Nothing Has Ever Stopped Me From My Personal Development, 9 – 5 Also Couldn’t

One of the common questions I get is how do I manage to do all that I do (and I do a lot) with my 9 – 5 job. I know a lot of people want to do the same but they’ve not been able to for a reason known to them and which I will reveal here.

To those who struggle to do things to develop themselves alongside their traditional employment, it’s like the proverbial words from the Bible, “the spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak”. I will share with you in this article, how I strengthen my flesh.

Someone asked me the question again recently and I took time to answer it. The following was my answer.

The Enquiry

I want you to shed more light on work and burn-out. I admire how you can balance work and your personal development. One doesn’t affect the other.

I am finding it difficult to do so, especially on weekdays and weekends doesn’t seem enough to achieve everything I want to do.

Please is there a way to manage work and personal life without one impeding the other so much?

My response

First, one thing that you should note is that “I take my time.”

What do I mean?

Our work requires urgency, that’s what we are being paid for and we must deliver to time.

However, personal development does not require that kind of urgency. So I take my time a lot in any area in which I want to develop myself. I have a sense of urgency only when it’s absolutely needed.

The number one thing a lot fail at is that. We don’t take our time. We usually think we must get the personal development done now and here. Putting a sense of urgency on what is not necessary.

And what an unnecessary sense of urgency causes is that it weighs us down easily. We soon get tired and think of ourselves as unserious or unsuccessful. Then we settle for that definition and instead of developing ourselves, we start to look for a cure or a hack or some other motivation to get us up again.

It’s a reinforcing cycle if one does not realize this. If the spur to develop oneself comes again, we will get urgent about it again and fail again.

Until we start to take our time and realize that “we have all the time”, hence, we can do it slowly one day at a time, we tend not to do personal development sustainably. 

So that’s the number one secret or hack or revelation. 😊 I just take my time. As long as I have another job that requires urgency.

It will be different if I didn’t have a job that requires urgency. Then I would take my personal development as a matter of urgency.

Now the implication of taking my time is that personal development tends to become a habit

Taking my time over the years has allowed me to build a habit around all development areas that I care about.

When I pick a book to read, I am not under any pressure to finish it. But I make sure to pick it up again and again.

When I started writing, I didn’t put myself under any pressure. I only write when I want to (I have put pressure on this now because of what I’m working on).

There are times that I am interested in studying a new phenomenon, for this as well, I take my time.

The process of taking my time helps me to build a habit around these things and habit my friend is what will take us far.

You must have heard, habit is more important than motivation because motivation is perishable. You become your habit on the other hand.

So right now, I don’t know what else I would be doing if I’m not doing those development things. It is now part of me, my identity.

The other implication of taking my time is that I do the important but not urgent things

If you’ve read the book “7 habits of highly effective people”, you will understand this.

Stephen Covey in the book said the most effective people in the world are those who do things that are important but not urgent.

Your personal development is important but often not urgent (it can be urgent some times). But doing it will help you in the short and long run.

Now this will tie back to the point of taking my time. Whatever area I want to develop myself in, it is often not urgent but it’s always important.

Training myself to act in that realm is the reason why a lot of people think I’m highly effective. And maybe I am by the definition of highly effective.

Lastly, on that point, taking my time also means I play sometimes instead of working. Yes, I’m not a nerd. I have a social life and keep up with things that interest me. I see movies on Netflix a lot especially since the lockdown began.

Where do I get the time from despite my work? I avoid being a donkey

About getting the time for all this, I believe you’ve gotten some hints already (taking your time, no urgency).

But I want to mention something else.

Don’t be a donkey.

Here’s the story of the donkey:

This Donkey was both hungry and thirsty. To help it quench both, a plate of food was placed on the right and a bucket of water on the left and the Donkey in the middle.

But you know what, out of being overwhelmed and not knowing which one to go for first, the donkey died on spot.

The Donkey couldn’t tell that it has all the time. It thought it must do both at the same time. It could have gone for water first then the food or in any order. But it died.

Don’t be a donkey. Yoruba will say “if you chase two rats at the same time, you will lose both”

The point being, don’t do everything in one weekend. Do only the little that you can do. That little is enough. Yes, enough.

Think about how that little will add up in a year time, then 5 years, then 10 years. That’s the best way to approach personal development.

I like to tell people that a lot of things that I do and enjoy dividend on now, I started some 7 years ago, others 5 years some recently of course. But doing them when they were not yet urgent was why I had the opportunity to take my time and become who I am.

Learn from me.

3 thoughts on “Nothing Has Ever Stopped Me From My Personal Development, 9 – 5 Also Couldn’t

  1. Thanks for the for the hack, this has been my problem for long. I have never started any thing and finish it. I will take a cue from you and try and achieve one thing.

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