Do you tell yourself every year that you are going to work on being more content? Do you then chase personal development until you are so exhausted you could in no way be confused for someone who is content? It’s impossible to understand. You were more productive than ever, you chased your goals, and you set out to be a better person. Where are you going wrong?
A big part of contentment is living simply, but life is complicated so, it’s difficult to strike a balance. The part of you pursuing contentment looks at how productive the other part of you is and sighs in exhausted exasperation. So, how do personal deveopment and contentment go hand-in-hand? Contentment is about appreciating what you are, and accepting what you have, but it’s also about recognizing that you still have room to grow. Whereas personal development is all about pushing yourself to do and be more. They do share something in common, but how can you balance pushing yourself with acceptance?
It might feel as though you have to choose between the two. You have to choose whether to focus on self-improvement, or you have to choose to be content. That isn’t the case. Just because it’s hard to balance the two, does not mean it is impossible to balance the two.
The key area to focus on is what they share in common – a desire to grow. I would encourage you to look at your detailed schedules and take notice of what you fill your time with. A laundry list of responsibilities, errands, and running after other people.
How often do you schedule time just for you? How often do you make time to catch up with your friends? That’s the aspect of contentment that escapes you. You can plan your life down to the minute, but if you don’t factor in play, you will never find contentment. Productivity means nothing without downtime.
What’s important to remember is that as you strive to do better, you don’t expect those changes to suddenly make you happier. You aren’t chasing happiness, happiness is a choice you need to make every day. Start with deciding what you want to improve.
Chasing self-improvement for the sake of it is a great way to step on your contentment. However, if you identify key areas for improvement, you can strike a healthy balance between the two. There is no point in driving yourself forward if you don’t have a clear direction.
It should be you who sets your standards. It is you who should set the definition of success. It’s you who defines your priorities. You are the one guiding your life, and if you’re not, then you won’t improve in the ways you need to, and you won’t find contentment either.
Once you have a clear idea of where you need to improve, I would encourage you to ask yourself why you want to. If your desire for improvement is driven by the fact that you are dissatisfied, then your motivations are wrong.
If, however, you want to improve because doing so will help you reach a goal, that’s a good motivation. Striving to invent a cure for cancer to win the Nobel Prize is not a great motivation but striving to cure cancer for the good of humankind is. And you should be able to see why one would be more beneficial to your contentment levels than the other.
Self-improvement and contentment can co-exist; they can feed each other. But your motivation for both is what will determine how you succeed in your journey. What is driving your desire?
Grab my Contentment Assessment to discover more.
All the best,