Different motivations for personal development.

People who do personal development do so for different reasons, but I think that without losing too much information we can discern a few basic categories: Self-esteem, next level and struggle.

Low self-esteem.

People who do not feel good enough. They feel unworthy of their life and blame their own inadequacy every time something does not go their way. They grasp at personal development as a cure-all panacea that will solve all their problems and make them finally worthy. This never happens. No amount of external achievement will make someone believe that they are worthy when they do not think they are. There is always something bigger, better, faster that if they could just achieve they would be worthy. They believe that life will be happy and without strain or struggle.

Achievement lies on a spectrum. There is an absolute minimum. There is a limit on how bad your life can get. On the upside, the limit has not ever been found. Human history is the story of growing, plateauing, decaying. These last two hundred years has been a story of up, into the clouds and higher. So there is always somebody doing something better than you or doing more.

These people come to personal development because they are not okay. Many keep chasing the next fad and never realise that being okay comes from inside. Some realise that they are okay and then keep going from a place of already good enough.

Success, now what?

People who achieve conventional success by getting a high-status job, making a lot of money or reaching the top in their respective field. Sportstars, pop singers, karate masters and CEOs. They feel lost or like they hit a plateau from which they can’t seem to break through.

They seek to go to the next level or do something that brings them more fulfilment. Their old passions no longer excite them or they feel stuck in a rut. They crave the novelty of being a beginner once more but don’t know where to start.

Nothing works. Make it work!

People who have a big problem that resists their every effort to solve. They can’t keep the weight off, their relationships are hell, they hate their job, they have anger management issues, they keep fighting with their children.

The only way these people solve their problem is if they face the truth and drastically change. When they stop resisting the problem they can start solving it. It still takes time as they have to train the necessary skills but they usually solve them if they persist.

Some people refuse the truth and nobody can help them until they become willing to change. Those who do look back after a few years and are astounded at how far they have come.

I have been all three of these at different times. Low-self esteem because I blamed myself for feeling isolated and lonely. Success because getting good marks had been easy and the schoolwork was frequently boring. Nothing works because I overlooked the many things that were working perfectly. Because life has inherent trade-offs and there will always be more over the horizon that you can chase after and delay your happiness indefinitely.

I am sure as time goes by I will refine and update these categories, but for now they are useful.

To happiness, and beyond!

 

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