It is safe to say that the environment most of us live in is not auspicious for change, which is key to self discovery and improvement. The western world has propelled most of its inhabitants towards aspirational, moral and spiritual confusion.
Whereas the world around us is in perpetual movement, our inner dynamics seem to face many obstacles which keep us from evolving. Many people experience a certain degree of frustration and meaninglessness and a strong desire to change their lives; however, they find themselves trapped in a never-ending cycle of daily routines and often avoid taking decisive action. In their struggle to change their existence, they often stumble upon the following obstacles:
Fear and low self-confidence
Perhaps the common denominator in all cases of people avoiding to take action towards self improvement is fear - mainly fear of self-disillusionment and of other people's reactions, of not being able to cope with a new lifestyle and so forth. It is also very common for people to fear having to live with failure if their plan does not succeed. Mainly due to a lack of emotional support in one's upbringing but also other external factors, they gradually develop complexes and end up having a low level of self-confidence, which makes them think they are more likely to fail than others. That is why they often set unrealistic goals and give up on them fairly quickly, scared by their sheer magnitude. The only solution is thorough self analysis and the planning of a feasible change, which can actually be accomplished and is not likely to result in disappointment.
Procrastination and lethargy
Procrastination is a notion used in psychology to describe the compulsive postponing of an action, most commonly a task, out of nervousness related to one's ability to perform it. The same principle applies to lifestyle changes such as stopping smoking, starting to exercise, looking for a new job and so forth. It can eventually lead to lethargy, which is a loss of motivation and can in turn lead to depression.
Since times immemorial, people have developed their personality on a solid moral foundation, which could differ radically from one individual to another and could change over the years; however, at any moment in time, a person had well defined moral values which helped maintain a direction in life, a stronger sense of identity and a healthy mental tonus. Today, the growing tendency of embracing moral relativity results in a difficulty of analysing the world around us, which often leads to depression. The way to overcome this perpetual confusion is by carefully analysing the sources of information which shape your perceptions and deciding on a core system of moral values to base your life upon. This will lead to a stronger sense of self and implicitly more self-confidence. A well defined moral code is also pivotal in overcoming addictions, such as alcohol, tobacco or stronger drugs.
Escapism is a very common method of running from one's problems and from reality in general. It basically consists of evading to a space of psychological comfort, albeit false. Today it is more prevalent due to its diversification - people are surrounded by entertainment, video games and are more predisposed to the use of alcohol and drugs in order to achieve partial or complete temporary dissociation from reality. Although this method provides relief momentarily, it is a major obstacle in the way of actual changes and can even destroy lives.
In order to overcome these common hurdles, self motivation is essential - however, these issues (particularly escapism) can be an impediment in the way of self motivation as well. Below are a few useful tips towards taking control of your life.
Psychology has proved, along with the experiences of many, that positive changes can seldom (if ever) be fuelled by negative energy. Therefore, any decision to drastically change which is rooted in self hatred or other people's belittling attitudes has little chance of succeeding. A relevant example is that of people who decide to change their appearance by any means, yet instead of accomplishing their goal gradually, engage in unhealthy behaviors, experiencing disappointment and even despair when they fail. Maintaining a positive and balanced attitude, by accepting errors and falls as inherent parts of life, is the key to succeeding.
The surest road towards accomplishing your goal is one which has been carefully mapped out and analysed in order to determine its feasibility. The desire to overachieve can prove just as destructive as lethargy or procrastination and eventually lead to the same lack of enthusiasm and feeling of being overpowered. While maintaining a positive attitude, an efficient plan and the knowledge you can actually accomplish it will give you the energy you need in order to start your self improvement journey.
Taking control of your time
Time can be assessed as a person's most valuable and irreplaceable life resource. When trying to live a more fulfilling, meaningful life, it is essential for people to liberate themselves from time-consuming routines, which are often sustained by group participation (for instance watching television). Many people have an inner sense of meaninglessness when they go through the motions of fruitless activities, yet participate out of habit or in order to follow suit. Activities which do not contribute to one's inner betterment and maintain them in a state of stagnation (or even cause regression, which can certainly be said about television) should be avoided or reduced in order to reach true fulfilment.
In past historical eras, conventionalism was used towards maintaining order and stability. However, conventionalism is as good as the values promoted by that society at a certain point in time. In a society which largely promotes harmful behaviors as well as mediocrity, cynicism, indolence, promiscuity, undeserved fame, lack of empathy, gossip and so forth, an individual has every right to intellectually detach from the group and refuse to take part in activities which stimulate the taste for the above-mentioned anti-values. People often have to overcome their fear of disapproval and rejection and reclaim their right to free thought, which is the only way towards genuine change and self improvement.