I have a friend who’s a self-development addict. He consumes self-help books like a hungry man at a buffet, goes to every single motivation talk our city has to offer and speaks like an inspirational quote book. Frankly, it could get quite condescending sometimes.
And yet, I couldn’t help but be inspired when his eyes light up in excitement, eager to share new wisdom he’s learned today with me. He’s the reason why I jumped onto the self-development bandwagon.
Self-development, when yielded correctly, is an essential tool in life. With continuous growing and learning, we transcend into the best versions of ourselves.
On the flip side, self-development can also be a journey riddled with frustration, disappointment, and lots of tears. I definitely struggled with a lot of unrealistic expectations in the beginning. In this article, we’re going to talk about 2 unrealistic expectations and how to realign your goals so you don’t repeat my mistakes.
1. Change happens quickly
It takes a split second for people to decide to do better but it takes a long time to keep those changes going. Loads and loads of time.
Some people tend to treat self-development advice as a New Year Resolution. You get inspired by something new, keep at it for a couple of days, and give up because it’s too hard.
Life-changing habits don’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of time to build up habits with the power to change your life. Think of it this way – do you expect to become a CEO in five weeks? If you don’t, why would you expect cooking at home to make you healthy in three weeks?
“Nothing worth having comes easy,” said the great Theodore Roosevelt. It takes ages to incorporate positive change into your life. But after it does, you’re going to look back and thank your persistent past self for all the hard work and effort they put in. If you’re not ready to do that, maybe you’re not ready for the best version of yourself just yet.
How to fix it:
- It’s difficult to be persistent when you’re doing a complete overhaul on your life. So start small. Instead of working on 10 different things about yourself at once, try focusing on one or two things that you’d like to improve on the most. Then stick to it.
- Reward yourself after a streak and keep lengthening the time between rewards. The reward gives you a hit of dopamine to keep you going. Before you know it, living GREAT will be a reward in itself.
2. Doing things is all that matters
Taking action IS step one towards change, but it’s not all there is.
For one, before you implement any changes to your life, you need to first understand yourself and why you need to change.
It’s easy to lose sight of your goal when you’re just hustling and doing things. You see the concrete goal at the end of the road, but why do you need to get there? What’s the big justification for all the pain you’re feeling?
Giving a reason for why positive change needs to take place helps you stay on track. Sometimes this reason comes from who you are as a person; sometimes it comes in the form of experience. Regardless of what it is, having a strong, underlying motivation to keep doing what you’re doing frames growth as a positive experience instead of a negative one.
Besides that, you need to know yourself and what feels natural or unnatural to you. One of my colleagues in my first workplace have a horrible tendency to announce a huge goal out of the blue and have no way of doing it. For example, she’d proclaim that she’ll be an hour early to all meetings in an effort to be punctual. Of course, she has to be the biggest procrastinator in the world. So naturally, that didn’t work out for her at all. All it gave her was the feeling of failure and re-enforced the notion that she can’t do anything right.
Knowing yourself and what you’re capable of is imperative to come up with a plan that actually works for you. If you force yourself to do something completely unnatural to you, it’s going to leave you dejected and frustrated.
I’m not saying that extreme change doesn’t work for anyone – some people are superheroes that could just change themselves like that. But you have to first determine if you are those people before taking a drastic step that might not get you anywhere.
How to fix it:
- Try to understand yourself in an unbiased, no bullshit way. Social awkwardness has always been the bane of my existence. For example, I used to just poke other people’s arms for attention and interaction. By understanding the base motivation for what I do even though it’s stupid and humiliating, I can change my behavior while still fulfilling my needs.
- Reflection is a huge part of growth. In order to start understanding yourself better, you need to gather perspectives. Start asking your friends and families about how they perceive you. You can also take our free Enneagram test to get an educated guess on who you are as a person. You might even be able to explain some of the inexplicable feelings and emotions you’ve been having.
- Baby steps matter if you’re not one of those people who stop drinking coffee after 10 years with an average of 8 cups a day. Start by minimizing bad habit instead of quitting altogether. A small win is a win nonetheless.
- Don’t throw in the towel if you can’t reach your goal that day. If you feel like you’re going through a slump, don’t be afraid to ask your close friends and family about how you’re doing. Collecting feedback allows you to look at the whole picture instead of dwelling on the one bad day you’re having. Don’t forget that you’re allowed to have flukes sometimes.
We’d love to hear about some unrealistic expectations you had when you first started your journey of self-development. Tell us how you fixed them in the comments below! You can also take our advice and take a FREE Enneagram test here!