We both know the truth about this.
Self improvement plans often do not work.
I conducted a survey on Facebook years ago and asked 1000 people how they did on their most recent self improvement plan (this was when I used to run a self improvement website called LifeAndSelf). 97.8 percent of people said their self improvement plan fell “far short of expectation”.
Here’s the truth:
- You’ve read all the self improvement books before.
- You’ve tried various tips and techniques
- You’ve practically got a masters degree in life coaching
- But somehow, it isn’t coming together yet
Self improvement plans fail for a reason. Twelve reasons, to be precise. They are what I call the laws of self improvement plans.
I’ve compiled this list based on advice and wisdom from the world’s top gurus. These are the most common problems why self help fails and what to do about it.
Failing to plan is planning to fail -- Alan Lakein Click To Tweet
The 10 Reasons Self Improvement Plans Fail (and what to do about it)
I previously wrote the absolute number one guide to becoming successful.
When you use that guide, make sure you also follow these immutable laws of self improvement.
1. Because you believe everything you read—Don’t
Psychological studies prove that we have a profound tendency to believe what we read even when what we read is not true. In other words, you will probably believe the self improvement books you read even when they are full of wrong or outright dangerous advice.
It’s called Truth Bias and it is the mind’s propensity to believe that what we are reading or hearing is true. 
Unscrupulous individuals take advantage of this because it makes you believe them. And this includes some dodgy self help gurus.
Do not believe everything you read.
2. Because you’re forgetting that your own mind and brain are the keys
Your mind and your brain are the most powerful forces you will ever know.
- Your brain generates enough electricity to turn on a light-bulb.
- Your brain has over 100,000 miles of axons, which could wrap around the Earth 4 times.
- Your mind is so powerful that Stephen Hawkings said:
So if you’re going to start a self improvement plan designed to change your life… well, you’d better darned well start with your brain and mind.
Too often we forget that success or failure mostly comes down to how we maintain brain health.
3. Because you have negative beliefs
It has been psychologically proven that the mind searches for evidence that confirms our personal beliefs.
It’s like the famous quote:Whether you believe you can or believe you can't, you're right Click To Tweet
There is no sense in committing to a self improvement plan if you do not genuinely believe in your own ability to change.
Good news: there are ways to change negative beliefs.
Any negative beliefs in your mind will destroy your ability to change, regardless of whatever self help exercise you attempt to do.
4. Recognise your own strengths
The whole point in self improvement plans is to change ourselves.
But what if your self improvement plan ends up changing the parts of yourself that are currently strong?
You don’t want to lose personal strengths during your self improvement plan (and it is possible). Many people claim that self improvement makes them feel worse not better.
Research from Montreal University shows that people who read self help books actually have higher symptoms of depression .
4. You learn more from life than from some guru
There’s no doubt that some self help gurus do have a positive impact on people’s lives. But there’s an even better teacher.
The best self help guru is life itself.
What is the point in the past if you do not learn from it?
Life lessons help you to see what happened in the past so you can make good decisions in the future. And of course you don’t just have to focus on your own past, you can learn life lessons from others too.
Take a look at these wise life lessons for inspiration.
5. Accept your weaknesses
Self improvement plans can have a huge negative effect on us when they try to convince us that we must change our weaknesses.
Newsflash: it is human nature to have both strengths and weaknesses. Instead of forcefully trying to change your weaknesses, you might be better off just accepting them and rolling with the punches.
As much time as you invest in changing, invest equal time in accepting yourself.You don't need someone to complete you. You only need someone who accepts you completely. Click To Tweet
6. Record your changes in a journal
Legitimate self improvement plans take a long time.
We know from research that it takes 66 days just to change a habit. So imagine how much longer it takes for more serious life changes? They do not happen overnight regardless of what any self help book might promise you.
If your self improvement plan is about health and weight loss, you can expect it to take at least 6 months before you see any real changes.
Scientists from McMaster University studied how quickly it took to see any discernible changes in a person’s appearance. The answer they came to was that it takes a minimum of 6 months to see any real change in a person’s body .
Psychological changes do not happen overnight either.
7. Maybe your self help plan actually is working… just slowly
The nature of the human brain is such that we expect to see fast results from any action we take. And the fact that we are constantly seeing adverts promising the “quick fix” doesn’t help.
People give up on self improvement plans far too quickly. That is partly the fault of the author of whatever self improvement book you’re reading—they promise instant results and when those instant results don’t materialise, “Hey, what gives?”
You should probably straight up ignore the “4 day plan” or “one week change” or whatever else it is.
The “4 hour workweek” is not actually a 4 hour workweek, it’s just a slightly more productive way to work.
Whatever time frame a self improvement book promises, ignore it. Follow the advice in the book if you believe in it, but do not expect the time frame to be accurate. Changing your life is not like throwing a ready-meal in the microwave.
8. Gurus don’t know more about you know about yourself
You know more about yourself than any personal development guru possibly could. Help yourself.
Why listen to someone who knows less than you do?
You are the master of you.
As obvious as it sounds, you are the only person who has lived your life. You are the only person who has your personality and your mind. And you are the undisputed master of you.
While gurus can give ideas and advice, they can never replace your own inner wisdom.
You might want to put down the self help book and start doing some self reflection instead.
10. Because you expect yourself to be perfect
Even if you took all the wisdom from every self help book ever written, and downloaded it directly to your brain, you would still not be perfect.
Mankind is intended to have flaws. Because if mankind were perfect there would be no way for our species to develop and life itself would be virtually pointless. Life is ultimately about learning, after all.
If you’re expecting perfection, let go. Reset your sights. Aim for quantifiable changes that you can legitimately achieve.
This is huge if you run out of motivation.
To stay motivated you need to set reachable goals that you can tick off one at a time. Do not simply expect to make a few changes and magic yourself into a perfect way of life. Besides, if you did suddenly wake up perfect, you’d miss so much of the journey of life.
11. Recognise that change takes time
Along the same lines as the previous point.
It is important not to feel that you need to see results now.
Rushing is a major major weakness. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, to get in shape, to train your brain. . . whatever goal you have, rushing is never the answer.
When we rush we feel stressed and when we are stressed we are counterproductive. Recognise that self improvement takes time and give yourself a break.
12. Some things are out of your controlGod grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Click To Tweet
Not everything is within your control. Things will go wrong. Outside influences interfere. Some unexpected error may come up that or there may be some reason why you simply can’t keep to your self improvement plan. And that’s cool. Back off. Give yourself a break. Any self improvement plan that makes you feel stressed is a BAD self improvement plan!
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