making self-improvement easier: take the easiest paths

Imagine that there is a heavily guarded castle. Inside the castle, there is the prized, highly sought treasure box. This castle has a lot of gates, some of which are false, some too difficult to open. Some are so heavy that they cannot be opened without investing a lot of energy and strategy, while others, perhaps hidden from plain sight, are simpler and easier to use to gain entrance to the castle.

The treasure box represents a self-improvement goal we may try to achieve, and the gates represent our starting point. Sometimes when we are trying to improve and develop our personalities, we may end up starting with things that currently don’t yet come too easily to us. In some cases, these things can end up becoming walls we constantly hit our heads against, where we have a very slow momentum and make slow progress.

For (a very simplified) example, if you are someone who really enjoys learning by being outdoors, visiting different places and meeting different people the majority of the time, then it may be harder to initially sit down and learn mainly through books and academic research. Instead, a more efficient way of starting to learn something new would be to start by going out and finding the relevant places or people that could help complete the objective.

In many cases, it is easier to think about what your strengths are and then try to superimpose them onto your process of achieving the desired goal.

Another example is that of a student who finds it hard to sit down and study but can easily watch and learn from hours and hours of YouTube videos. Instead of sitting down and trying to read through their class notes and textbooks, they can take the easier gate and start their work by learning from videos, and then slowly begin to use other required resources.

If someone is trying to improve their communication skills in general, maybe they find themselves more articulate in conversations compared to the written word and can start by working on developing their public speaking skills instead of essay writing skills. On the other hand, people who find writing easier can use writing to articulate their thoughts first and then present them later in conversations or speeches.

Two people may have the same end goal: to get to the treasure box, to hit their target. However, based on their backgrounds they may currently be equipped with different tools which allow them to easily open certain gates to gain entry to the goal-accomplishment journey, but not some other gates. Some gates can take longer to open up than other gates, so the comparison to other people’s journey of progress is not always helpful.

We can observe people and pick up skills from people, but we can’t always steal what comes naturally to them! So we can explore and figure out things that come more easily to us and use that as leverage to develop more skills in our own way, which can sometimes fast-track the progress.


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