The more you dive into self-help and self-development topics, the more often you might have a realization of „I‘ve seen/heard of this before“. A lot of advice get replicated over and over again while the different creators put a little bit of their personal spin and experience into it.
Over time, this distills the lessons further and further until there is only the core remaining. Because, let‘s be real here: Self-help and self-development is not new and people haven‘t started to try and live better lives only 20 years ago. This means, that we actually have access to many, many little drops of wisdom shared through the generations:
- Eat less and move more.
- Practice mindfulness.
- Be grateful for what you have.
- Be kind and forgiving to others.
These are all fine. The lessons here are important. But the issue lies in how any of these are actually processed by the people that come into contact with them.
Imagine this: You’re struggling to lose weight and getting rid of your love handles. Whatever diet and whatever new type of fancy exercise you try, nothing seems to work. But then your friend turns to you to give you the one phrase which would transform your weight-loss-journey:
“You should just eat less and move more.”
Great. Thanks, Tim. Why didn’t I think of that sooner?
The problem here is that Tim’s advice isn’t actually bad advice. It’s just so generic that people don’t know what to do with it.
And that is because of 2 things:
- People don’t really want to put in the work to reach their goals. They want to be on the summit of the mountain without actually climbing the mountain first.
- Once they realize that they have to climb the mountain, they also don’t want to figure out how to climb the mountain. They need a map, compass, a local guide, 14 books about mountain climbing and countless hours on YouTube listening to other people who have climbed some mountains before.
So, there is probably more than enough material out there to give you all of the answers that you need in order to get where you want. But something is stopping you from acting. From going out and putting your mind into action and crushing your goals.
This is the reason why the self-help industry is even an industry. I would say that most problems that people struggle with have already been solved in some way before. In many of these cases, we are even lucky enough that the solution has been passed on to other people.
But it’s not enough. At least not for everyone. Because some of us are looking further for the answer. The answer that they already know but it seems that there might be a tiny bit missing, the key to make everything click.
In the end, it’s not about having a key to success (sorry DJ Khaled). It’s about you taking action in reaching your goals.
It doesn’t matter if you have all or even any answers.
One step at a time
First of all, we all need to accept that there are no shortcuts to reach our goals.
If your goal is to have a six-pack showing, then you have to get to a low body fat percentage while doing core exercises to make your abs pop.
In order to get to a low body fat percentage, you need to eat in a way that supports having a low body fat percentage. In addition, you also need an exercise regimen which enables more fat burning so that you don’t have to starve yourself completely (eat less and move more, remember?).
If you stick to this day by day, week by week, month by month, then at some point you will reach your goal. Promise.
But now imagine that there’s a short cut. You wake up the next day with a god bod.
But other than that nothing has changed. You still eat junk food most of the time and the only time you move is to roll off the couch to go to the toilet.
How long will you keep your six pack abs?
The thing is your lifestyle does not support you having a six pack. Your lifestyle is making sure that you keep your ‘one pack’.
Shortcuts are pre-destined to have you fail in the long term. There’s a reason why the ‘yo-yo effect’ is mostly mentioned in conjunction with crash dieting.
What you have to take away from this is that shortcuts are a false positive. They promise fast results. But those will not be long-lasting.
Instead, you have to build a lifestyle that supports your goals.
That’s, again, another piece of advice that gets thrown around without people actually explaining what it means. So let me break it down.
Enjoy the journey
One common thing most people want to do is to be able to play an instrument. But for some reason, I hear ‘I wish I could play the guitar/piano/flute/banjo/kazoo/…’ so much more often than people actually putting a single step towards picking up said instrument.
You see that one YouTube video with an amazing performance and you say ‘Damn, that’s so cool! But I will never be able to play like that’. Of course you won’t. At least not with that attitude.
But let me tell you that you would probably be able to play the song you admire if you put in enough practice.
This brings us back to the number one reason I mentioned earlier. You don’t want to put in the work until you are able to enjoy playing an instrument.
This mindset is flawed for two reasons.
- You have to put in the practice. That’s also what the person in the YouTube video does. You just don’t see that because it’s not part of the video. Again, there are no shortcuts.
- Who actually says that you have to put in hundreds of hours of work until you get to enjoy your new hobby?
There is a very simple fix to both of these flaws:
Make the journey fun and enjoyable.
If you didn’t think of practice as work but instead find ways to enjoy the act or practice you’re killing two birds with one stone. You get to enjoy what you do from the get go and you also get in the practice to improve.
If you have a blast playing guitar for 20 min a day, then most of the time, you will end up playing for longer than 20 min. This will add up. So over a week, you have more than 2 hours of practice. Plus, you actually really enjoyed that time.
And this is the key.
If you stop caring about the result or the destination and instead focus on enjoying the time you spend actually doing what you want to do, then you will overshoot all of your goals at some point. It’s inevitable.
If you make 20-30 mins of practice a day a part of every single day, then that becomes part of your lifestyle. Because you will actually want to spend that time practicing.
And to give some perspective: If you see somebody practicing music every single day, wouldn’t you call that person a musician?
If somebody does a 20-30 min workout every day, wouldn’t you at least admire that persons ambition and diligence? In time, the results will show as well.
But does that really matter if you already enjoy what you’re doing before any results are showing?