Monday, October 02, 2006


It's very easy to become discouraged when you're on the self-help path, trying to make changes in your life, to achieve certain goals or to make changes in the way you behave. When you get discouraged, it's all too easy to give up altogether. My advice at those times is simply to be patient. Growth isn't always perceptible or sometimes it can be very slow. This is particularly the case with changing aspects of your personality or how you interact with others.

It's worth remembering the 80/20 rule when you are feeling disheartened. In any endeavour, 80 per cent of your efforts produce only 20 per cent of the results. However, if you stick with it and are patient, then you will reap 80 per cent of the results from just 20 per cent of the effort. Most people who give up on a goal do so when they're actually within reach of it.

I found when I was learning to drive that I seemed to be making no progress at all at times. I was on the proverbial plateau. It seemed to be all effort but no results. I was focusing too narrowly on the skills I needed to master at that point in the learning process. What I found helpful at those times was to review how far I'd already travelled in terms of where I'd started, which was not being able to drive at all. So from that perspective I'd made enormous progress.

Be patient too if you seem to backtrack. Be kind and gentle with yourself if you make a mistake. I used to beat myself up all the time for the most trivial things. Recently I thought I'd forgotten to pay my credit card bill for the month. Discovering this in the past would have set me off on a spiral of self hatred about being disorganised, a self-directed anger out of all proportion to the original cause. I noted though, with satisfaction, that I didn't this time get annoyed with myself. I took this as a measure of progress. Then I discovered that I had paid the bill after all!