If the article titles on magazine covers are to be believed, we’re all just a hair’s breadth away from whatever our hearts desire. “Three easy steps to ______,” they shout. “Achieve _____ in only 20 minutes a day!” And we eat it up. We can’t get enough of those quick fixes that promise maximum results for a minimal time investment. And what’s not to love about that?
Well, potentially plenty. While it’s theoretically possible that we’ll come across just the idea that will let us make ultragigantihumongous change in our lives in short order, for the most part the quick and easy route doesn’t stick. Real, substantive change in your life tends to come in slow, measured doses.
It’s like creating a new habit. Have you ever resolved to create a new positive habit? Something like, “OK, now I’m going to exercise regularly,” or, “I’m going to read every night now instead of watching TV.” If you have, you have probably also experienced a well-intended habit spiraling downward into oblivion.
Waking up tomorrow and deciding that you’re going to have a new habit doesn’t mean you actually have a new habit. That only comes with time and repetition. And that’s the way it is for much of the really worthwhile change in life. It takes an investment of time and effort.
Do I think you should go cold turkey on self-help articles? Nah. You can actually find some good tips and techniques to apply to your life, some of which really will contribute to the positive change you’re looking for. But be realistic. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ll find the magic wand that will solve all your problems. Incorporate the ideas into a longer term sustained effort. Experiment, take what works, discard the rest, and keep moving forward.
After years as a professional malcontent, Curt Rosengren discovered the power of passion. As a speaker, author, and coach, Rosengren helps people create careers that energize and inspire them. His book 101 Ways to Get Wild About Work and his E-book The Occupational Adventure Guide offer people tools for turning dreams into reality. Rosengren's blog, The M.A.P. Maker , explores how to craft a life of meaning, abundance, and passion.