If you are into personal development for a while now, it is most likely that you’ve already noticed the somewhat egocentric context in which it is being adopted. Namely, we are conditioning ourselves to be entirely self-dependent, learning how to live by our rules and standards as we go along the way. Some people are even following their “made up” rules to the point of being religious about it.
Granted, if you approach anything with the intent and philosophy of being an island it is less than likely to work; but certain degree of reserve towards compromise can prove quite useful over time.
In this context I want to address an elephant in the room. Namely, we are very prone to accepting deviations from the straight line we ourselves have prescribed. Sometimes for the sake of being accepted, sometimes for the sake of pragmatism, sometimes to appeal to others who find our straight line to be both unconventional and somewhat boring.
At first such compromises in regards to our lifestyle can hardly send up any red flags, but over time the effect accumulates and it becomes quite dispersive, multiplying in a rather mathematical progression.
The danger of one compromise
For all intents and purposes let us first be clear about the semantics of what a compromise is; at least in the context discussed here.
If you have rules by which you conduct your life, a single deviation from them, albeit less than savory will only be a precedent. If something shows up more than once however, it can easily be labeled as accepting or fully embracing a compromise to the way you do things.
The danger of one compromise is, for the most part, that it is easily dispersive as a state of mind. Once you let your guard down, standards and principles sink lower and lower. Soon enough people address the rules they were previously conditioned to abide by in the past tense.
Compromises are sometimes necessary, but there is a core set of principles that you should never abandon. Think how religious vegetarians are, when they say no to meat. The same goes for carnivores, when they refuse to eat plants and hold firmly to a carnivore diet that is all meat and zero carbs.
For many years now, I’ve advised people who are trying to lose weight that the best possible approach is either to accept that the journey will last one or two years and show up day in and day out, or to adopt a more difficult challenge. Difficult, in this sense, would mean trying to lose the most weight , in as little time as humanely possible. Something within the lines of how to lose 10 pounds in a week. Trying to lose so much weight in seven days, people suddenly run away from compromises and see the world black and white.
Harder compromises are easier to make
Have you ever tried deciding over the color of paint you were planning to use as to change the look of your room? If you have, chances are that you stood by your decision almost religiously. The idea of making a compromise could not have sounded sillier at that moment.
As opposed to this scenario, when more important questions relating to ourselves emerge we are less then eager to take a firm stance; Apologetic, even.
It strikes me as both unbelievably inefficient and equally strange, to be willing to make compromise with things that actually matter on the long run. We are willing to endure the job that we hate, quite hesitant to drop out from college; the more important the decision, the more likely we are to accept a compromise for all I know.
We are feeling strong about the color of paint and are ready to accept an “all-or-nothing” outcome, but when it comes to things we should feel strong about, be that personal standards, rules, lines we are not to cross above, the foundation of our character even, we decide to cave in.
Figure out which compromises are OK to make
And be reluctant still. Sometimes compromises are particularly apt to make, but as long as they do not pull series of related changes down the road.
If you change your learning habits, your diet, your work ethic, your fitness related habits, your sleeping schedule and productivity output, or many other personal development cornerstones for that matter, you risk hitting the tip of the iceberg and creating an avalanche which will ultimately reshape you as who you achieved to be.
Detaining yourself from making compromises is an escapism ordeal and not the advised solution. But knowing when to cross the line and when to reinforce it can prove very useful if you want to keep the values you were so hard trying to build.
Image credit: By Tony Hall