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What Are the Self-Help Pitfalls?

What Are the Self-Help Pitfalls?

I’ve worked for a couple of decades (or so!) helping people along the path towards their best life via my career in the fitness industry. Over the last five or six years, I’ve committed much more of my time and energy into developing a career in the big, weird world of Personal Development. It has been an interesting journey and I’ve learned (and continue to learn) much along the way.

    While the benefits of working on ‘us’ are seemingly obvious, I believe there are a few challenges, pitfalls, and curve balls that the would-be self-helper needs to be mindful of in his or her search for their best self and best life.

    1. Self-Help Selfishness.

    One of the potential dangers of constantly working on us is that we can inadvertently become self-absorbed, selfish, unaware of the needs of others and disconnected from reality. Some Personal Development devotees are so ‘self-focused’ (their world, their issues, their problems, their relationships, their body, their finances) that they struggle to relate to, take an interest in, and connect with people who don’t have the same mindset, values, attitudes or thinking. Sometimes we need to put our own reality, situation, goals, needs and desires on hold for a while and simply and selflessly invest time, energy and love into others with no agenda. And in doing so, we might discover where the real growth and learning happens.

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      2. The Self-Help Evangelist.

      If you really want to alienate people, point out all their faults, show them the error of their ways, demonstrate how clever you’ve become on your self-help journey and do your best to convert them to your Religion. After all, it’s for their own good right?

      3. Theory isn’t Reality.

      There’s a lot of space between knowing what to do and doing what we know. Far too many people are champions at the knowing part but completely useless when it comes to the doing. You know exactly what I mean because there have been many times when you’ve known what you should be doing but have rationalised yourself into doing nothing. I know this because we’ve all done it. In many ways, we are simultaneously the most educated and the most stupid generation in history.

      We’ve never been more educated but we’ve never behaved less intelligently or responsibly. We’re fat, we’re in massive debt, we’re at war with each other and our planet is almost stuffed… but other than that, we’re flying! Oh well, at least we understand all the theory behind it! If only we realised that most of our problems are behavioural in origin, not educational. Change your behaviours and you will change your outcomes. More often than not the best lessons and the biggest growth-spurts don’t come from books, workshops, websites or DVDs (the theory), they come from taking chances, being pro-active and turning those theories into a reality – doing the practical.

      Learning by doing as opposed to learning by reading or listening. From a personal change perspective, sites like this are only valuable when we apply what we read. And to be honest, too many people are happy to spectate rather than actually get in the game.

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      4. Guru Worship.

      This is one of my pet peeves. By all means, respect people (if they deserve it) but don’t worship them. Instead of empowering themselves, some people actually empower their Guru and turn them into a demi-god. Such an unproductive waste of time and energy.

      If you’re struggling to see your Guru (mentor, role model, teacher) as a normal, flawed, human being just like you, then picture him/her taking an early-morning dump; that should fix it for you (sorry if you’re eating). Doctor Phil, Tony Robbins, Oprah and even Deepak all take a crap every day, have all hurt people, have all told lies, have all made massive mistakes (and will continue to) and are all flawed because they are wonderfully, amazingly, uniquely… human. As we all are. Yes they are gifted, driven and successful (in some ways) but believe it or not, they’re no better than you.

      If only YOU knew that. They might be in a different place to you, but they’re no better. In some way, to some extent, we’re all dysfunctional. And don’t tell anyone I told you this but in my experience, quite often the most ‘perfect’ people are actually the most dysfunctional.

        5. It’s Freakin’ Expensive.

        I’m not suggesting that people shouldn’t pay for education, inspiration or motivation, but what I am saying is make sure you get a good return on your investment and know what you’re buying. Spend your self-help bucks wisely and thoughtfully. If you’ve already done fifty seven workshops and seminars, and your life and situation is essentially the same, then another break-through program probably ain’t gonna do the trick for you.

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        I have a website that is a completely free resource with over five hundred articles on a wide range of subject matter, so you can’t really go wrong here! My workshops cost about one fifth of similar programs and my books, DVD’s and CD’s are relatively affordable, so I’m doing my best to be an easily-accessible resource to the masses, while also trying to make a living as a professional speaker and writer. And no, I’m not suggesting that you buy any of my products or attend any of my seminars, but I am suggesting that whatever you spend and wherever you spend those self-help bucks, know what it is you’re paying for.

        To be completely honest, I know that many people would be wasting their time by attending one of my programs because they don’t actually want to hear what I have to say and they’re not ready to do what needs to be done to create real change. I’m not interested in making people feel warm and fuzzy for a day; I’m interested in helping people change their life forever in an honest, real and practical way. By the way, if the only relationship I ever have with you is as a reader of this site, I’m happy for that and honoured to be a tiny part of your journey.

        6. Some of it’s Crap.

        In my humble (and at times, unpopular) opinion, some personal development stuff is mindless, mumbo-jumbo, wishy-washy, feel-good bullshit. It’s not practical, it’s not realistic and it doesn’t change lives over the long term. In fact it often damages lives because it’s misleading. Some writers and speakers are more concerned with making friends and winning fans than speaking the truth no matter how popular or unpopular that message may be.

        The “you-can-be-whatever-you-want” message ain’t exactly the truth. In fact, it’s crap. Yes we can all learn, grow, change and become the best ‘us’ possible (if we do the work), but can we all do whatever we want? Nope. If I reaaaaaally wanted to, could I run 100 metres (meters) in 9.6 seconds? Nope? Can we all make it in the NBA, the NFL or the AFL if we work hard enough? Nope. Will the vast majority of hungry young actors make it as big stars if they apply themselves? Nope. Will most musicians ever have a hit single? Nope. Will you or I ever be fearless (as in, zero fear)? Nope. This is not negativity; it’s reality. It’s life. It’s how the world works. It’s how we work. It’s great to be focused, optimistic, passionate and driven, it’s also great to be realistic and practical about how we should create positive and lasting change in our life.

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        Don’t confuse hype, emotion, temporary motivation, self-help jargon, rock music and a feel-good atmosphere with the practical process and realities of creating life-long change. A weekend of razzle-dazzle, smoke machines and group hugs doesn’t automatically equate to a better life. Do you really believe that the majority of people who attend the “change-your-life-forever-and-spend-lots-of-money-while-you’re-here” programs actually create significant, life-long (as in, different forever) change as a result of that program? These programs can be amazing but only
        1) if the information is relevant and meaningful, and 2) if we consistently and diligently apply what we’ve learned for a LIFE TIME!

          7. Creating life-long results ain’t about any program (book, DVD, workshop, seminar, Guru); it’s about you.

          All the personal development resources in the world can’t change your life one bit. The only thing that can change your life forever is YOU. I hate products (yes, they are products for sale) which are marketed as “the answer to your problems”. These things are not answers, they are resources. How valuable these resources will be to you, depends on WHAT YOU DO with them.

          How many people have been reading my site for nearly two years without actually changing a thing in their life? Plenty. Why? Because my site is only a resource and for a range of reasons, they haven’t applied the information. The only life I can change is mine. I can influence people but I can’t change anyone. Beware the person who claims to be the answer to your problems. I can motivate you, encourage you, educate you and support you… but only YOU can change you.

          Only you can think for you, choose for you and DO for you. You are your greatest resource and your biggest hurdle…. all at the same time! So stop getting in your own way and start using your potential. Yes you can do amazing things in your life, but the big question is WILL YOU?

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          Craig Harper

          Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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          Last Updated on November 18, 2020

          50 Habits of Highly Successful People You Should Learn

          50 Habits of Highly Successful People You Should Learn

          If you’re like me and really into self-development, you’ve probably read many of the thousands of self-help books out there on the market. But also like me, you probably find all the information a bit overwhelming.

          That’s why I wanted to do the self-less task of taking the most important, life-changing lessons I’ve drawn from these books and condensed them into 50 key points.

          Here’re 50 habits of successful people you should learn:

          1. Believe It to See It

          Our minds tend to focus on what’s happening around us and refuse to see what could happen. Only when you trust in what’s possible and dare to dream big, big things can happen for you.

          2. See Problems as a Wonderful Gift

          While others only see problems and give up, successful people use the problem as a lesson to find improvement in themselves or the task at hand.

          3. Keep Looking for Solutions

          Even if they’re knee-deep in problems, successful people will still put all of their focus on finding solutions.

          4. Remember It’s All About the Journey

          Successful people are conscious and methodical in creating their own success. They don’t sit around doing the bare minimum, hoping success finds them.

          5. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

          There’s so much fear on the road to success, but instead of letting that fear control and limit them, successful people do a good job of just forging ahead regardless.

          6. Always Ask Productive Questions

          It’s all about asking the right questions. Successful people make sure they are questions that will elicit information for a more productive, creative and positive mindset moving forward.

          7. Understand the Best Waste of Energy Is Complaining

          Successful people know that choosing to see the negative side of things will only create a useless and unproductive state.

          8. Don’t Play the Blame Game

          Taking responsibility for actions and outcomes is a form of empowerment that you can build your success upon. While the act of blaming others or outside circumstances takes this empowerment away from you.

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          9. Maximize Your Strengths

          Not every successful person is simply more talented than the rest, but they do use what they know they’re good at to achieve more successful results.

          10. Be in It to Win It

          Successful people are busy, productive and proactive. Instead of sitting around over-thinking and over-planning a great idea, they just take a step towards it no matter how small.

          11. Know That Success Attracts Success

          People who are successful surround themselves and seek out like-minded people. They understand the importance of being part of a team and forge win-win relationships.

          12. Actually Choose to Be Successful

          Dreaming big is a massive part of being successful even if your dream seems impossible. Ambition is a mindset that needs to be a daily conscious choice.

          13. Visualize, Visualize, Visualize!

          You’ve got to see your success in your mind’s eye even before it comes. Successful people clarify and get that certainty about what they want their reality to look like rather than being mere spectators of life.

          14. Be a One-Off Original

          Successful people look for what’s working and then create a unique spin on it. Imitating only regurgitates other people’s ideas with no originality.

          15. The Perfect Time to Act Is Now

          Waiting for the right time to act is basically procrastination wrapped up in an excuse. Successful people know there’s never a perfect time so they may as well just do it now.

          16. Keep Learning, Keep Growing

          Continuous learning is the key to a successful life. Whether it’s academic, being a student of life or actionable learning, it’s all about expanding your knowledge and personal development.

          17. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

          Successful people have the knack for finding positive aspects in all people and circumstances no matter what.

          18. Having a Bad Day? Do It Anyway!

          We all have bad moods but it shouldn’t be an excuse to stop everything. Giving into a bad mood just stop-starts your life, slowing success way down.

          19. Sometimes Risky Business Is Needed

          Calculated risks are a must for success. It’s about weighing the pros and cons while moving forward with that element of trust.

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          20. Accept Challenge All the Time

          Dealing with problems head-on is a must to be successful. Successful people also face challenges in order to improve themselves.

          21. Make Your Own Luck

          In the mindset of a successful person, there’s no such thing as ‘luck’ or ‘fate’. They take control to actively and consciously create their own best life.

          22. Ignite Your Initiative

          While many people are reactive, successful people are proactive – taking action before they have to.

          23. Be the Master of Your Emotions

          Being effective at managing emotions is key on the road to success. That’s not to say successful people don’t feel like we all do, but they’re just not slaves to their emotions.

          24. Champion in Communication

          Consciously working on effective communication skills gets anyone closer to success.

          25. Plan Your Life Strategically

          Successful people’s lives aren’t a clumsy series of unplanned events and outcomes, they methodically work at turning their plans into a reality.

          26. Become Exceptional at What You Do

          To become exceptional, you typically have to do things that most won’t. To become successful, hard decisions need to be made and acting on them is crucial.

          27. Choose to Live Outside of Your Comfort Zone

          While many people are pleasure junkies and avoid pain and discomfort at all costs, successful people understand the value and benefits of working through the tough stuff that most would avoid.

          28. Live by Core Values

          Successful people firstly identify their core values and what’s important to them, then do their best to live a life that reflects these values.

          29. Realize Money Isn’t Everything

          Money and success are not interchangeable and the most successful people understand this. Putting money on a pedestal and equating it to success is a dangerous mindset to have. Success comes in many forms.

          30. Don’t Get Carried Away

          Successful people understand the importance of discipline and self-control and as a result they are happy to take the road less travelled.

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          31. Self-Worth Is Not Tied to Success

          Successful people are secure. They do not derive their self-worth from what they own, who they know, where they live or what they look like.

          32. Kindness Breeds Kindness (And Success)

          Generosity and kindness is a common trait among long-term successful people. It’s important to take pleasure in helping others achieve.

          33. More Humility, Less Arrogance

          Successful people are humble and happy to admit and apologize for mistakes. This is because they’re confident in their ability. They are happy to learn from others and happy to make others look good rather than seek their own personal glory.

          34. Change Opens New Doors

          People who are successful are adaptable and embrace change, while the majority are creatures of comfort and habit. They are comfortable with, and embrace, the new and the unfamiliar.

          35. Success Requires a Healthy Body

          It’s not just how you think, it’s about how you show up for success. Successful people understand the importance of being physically well, not for vain reasons but because being in tiptop condition creates a better personal life for success.

          36. Laziness Just Doesn’t Exist

          Successful people are never considered lazy. Yes, they can relax when they need to, but working hard is their game.

          37. Resilience by the Bucket Load

          When difficulty strikes, most would throw in the towel, but successful people are just warming up.

          38. Feedback Is Just Another Chance to Improve

          How people react to feedback determines their potential for success. Being open to constructive criticism and acting on it to improve is most seen in those who are successful.

          39. Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe

          If people are hanging out with toxic and negative people, then they need to take a look at themselves. Successful people hang out with others who are positive and supportive.

          40. Can’t Control It? Forget It

          Successful people don’t invest time or emotional energy into things which they have no control of.

          41. Swim Against the Tide

          Successful people are not people-pleasers and they don’t need constant approval from others in order to move ahead.

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          42. Alone Time Is Valuable Time

          More self-worth means being more comfortable with your own company. Successful people are more happy and see the value in spending time alone.

          43. Self-Standard Is Higher Than Most

          Everyone has a choice to set high standards for themselves. Successful people do this, which in turn produces greater commitment, more momentum, a better work ethic and of course, better results.

          44. Failure Isn’t Rationalized

          While many use age, health, lack of time, ‘bad luck’, or lack of opportunity to explain away their failure, the key to success is finding a way to succeed despite facing these challenges.

          45. Down Time Is an Important Part of a Routine

          Having an off switch and taking time to do things that make them happy is a common trait of a successful person. Take a look at here The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

          46. Career Isn’t Who You Are, It’s What You Do

          Successful people know their career isn’t their identity. They are multi-dimensional and don’t define themselves by their job.

          47. Be Interested in Only the Path of Resistance

          While most people look for the easiest way or the shortcut, successful people are more interested in the most effective way. They look for the course of action which will produce the best results over the long term.

          48. Follow Through

          Many spend their life starting things that they never finish, but successful people get the job done. Even when the excitement and the novelty has worn off they still follow through and finish.

          49. Invest in All Your Dimensions

          We’re not just physical and psychological beings, but emotional and spiritual creatures as well. Successful people consciously work at being healthy and productive on all levels.

          50. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

          To obtain success, it’s important to practice what you preach. Successful people don’t talk about the theory, they live the reality.

          So there you have it, a summary of what I’ve learned from self-help books. But of course, you need to start taking actions so you will get closer to success too.

          Bonus: 5 Bad Habits To Quit

          More About Success

          Featured photo credit: Juan Jose via unsplash.com

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