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How To Save Thousands on Personal Development

How To Save Thousands on Personal Development

    Crossing the Line

    In life, there often seems to be a line where many things move from being a positive to a negative. From a healthy part of our existence to an unhealthy one. From a functional and normal process to a dysfunctional and abnormal one. From something that should be life-enhancing, to something that becomes potentially life-destroying.

    Food

    Take food, for example. Over the years, I’ve worked with many people who have turned their healthy eating habits into completely unhealthy eating disorders. Somewhere along the way, they went from being focused on eating well, to being totally obsessed with, and preoccupied by, food. Something which is fundamental to human existence and survival (eating) somehow becomes their biggest challenge in life. The very thing that will sustain most of us, might well destroy them.

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    Exercise

    The same thing happens with exercise. The unfit person becomes fit. Before long, they feel better, look better, function better and get lots of approval and recognition – all highly desirable (and potentially addictive) outcomes. So, they decide to get a little fitter and leaner and train a little more. And more again. They reason: “Well, if one hour of exercise is good, then two hours will be twice as good and three must be amazing!” Before long, they train whenever and wherever possible. They begin to lie about their exercise habits. They experience anxiety and even anger when they can’t do their workout. They start planning their life around their exercise regime. It affects them mentally, emotionally and socially. They lose perspective and the healthy pursuit of exercise has now become an unhealthy obsession.

    Money

    We see this type of unhealthy behaviour in a range of settings and wrapped around a plethora of everyday issues and responsibilities. For some people, making money will transition from being a normal, everyday responsibility and necessity to a complete obsession. They will eat, sleep and breathe it. Money will become their identity. Their self esteem. Their sole focus. Or should I say, soul focus? And, in the middle of their fanatical pursuit of the almighty dollar, they will become physically, emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. They will lose themselves. Their success will not be success at all. Their practical and sensible goal (to earn and save money) will have become an unhealthy and destructive obsession.

    Religion

    And speaking of destructive and dysfunctional habits, behaviours and beliefs, I guess I could play the religion card… but do I really need to? Thought not.

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    Personal Development

    So, let’s talk about the potential dangers of personal development instead; the reason I started this long-winded monologue. “But Craig, surely immersing myself in personal development can’t lead to any kind of undesirable or negative outcomes, can it?”

    Er, only about a thousand.

    Like anything else that we might focus on, the pursuit of personal growth can produce a myriad of negative outcomes when we go about it the wrong way. Some people will become quite fanatical and emotional about their new-found insight and reality. Which might compel them to evangelise their un-impressed family, friends and colleagues with an ever-expanding range of theories, ideas, stories and shonky research. And, naturally, that’s always well received.

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    For the most part, being excited, educated and passionate about something is good, especially when it leads to some kind of positive behavioural change and desirable outcome. When the information (like the mountains of stuff on this site) is the genesis for practical application and lasting transformation, then personal development is serving its intended purpose. It’s positive. It’s practical. It’s transformational. It’s a valuable resource.

    The Reality

    But when we step back from all the motivational language, the theories, the mantras, the affirmations and the emotion, can we honestly say that personal development products, programs, services and resources typically (that is, most times) result in significant and lasting transformation for the individuals who partake? Of course, there is no independent data or research to answer that question accurately or quantitatively (to my knowledge) but if I had to take an educated stab my answer would be… no, most people don’t create significant or lasting change. That’s not to say that they can’t but, rather, that they won’t.

    Life Ain’t No Theory

    For some people, the answer will be yes but it’s my experience, observation and opinion that far too many people delude, delay and deny themselves in the theory of transformation (yes, even people who frequent this cyber-classroom) when they should actually be rolling up their sleeves and immersing themselves in the practical, messy, uncomfortable reality of the change process. The doing part.

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    Stop listening, watching, reading, researching and studying, and start applying what you’ve learned.

    After decades of teaching, coaching, learning, studying and watching this stuff in action, I’m of the opinion that, for personal development to be a genuinely effective transformational tool – in a practical, measurable and experiential way – the change process should be somewhere in the vicinity of ninety percent doing stuff (the practical) and ten percent learning stuff (listening, watching, reading, researching, studying). Of course, the percentages might need to vary a little depending on the individual goal and what stage of the journey we’re at with that goal but, for the most part, I think 90/10 works.

    Sadly, for many people, the percentages are more like 1/99. That is, one percent doing and ninety-nine percent… not doing.

    What are your percentages?

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    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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    Last Updated on January 13, 2020

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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