Life is a never-ending journey of discovery. There are no real end goals, just benchmarks and checks that we use to define ourselves.
The mistake, the trap, the lie of life is that personal development — any ambition that we strive towards — has a specific destination. This false concept of “making it” has crippled us. Accomplishments don’t equate acquittal.
Conquering one bad habit just means you now have the opportunity to tackle another. After you achieve your goals, it’s about sustaining that success, then sharing it with others. People who get to see their most lofty dreams come to fruition, even if unintended, end up setting new goals to achieve.
Honestly, it’s a process of killing the ego. We put in work, sweat, and do everything necessary to get to where we’ve gotten, so we harbor this sense of accomplishment that ends up creating a ceiling for potential.
You don’t want to be the private tennis coach who could’ve gone pro but didn’t want to take advice on his backhand. You don’t want to be this highly intellectual and charismatic personality who pushed everyone away just because you “mean well” and won’t apologize for coming off insensitive.
There is always more to learn, more to discover, more to grow. Because if we don’t progress, we risk taking our talents hostage and dying resentful.
With that being said, we too must continually develop. We have to constantly challenge ourselves to be better men, better professionals, and just better humans.
We should never feel satisfied or as if we’ve learned enough, no matter how much of an expert we are. And learning how to assess where we are is the first step to ensure we keep growing.
Monitor Your Progress
Why does the best basketball player on the planet wake up at 4 a.m every morning to work out, even during his vacation? I mean, he’s already won a championship and he can always put the work in at the gym when he gets back — what’s to it?
Well, unlike the should-have-beens, Lebron recognizes that greatness never stops. Maybe one summer he had to work on the handles, next summer it’s the post game, and now it’s the outside shot.
You see, although Lebron dominates with what he has, he understands that in order to be the greatest of all-time he has to never let up on the hustle that got him to where he is. And he can see that.
Once we are intentional about monitoring the progress we make, we can then put in perspective how far we came and draw up where next we want to go.
If we live in the moment we’ll let small victories keep us from chasing bigger ones and lose the ambition that got us there in the first place.
It may be cliche, but that’s really what separates the good from great.
Even in our personal life, we will never reach perfection as individuals, and the mastery of one weakness is just an opportunity to conquer another. That’s why we should continually seek room for improvements, monitoring our relationships, how we treat people, our patience etc.
You never want to get to a place where no one can tell you anything. You can always learn to be a better father, son, brother, or boyfriend.
Don’t be afraid to get introspective and address the personal issues that may be affecting the well-being of the relationships in your life. Even if there is shared responsibility, we can make ourselves a better friend or partner.
You’re Done When You Die
If you notice, even in the life you’ve lived thus far, you’ll see that the journey of improvement never ends, no matter what aspect of your life is being addressed.
When I was younger I always wished I was better when I spoke to women, now that I can talk to women in my sleep, I want to learn how to be sensitive to their empathies; this is progress.
When I was in college, I always had the dream of living in a major city, now that I do, I want an apartment with a better view.
We can’t become content with the things that do work out for us, we have to use that momentum to fuel us to keep going. The dishwasher who became the line cook has every right to be excited.
He gets better pay, he’s working with people as opposed to in solidarity, and he gets to learn a new skill. But happens if he stops there? What about sous chef or head chef?
Some argue that we’re all born with different drives and ambitions, which I believe is true to an extent, but I also think a major reason why a lot of us never get further in life is because we don’t think we can.
We set one goal and once we get there, we never think to make another. If we can grasp the concept that all our goals are reachable, that as long as we have air in our lungs and the will to do so, that we can push ourselves to accomplish anything.
The Dangers of Contentment
Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to appreciate ourselves as well as our progress. If you’ve gotten further than your parents ever have in life, that’s something to be proud about.
If you got into med school, braved through residency, and became a full-time practicing doctor, that’s amazing, and you should feel secure in that accomplishment, but what then?
Lack of passion is dangerous. When we lose our desire, we lose our ability to perform at our best and to stay at our best; that’s what complacency does.
If you find yourself getting bored at your job, then you need a new job. If you’re not inspired to wake up every morning, then you need a new challenge.
Don’t be like your bitter grandparents who will “never get the new generation” because with every era there is innovation. Think about all the advancements in technology and society you’ve seen in your lifetime.
Manage your ego and always challenge yourself to be better every day, no matter how great you already may be.