Years before I started blogging about personal development, I would often feel frustrated with my character. I struggled for many years trying to get myself to do what I felt I should be doing.

One thing I did back then (which I recently found in some old files), was to create a list of what I perceived to be my personal weaknesses.

This is what I came up with at the time:

  • lack of self-discipline
  • procrastination
  • avoiding difficult or tedious work
  • poor scheduling habits
  • excessive socializing
  • poor time management
  • poor task prioritization (working on the most important task to completion)
  • lack of single-handling (sticking with a task until it is 100% complete)
  • lack of integrity
  • lack of courage (avoiding actions that cause fear or unease)
  • lack of initiative (not taking advantage of new opportunities immediately)
  • lack of clarity
    • fuzzy or uncertain goals
    • lack of a plan for achieving goals
    • lack of a clear deadline for goals
    • lack of specialization (need to master a particular field)
    • lack of directed attention to a single most important goal
    • lack of exactitude in defining my desired outcome
    • unclear thinking (trying to find a short cut to success)
  • poor emotional context to work
    • feeling uninspired
    • lack of clear rewards for completing each task
    • lack of purpose
    • lack of passion for work
    • lack of certainty
    • lack of creative freedom in the work itself (feeling trapped)
    • not feeling that I am the best at anything important
    • lack of desire
    • not enjoying the process
  • poor conditioning
    • no improvement / continuous growth plan
    • no reinforcement of short-term and long-term goals
    • no directed meditation habits
    • poor mind-body connection
    • lack of habitude (conditioning positive new habits until they become automatic)
  • lack of orderly routine
    • poor fundamental work habits
    • unclear rules
    • irregular meals
    • no clear rewards (when to see movies, socialize, take time off, take vacations, etc)
    • not knowing when to pay attention to work, finances, household duties, etc.
    • starting work too late in the day
    • lack of clear routine for physical exercise
  • poor mental endurance
  • lack of focus and concentration
    • being easily distracted
    • mental tiredness
    • no immersion in the task
  • poor financial situation
  • lack of direct income-generating activities
  • lack of money
  • small circle of influence
    • lack of competitive spirit (no competitive goals)
    • lack of peer support
    • lack of mastermind group
    • lack of new friends
  • poor distinction
    • not properly expressing my own creativity and uniqueness through my work
    • not leveraging my greatest strengths

This wasn’t a pleasant task as I recall. I had a lot of grievances about myself, and facing them collectively was daunting. There were so many interwoven problems to unravel.

In reviewing this list today, it actually makes me smile a bit while also feeling some compassion for my past self. My life is way more focused, disciplined, happy, abundant, and fulfilling today than it was back then.

This makes me wonder about the key leverage points that created major shifts along the way. And while there may have been a few, the long path forward wasn’t really about major shifts doing the heavy lifting. Results came gradually from a long-term commitment to personal growth. So the most important factors would include persistence, tenacity, resilience, and determination.

This required a long time perspective. The benefit of making a big list of character flaws was that it compelled me to face and surrender to the obvious truth: I wasn’t going to fix them all in a year no matter how hard I worked. This was going to take a lot of work and a long time to unravel over many years and probably decades. And that turned out to be accurate.

When I made that list, I was already dedicated to personal growth. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to work on my character. I also felt that if I just kept investing year after year, I’d continue to see some gains, just as I had in years past.

About a decade before I made that list, my problems were even worse. So having to deal with the many issues on that list was actually an improvement from where I started.

If there was a single key leverage point, it was the commitment to keep investing in personal growth for life – to keep learning, exploring, experimenting, seeking improvement, and to never give up no matter what.

When there was a significant advancement in a relatively short period of time though, the cause was usually social. I typically made the biggest gains when I invested in a more growth-oriented social circle. That also helped me get out of my head by seeing that my problems weren’t unique. Lots of people struggle with similar issues, and struggling together was easier – and often more fun and rewarding – than struggling alone.