18: Tracking Character Growth

By: Thomas DeVoy

"Show me your friends and what books you're reading, and I'll show you what kind of person you will be in five years." 

When you exercise, it is hard to justify at first. You know it is good for you to be healthy, but at first, the only thing that comes from it is time lost and sore muscles.

Over time, you start to slowly improve. Fat is lost, muscles form, stamina increases, and someone compliments your physique. You look in the mirror and start to see the results of your hard work.

In that moment it all starts to feel worth it. That small amount of change encourages you to keep going. 

Having tangible results early on drives us to press on. We just need to get through those first six or eight weeks of pain and uncertainty. Not only that, but we know if we exercise and eat healthy on a regular basis the results are guaranteed. 

When it comes to improving our character, it takes longer to see results, and often those results are not as tangible as losing weight. It is harder to justify spending time learning, developing, or training ourselves to be the our best when the results might not show for years down the road.

Despite all of that, it is incredibly important to be constantly improving yourself. Your character will influence your decisions, help maintain positive relationships, give you drive to achieve your big goals and breathe life into your work.

Who you are floods into everything you create and will ultimately determine where you are going. Take some time each day to invest in yourself, and after time, you should see results.

Here are two important things to help get you moving in the right direction:

Read non-fiction.

Buy physical books and read everyday.

There are people out there who have learned things they feel are so important they needed to write them down. 

For $15, you can learn things that took authors a lifetime to come up with. It is such a bargain.

Articles are great, and they can really sum up a topic for you quickly. Books alternatively allow you to dive deeper into a subject to start really understanding the subject fluently.

You are looking for the couple of golden nuggets. These are "ah-ha" moments, and they will boost you forward towards your goals.

Try to pick up books two at a time. Think about it as one and a half. Find a book that directly applies to your big goal. Then find another book that does not directly apply, but is good to know information that will broaden your knowledge of the field you are looking to break into.

Doing it this way will keep you sharp about your main interest, but also build a strong fundamental understanding of other relevant topics.   

"The only security you have is between your ears." - Ron Travis

Pick the right friends.

Your friends may not support your decision to work hard. It is weird, I know. Friendships are based on mutually beneficial, sometimes unspoken agreements.

If the only thing you and your friends do is go to parties or bars, that is what your friendship is based on. If you make the decision to do less of that to stay home and work hard, your friends may discourage you. That friendship is no longer mutually beneficial. 

They may try to talk you out of it, telling you it is very unlikely you are going to succeed. Do not listen to them. It may be time to cut them loose.

You have made your decision, and now it is time to find people who have the same drive as you do. These people will motivate and encourage you. You can learn from each other and brainstorm ideas. You will both get excited talking about each other's projects, and they will high five you when you succeed.

You only have time for positive people in your life. Ultimately the people you allow into your life will determine what kind of person you will be in the long term.

THOMAS DEVOY is the Creative Director at Urban Geographer. Connect with him on social media @THOMASDEVOY