This is the story of my addiction to personal development blogs.
In my final year at university I was struggling to balance my coursework with my hobbies – my favourite of which seemingly was to sit in my room staring into nothing and alternately thinking about and trying not to think about the essay on my desk.
I had already seen the university’s counselling service about my motivational malaise without much result. In a bout of desperation I asked Google whether it had any advice. It recommended an article on a website called Zen Habits – the blog that became my first love.
Oh, it was heady days, it was! Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits was a treasure trove of articles on life management, motivation, productivity, all the things I needed! Did any of it work? Who cared! The point was that it sounded like it did. It was the answer to all my problems, I just had to ingest all the information and in time I would be the perfect, superfunctional human being. Just like Leo.
I regularly read Leo’s blog from that point onwards. Through my exams, past graduation and into the dull life of the
undead unemployed. And not just Leo, now I had discovered some other bloggers too who focused on similar subjects but with different spins. Well, more blogs is more insights! I latched onto the words of quirky semi-spiritualist Havi Brooks, and rule-breaking renegade Jonathan Mead. And while I did gain some good advice, I couldn’t help but feel slightly frustrated that my life seemed to not be getting better. In some ways it felt like it was getting slowly worse.
Why? I was using the same advice that these people were giving to others, others who seemed to be flourishing in their fields. Was I not putting in enough effort? Was I doing it wrong? Maybe the good stuff, the really life-changing content, was the stuff I had to pay for. But the products were painfully expensive! How could people so benevolent be charging such high prices? This is when I started to notice the cynical part of me giving hints to be weary, critical even. That part of my mind I tried to smother, because blogs were my only hope.
It wasn’t a tussle I had to deal with for long however, because suddenly my life hit an up, and I was jerked out of the murky mud of jobseeking and parental tennancy into a life of wealth and fortune. And I really do mean fortune – I had landed a fantastic pay in a job that I didn’t really deserve just because I sort of knew a guy who owned a small business that needed a programmer.
I worked in that job for a few months, and couldn’t find the enthusiasm to keep up with any blogs any more (though I still used some of the techniques Havi had introduced to try to combat the discomfort of working a job I didn’t feel adequate to do). Eventually, with the money I earned, I quit and went travelling for a month to reboot my life, ready to move into a house with some friends and find a new job and start living happily again.
And that was that. I found a job, found a bit of purpose (or at least significant joy in my life), frequently did great things with close friends and could afford to spend most of my time pretending I was a student. And where did the blogs feature? Nowhere. I did not need them one bit. They were gone from my life entirely.
For a while.
The story continues in part 2!