If you could change one or two personality traits in exchange for a happier life, would you? Of course you would. Now here is the same question loaded in a more practical way: if you pinpointed one characteristic you disliked, would you actually be able to get rid of it? Maybe, but for most of us stubborn adults, changing personality traits is a tough ask. That’s what I’ve learned since beginning My Year In Flux. Thankfully, I’ve also learned that there may be a solution…

I’ve been living in flux for 3 months now, and it has been a penetrating journey of self discovery so far. As well as being able to sleep better, meditate a bit and take better photographs, I now know I have issues with control, failure and patience which simply must be addressed before the year is out. I attribute my newfound aptitude for self-analysis to one thing, I’m living consistently outside my comfort zone, and that is a very powerful catalyst for change.

It isn't hard to think about changing personality traits when you're on a beautiful beach in paradise

I’d recommend flux to anyone

I believe that continually exploring the boundaries of your comfort zone unmasks who you really are. For that reason alone I’d recommend a period of flux to anyone. In fact I’ve just written a post which illustrates in 3 easy steps how you can take the same stepping stones to personal development.

To truly see the benefits, though, self discovery must develop into self improvement, and that’s a gnarly challenge. As adults, we’re governed by deeply-mired habits, prejudice and dogma. I wrote about some of my own prejudicial angst in this ’40 pet peeves I can do without’ post. In truth, I’m still battling to beat those demons, but having written them down I can do so in a more mindful way.

Changing personality traits

The big challenge is that our key personality traits underpin everything. Every vice, habit and pastime is driven by personality. Every success and every failure is caused in no small part by our character. Many people would cite luck, fate, and other extenuating circumstances, but none of these variables are as important as our own characters. We’re all ambling through our own version of a Thomas Hardy story, and like Hardy’s lead characters, every single one of us is flawed, but most of us are too busy living to consider changing (here’s a nice essay on the subject of character determining fate).

So you’ve identified an unhappy thread in your life, you’ve narrowed it down to a character trait which is upsetting the apple cart, what next? To really change, I believe drastic action is required. We have to suspend our old habits, wipe the slate clean and start again with fresh perspective. That is exactly what I’m doing this year, and so far the only way I can sum it up is by saying that living in flux is like catching sight of your reflection in a rusty spoon. The spoon’s image is funny and unfamiliar, yet the largest and ugliest features are still there, distorted and dominant. For the last 3 months, instead of looking away from the rusty reflection, I’ve chosen to peer more closely. I’ve also resolved to spend the next 9 months (at least) cleaning up what I don’t like the look of. It sounds dark, I know, but of course I’ll be doing all this personal development work against a backdrop of new challenges, traveling new countries plus (of course) much, much more time outside my comfort zone. That should keep me occupied then!