We all have them, don’t we? Some of us are too stubborn. Some of us struggle with time management. Some of us need to work on our finances. Some of us are too reactive. Some of us are too passive. Some of us are too people pleasing. Some of us are too self involved. Some of us are inconsistent. Some of us have a short fuse. Some of us are impatient. Some of us are overbearing. Some of us complain too much. Some of us take things too personally. We all have habits, mindsets, and behaviors that we struggle with and need to address. It’s called being human.
Rather than accepting your personal flaws and challenges for what they are, or ignoring them completely while you focus entirely on your strengths, you must first realize that you are entirely capable of change, if you are willing to put in the work. Just like anything else, change is a choice – you can take it, or you can leave it. What sets highly effective, successful, and confident individuals apart from the rest? A willingness to change. There’s a quote I love by James Allen that says:
“Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound.”
We have to understand that our lives can’t change unless we are willing to change. We can’t expect to have happy and fulfilling careers without investing in our personal and professional development, just like we can’t expect to have a thriving relationship with our partner without learning how to better ourselves everyday. It is the behaviors — namely, humility and discipline — that are at the root of the happy lives that we seek. Are you ready to commit to improving yourself first, before focusing on anything else?
If so, I’ve got a couple healthy ways you can begin approaching your personal challenges. Whether they are issues you’ve struggled with throughout your entire life, or poor behaviors that you’ve only recently developed, they are not irreversible, and they are not stronger than you are.
1| Accept imperfection.
I hate to be the one to break this to you, but. You are not perfect. You will never be perfect. I know, it’s a tough pill to swallow. I’ve had trouble with it too. But in all seriousness, it is so important to stop beating yourself up about having weaknesses and flaws. We all have them by merit of our humanness. None of us are exempt. The minute that you stop seeking perfection is the minute that you can really look at yourself through an honest lens. Not only is it humbling to accept your inherent imperfection, but it’s also a critical step in building personal accountability. When you know that you will fall short, you aren’t afraid of accepting and addressing it; you stop being embarrassed by it, and you start treating it like an opportunity to grow and get better.
2| Ask yourself ‘why?‘
We are all a product of our experiences. There’s a reason why we have the habits that we do, why certain things get under our skin while other things roll right off of it. In particular, our childhoods carry a particularly strong influence on our beliefs and norms well into our adulthood. The beliefs that we form as children and teenagers are some of the strongest factors that influence our personalities. As we get older, the beliefs that we form are less rigid and ingrained in us; that’s why it’s so difficult to introduce new behaviors and ways of being into our lives as adults. With all of that being said, get to the root cause of your personal challenges. Ask yourself questions like: why am I this why? When did that norm develop? What circumstances or occurrences have transpired throughout my life that have made me the way that I am? For example, if you are someone who struggles with selfishness or needing to have things your way or no way, you might reflect back on being an only child and realizing that your preferences carried all of the weight. Therefore, you are accustomed to and expect that you should get what you want. Our personalities, preferences and approaches are deeply complex and nuanced. While there may not be a singular explanation for why you are the way that you are, you cannot begin to address and change yourself without getting to the source.
3| Seek out a third party.
I am a huge proponent of accountability partners and that there is strength in numbers. Don’t feel like you have to work on yourself in isolation. If you have access and capacity, seek out a counselor who isn’t connected to you personally, and can help you sort through some of your why. We have to debunk this myth that seeking professional help means there’s something wrong with you, or that you’re too weak to deal with your challenges on your own. From my own personal experience, counseling can be incredibly empowering and clarifying; through it, you can start to see yourself more objectively, which creates a clean canvas to begin working on. If counseling isn’t an option for you, seek out a close friend, a trusted confidante, your significant other, or someone else you know who is deeply invested in your development and success. Find someone who is willing to be patient with you, but who is also willing to push you and tell you what you don’t want to hear.
4| Create a vision.
Who do you want to be? In your ideal world, what qualities and characteristics would you consistently possess? Create a vision for yourself, and remind yourself of it regularly. Then, take it a step further. Put yourself in a position to be influenced by that vision, so you can actively bring it to life. For example, if you are someone who struggles with organization and time management, seek out books, resources, webinars, etc. that can help you in this area. Identify people in your life who are extremely organized, and spend time with them. Observe their routines and approaches, ask them questions, and figure out what you can apply to your own life. Remember not to focus on perfection or emulation. Don’t feel like you need to follow every single step in an article you read, or to take every single piece of advice that someone gives you. Your vision should be a guide, not a prescription.
5| Set the bar high and check yourself.
You cannot address your personal challenges without being brutally honest with yourself. Facing your challenges head on can be incredibly uncomfortable. Who wants to admit that they have a temper or that they lack self-discipline? We all want to focus on our best qualities, because we are so accustomed to showing the world how shiny and perfect our lives are. Take off the mask, unfilter the photo, and name the things that you need to work on. As you fall short of your vision, don’t be afraid to admit that to yourself and put yourself in your place! Get comfortable using phrases like, ‘I need to do better.’ Remind yourself that you are capable and in control, and you are bigger than whatever it is that you struggle with.
/// What is your approach to working through your personal challenges? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!