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Stephanie Morgan

Bray Leino Learning

Former Director of Learning Solutions

Read more from Stephanie Morgan

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Are you your own worst enemy when it comes to Personal Development?


When it comes to learning do you find that inertia, wraps around you like a lovely duvet on a cold day, do you think to yourself, I should get on with it, but it just too cozy here, so I will just stay here a bit longer? Just to make yourself feel better do you then go on to list all of the reasons why you can't get started anyway?

I too have struggled with this attitude from time to time, but recently I think I have found the answer!

Part of it is having a bit more of an understanding about what you want to develop in the first place and asking yourself why you think you should carry out that development.

One clue here is the word "should". I have come to realise that whenever I feel that I "should" do something then there is a much greater chance that I won't. Think about it, think about how you feel about something you "should" do. Instantly you will notice your heart is not in it, you feel forced even. It definitely feels like it is in some way imposed.

Ironically the opposite is often true. For example I would love to speak Spanish, I really would, but when it comes to actually doing it my language changes and I start to think I should learn some words tonight or I should go to a class. Did you notice what happened then? I wanted to do it but when it came down to it I started to make a list of all the “shoulds” against how I would do it.

When does that switch take place? What is in the middle? When you see it set out like that it is obvious that between intention and action is where all the excuses are, but what is really holding us back? If I am really honest with myself, what tends to happen when I try to turn a wish into reality is I start to get frightened, and that fear is mainly a fear of failure and a fear of looking a fool.

What I find interesting is that I often feel like that about learning something new or carrying out some personal development but it doesn't always stop me. For example I have been learning to Salsa dance for the last couple of years. I regularly fail, and regularly feel foolish, but I don't seem to care in the same way I think I will about learning Spanish. 

The difference for me is two key things, one is that when I actually succeed at Salsa dancing it makes my heart sing, and the other is that the teacher Karl genuinely creates a "safe" learning environment and makes it enjoyable and easy to learn - if only he taught Spanish!

I have also found the same thing professionally. As a member of Cardiff Toastmasters Club I have been learning how to speak professionally for a few months now. The same fears are there; fear of failure and fear of looking foolish, but in this instance the structure of Toastmasters, and the support and challenge of the group make my fears fall away. This means the whole experience is actually quite joyful and exciting instead. 

When you next want to challenge yourself ask yourself is the actual challenge a "should" or is it just your excuses that are "shoulds". If it is the actual thing, then I really question if you want to do it, but if it is your excuses, then just find a safe learning environment, and hopefully, like me, your learning with make your heart sing!

Ready to start creating your own Professional Development Plan? Download our template here.

Author Profile Picture
Stephanie Morgan

Former Director of Learning Solutions

Read more from Stephanie Morgan

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