sucessful self improvement

This is Why Self Improvement Programs Fail and Here’s Exactly How You Can ACTUALLY Use Them to Make Your Life Better

If you’ve been trying to improve your life with the help of ‘self improvement information’ and have gotten little to no results, you’re not alone…

In fact, most people who try self improvement resources fail to get the promised results.

(I’m talking about self help/ development/ improvement books, audio programs, seminars and so on, from weight loss tips to ‘success skills’ to relationship advice and anything in between).

I’ve been there myself for many years, until I’ve finally ‘found the solution’, and I would like to share it with you…

I’m going to give you one important step and a few simple rules to follow, in order to finally use self help resources to greatly improve your life.

But first – why does this happen…

You read a book that promises to improve your life in some way (or transform it altogether). In the best case you get excited for a few days, but then everything goes back to normal…

Nothing’s changed and you either give up on ‘self improvement’, or move on to the next thing – another book, another recording or another seminar.

Let’s face it, sometimes you don’t even read the whole book, or listen to that recorded seminar or that “self hypnosis audio” that you got.

You may make excuses like “I don’t have time” or “it’s not the right time”, but if you’d be honest with yourself, you may have to admit that the real reasons are the same ones that led you to self help in the first place.

I’m talking about either lack of motivation and self discipline or lack of clarity and focus (or a combination of those). Think about it…

Who needs “productivity tips” more than a ‘chronic procrastinator’?
Who needs weight loss advice more than someone who can’t control their eating habits or is too lazy to work out?

Bottom line – self improvement hasn’t worked for you because you just weren’t ready for it. But that’s about to change…

First, you must take this crucial step…

Create the Habit of Self Improvement

As I said before, lack of time is one of the most common excuses for not taking advantage of self help resource. You won’t have that excuse, once you MAKE the time…

Decide on a time (and maybe a place) for daily ‘self improvement sessions’. Start with something you can commit to, even just 15 minutes a day.

In those sessions you can write and read you goals, meditate, listen to hypnosis audios or even do some Yoga exercises. It doesn’t really matter…

At least at first what matters most is not what you do in your sessions, but that you actually do them on a daily basis, so they become part of your life – a strong habit.

Do it for at least 30 days and you’re on the right track. Then you can raise the bar a little – either increase the length of your sessions, ad another daily session, or decide on new things that you’d do in your sessions.

NOTE: If you already spend a lot of time reading or listening to self help material, don’t waste your “self sessions” doing the same thing. Instead – focus on taking action on the information you learn from all those resources.

The Rules for Getting the Most Out of Self Improvement Programs

My personal experience shows that good self improvement resources can really help you change your life for the better… if you follow these ‘rules’…

1. Believe it’s possible

This is really key. You must believe that you can create changes in your life and especially – that YOU can change.

You don’t even have to believe in the ‘self help resources’. It’s all about YOU. Whether you call it “the law of attraction” or basic psychology (like I would) – your thoughts shape your reality…

If you have trouble believing that, then the only self improvement resource you should invest your time in is one that will convince you of it.

2. Take control

No book or program has been created especially for you, so you shouldn’t ‘play a static role in this game’. Don’t follow instructions blindly, and don’t expect a book or tape to motivate you enough to take action.

In other words, self help resources are just tools, and it’s your job to use them in a way that fits you, your life and your needs.

3. Focus on self change

In order to improve your life, you need to focus on the one thing that you have most control over. That one thing is YOU of course.

When you learn new self improvement techniques, focus on what you need to change in yourself in order to make them work. It mostly comes down to creating HABITS.

4. Stick to your level

You have to realize where you are right now and set yourself realistic goals. There’s a good chance that you’d have to start with the basics – overcoming your limiting beliefs, raising your motivation and so on.

For example, don’t read “How to make a 6 figure income” or “How to become an athlete” when what you really need is to “stop procrastinating” or “overcome compulsive eating”.

5. Set your own pace

Self improvement resources tend to raise our hopes for amazing results in a short time, but in reality it rarely works that way.

Don’t rush. Focus on small achievements over time, be patient and persistent and enjoy the process.

6. Get less information and take more action

A while ago I used to read, watch and listen to self improvement materials all the time. I could listen to the same recordings over and over again…

I think I was fooling myself to believe that just consuming a lot of this stuff would somehow change my life. Well, it didn’t happen, until I started taking action of course.

My point is that you should get the most out of any one resource before you move on to the next one. Focus on taking action on the information, instead of just getting as much of it as you can.

You may want to reduce the amount of information you’re getting – buy less books, remove yourself from email lists, visit less blogs and so on. (Go for quality instead of quantity).

There you have it – one crucial step and six important rules to follow in order to finally get closer to the results the self improvement resources promise.

I have a lot more to say about this, but I want to keep it short and simple…

…which brings me to my final note…

Keep things in perspective! There’s always room for improvement, but don’t forget to enjoy your life as it is, appreciate yourself as you are, and be grateful for all that you already have.


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25 Responses to This is Why Self Improvement Programs Fail and Here’s Exactly How You Can ACTUALLY Use Them to Make Your Life Better

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Why ‘Self Improvement Programs’ (Almost) Never Work and How to (Finally) Use them to Transform Your Life - PickTheBrain | Motivation and Self Improvement --

  2. Thank you for such a good article – written with great feeling, encouraged to start self-education)))

  3. Thank you for such a good article – written with great feeling, encouraged to start self-education

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  5. Awesome points! Especially number 1 – “Believe it’s possible.” I just wrote a post about the driving principles of the unconscious mind and where beliefs reside. When we work with our unconscious mind and turn around beliefs of failure to beliefs of possibilities then ANY self-improvement program will have some benefit for us, especially when a person applies your remaining tips. Thanks for sharing these powerful pointers.

  6. Oh man! So, as I read the article I saw myself so clearly. But, I am hear to back you up on your first rule – BELIEVE IT’S POSSIBLE – after that, things really can begin to change. And a little dose of self-love helps too! We are all worth so much and I especially like how you ended the article saying that we need to appreciate ourselves as we are.

  7. Jason Fonceca says:

    Love love looooove this. Oh my god, you high-lighted one of the key, not often touched on components of world-shaping and self-improvement.

    This was inspiring and timely, as I just released Digital Affirmations (For a Complex World) 😀

    Beautiful stuff, thank you for sharing.

  8. Natalie says:

    Yes to BELIEVE and sustain that belief is the biggest challenge. It’s hard to sustain belief that you are going to be rich when you are buried in bills. One way to do that is to magnify the small victories like reducing that credit card balance. Don’t wait until it’s all paid off to pat yourself on the back and feel good. As you said, appreciate where you are now.

  9. Robin Alley says:

    One of the things in particular that you said really resonated with me. It also is something that Les Brown harps on a lot. He’s had an impact on me and I’ve written a few articles about him on my blog as well. And that one thing I’m talking about is believing in yourself.

    You recommend devoting your time to that task, but what books have you come across that really center around that idea? I think it would certainly be a valuable resource.

    Thank you for posting. It was good stuff.

  10. The first point is probably the most important. They say the size of your success is determined by the size of your belief.

  11. Rotem Cohen says:

    Thanks everyone for your comments. I just hope that at least some of the people who need these tips will not just skim through, read the comments, maybe even retweet (hint), but don’t act on the information…

    (Have you scheduled your daily “self session” yet? 😉

  12. I love the first part of this post. It’s so true that the self-improvement industry rarely delivers on its promises. Instead they just nourish our wishful thinking – tantalize us with all the delicious things we really can do. The problem is, we never will do them until/unless we learn how to FOLLOW THROUGH!

    A clinical psychologist, I’ve been studying following through – and the lack of it – for over a quarter of a century. I’m convinced that the root cause of poor follow through is a flaw in the design of the normal human mind. In case you haven’t noticed, our good intentions aren’t actually directly connected to our behavior. Although we can intelligently decide what we should do, often we simply don’t do it.

    I’ve been working on various ways that people can work around the design flaw to give their good intentions greater control over their behavior.

    In my opinion, Poor Follow Through is THE problem we have to solve in order to make full use of our awesome potential.

  13. Rotem Cohen says:

    Thanks for your great comment Dr. Levinson.

    I think that a good way to start improving your “follow through” is to raise your self awareness – listen to your thoughts, get to know how you think, how you act, when and why etc.

  14. Pingback:

  15. Robin Alley says:

    You recommend devoting your time to improving “believing in yourself”, but what books have you come across that really center around that idea?

  16. Guy Farmer says:

    Thank you for the insights Rotem. I agree that much of the reason that we fail in our self-improvement endeavors is that we set goals that are unrealistic and we don’t practice them long enough. To change any behavior it takes replacing the old way of doing things with the new way and practicing over time. Just like it took time to become an expert at doing things the old way, it will take time to become adept at living our new life.

  17. Let us not forget that Reagan’s future vp (Bush) and cia chief (Casey) met with the Ayatolla Khomeini behind the back of the then-current Carter administration (treason) and arranged for Iran to keep the American hostages until after the election. In return Iran got, at the very least, a conduit thru which to illegally receive missiles and other armaments–which came to light when traitor Ollie North got busted taking the missile $$$ and giving it to friends in Central America who turned out, naturally enough, to be drug smugglers USA-bound. Ah, the good old days…

  18. Martin K. says:

    “Get less information and take more action” – this is the most important tip and you can apply it to everything. For example if you want to become confident, it’s better to read only one article on how to become confident, and then apply it to your life. There’s no use in reading dozens of articles on how to become confident if you don’t take action!

  19. Pingback: Self-Improvement Programs-Can They Help You? | Self Help Now

  20. ATIFC says:

    Find-out how all habits good and bad work and why.  Go on to find-out how to make a helpful habit that your mind does for you automatically.Only master one positive habit of action on one habit.

  21. Christy Harden says:

    Great article! Thank you–I’m passing it on!

  22. Siebii says:

    I agree with Martin. The last one really hit home for me, as I tend to learn a lot without really taking any action. I also tend to do “advanced” stuff without going over the basic stuff first. good stuff thanks for posting.

  23. Harold Hawley says:

    You have already taken the first step by deciding to take action to improve yourself. You have opened the first door, and discovered what is available. What’s available? The universe. Finding the unlimited amount of resources blinded me, and I didn’t know where to start. Nothing worthwhile comes easy, but by this point, you are not expecting easy, you want results. Using the same mechanism you used to make the first step is how and where you take the second step. Be selfish. I’m not talking about everything for me me me. Start by giving yourself fifteen minutes everyday. You already do this with a different activity right now. Take that fifteen minutes to get motivated by realizing you are starting your new life. In essence you are reprogramming yourself. We can all be reprogrammed, but we are not user friendly.That’s why it is so hard to get started. If you write down what you want, and start the new habit of using those fifteen minutes, (EVERYDAY) you create a new habit which is very fulfilling in itself, so you are rewarded immediately. Take solace in the fact that you have just turned the corner. I think I read somewhere that if you do the same thing everyday for seventeen days, you have created a new habit. You already have many habits you have created throughout your lifetime so far. Like most of us, you probably don’t even realize you have done this, but your habits are the results of decisions you have made throughout your life so far. Creating one new habit doesn’t seem like it would be that hard to do, but on a subconscious level you are challenging what you consider to be right. Let’s face it you didn’t become the way you are now by believing you were developing bad habits. We humans sometimes make decisions based on emotion, especially when we are younger. So like the rest of us, you may have made an illogical choice based on your emotions at the time. So with that perspective in mind, it’s not too hard to set aside those fifteen minutes, and dedicate them to your favorite subject. Making yourself better for the benefit of yourself, your family, your friends, the people around you at work, and anyone you come in contact with, will effect how you see yourself, and in time, how everyone else sees you. We all have a longing to improve. That’s a strong human trait, so that characteristic doesn’t go away. It will be with you for the rest of your life. Now is fifteen minutes too much to ask? This is exactly how anyone who is successful does it, how big corporations, and think about this. No matter what level of school you are looking at, in September you know exactly where you will be in May. You know what you will have learned by that time. Taking the step to admit you may have developed habits along the way that are not productive in a way you would like, is key. Reward yourself for taking this step, by claiming your well deserved, daily fifteen minutes. It will make your life a much happier event, on may levels.

    Good stuff in, good stuff out. Nothing happens over night

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