Updated: Mar 2
Happy New Year, my dear readers!
As we like to say: "New Year, new me." But what does it entail to become a new person? Sure, we are all familiar with the old-fashioned way of writing a list of resolutions and then trying very hard to achieve them. Some of us even add the stick-to-my-resolutions resolution to our plan, hoping that would yield better results. However, as it turns out, it is not easy to adhere to those goals we set for ourselves, and, by March-April, we give up on our resolutions and go back to being the old selves. We share a few memes on FB or IG, mocking our failed attempts about feeding the hungry, depolluting the ocean, or doing yoga twice a week and soothe our self-criticism with a promise that next year we will do better (or on Monday).
By now, you probably think that this is yet another post about the right way to write your resolutions, strategize your process on how to achieve spectacular results so you can wow everyone around you. Nope. I do not like that cr*p either.
This post is not even an attempt to advertise the effectiveness of my new virtual workshop, "The Character That Succeeds," although you are more than welcome to inquire about it at firstname.lastname@example.org. This post is about the most common misconceptions in the realm of Personal Development and how to defy the pressure from those "gurus" who so want you to change. I would not be writing this if I did not experience the horror of these seemingly well-meaning opinions myself. Luckily, I found my path of self-love, where I determined that I am a hellova-worthy person who requires no sacrifice or struggle to receive what she wants. So, in this post, I would like to share my opinion about some commonly practiced personal development recommendations that you should leave in 2020 and do not force yourself to incorporate in your life no matter how "cool" they may sound.
1. Read 26 books a year.
I will start with my favorite. I saw this advice coming from many teachers, which necessitates that you read one book every two weeks. Some may suggest you read ten pages a day or similar to it. Yes, reading is excellent, and I am not arguing against it, but do not engage in this activity for the sole purpose of meeting a quota set by someone. Most of my education came from books, and I cannot even imagine personal growth without reading. However, urging people to read a certain number of books or pages is unrealistic and is an express lane to failure. Our lives are unpredictable, and not everyone has the luxury of time or even be in the mood to read that much. If you are a seasoned reader, this comes naturally to you, but for someone whose only source of reading material comes from social media feeds, reading books every day will be extremely challenging. This person will most likely have a hard time focusing and will end up in self-condemnation and feeling inadequate. Or, that person may read the recommended number of pages/books but not remember or understand anything written in them. Also, there are plenty of other information sources, such as YouTube how-to videos, TED Talks, audiobooks, workshops, seminars, conferences, or simply having lunch with your mentor! Remember, the whole notion of reading 26 books is plain wrong. Yes, if reading is your hobby, please enjoy it. But if you read to get some information or insight, I would recommend that instead of reading ten books on the same topic, try reading the same book several times, but with sharp focus and concentration.
2. Crash your fears
Well, you sure can battle your fears and doubts, but that's going to be a painful journey. Our fears arise from insecurities, from thinking that we do not deserve what we are after. Then our brain begins generating various Hollywood blockbusters and worst-case scenarios to distract you from receiving that what you desire. Our society glorifies the fight and puts on pedestals all those who've fought diligently. But the question is: Was the fight necessary? Sure, if you want to sound like a hero, you absolutely must give a tear-provoking spiel about overcoming your fears because no one is going to gush if you say, "Well, I truly believed I was worth it, and it came to me effortlessly." No, they are going to despise you for that and call you an entitled brat.
3. Work hard
This is probably the most popular fallacy in our society, although it serves as a foundation for nearly all motivational speeches. How did we even get to the point where we glamorize hard work, honor our burnout, and brag about the lack of sleep, working on weekends, and not being able to maintain a healthy diet? It is not cool. Do not believe the hype. Overworking will only lead to issues with physical and mental health, broken relationships, loneliness, and frustration. Most importantly, you can get everything you want in life without having to sacrifice your health and happiness. You are worthy of having it all.
4. Wake up at 4/5/6 am
When it comes to this advice, I do not even know where to begin. The central premise of waking up very early in the morning is that you can get a lot more done, there is no distraction, you get an early workout, experience less traffic, and you are going to be alone (most likely) in the office. This, indeed, is good advice for those whose job requires them to start early, but not for all. Many find themselves most creative at night when everyone else is asleep. Some live alone and/or work from home, so there are no challenges with traffic or noisy coworkers. For others, it is pointless to wake up this early if they have a flexible schedule. Many have children and family responsibilities that may keep them awake until late at night. If that's the case, waking up this early will only lead to sleep deprivation and a decline in your productivity. Do not drive yourself to insanity just because some internet "guru" boasts about waking up at 5 am. First of all, you do not know what time he/she wakes up. Second, waking up super early alone will not lead to success. What will, for sure, help you succeed is staying healthy, energetic, and focused. And you lose all three when you do not get enough sleep.
5. Serve other
There is nothing wrong with serving others or helping others, but YOU have to take care of yourself first. You cannot pour from an empty cup. Before you rush towards rescuing someone, make sure your own foundation is stable. Otherwise, both of you will collapse. I would also like to point out that when you do help or serve others, make sure your intention is pure and genuine, and it comes from your heart. You do not want to develop a savior complex or help them because you feel guilty or want to be liked and accepted.
These are the top five misconceptions that I think should be left out or highly deliberated upon to determine whether they will benefit you. But, here is one recommendation that you should adopt for the rest of your life, not just this year – believe that you are worthy and you were born to flourish.