Diversity, variety, sense of adventure, surprise… When you think about it, these are all just mere agents of escaping boredom created by endless repetition.
How our work lives look like, our interactions with friends and family, our social life in general, our diet, workouts, ways of having or not having fun, the feeling of being in our skin for a day… All of these tilt, sooner or later, towards familiarity and repetition, the end result of which is boredom, sense of being trapped; ricocheting over and over the same scenario, the same script until you fail to recognize purpose.
And I’m now stopping here just to be polite. You see, no matter how meticulously crafted our routine, it is still a routine. It is still something we fell into the habit of doing. A training, obedience and conformity sort to speak.
Now while all of this may, on the surface, sound a little bit too exaggerating, the long run suggests that it is a debate worth having – the sooner the better.
What I came to notice is that giving yourself intentional breaks from personal development once in a while does in fact cut the boredom well under the waist. And not only that, but it creates yearning for your habit, for your routine to take place again – a sort of an addiction, even.
Why we need a break from personal development?
This question can be debated from various stances. The first and most obvious being need for variety and diversity.
What many people way smarter than me, in almost every area of study have concluded is that excess is artificial-like, hence not nearly close to providing the soil for progress – You try and learn all day long, information will be hard to acquire and even accessed later on; you train your body beyond your limits, muscle repair and therefore growth is almost impossible…
Personal development often relies on this same notion – moderation, diversity, variety and gradual approach inevitably create progress.
But with personal development becoming more and more commercialized, and more people buying the I-can-be-and-achieve-everything-in-under-a-year scenario, these cornerstones of growth are partially compromised.
We have all seen the “language learning under 3 months”, “incredible body in less than two months”, and “super energy and productivity in under a week” programs. And now I’m not bashing them away while drawing conclusions all too soon, but nine out of ten times these “artificial and forced lifestyles” differ greatly from what personal development stands for.
They usually try to pack two days’ worth of work in a single one, for what I can tell. And all of it while passing flowery prose on how we can as well be happy and enjoy everything at once. Tough lines to buy, right?
Personal development, more often than not, includes change – we can all settle for this one. And while we can label change any way we want, the most objective realization is that it pertains some pain; some out-of-your-comfort-zone moment.
Now hear me out; being creatures of comfort as I always like to say, we are prone to staying in our comfort zone. And when something takes us away for a while, we tend to gravitate back again.
We want our cake after a weeks’ long regime of lean diet; our one hour TV shows after a weeks’ worth of reading… We want our twenty minute or whatever nap in the afternoon after a hectic day and getting up in 5 o’clock; we want our weekend out of work or the one afternoon in the week just for ourselves… And moreover we want these “peccadillos” of ours now and then all over the place.
Why? Because they help us gravitate while undergoing some type of change, some type of progress, some type of personal development.
How can a break from personal development improve your life?
A break from personal development doesn’t mean abandoning the ideal for unknown periods of time. It simply indicates not being consciously and intentionally engaged into some sort of improvement.
You see, as for personal development to become a part of our life, of who we are, and to perfectly blend with our lifestyle, we should make it as unintentional as we can. Sure, this requires a lot of time, but realizing that we shouldn’t be constantly paying attention to the watch, or to book pages being turned, or number of repetitions being counted, we start to get the “picture”.
That way we make constant improvement part of who we are, not who we force ourselves to be.
I remember hanging my doorway pull up bar each and every day, going over a short but rather intense routine. After a while it became boring, and couldn’t help myself not to skip some of the days.
So here is what I did – instead of forcing myself even more, I decided to leave the pull up bar on the frame, and go cold turkey on my routine. I did a bit of research for the best home pull up bars and wrote a massive pull up bars guide. Then I’ve decided, for a while, not to try the new exercises that I have discovered.
Few weeks have passed, and I was eager to return to a better routine. This time, I structured it differently, and it became part of my lifestyle.
A break from personal development creates cravings for it
As any personal development junkie will tell you, it really gets addictive. You start making time management while also implementing the habit of reading more, next thing you know is you sitting on a plane reading some non-fiction on modern psychology with Philosophy of fitness waiting to be next.
I personally caught myself getting frustrated over forgetting to take the Kindle with me while waiting for public transport.
The thing is, you see, that we bite into this opportunity to be more, to know more, to achieve more, so good that we are amazed by the very existence of it. It appeals more for ones that it does for others, but on the surface it captivates right away.
What a break from all of this does, is minimizing the possibility of the whole thing becoming repulsive (which under a misleading tutorage – the wrong personal development books and programs, as well as takes on what personal development is – proves to be fairly unavoidable), as well as creating that sense of euphoria and eagerness to jump right back into it.
This led to me being a personal development addict
I’m a fan of rigid workout schedule and testing my body constantly. It does create some amazing benefits, and quite frankly does the trick for me among other things.
On top of that I’m fitness instructor as well (been almost three months now). Last week I went on a prolonged weekend and went from literally athlete-like training to laying around all day and stuffing myself with all kinds of unhealthy food and drinks too (having a small tolerance for alcohol I often tend to forget them after two or so shots).
We were in the mountains on a rainy muddy weather, so going out was not that much of an option. The group was also not pleased with the idea.
The interesting thing happened around day 3 when I felt this strange urge to do some cardio and resistance training, and eat a broccoli instead of a shitload of sweets.
What this resulted in, and ultimately made me realize, is that the minute I was home I began making a schedule for healthy eating and working out that was to cover the next week, and felt quite good about it- the break made personal development even more appealing to me than it already was. And this is a lot to say from a guy like me.
Same thing came with abandoning productivity over the course of the same vacation. I realized that I haven’t written a single article, and my hands haven’t touched a single online project.
Now being with you guys here at Lifestyle Updated and working as a freelance online marketer (as of recently), I usually write all around the place and rest my hands on couple of project simultaneously. This time – none, nada, zero…
Then I felt the same itch I felt with exercising. Something had to be done. I was eager to start putting words down and eager to start working for one or two new clients on their sites while extrapolating creative solutions.
Was it the need for creative expression or the written word, I frankly don’t know, but what I know and can tell you for sure is that the lack of productive output was merely unbearable.
Now, after the break, it seems like I’m in for a lot more conscious and intentional improvement, while at the same time valuing diversity, variety and taking breaks more deeply.
How to take breaks from personal development?
You do not have to call them breaks if you don’t like to. In fact, you can still do some improvement i.e. some rudimentary form of what you already did or something way less demanding of a change and effort.
Like for example – Sundays are my rest days when it comes to exercising. But, no one says that I cannot do some yoga; some cycling in the park; some running with my dog…
The thing is, let these urges come naturally, not forcing them even a tiny bit. You give yourself the rest, the time off, and do things haphazardly. And with six days out of seven being personal development driven and centered, that one day of “rest” is going to dramatically change form as time passes by.
Then, as you start to see rest days the same as every other day, and regard every other day as a rest day – personal development will become a part of who you are.