The Cynic’s Guide To Personal Development – An Overview

By October 29, 2016Blog, The Cynic's Guide To

Mindfulness, colouring books for adults, meditation apps? Aspects of life which never entered my consciousness 5 or 10 years ago.If I tried to tell my 30 year old self how to achieve and improve things to actually make a dent in some of those dreams back then, I would have laughed myself out of the door. 

Back in the early 2000s there was the drive to do something with my skills and life but no way of knowing how. The Internet was for searching but not for guidance in all forms as it is today. Back then if you suffered an ailment, more than likely you’d seek professional help, rather than diagnose yourselves and seek out home remedy recipes on Mumsnet. Career choices still seemed finite and limited. My world of magazines and editorial design was actually pretty stable as a sector and some might say still on the up.

Though for me pontification ruled and I was effectively a lazy, immature kid with an undefined ambition. Magazine design and art direction became my career and I was doing well, but the bug inside was scratching to get out.

I know why this was and I know the reasons why I didn’t help myself but hindsight and regret will bring you down so best to start from the start.

Things started to change in around 2004. There was a hole shaped like a foot in the door of the film world. My first love, my passion was becoming evermore distant. She was fading as the print world embraced me, got me drunk, gave me opportunities and settled me in for the long haul. I was never 100% content in the world of magazine art direction, though it taught me lessons in life which I would not change for the world.

Doesn’t everybody have those wobbles about life and career? Aren’t we all prone to regret and what if’s? I wonder if that’s where it starts – as a small ball which rolls and gathers and rolls and gathers until it is too heavy a load to roll any more. Thoughts which are caged up and never exercised can slowly manifest into wild animals of the mind which are intent on being released. Forever chained they eat away at the mind’s calm places and run riot through subconscious thought. I recognise this animal now as a root of an unhealthy mind.

So I started to exercise the animal. A short film event I put together was the first independently confident project I had ever taken on. Before social, before digital really took hold, a group of indie filmmakers sat in a historic music club and watched each other’s short films. Nothing new there, but for my mind, it was a possibility of what was next, what was possible.

Back in the present, after years of figuring out what exactly that golden career might be – resigning from well-paid jobs, starting businesses, I have found it, my path. Where it leads I have no clue but via the least trodden track I am finding my way.

This leaves the forgotten me.

The forgotten me
We are all tied to something and if we’re not, we’re possibly content. 

Family, cities, friends, familiarity, routine, belongings, clutter, stress, routine, the same… routine… that we forget and we neglect the one powerful force which can control our out of control lives. I’m of course not talking about God, but hey, that’s one path which works for a lot of people. Nope, it’s selfishly about good old US. Me me me me me me me. All about you.

The realisation that the way you feel, the way you act the way you succeed, communicate, love, talk, laugh… is intrinsically linked to how you reach those ambitious goals that sit lurking inside that animal cage. 

I have discovered. I have learned. I am going to change.

Fair enough, I’ve been doubtful and questioned lightly in my head whether a great many techniques and approaches to life could actually make life better and more fulfilled. Six years ago having a child turned my life upside down as it does to anyone who has one. Purpose was placed in my path. Now was the time to understand the path. 

So I’m writing a blog about my experiences of self improvement or if you prefer, personal development. I don’t see much difference, but maybe that’s the cynic in me.

A Cynic’s guide is not supposed to be confrontational to those methods. It is simply my writing down the bones of experiences dabbling in and hopefully embracing those methods and crafts. I hope to encourage like-minded Cynics to raise an eyebrow if a technique helps or feel vindicated when something doesn’t work. Whatever floats, though the first thing I’d say is one key overriding factor in all of this is positive thought, so maybe try that as an intro.

The fact is I’ve never thought I’ve needed it – to be ‘mindful’ I mean. But as the years clock on, and life does just get harder, I started to look for another answer – a way I could deal with the obstacles… and as it turns out I’m just getting started.

It seems all around are people aiming to gain some perspective on their day-to-day and the self improvement industry is ready to facilitate. Apps for meditation, journals for affirming thoughts and countless podcasts focused on selling the ideal to the idealistic. Somewhere in all this ironic mindfulness noise, something might just make sense. I’m about to find out.

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