Most people seem to want improve themselves, personally or professionally.
Reading, watching, and listening to people tell you how you can develop yourself professionally or personally doesn’t change anything beyond give you a bit of information. People don’t succeed because they have more information. They succeed because they act.
Even if you know you should do something, how do you know what?
Marketers are trying to tell you what to do. They promote diets, exercise, how to start businesses, learning business skills, learning to be rich, learning languages, learning programming languages, religions, networking, and so on. It’s bewildering. Each category has innumerable sub-categories. I bet you can name dozens of diet and exercise products, maybe hundreds.
With so many options, why don’t more people find what they’re looking for to improve themselves, their businesses, their families, whatever?
What looks like the problem, but isn’t
The problem isn’t that these options don’t work. Sure, some people are trying to scam you, but many of these things do work.
The problem isn’t even that everyone promoting something tries to find insecurities in you to prey on and use it to sell you their book, dvd set, seminar, equipment, etc. They spend years and fortunes figuring out how to reel you in. Even being reeled in wouldn’t be a problem, at least for the things that worked. If you have an insecurity, each one is trying to improve your life, so feels justified pitching you, creating a bewildering and distracting set of options.
The problem isn’t even the bewilderment of all that choice, despite how when you start with one thing, before it works, hundreds of other people with hundreds of other options pull you toward their things.
The problem is the insecurity, or desire for something you can’t exactly identify or know how to get. Even if everyone offering you a solution want to help you and can, as long as your insecurity opens you to their marketing, they’ll distract from your goals. They benefit from your insecurity so they don’t want to solve it. They want you insecure.
What if you overcame the insecurity? Then you could pick and choose among options based on what you wanted, not on how much they advertise or how hard they sell.
Ironically, the effective ones have the answer, just shrouded behind their marketing. They market how much better they are than their competition—in other words, their differences—but the answer is what they have in common.
How to find the solution
If you look at what the successful strategies have in common across all the different options, you’ll find what works for them all. What doesn’t work you don’t need. What works turns out to be simple. I find the common elements to all these things are that they are
- Self-Imposed: that is, you have to choose to do it. Going to work so you don’t lose your apartment doesn’t count.
- Daily: if you don’t do it regularly, you’ll drop them. You don’t have to do it daily, but daily makes it harder to forget.
- Challenging: easy things don’t help you. Watching TV, listening to music, and reading don’t qualify.
- Healthy: it has to improve your health or well-being. Smoking doesn’t count.
- Activity: you have to physically do something. Thinking about things doesn’t count. Writing does. Meditation does.
I simplify this list of commonalities SIDCHA, and here’s a picture of it. Do what’s in the intersection of all those areas and you’ll get the common benefits to all of them.
You can look for commonalities yourself. You may find a different set, but I find this set consistent with my experience with many personal and professional development options and it works. If you find another works for you, you don’t have to use mine.
The Solution: The Self-Imposed Daily Challenging Healthy Activity, or SIDCHA
If you practice a SIDCHA—that is, if you impose on yourself a daily, challenging, healthy activity—of any sort, you’ll get the benefits common to all the things people are marketing at you.
Most importantly, you’ll overcome the insecurity that they use to grab you. Without that insecurity, they can’t magnify it, prey on you, and distract you from enjoying your life doing what you want.
SIDCHAs give you independence, confidence, security, and resilience. They create a platform for everything else you want to do to improve your life, free from distraction, full of direction and focus.
You might say, “But I want to lose weight / make more money / build muscles / make more friends / etc and a SIDCHA doesn’t do that exactly.” You can choose a SIDCHA from any area you want to achieve a specific goal. The point is that as long as you have any SIDCHA, the rest won’t distract you. You can choose more than one SIDCHA if you want to develop in more than one area. I bet that no matter how many areas you feel distracted to try, after a few months of a SIDCHA or two in any area, I bet you’ll find that feeling of distraction replaced by confidence and security.
SIDCHAs don’t have to cost you anything, though you can choose to pay for ones you consider worth paying for if you want. They don’t have to take much time. You don’t need books, DVDs, membership fees, special clothing, places to go, equipment, partners, or anything like that, though you’re free to do SIDCHAs that need them. Personally, I don’t like needy things, so I keep my SIDCHAs simple.
I recommend starting with a simple, quick, free SIDCHA to start you off. If you know me, you know my main one is burpees, which need almost nothing and give huge benefits. Even if you want to do more than one, I predict you’ll find that wanting look more like compulsion from their marketing, which you’ll find yourself liberated from. If you still want to do more after you’ve done one a while, like a few months, you can add or switch to new ones.
A Sidcha presentation
Wait, Josh, where’s your pitch?
I’m not trying to sell you anything. I just stumbled on what worked for me after years of trying different things. One of my SIDCHAs is to post on my blog every day and SIDCHAs emerged as something I write about.
If SIDCHAs work for you, please spread the word. I’d love for people to link here and for “SIDCHA” to become a household word. My SIDCHAs have improved my life more than I can say.
You can read all about SIDCHAs, how to implement them, examples, and so on by clicking the table of contents to the left.
I’d love to hear your SIDCHA experiences. Email me.
The rest of the posts in the series:
- The best advice on making habits last
- My Harvard and MIT SIDCHA talk
- Video: the first and last word on improving yourself
- The number one best tool to improve your life: the Self-Imposed Daily Challenging Healthy Activity (SIDCHA)
- The subtle value of sidchas
- SIDCHA properties — The best tool to improve your life: the Self-Imposed Daily Challenging Healthy Activity
- An inspirational SIDCHA video
- More inspirational SIDCHA videos
- A list of Self-Imposed Daily Challenging Healthy Activities (SIDCHAs) you could do
- What if I told you the least you could do was also the most effective?
- What are your tricks?
- How to overcome creative avoidance, destroyer of motivation
- SIDCHAs are a floor you won’t drop below and they don’t depend on others
- Simplifying personal development
- Discipline doesn’t enable you to do things. Doing things consistently makes you disciplined.
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On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees