In recent years self-improvement has taken a pretty hard hit! Both COVID and the racial tensions in the US have shined a hot, hot spotlight on the failings of the self-improvement industry and the self-improvement movement as a whole. Making it seem both insensitive and trite and making people rethink the whole personal growth and development universe. To be honest, with my background and experience with self-improvement I’m not surprised. I’ve been noticing some big issues in the field for quite some time and have been impacted firsthand by some of them. And I for one think it’s time for a change! I know it might sound funny, since I’m a self-improvement blogger but I see the problems and I’m determined to be part of the solution! Which is why I launched my own blog and products! These are the 10 BIG problems with self-improvement!
Is there really any original thought in the self-improvement industry? Very often you hear the same words and ideas coming from every guru out there. Few are contributing new, fresh ideas or life changing truth into our lives. Don’t believe me? Look up a few of your favorite quotes from the leader you like the most and you’ll find that they’re attributed to someone else. Though I doubt the person you heard them from gave credit. Plagiarism is rampant in this field and it makes sense.
Most thought leaders face 2 challenges. They want to keep their followers and do so by misleading them into believing they’re the only ones with these fabulous ideas and direction. Or, the less sinister option, they’ve studied self-improvement themselves and just forgot where they picked up the content they’re laying down. That said… Google is a great resource and when it comes to written content checking and siting your sources is VERY important!
But better yet why not hold our thought leaders to the standard that at least some of their content MUST be original thought! Let’s not settle for the same regurgitated ideas and messaging!
I’ve found that self-improvement is pretty limited and that’s a problem in my opinion. I’m not going to have the focus and energy to better my life and outlook if I’m not resting and nourishing my body. I won’t be able to meditate if I don’t develop the time management skills necessary to schedule it into my already busy day. But self-improvement often overlooks these key components to, you know, self-improvement.
A single focus approach just won’t work! We need our bodies, minds, and souls nourished and if we can get all that in one place, that’s the best! It saves time, energy, and overwhelm!
I’ve long known about the exclusivity of the self-improvement industry and movement, but many hadn’t noticed it until there were some serious gaffs related to race recently. And if you still haven’t been made aware of this issue, let me fill you in.
The self-improvement movement has long been criticized for it’s extreme focus on affluent (upper middle class and above) white women. If you look at the communities that is their predominant make up and it isn’t because men and people of color aren’t interested in self-improvement as some have guessed. It’s because they either aren’t welcome or aren’t considered.
Self-improvement is for everyone and should be accessible to everyone. But the cost and messaging of the industry and movement make it unapproachable for many… FAR too many!
Community matters! Family matters! Friendships matter! If I hear the “you are the 5 people you spend the most time with” saying one more time I might literally scream. I know, I might be offending some of you who hold firm to this mantra but just to be clear, this is similar to cult messaging and it needs to stop. Self-improvement shouldn’t threaten your relationships and make you lose them. It shouldn’t be about you forcing those you love to share your pursuits or removing them from your life.
Please think about this for just a moment. If everyone held true to this message, there wouldn’t be anyone to mentor you let alone 5 people to surround yourself with. They’d all be busy surrounding themselves with people who inspire them except those people wouldn’t be willing to do it either. Do you get what I’m saying?
Insulating you from those you love isn’t self-improvement and it isn’t good for you. Life is going to happen; things are going to be challenging sometimes (including relationships). You can’t just live in a bubble with people and circumstances that agree with you and call it growth. Can growth sometimes negatively impact your relationships… sure! You’ll also find plenty of people who will be happy for you, encourage you, and even be inspired to join you! Don’t give up on your relationships because you’re pursuing personal development.
So… if you’re looking for holistic self-improvement, body, mind, and soul, buckle up because you’re in for a long ride! You’ll find a lot of people who are repeating after each other. But you’ll also find tons who specialize in one aspect or another and insist their thing is the first priority! So… should you start with gratitude, meditating or yoga? Is it most important to chase your dreams or bloom where you’re planted? And don’t even get me started on all the mixed messages you’ll get within the body camp! Eat vegan, no, keto, no paleo! Exercise everyday but it must be cardio or no, lifting or what about cross fit, barre or Pilates!
And don’t even get me started on how completely NOT approachable self-care is! YIKES!!! I mean for those of us with children and businesses and chronic illnesses and… well, let’s just say that the thought of meditating for 2 minutes a day seems like the craziest thing in the world. I was struggling to get to sleep at night because of the to-do list running through my head! Obviously starting with that was WAY more important but figuring out how… not so simple!
The self-improvement industry needs to simplify, meet you where you’re at and give real life solutions! Which leads to my next point!
I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at the COVID motivational statements about what a great time it was to self-reflect, focus on growth, try a new hobby and get in some self-care. I mean, seriously, could you be more out of touch?!?!
Telling single moms who don’t know how they’re going to afford to buy groceries while trying to do some side work to make ends meet and homeschool their 2 children that they should just nap and take a bath is trite and insensitive. A LOT of people are struggling with SERIOUS stuff. It isn’t just about a perspective change, so let’s stop saying that! I was heartbroken for those who lost loved ones and couldn’t even say their goodbyes, those who were sick and those who were struggling. This needs to be taken far more seriously and not ignored by the industry or movement. But I suppose this just proves my earlier point that self-improvement is exclusive.
How’s about some REAL advice and action plans that are doable and create results? Perhaps we could simply validate that the struggle is real, and we aren’t all coming from the same place and stop minimizing what other’s are facing. Oh, and by the way, please let me just say here and now, once and for all that self-improvement doesn’t cure mental illness or resolve trauma! For that you need a professional (like a doctor and therapist, not a life coach) so let’s stop being vague about that as well!
I know… you likely saw this and knew I was going to take another pass at that affluent, white woman thing and you’re kind of right. I just think this need to be pointed out all on its own.
Everyone in self-improvement is trying to sell you something (including me). That’s how we make our living and put food on the table. And if we’re offering something that will make a real difference in your life and adds value it’s worth it! The issue isn’t that we have tools, books or tickets to sell, it’s the entry price and the amount of upselling! You mean for the low, low price of $400 I can go to a weekend conference where you’re going to give me a few regurgitated nuggets of truth and then try to convince me I need coaching, books, and gear from you? There needs to be more value than that! And, you know, maybe a free option!
Obviously, some are better than others. But there is heavy emphasis on buying more and more stuff and it’s not cheap! Not even close! So, if you don’t have a decent disposable income it’s likely not an option to pursue self-improvement. That’s NOT cool!
8. Time Consuming
How much time do you have between work, raising children, preparing meals and whatever else you have going on in your life? I know I don’t have tons and tons! I just told you above that I would need to write it in my calendar if I wanted to meditate for 2 minutes a day!
It’s not just about having free time but also about how it tends to slip away. So really, unless you have a lot of it on your hands getting in some of this self-improvement stuff is pretty challenging. There was a quiet gap in my life where there was a HUGE difference in my ability to commit to self-improvement. I was no longer working all the time to make ends meet (and wasn’t launching my business yet), my husband’s business took off and my kids were in school full time (aka I became the target demographic). I suddenly found myself with time on my hands to do research, read the books and listen to the podcasts. That’s when I realized I REALLY needed that information YEARS ago. It would’ve saved me so much time and heartache if it had only been accessible in my 20s or even 30s!
I had a hunch I wasn’t alone! Before I launched my new business, I did a survey and guess what, time was the number 1 reason people were struggling to pursue personal development! Most simply don’t have the time to read a personal development book every month, attend conferences, listen to pod casts, read blogs (hello) or do research. It’s already challenging to carve out time for ourselves and we only get so much! Self-improvement needs to be packaged in a way that’s holistic and considerate of time limitations so everyone can do it!
The word “hustle” comes up FAR too often in the self-improvement world! And it’s no wonder… to make the time and have the money to pursue it the way it is now you’ll definitely need to hustle! And not only that the whole thing really is a “pursuit”. In order to keep selling you stuff it’s VERY important that you feel like you’ve never arrived at your destination! So… you always need to hustle!
Plus, in the recent past there’s been a lot of focus on building a side-hustle or business. I’ve built businesses before and I’m building one now, so I get the draw. But let me tell you, I thought long and hard about whether I wanted to do this! And I focused heavily on ensuring that it isn’t a hustle in my life! Don’t let anyone fool you… hustle isn’t what matters, peace is!
Self-improvement should give you a sense of peace and confidence. It should make you feel good about yourself and your life rather than busy. Get off the hamster wheel of self-improvement!
Along with the hustle there’s a constant feeling of failure. As a matter of fact, in my survey, past failure and fear of failure were the biggest concerns about pursuing self-improvement. It kind of broke my heart because, seriously… how does one fail at improving themselves???
When pursuing self-improvement there’s WAY too much focus on forward movement and “getting there”. People seem to think you’ll one day arrive at the finish line and you’ll never struggle with self-doubt, worthiness, frustration, sorrow or any other obstacle again. SO not true! Your self-improvement leaders are struggling… they face struggles all the time but for the most part they aren’t paid to tell you that! They’re paid to tell you to keep buying their products so you can get to the other side, the happy, carefree side with them. You can’t help but feel like you aren’t good enough and are constantly failing or letting yourself down.
Self-improvement isn’t a competition with yourself or anyone else. And the journey is never straight with consistent forward progression. Having content that meets you where you’re at is certainly the first step to feeling successful. But so is having a community that celebrates you and encourages you to celebrate yourself!
Even if you slip back, even if you struggle in your journey forward, EVERY small win deserves celebrating and every setback can simply be a lesson. Self-improvement isn’t something anyone can fail at and you should never be influenced to feel that way!
Making Self- Improvement Better
Self-improvement matters! Like… A LOT! I believe that change in the world starts with the individual and so as people grow, they make their families, communities and the world a better place. They are able to contribute their talents and voice to things that matter. They inspire and encourage those around them. And in this way a huge impact is made. So, it’s vitally important to make changes in the self-improvement industry and movement!
Making self-improvement approachable and accessible to everyone shouldn’t be that difficult. Creating an encouraging, supportive community where all are seen, heard and included is worth the effort. And meeting people where they’re at with real, time saving solutions will make all the difference.
You can stay connected to me and my content and start learning and growing without ever needing to buy a thing. I’ll always offer FREE support, advice and to the point, solutions. Because supporting others in their self-improvement journey and cheering them on is my number 1 priority! So, join my free Facebook Group!
You’re not just welcome here at UA… you’re the reason this exists! I think you’re already AMAZING and I’m here to encourage, inspire and celebrate YOU!
What’s your biggest beef with self-improvement? Tell me in the comments!