1. Thinking you already know everything – This one is a big problem and can halt growth for a very long time. It´s the mindset that says: “I know how the world works. I don´t need that snake-oil salesman stuff to improve my life. They have nothing new to offer. Only desperate people need those books to get their life together. It´s just common sense.”
This attitude and close-mindedness will make it very difficult for you to grow. When you start reading about personal development from writers such as Anthony Robbins, Brian Tracy or Wayne Dyer you quickly realise that their best advice is not that much common sense at all. In fact, it´s often the opposite to the more commonly accepted “truths” that many of us have heard through school, media and other people throughout our lives.
A 2. Being confused by the marketing hype – The mindset in the first example isn’t totally of the mark. There are snake-oil salesmen in every line of business. And since most successful personal development authors/speakers really knows how to communicate there is bound to be perhaps a more than average amount of the high-pressure sales stuff you can read about in books like Influence by Robert Cialdini. Stuff like offering a small free gift to the consumer, saying that there are only 500 copies of the product and that the offer will only be available for one week.
But even though some marketing techniques may seem overly optimistic or kinda aggressive doesn´t mean that the products are without value. Don´t confuse the sales techniques with the products.
I say, start with trusted names or products that have received great reviews. Do a bit of your own research via google and browse the reviews on amazon before you buy. See what other people think. If you´d like, take a look at this list of my favourite personal development products so far.
A 3. Not taking action – Thinking that reading a book or blog will automatically transform you and your life. But knowledge without action on your part is not that very transforming. And only you can change yourself. Others can only give a bit of advice, support and motivation. But in the end, you have to take the steps in real life.
Have a look at Don´t get stuck in reading for more thoughts on the common affliction of getting stuck in reading a whole lot of personal development books without putting much of the advice into action.
If you have problems taking action, it´s often due to fear. Try the first and the second suggestion in this article on overcoming fear. It helped me to get going.
A 4. Giving up – At the first or third failure thinking “It´s no meaning. I am who I am and that can´t change. I just have to get used to that thought.” Don´t give up. One or five or 20 failures ain´t that big of a deal in the long run. You have to fail to get good at something and to grow.
A 5. Worrying about/listening to what others think – You might fear that people will react in badly to your change.
And they might actually do that.
Perhaps they do not want you to change because then they fear drifting apart and losing you forever.
Or they might not want to see you improve as that will make them feel like they are standing still in life. Or give you unhelpful heap of negative thoughts on personal development and that it´s all just common sense, a waste of time and that in real life it doesn´t work like in the books.
If you get stuck here it´s probably because you need validation from others. Take a look at Why you should not compare yourself to others for some thoughts and practical tips for overcoming or at least reducing this very common problem.A
A 6. Dabbling with it – Dabbling with your personal development and personal growth material on and off. Not committing to studying/action and developing it consistently as a part of your life.
Perhaps you feel it´s just too hard. Or just not worth it. And therefore not commit to it.
Is it hard? Yes, sometimes. But I find that growing is overall a lot more positive than negative. And I think that from an outsider´s perspective – as someone who hasn´t immersed his/herself yet - it often looks as if there is a lot more struggle, time and money invested than when you look at from the inside perspective. Hard work isn´t that hard when you feel you are growing and like what you are doing.
Is it worth it? Well, it’s certainly better than the alternative. Just running or drooning around day after day filled with anxiety, stress and a low sense of self expressed in all kinds of direct or indirect ways ain´t no fun.
Keys to success with anything in life are consistency and patience. Commit to your personal growth.
A 7. Having unreasonable expectations – This stems from a lack of information. Sometimes both in quality and quantity. When you get you first start you may think that just reading one book will solve all your problems. Not having a reasonable picture of what you can expect will make you feel disappointed and like a failure for no good reason. This can quickly lead to giving up.
To get good results, you need to know things like: you will be enthusiastic in the beginning – as with anything new and exciting - but that enthusiasm will probably dissipate.
That´s normal. And when you are prepared for it, when you get to know your emotional weather more closely, it’s gets easier and easier to control. You know that there will be rain. But it won´t last forever, even if it might feel so.
One motivating method I use to get out of that low emotional state is to develop an on-going habit of consuming development material, whether it is in the form of a books, blogs, audiotapes or dvds. I´m building my own small library and filling it with solid and practical advice on personal growth.
Revisiting to a tape by Brian Tracy not only gets me motivated again but often presents me with ways to solve the problem at hand too. This habit - combined with action - will over time bring clarity to what you want, which methods that work best for you and the possibilities and limitations in your own personal growth.
A 8. Failing to/not wanting to (at least start to) understand yourself – To change yourself you have to learn about the processes inside yourself. How your emotions work. How you ego works. How you past experiences and habits can affect you. And what you can do about all of that. How you can help yourself. Even when parts of you are working against what you really want.
So I say, don´t stick to one guru and to one line of thought. Read/listen to books from a lot of highly regarded authors to broaden your knowledge and number of possible solutions to your problems.
Try to be more conscious. Be aware of what processes are taking place inside you when you become angry, depressed, jealous or envious. Try not to react in the knee-jerk manner you may often do.
Instead, in the moment, apply what you have learned about handling this issue. If you fail to do so – which everyone does a lot, so beat yourself up about it – take some time later to analyse why you felt/did that negative thing. And what you can do about it when it arises the next time.
If you don´t get a handle on how humans work then it will be hard to help yourself (and others). You´ll be coming up with ineffective solutions, become discouraged and possibly, finally stop trying to grow.
A 9. Not taking responsibility for yourself – This is absolutely essential. Don´t blame anyone else. It’s up to you to change.