As most (all?) of you know by now, the TFD team has been engaging in some personal challenges for spring, for self-improvement, and also because it gives us something outside of our day-to-day topics to talk about with you guys. Thusfar, my personal challenge has been a bit of a face-plant, mostly due to factors outside of my control, but since its rebooting yesterday, I’m already feeling great about it in a way I wasn’t before. And besides, even if my challenge doesn’t go perfectly, I’m someone who loves doing them. My personality type today is almost unrecognizable from myself even five years ago — I’m a largely disciplined person who is capable of executing sprawling projects and self-motivating, all things that escaped me for most of my life.
I always like to say that personality types are almost inherently double-edge swords, and the things that come easiest to us often come at the expense of something else. For me, I’ve always been a very creative person who can ideate and visualize, but it meant that details constantly eluded me. I didn’t have the discipline or the motivation to see my ideas through. And largely through necessity, I’ve been able to mitigate the two and make my work more sustainable and balanced. As the day-to-day and long-term needs of running TFD have grown, I’ve naturally become a more type-A person. And while I don’t think I’ll ever be the sort of person who pops up at 6 AM to plow through a well-organized to-do list, I have certainly become attentive enough to see through my more creative and ambitious ideas.
Those changes have been natural, though, and not really a result of a concerted effort. And because of that, I haven’t gotten into the kind of vicious cycle that I have experienced in other areas of my life — the sort of cycle that often accompanies personality or habit change. Basically, we often want to change something in ourselves because we don’t like that thing about us, or feel frustrated that we’re not already able to do something. And so our change becomes in part fueled by self-hatred, and marked more by our failures or disappointments than by our achievements.
For example, a few years ago, before I discovered intermittent fasting, I attempted an extremely vague weight-loss and general “healthy-ness” regimen in the form of eating vegan til 6 PM. As I was not at all monitoring my macros or calorie intake, and was not even sure what my reasoning for the diet was other than “I’d read a cool article about it,” I actually gained a little bit of weight, and was constantly fucking up on my consistency. I’m simply not the kind of person who can do any diet that requires elimination of one thing or another, and I was also so generally frustrated with myself “I constantly feel heavy and sluggish because I’m not eating right” that I didn’t specifically consider what it is I needed to change to feel better. Now I know that the answer was “eat the calories and nutrients my body needs every day, in the form that most makes sense with my life, and get moderate amounts of activity in tandem.” But then, all I could feel was a frustration for the person I was at the time, and an unfocused attempt to change everything at once.
Through changing myself in more positive, sustainable ways — both intentionally and as a byproduct of my work — I have come up with a few rules for avoiding that dangerous cycle, and making changes in ourselves without hating the people we currently are.