(…or “How When You Think You Have Made It, You Are Just Getting Started.”)
Whoever said “ignorance is bliss” must have been longing for an easy life without knowing that things could be better. Most definitely, he (or she) didn’t want to be punched in the face by hearing uncomfortable truths about his path in life.
I have no idea who it was (it could have been Thomas Gray, but his version is more than just “ignorance is bliss,” and could be interpreted to mean the opposite: “where ignorance is bliss, ‘Tis folly to be wise”) but it wasn’t a personal development writer, that’s for sure.
The more you learn about yourself and your current condition, the more aware you become of your shortcomings and all the things you still haven’t reached. Both in your personal growth and the world around you.
If it makes you do what you need to do to get where you want to be, all of this is a good thing.
But there should also be a warning label stamped on every personal development book or blog:
Warning: This book/blog/article/tutorial can make you unhappy
When you read The 4-Hour Workweek, at first you got excited, saying to yourself: “Wow, this is so awesome! I must try this right away” The first few days were pure joy, but then came the disillusionment: It’s not even remotely as easy as it sounds.
You realized that before Tim Ferriss was able to achieve the lifestyle of his dream, he worked 60-hour weeks building his business for several years — until he realized that he could leave it behind.
You realized that you couldn’t just go to your boss and tell him you quit.
You realized that you weren’t even close to the goal painted by the book.
But hopefully, you also knew that the goal was not impossible to reach — as long as you were ready to fight for it.
The same pattern is repeated over and over again with every book and blog you read: Reading Scott Ginsberg reminds me of how bad I still am at listening to people. Reading Leo Babauta makes me aware of the fact that my habits still are sloppy as ever. Reading Clay Collins tells me that I haven’t gotten any braver than I was yesterday.
But that’s good.
It’s how I want it to be.
I need to be punched in the face every now and then so that I won’t just conform to my happy but still unfinished state of being, wondering how come I’m not doing all the things I thought I wanted to do, and not being the person I want to be.
As Dren pointed out in the comments to previous post, becoming an expert in many things is no short trip at all. You need to keep learning, for years, only to realize that there is still more for you to learn. That’s where reading personal development blogs and books can help: in showing you that you still have a long way to go.
Unless this is what you’re after:
Take a look at what happened around mid-April. No, not the big fall, that was a Feedburner tracking bug. I’m talking about the rather stable 450-460 RSS readers period from April to August during which the blog subscriber count did not grow at all.
That’s what happened to my blog during the summer.
It’s not what you would have estimated based on the growth before April, is it? But it’s what you would expect to happen if you become too content with your current state. I was simply paying far too little attention to growing and improving the blog.
But this doesn’t apply only to blogging.
The same thing will happen in your personal economy, in your knowledge, and in your health, if you decide that you are good enough, and stop trying to improve.
Personal development will tell you this. It will tell you that you are in a bad shape and need to start running again.
It will hurt, but you will be glad it did — in the long run.
What is yours?