimited possibilities – the real world. Remember, however, if you’re not the kind of person who can commit, if perseverance if too much of an effort for you – then this is not an option.