4 Reasons You Avoid Self-Improvement

Self-improvement and self-change is not something that comes naturally to many people.

In fact, most people are “change averse.” They have a fear of changing their lives, and especially a fear of changing their own self.

So instead of changing or improving the state of their lives, most people would rather just maintain the status quo and play it safe.

There are many different reasons people avoid self-improvement. This article covers some of the biggest hurdles that may block us.

1. You have too much pride

One of the most common things that hinders our self-improvement is that we have too much pride and arrogance.

This is because the word “self-improvement” often implies that there are areas of our life where we aren’t fully satisfied or happy with (or, at the very least, where we think we can do better).

So, to some extent, “self improvement” means that we have to admit that we can do better than our current situation – even if this temporarily hurts our egos.

You can overcome this by recognizing that no one is perfect, and everyone can improve themselves in different ways.

Understand that you are an individual who is always growing and changing, and this is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s only the person that doesn’t pursue self-improvement – who ignores that they can do better in certain areas of their life –  who really has the broken ego in the end.

2. You think there will always be tomorrow

Another problem we face when pursuing self-improvement is that we have a false belief that there will always be tomorrow.

So instead of working to make changes today, we procrastinate and hold off on our goals and dreams.

Unfortunately, if we keep following this pattern, then one day we may wake up and realize our whole life has passed us by, but we never got a chance to do the things that we really wanted to do.


“Why didn’t I learn to treat everything like it was the last time? My greatest regret was how much I believed in the future.”


Jonathan Safran Foer


The lesson here is not to wait, but to act now. Don’t let time just pass you by.

Life is remarkably short and tomorrow is never a guarantee. Take advantage of every day you have, and don’t wait until you’re on your deathbed to realize the life you’ve always wanted to live.

3. You believe you need to change everything overnight

One of the main things I warn people about in The Science of Self Improvement is the “myth of overnight success.”

We either expect big and immediate changes in our life – or nothing at all. So when things don’t magically get better in a short period of time, we quickly lose our commitment and dedication toward making gradual positive changes.

This is a common trap to fall into, because self-improvement is often small and incremental. We need to work at it for long periods of time before we can look back and see how big of a difference we’ve made.
Instead of searching for magical solutions to your life, focus on small and gradual change. Try to make a bit of progress each and everyday, but realize it’s a long-term commitment.

4. You say you are “too busy”

Last but not least, one of the most common excuses we have is that we are “too busy.”

You want to go to the gym and exercise again, but you just can’t find the time, because you’re too busy running around at work, at home, at school, or doing other errands.

Sure, life can be busy (there’s no denying that), but when you find yourself “too busy” that’s really a sign that you need to reevaluate your priorities.

“Those who think they have no time for health eating will sooner or later have to find time for illness.”

Edward Stanley

Ask yourself, “What’s really important to me?” Then make time for the things you value the most.

Steven Handel is a long-time writer on psychology and self-improvement. He blogs frequently at The Emotion Machine and is also the author of the brand new e-book The Science of Self Improvement. He encourages you to follow him on Facebook and Twitter, where he frequently shares new articles, as well as answers people’s questions about the human mind and how it works. 

Photo Credit.

34 Responses to 4 Reasons You Avoid Self-Improvement

  1. Hanuka says:

    Are you insluting how moslem praying?

  2. Shanmuganathan says:

    Hi Hanuka… Here he is not speaking about the praying. Lot of good things are here to learn out.

  3. cart2 says:

    it’s mimicking how giraffe and ostrich hide their head inside the land

  4. Khg12 says:

    Hanuka askes if this is insulting moslem prayer? Seriously. What part of this article did you read? Oh wait, let me answer NONE!  Patience and research before you go accusing people.  “We see things as we are, not as they are.” ~Kahlil Gibran

  5. L JamesMcFarland says:

    I believe THE biggest challenge in our world today to improving ourselves and extraordinary living is the constant busyness that all of us buy into- it’s like we’re on a constant hamster wheel! “Multitasking” being promoted as an actual skill, is in truth another way that those that have an interest in controlling you-those that benefit from all your hurried busyness, keep you trapped in the small box you’re in.

    Thanks for the clear writing!

    -Jim McFarland

  6. guest says:

    #2 freaks me out and scares me, have a nicer way to put this??  i dont want to have fear over how ‘remarkably short’ life is….time is abundant

  7. Natalie says:

    Great article Steven.  This is a topic that is not addressed often.  I’d like to expand on a couple of your points.

    “1. You have too much pride”
     I don’t think it is prode so mach as fear. People believe that if they need self-improvement that means there is something wrong with them. They don’t want to admit that.

    “2. You think there will always be tomorrow” We have all experienced the phenomenon of time passing without our realizing it. We must all realize that today is yesterday’s tomorrow where we promised to do something. So we must act today.

  8. Maurice Lindsay says:

    Wonderful article…I really relate to number 3 the most, because I had a major problem chasing overnight success looking for instant results in everything I did. Which led to going from one venture to the next to the next, and so on and so on. I found out painfully that there is no such thing as overnight success nor should I even want it. “Anything worth having, is worth working hard to get it”….Great post, very insightful

  9. #1 and #3 are definitely on my list of reasons. 

  10. No, I dont think anyone is insulting moslem way of praying. Its a phrase ” burying the head in the sand”.  

  11. I think I relate to number 3
    So far practising on the small changes is helping abit. Im impatient thats the problem.

  12. Steven says:

     Thanks for the comment James. I agree that “busyness” is a problem, I actually wrote a recent article on the subject, Working Hard vs. Staying Busy. I’m all for people being motivated and hustling, but it’s important that we direct these motivation to REAL VALUES, and not just stay busy for the sake of staying busy.

  13. Sage Grayson says:

    Guilty! I always tell myself that I can change my life “tomorrow” but then tomorrow comes and I procrastinate again. Thanks for the reminder to get started now!

  14. Steven says:

     A little fear can be good motivation sometimes. Life IS short and can end abruptly – don’t waste it. In the end, you’re going to regret all the things you don’t do, not the things you did do.

    So start taking action now and living your life!

  15. Steven says:

     Good points Natalie, thanks for the comment.

    Maybe there is some link between our pride and our fear? Maybe we are too afraid to change ourselves because we hold onto our pride and “identity” so strongly?

    “We must all realize that today is yesterday’s tomorrow where we promised to do something. So we must act today.”

    I love this, thanks for the insight!

  16. Steven says:

     Hey Maurice, I’m super glad you enjoyed it. I fell for the same trap of “overnight success.” These things just take time, work, and dedication sometimes before you start seeing results – it’s that simple.

  17. theonlywayisup says:

    I believe you can also add ” Fear of change” as a reason of why people don’t change. We know where we are at the moment and if we have been there  for a while, we have gotten so used to it that change and the thought of it seems scary and almost like a threat. 

  18. Bill Hart says:

    I like the way some people think self-improvement is getting new tattoo done! If self-efforts were made to improve ones  minds, education, experiences and fulfill  potential then new ways of living automatically open up and new talents are discovered.

  19. Bill Hart says:

    Oh! and you might be happier too…

  20. Steven says:

     Patience is key. Just keep the “progress principle” in mind at all times and focus on the small victories along the way. :)

  21. Steven says:

    Right now! Don’t just say you will, do it!!! :)

  22. Steven says:

     Indeed, good point. We fear change because we are too comfortable with the status quo.

  23. Steven says:

    What do you mean by people think self-improvement is like getting a new tattoo? I’m curious.

  24. Supercharged+Supernice=Me says:

    People, Please read the article and after that if you’r still thinking he is insulting Muslim’s or the way the pray, THEN I ask you nicely to read the article again because it has nothing to do with any religion what so ever!

    PLease do make mistake, I am a Muslim and I don’t see how the poster is insulting? Replace the man by a bird(I forget the name of it damm :P). You get the same concept.

    What the picture is saying: is that the average normal human is running/hiding/diving/hiking away from there emotions or laziness(like reading the article before seeing any offense in it). They keep repeating the same circle.

    Reading this article, with the attitude. I am gone do this now and to morrow. Maybe still next week. People want to change, but they are lazy to change. They prefer a remote to change their behavior. Maybe we should believe Hollywood, who shows us in their movies about human behavior changing pills. What does it matter, we are used to eat/drink pills. Some people sleep or wake up with them(NO offense meant in this, simply making a point).

    THANK YOU, for the great article.

  25. Steven says:

     Correct, Ostrich’s hide their heads in the ground as a defense mechanism, that’s why I chose the picture. Glad you enjoyed the article!

  26. Lili says:

     I think Hanuka is confused by the illustration picture. Cultural references -_- (Unless it’s pure trolling, obviously).

    Hanuka, this picture illustrates an old myth – namely, that ostriches bury their heads in the sand to avoid danger. Here, a human being is doing it, which is a way of saying “denying the existence of a problem won’t help”. It has nothing whatsoever to do with how anyone prays to any God, Goddess or Gods they choose to.

  27. Yvonne Root says:


    The best part of this post is the honesty of it. Like others have mentioned, I’m guilty to varying degrees and at differing times.

    One thing I might add is that lots of people are actually participating in the process of seeking self growth without cognitively realizing that is what they are doing. Learning to play an instrument, starting a business, reading an inspiring book, asking questions on the internet and so forth are ways people are growing without necessarily using the words “self improvement.” 

  28. Zjonni says:

    This article is so real and specific! It fits my  personality like a glove! I constantly say “I’m too busy to practise doing this or to learn that!” when all I’m doing is watching TV! I love this article cuz it makes me feel like I actually can imrpove on myself and it wont be hard or painful :)

  29. Lily Bets says:

    I can easily recognize myself in may of your points…..unfortunately.

  30. Pingback: Legal Business Development: Do You Avoid Self-Improvement? : In Black And White

  31. bonz04 says:

    We can’t say that we are “too busy” in improving our self. It always have a time for an exercise although for a small span. I agree to this article, we know what is the ability of a man in self improvement specially to our health.

  32. Denise Mayer says:

    1. You have too much pride The number 1 reason why people avoid self-improvement. i have learn to swallow my pride since the day i want to know something then its just happened that my younger sister already knew how to do it. I’ma kinda shy because of my pride of asking her to teach me. So i decided to forget my pride and swallow it, in return i knew something new and learn a lot from her. this is just an example also of too much pride i think.

  33. Kevin says:

    Number three is definitely my biggest hurdle.  I need to work on my patience.  Thanks for the article!

  34. Pingback: Legal Business Development: Do You Avoid Self-Improvement? | In Black & White

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