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Are you avoiding action in your personal growth program? February 24, 2014

Posted by Dennis Mellersh in Concept of personal development, Goal Setting and Realization.
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One of the technical dangers in pursuing a program of personal growth or development is that of missing our potential for growth through action by having a bias or imbalance towards studying improvement techniques rather than implementing them.

Personal growth and development materials are one of the genres of self-help or self-education that seem overly conducive to this pattern, compared with other self-instruction areas such as learning how to develop a particular skill, such as playing the guitar.

If we are reading about learning how to develop a practical skill, for example, it will not be long before we are trying to perform that skill. In fact we will likely become so impatient to practice the skill we are studying that we might take action prematurely.

In the case of personal growth self-help materials, however, the opposite can be true.   Personal growth and personal development literature, articles, podcasts, videos, blogs and websites can turn into “comfort food” for our minds and emotions. They can become escape-content rather than a springboard to the actions we need to take – the actions essential to our growth programs.

We may read endlessly about how to break our bad habits, or how to stop procrastinating, or how to set lifetime goals, rather than taking action to start implementing the ideas we are studying.

The reading and the studying should be the preparation for the work of personal growth; they should not be the end in itself.   The renowned historian Arnold Toynbee, in his book, Experiences, gave this advice: “Act promptly as soon as you feel that your mind is ripe for taking action. To wait too long may be even more untoward in its effects than to plunge in too precipitously.”

Toynbee related how he did not accomplish what he wanted to in his historical writing until he changed his habit of reading and studying as a student or examinee, and began a habit of taking notes while reading, as a writer, with a view to recording materials that he believed would be useful  for his history writing.

 

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