Personal development is a lifelong journey. It’s full of highs and lows, success and failures, momentum and burnouts. It brings self-realizations as much as it causes us to question everything we know about the world around us, the people we thought we knew, and most importantly, our sense of self. Although it often leaves us with more questions than answers, each hurdle we overcome brings us closer to self-actualization.
Each person’s journey is different, as everyone’s relationship with their sense of self is different. Some are advanced, where they know what they want and are doing everything in their power to get there (good for them! – no sarcasm). Some are in a dream-like state, going through life on autopilot (let’s be honest, we’ve all been there). The rest of us are frantically awake – running around trying to figure out what we’re doing, who we are, and what we want out of life.
Whether you’re moderately unsatisfied with your life (but not uncomfortable enough to do something about it) or having your wildest dreams come true, let’s take a deep breath (go on, do it!) and recognize where you are in this very moment.
You are a beautiful and unique person. Not just in looks, but who you are as a whole brings so much good into this world.
For some, this may hard to accept. For those who feel slightly uncomfortable because they’re hearing this for the first time, know you are important and you do matter. It may not feel like true because where you are might not be where you want to be. That’s ok! You can and will get there.
To be who you want to be, to do the things you want to do, and be the change you want to be will take work. It will take a lot of hard work. Make no mistake about that.
You will have to make hard sacrifices, tough decisions, and leap out of your comfort zone as if you’re jumping out of a plane (something you may secretly want to do). You will try new things, meet new people, and even get your heart broken. The disappointed, whether it’s an intimate love, friendship, mentorship, or otherwise, will pass.
The rise and fall
You will reach great success, more than you ever thought possible and then risk losing it all. At that point, you will feel pressure to be positive and keep on fighting when all you want to do is hide under the covers. During this time, you may hate yourself. You may feel like others will hate you or you may even believe you deserve to suffer because of your failures.
You may have negative and nasty thoughts. In those times, I hope you remember to breathe. In those dark times, take a breath. And another, and another, and another one (using my best DJ Khaled voice). I wish during those times you remember you are being too hard on yourself and no matter how bad it is, you can make it through.
Maybe not today, not tomorrow or the day after, but know you can make it through and it does get better for you. So in the meantime, take the time you need to heal. Heal yourself, heal your wounds, and heal your heart.
It’s extremely frustrating, I know! I was there too. I remember when I needed to heal the most. I was also SUPER impatient. So much so, I constantly yelled at myself, screaming, “why don’t you feel better already?!?!”
It was so difficult for me to heal and forgive, not just those I felt wronged me, but the most important person of all, myself. I didn’t think I deserved to be happy again or even feel peace again.
I felt as though this was my punishment for being who I am. I felt like I was being punished for failing and I hated myself for it.
It took some time (a lot longer than I expected to be honest) but I learned after all that, it is possible to get to a better place.
Habits and discipline
Overcoming the crippling feeling may feel impossible. The crawl back from rock bottom feels never-ending. Even then, you push yourself to make it, one inch at a time. This is a good time to remind yourself you have so much more to do, achieve, and give. Remember those plans you had – all the things you wanted to do when you slip and fall back. Think about all the things you want to create and build as you make your way. Then think about all the people you want to help and serve. Think about the people who are waiting for you on the other side as you strive towards who you need to be, to be there for them.
Personal development requires you to go deep within yourself. Deeper than you ever thought possible. In order to break those bad habits, you need to discipline yourself to be better. To reach those milestones, whether it’s getting your dream job, building your savings, starting your business, overcoming your past, finding your ideal partner (either in friendship, love, and/or business), you need to have systems in place for when you fall back. By having these processes in place, you can develop the discipline to find yourself back on track to your destination.
Each of the skills you need to development, goals you want to achieve, and milestone you want to surpass needs you to put in the work. And it’s going to require continuous work to solve your problems, create solutions, and build towards a better you. Foundational habits, like finishing your tasks, solving those problems, resting and rebuilding, managing self-control, and so on, are so important to keep yourself focused and structured.
As you continue your journey, also remember to not be so hard on yourself when you fail. Know you’re still learning, growing and will continue to work to be better. Then when setbacks, catastrophe, or failure comes (because they will), you can handle it with grace and poise.
Adapt what life throws at you and keep on improving yourself. It is through those habits and the discipline you set for yourself that will keep you focused on your end game.
Others strive too
Whenever you’re frustrated at yourself, remember others are constantly working to improve themselves too. You are not alone. Your biggest idols all the way to established century-old businesses are constantly growing and changing. American pop star Selena Gomez shocked the world when she revealed she had undergone a kidney transplant in her battle with Lupus. Cosmetics line Hourglass made a pledge to become a completely vegan and cruelty-free brand by 2020. Burberry CEO, confronted with burning $37 million dollars of unsold merchandise, made a commitment to stop burning their products and remove real fur from production. So whether they’re a multi-million pop icon, cosmetic company or 162-year-old fashion house, like you, they are also working to improve themselves, fighting their own battles, and striving to be better versions of themselves.
Whether you’re looking to get out of your current situation or trying to solve a major world problem affecting millions, know that you are not alone.
You are not alone in your pursuit of a better life. Nor are you alone in wanting to become the best version of yourself you can be.
Personal development, again, is a journey. I have faith you will venture this journey well as you constantly learn, grow and discover yourself. We, at Strive, hope to share in a small part of your journey to support and connect you with others just like you, equally working to better themselves and the world around them. I hope you’ll be a part of our community of Strivers.
Just remember to keep on striving for more.
Inspired by Strivers around the world. This is an open letter to everyone working towards their goals and making the world a better place.
Melissa Thi Le is the Founder of Strive With Me, a business owner, and community leader. She loves learning about personal development, business, and social impact as she builds a life dedicated to combating social issues affecting millions of people. She created Strive With Me to build a community to support each other on their journey towards achieving their goals. You can reach Melissa by sending her an email at Contributor@strivewithme.com or joining our Facebook Group. You can read more about what Melissa is striving for here and more of her articles here.