When contentment gets confused with complacency, you delay your own progress.
We don’t always realize this, but there is no state in which we have the luxury of sitting back and going, Welp, I’ve reached my highest level of improvement. That’s it. It’s only downhill from here.
The truth is, there will forever be room for improvement. It should be an encouraging thing to know that no matter how good (or bad) things get, you can still grow.
But sometimes we negatively impact our perspective of what that means by concerning ourselves too much with where we want to be.
We look too far into the future and forget about the present need for action, sustainability, and consistency.
I write this not just for you but also for myself. There were times when I’d sit for hours not doing anything but sulking in a daze of where I wish I could be in life.
Instead of doing things that mattered to me during those moments, I was consumed with feeling sorry for myself. I quickly learned that only wastes time and solves absolutely nothing.
If you’re in that phase, focus on the present. You can’t do anything about past mistakes and decisions. You also can’t jump ahead into the future.
All you can do is take steps to improve your life right now.
Embracing Who You Are
“The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.” — Mark Twain
For so long, I was trying to be someone I’m not. I’d see people who were popular in what they were doing and sought to copy them. Not understanding that the road of striving to be like another human being is endlessly tiresome and difficult.
It’s far easier to simply be who I am — with all of my quirks and taste in things that are weird to some.
You have to learn to accept that you are unique for a reason. Only when you acknowledge that reality will you step onto the path you were destined to take.
Your life is not about doing what will please other people. Living with that at the forefront of everything is bound to exhaust you before you even begin.
Instead, your life is about doing what matters to you, relentlessly following your faith despite what naysayers may say.
That doesn’t mean you force your opinions on others. They have every right to disagree. But you shouldn’t be afraid of sharing what moves you either.
This cowardice approach to life has crippled me, until now.
The shadows of yesteryear are proof of what used to be a depressing phase. And yet, the illumination of the present conveys a bright reality that you don’t have to live in someone else’s shoes, neither should you try.
“Instead of spending time complaining about your life, use your energy on changing your life.” — Jeanette Coron
Many of us associate change with negativity because we almost always assume the worst. If you have to alter your state of being, that means something bad is happening to you. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Just because you’re faced with change, it doesn’t mean you’re not cut out for life. Change is good.
What we’re often afraid of is how this “change” will affect our lives. That’s the part that creates a barrier between our desire to reach the next level and carrying out the actions that will get us there. The two never marry because fear inhibits is from taking any steps at all.
I get it; being tired doesn’t leave a ton of room for accepting change. This is especially true if you have a lot on your plate already. The easiest option, under those circumstances, is to stick to what you’ve been doing.
But what if that isn’t getting you anywhere? What if it’s hurting you in an unhealthy way, both mentally and physically?
Do you become complacent? Or do you recognize the need for something different?
Those who are serious about their wellbeing will choose what maximizes their chances of being successful. They won’t bend because things are a little uncertain.
They’ll fight through the fog knowing it will be worth it.
They have a vision, a goal. And they’re not going to let anything stop them.
It’s important to note also that pursuing change without a goal in mind is rather pointless. There should always be an endgame to the hustle, or else there will only be an end to the game.
Most of the time the only thing standing in between our areas of improvement and making the necessary change is us.
Once we realize that life doesn’t wait on us to move, we’re more prone to being grateful for the opportunities we have, utilizing them to the best of our ability.
“Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality. ”— Jonas Salk
Not long ago, I would run from the idea of being me. Copying other people became a coping mechanism used to take my mind off of my “weird” and someone else’s “attractive.”
But that didn’t work. It definitely didn’t satisfy me in the end. I felt mostly empty and longed for something more.
After a conversation with a friend of mine, he said something that stuck with me: “You never recognize the lives you are meant to impact until you accept the idea of simply being who you are.”
I’d never heard it put that way before. People are bent on striving to be like someone who could care less about them rather than living their own lives.
Of course, that includes the notion that growth doesn’t stop. It points out the satisfaction that comes from choosing courage. Courage to be ourselves. To accept what we are good at and ignore the temptation to remain comfortable.
Make no mistake, there’s no such thing as comfortable progress.
You will be stretched.
You will be pulled in ways you never thought possible. But you will grow because of it. You will reap the benefits of moving beyond what feels good in order to reach what matters to you and those around you.
Don’t spend your time trying to do what someone else is good at just to get attention — you’ll fall flat on your face (and not for the right reason).
Hone in on what pulls you to create, what stirs your fire. That’s where you begin. Stop looking around. Start looking in.
You will never harness the value of improvement if you allow where you currently are to dictate where you will go.
After all, you’re the one who has to live this life. No one else can live it for you. If that doesn’t spark a desire to courageously begin or continue your journey, I don’t know what will.
Kevin Horton is a 24-year-old photographer, student, modest bookworm, and wanna-be web developer with a new-found love for writing. He writes helpful words about creativity, productivity, and the enjoyably simple life.
Image courtesy of Jeffery Erhunse.