When Benjamin Franklin was 20 years old, he began a serious search for personal development. It was natural for him to turn to religion. His own father, Josiah Franklin, had immigrated to America for the primary purpose of finding religious freedom in 1682, but Franklin found that the faith he was investigating was self-serving. Franklin said, "their aim seeming to be rather to make us Presbyterians than good citizens" (The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, 101). His greatest concern was that "not a single moral principle was inculcated or enforc'd...". There was no focus on personal improvement either as citizens or as principled, self-disciplined people. He was discouraged at the lack of direction and leadership, but did not lose hope.
Feeling confident that he could find his own way to improvement, he writes, "It was about this time I conceiv'd the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection, I wish'd to live without committing any fault at any time; I would conquer all that either natural inclination, custom. or company might lead me into. As I knew, or thought I knew, what was right or wrong, I did not see why I might not always so the one and avoid the other" (The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, 102). I love his confidence and determination. I also love his perspective on the role character plays in building a life.
But, Franklin quickly ran into frustration: "I soon found I had undertaken a task of more difficulty than I had imagined" (ibid, 102).
This is the understatement of the century!
How do we make new habits?
We need systems, Beautiful Living Systems!
A personal development plan needs to include the following:
- It needs to be customizable and personal.
- It needs to be rooted in reality but married to possibilities: your dreams, your gifts, and talents, your most valued life objectives.
- It needs be focused and specific.
- It needs to be measurable.
My next post will include the 7 Focus Areas that support Beautiful Living. Until then...
Founder and CEO of BEAUTIFUL LIVING SYSTEMS