I was talking to a friend of mine earlier today about how it’s really really easy to rest on your laurels when life is easy. Take me for example. I aspire to be an educator and mentor of aspiring software engineers, but the main reason I’ve made little progress on this life dream so far is because life is too damn comfy right now for me to take big actions.
Looking upon myself, I see a young, mostly healthy, single guy just working and living. I make good money at my job. I’m able to occasionally exercise a mentor role at work. I have a lively enough social life. I have a solid work/life balance. Life isn’t ideal, but it’s good enough.
When you want to reach your full potential, but life is already pretty good as it is, the best way to get to that point is to begin building habits for the tasks you need to accomplish to get you there. You’re not gonna know all the steps you need to take to get to your full potential, but you will have some ideas of what small things you can do to move you in that direction. Steve Pavlina, one of my favorite personal development gurus, once said something like it’s better to just keep doing things that someone in the position you want to be in does than to lay out an exact plan of how to get from point A to point B and try to execute it step by step.
Actually, thinking about self-improvement that way makes me think of agile software development vs. waterfall software development. Your requirements for a massive undertaking aren’t set in stone, so you’re better off working on small tasks and iterating than trying to plan it all out and execute it step by step without re-examining your goals.
When you’re working on your goals to the best of your ability every day, you can eventually get where you want to go without the immense pain, stress, fear, and uncertainty of hitting a “point of no return” where you’re forced to act. Yes, it probably takes longer to accomplish a goal this way, but it’s easier and more sustainable in the long run. Obviously, in reality, self-development isn’t this easy, but this the simplest explanation I can think of at this time.
Build up your habits one baby step at a time!