Since I can remember, I liked to get inspired by outside sources.
When I was younger, I used to read a lot. Seriously, it was so bad that, when going to bed, my parents took my book towards a shelf on the other side of the room (which I then got back to read more under the cover).
Then I let the reading slip during high school, where I switched to learning in school and watching more TV. Luckily, my parents were aware and, thus, I instead watched Galileo (a show that explained stuff), rather than dumbing down on anime (no offense).
Later, Netflix changed the game, and I got hooked on many series (that probably dumbed me down) and watched plenty of documentaries (which increased my knowledge). Also, occasionally a TED talk crossed my way when binging on YouTube.
At some point, about 2-3 years ago, when I was traveling and gained back more power over how I spend my time, I got back to reading. Lately, it has been a lot of non-fiction and especially personal development.
Why was I consuming all this, what was I looking for?
First of all, I realized I have the need to make more sense of the world around me and to understand how things work. I am a “how” type. Understanding the how of things, helps me designing how other things can or should work.
Secondly, I am eager for knowledge. I want to know everything, so I can share that knowledge with others. It’s just this innate thirst for being knowledgeable.
Thirdly, and that’s something I realized a few weeks ago, I was looking for answers to life’s hardest questions. How can I build a successful career? How do I live a meaningful life?
Especially in the personal development/ self-help sphere, many writers are promising quick fixes for “success” or living a good life. For example, getting up at 5 a.m. every day, and having a badass morning routine will make you achieve anything. Or the “Habit Porn,” where writers would discuss what the best habits were to reach goal X.
For a long time, I bought into these stories until I didn’t.
Don’t get me wrong. It is great to get inspired and to look for answers out there. And having a morning routine that serves you, is a keystone in starting a successful day. However, what works for others might not work for you. And if you keep getting inspired every day, when do you put the inspiration into action?
It is like circling a mountain, reading about how to climb it, but then never taking the first step towards the peak.
I realized if I keep looking for answers on the outside, I was never going to go anywhere.
Then, how do you find the answers?
Simply put, through experimentation and figuring stuff out on your own.
You can read up on habits and then try to install one, like doing 50 push-ups in the morning. Then you can decide after a while if that is something that serves you well, or not.
You can start working on an idea with the goal of building it into a business. On the way, you will figure a lot. For example, that entrepreneurship is hard, you deal with a lot of uncertainty, and you will have to learn how to manage your time effectively.
You can read about how social media is affecting us negatively and test if you can go without Facebook for a month. Then you can decide if that gives you more time in your day, or if you feel left out of your friend’s circle.
The bottom line is: no one can tell you the answers to how to live or what to do. You have to figure it out on your own.
For me, this realization brought me to a different one: the only thing that really counts on a personal and interpersonal level is INTEGRITY.
Integrity is the ability to make and keep a promise towards oneself and others.
Whether you want to reach your goals, figure out what’s meaningful for you, or simply taking time for yourself. Integrity is a critical factor that influences everything.
If you want to get fit but lack the integrity to fulfill your fitness appointments, well, you are not going to get fit.
If you want to learn something but don’t take the time, well, you get it…
The second concept that helps you figure out answers is CONSISTENCY. If you try something for a few days, chances are that you have not worked enough to gather the data to make a decision.
For example, going to the gym two times for a week will show you that you are unfit and that you a prone to get muscle soreness. Going to the gym 30 times within three months will show you that you can adapt your fitness levels and that you enjoy seeing progress on the 6-pack.
The same goes for entrepreneurship: having an idea and talking about it with friends (that used to be me) will have you figure out that you like to talk about ideas. But putting the plan into action, discovering a market for it, and then designing a value proposition that fits that market need, will teach you if you like the process as a whole.
So, if you want to figure out more about life and how things work, keep reading, and getting inspired. Just know that the right answer can only be found by testing concepts with INTEGRITY and CONSISTENCY.