Personal philosophy is the first “piece of the life puzzle” in Jim Rohn’s book The Five Major Pieces to the Life Puzzle, and for good reason. It is the foundation of all personal development. Due to its huge importance and how much it has influenced my life, I thought it would be useful to write about personal philosophy.
As mentioned in a previous article, the first step in personal development is taking full responsibility for your life; once you are assuming full responsibility, it’s now time to figure out your philosophy. Personal philosophy is the foundation of personal development; it is at the core of all your decisions and the driving force behind how your life ends up. Taking full responsibility for your life inevitably makes you realize that your life is controlled by your actions and changing your actions changes your life. The question then becomes, what actions should I take? Your Personal Philosophy helps answer that question.
Why Have a Well Defined Personal Philosophy?
1. It Eliminates Regret.
Have you ever done something and then immediately regretted it? Have you ever felt like your own actions are sabotaging your future success? Do you ever find it hard figuring out which decision is the right one? This is most likely because of a weak or completely undefined personal philosophy. The core of personal philosophy is your values. Without a complete understanding of your values it is hard to make decisions aligned with your values; this seems obvious, but so many of us have never spent the time to sit down and come to terms with our values. Importantly, whether we know our values or not, they are still there and we are ignorant of them. Out of ignorance, we might make decisions that go against our values. That is why we do something and then immediately regret it, or why we feel like we are sabotaging ourselves or having trouble making decisions. We do not consciously know what we value, so we cannot make conscious choices in line with our values, which leads to decisions that are against our subconscious values. When our conscious choices are not in line with our subconscious values, we are in a state of cognitive dissonance, making us feel regret, depression and unfulfillment. Having a strong personal philosophy means that you know your values. Once you know your values you can act accordingly.
2. It Reduces Stress and Increases Happiness.
As mentioned in the last point, having a strong personal philosophy will reduce or completely eliminate cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is one of the major forces behind that subtle feeling of dissatisfaction. Some studies show that for some people it can be as serious as leading to depression. For most of us, it is a feeling of longing, regret, or dissatisfaction with life. We feel that how we are living our lives is not how we should be living our lives. That is because we are not living in accordance with our values. Developing your personal philosophy can completely eliminate cognitive dissonance. Once you know what you value, you can begin to act in accordance with those values. That will reduces stress and increase your overall happiness.
3. Makes decision-making much easier.
Having a well-defined personal philosophy almost completely eliminates doubt in decision-making. If you know exactly what you value and how you want to live, decision-making becomes simple. You then choose whichever choice is in line with your personal philosophy. This doesn’t mean that you will never make the wrong decision or that your choices will always turn out how you intend them to, but it does mean that all of your decisions will be made in accordance with your values. This reduces the amount of regret you will have if a decision turns out poorly and increases the satisfaction you get if a decision turns out well.
How to Develop Your Personal Philosophy?
1. Figure out your values.
The first step to developing your personal philosophy is figuring your core values. This is probably the hardest part of forming your personal philosophy, but also the most crucial. Figuring out your values doesn’t have to be hard but it does require a good amount of thinking and self-reflection. There are a lot of ways to go about this but the general idea is to look at yourself and your life and determine what matters most. What do you consider just? If you could be the leader of the world, what would you change? Why? What excites you? What upsets you? What is fair? What is unfair? How would you like others to describe you? Who do you want to be in Ten years? In Five? In One?
2. Be Disciplined.
Once you know your values, it’s time to be disciplined about them. A strong personal philosophy is not just values, but how you act upon those values. If you understand your values, but do the opposite of what you value, then you do not have a strong personal philosophy. You have to be disciplined about living by your values every day of the year.
There are two forms of knowledge: from the inside and from the outside. You can only learn so much internally; to know more you have to find it from external sources. The best external sources of information are in books. Reading is crucial and can help develop your personal philosophy. Your personal philosophy should not be so stiff so that nothing can bend it, but should not be so malleable so that anything can. You should read everything as a skeptic, but allow books to let you grow. Your core values will never change, but how you look at them or how you look at life or situations can change with more information. Be in a state of continuous learning, otherwise you will never grow.
Now you have the first and most fundamental “piece” of your life puzzle. If you like this article let me know in the comment section and I’ll do a few more articles on the other four major pieces of the life puzzle. Also, if you find this information useful, check out Jim Rohn’s book. It has a wealth of knowledge on personal development and is a great source of information.