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How to Effectively Use Personal Development Posts

How to Effectively Use Personal Development Posts


    Why are you reading this?

    It’s likely not out of boredom — there are hundreds of Facebook games and “failblogs” for that.

    No — you’re here to improve yourself or your life in some way. That’s what great personal development blogs are all about, right?

    But they sure can get overwhelming, can’t they? This is the age of information. Everywhere you click, there are hundreds of articles screaming at you :

    “Do X for a Happier Morning”

    or…

    “5 Ways to Enjoy Your Commute”

    The charming headlines and promising content lure you in. And before you know it, you’ve got 10 tabs open and are skimming through each one, hardly pausing before you click to the next.

    Is this an effective way to digest this content?

    I don’t think so. Think of it as swallowing your food whole.

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    So how can we ditch these bad habits and really get the most out of personal development posts?

    1. Determine what it is that you want to develop.

    Are you having productivity issues? (Note: Then you may want to skip the personal development posts and just get to work!)

    Is writer’s block keeping you from putting words on the page? Having problems on knowing how to structure your day?

    Knowing what you’re looking for before you dive in helps you to stay focused and ignore those screaming headlines that have nothing to do with your cause.

    2. Set aside time.

    Do you surf personal development sites haphazardly? Maybe you’re in the middle of working, get stuck, and so off you go to your favorite site. (I’m guilty of that one from time to time…)

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    I think we often turn to personal development posts when we’re avoiding our work. But instead of using them as a tool for procrastination, we can actually use them as they are intended — to help us grow. Setting aside a designated time keeps it from leaking into your work time, and ensures that you’re focused on what you’re looking for.

    3. Put on the blinders.

    Those headlines can be so tempting, I know. They’re supposed to be. Their aim is to draw your attention.

    But if you’re searching for ways to become an early riser and you’re ending up on a post titled “Top 5 Ways to Keep Your Toddler Safe” and you don’t even have kids…then you know you have a problem.

    When you’re focusing on that one thing you want to develop, ignore the headlines that you know won’t serve your quest. Bookmark them for later if you want – I know sometimes it’s entertaining to just click through random posts, but look at the previous tip for that. You don’t have to give it up completely, but while you’re actually trying to improve some area of your life, focus is key.

    4. Read the articles thoroughly.

    With so many great headlines, it’s tempting to open a bunch and skim through them. But this won’t help you out much, and I bet you don’t retain the information (I know I don’t). Having a focus in mind definitely helps with this step, and it seems easier to soak up the information. Read each article all the way through — skimming defeats their purpose.

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    5. Ask yourself: “What did I learn?”

    After you read a post, pause a moment to reflect. Did you learn something? Was it what you set out looking for? Do you need to keep looking? Then take it from there.

    6. Implement.

    After reflecting, if you feel you’ve found what you’re looking for…stop looking.

    That’s the tough part, because you know there’s always more out there. But if you want to use what you’ve learned and actually grow, you’ll have to simply stop looking. Close the browser, use your reflection and take action. How can you use what you just read?

    While it is very easy to get lost in the sea of personal development, don’t do it. While it’s true that there are many fantastic posts with the potential to improve your life – they are only good for you if you use what you read and take the action to make it happen. The idea is that they are should help you develop, and not envelop you in the process.

    (Photo credit: Personal Development flow via Shutterstock)

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    More by this author

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    Last Updated on March 25, 2020

    How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

    How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

    Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

    However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

    Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

    Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

    Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems.

    In this article, you will learn why it isn’t easy to build new habits, and how to change habits.

    What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

    To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

    The Biology

    Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

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    Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

    The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

    A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

    Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

    So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

    Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

    Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

    Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

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    Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

    The Psychology

    Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

    Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

    Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

    Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

    What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

    Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

    Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

    1. Identify Your Habits

    As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

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    2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

    Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

    It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

    3. Apply Logic

    You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

    Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

    4. Choose an Alternative

    As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

    Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

    5. Remove Triggers

    Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

    Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

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    6. Visualize Change

    Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

    For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

    7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

    Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

    Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

    Final Thoughts

    Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

    Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

    More About Changing Habits

    Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

    Reference

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