Why I believe in personal development

A friend and I were recently talking about personal development, primarily things like habits, goals, etc. We were discussing the possibility that by attempting to so closely regulate and discipline ourselves, we were missing the bigger picture, or missing some vital opportunity for life and freedom. A popular blogger who shall remain nameless has espoused the opinion that people should do what feels natural, and cultivate a lifestyle of wanting to be healthy, manage our time well, be focused and intentional, etc.

It all sounds good, and I think there’s a romantic side in all of us that wonders if we should just let go and see what happens, what kind of serendipity and beauty emerges from the chaos.

But I can’t really see that. At least not for where I am. The thing is, I used to live like that. I did whatever I wanted, whatever I felt like doing, with little regard for discipline or habit or goals. If I felt like blowing off work and going to the park to read a novel, I did. I still live like that more than I’d like.

In the long run, that’s a bankrupt philosophy and a poor way for the majority of people to live their lives. I know people who seem to be attracted to that kind of romantic life, but the long-term reality isn’t romantic at all. Without fail, they’re almost all a wreck. Disorganized, perpetually late, flaky, undependable, adrift. They’re often not healthy, not financially secure, and just stressed out. I’ve been like that, and from time to time, I still am. It’s no way to live.

There are rare people who seem to have been born with a natural inclination towards being awesome, and when those people relax and do what they feel like doing, they end up living the kind of disciplined, balanced, and healthy life the rest of us have to struggle for. It’s not fair, but what’s really unfair is for people like that to assume that it’s so easy for everyone. It’s not.

And now I’m off to bed, even though I would like to stay up, because I’m getting up early tomorrow. Because that’s my habit. And it’s the only way I know how to change.