Why Personal Development Programs Don’t Work

This article looks at 8 reasons why personal development programs don’t work (This includes programs designed to improve our minds and our bodies).



.Personal Development Programs Don't Work.

Okay, okay…. Effectively saying that self-improvement programs are a waste of time is a bit of an odd thing to say, considering we are a personal development web-site !!!

Most people would agree that the actual concept of self-help is a great idea. Developing yourself to be the ‘best you can be’ has to be a great thing, right ?

Nobody wants to be in their senior years full of regret, having not achieved what they set out to achieve, just because they didn’t follow a successful blueprint.


Over the years, how many:

  • Personal development articles, magazines & books have YOU read ?
  • CDs & tapes have you listened to ?
  • DVDs & videos have you watched ?

10, 20, 50, over 100 !! A lot right ? Not seeing success

  • Have they made you any more successful than you would have been ?
  • Are you now a millionaire ?
  • Do you now drive that sports car you’ve always wanted; and is it parked outside the house of your dreams ?
  • Are you now super-confident in every situation ?
  • Did you get to ask out all of those ‘ideal partners’ ?
  • Are you working in your dream job, or do you run that successful company that you ‘sketched out’ years ago ?
  • Were you able to set ‘impossible’ goals and follow through with them ?
  • Are your time-management issues ‘a thing of the past’ and is your productivity better than ‘5 normal people’ combined ?
  • Do you have laser-like focus that could ignore the distractions of an airport runway ?
  • Did you finally lose all that weight, or develop that toned beach-body ?

How many self-improvement articles, magazines, books, CDs, and DVDs study programs do you think have actually been published in the past 50 years ?


When you look at the statistics, self-improvement vastly under-achieves in what it sets out to do. In fact, it doesn’t actually work for that many people at all.

We’ve heard less than 5% of people actually see any success following self-improvement programs. That’s a shocking statistic !!!

So what’s the issue ? Why is it all going so wrong ?

The Problems with Self-Help Programs

With all of this brilliant information being published (Which is available to millions of people):

  • Why aren’t there more people seeing success throughout the world ?
  • Why are there not more people living in luxury houses, with expensive cars sitting on the drive ?
  • Why are there still thousands of people working ridiculously long hours, in jobs they hate, seeing their lives flash by ?

And have you noticed that another day, week, month, or YEAR, has just flashed by ? How many times have you said:

  • “I just don’t know where the time is going ?” or
  • “Time seems to be speeding up, it’s getting quicker and quicker !!”.

Have you ever wondered why, when you were a child, time seemed to go sooooooo sloooowly, yet the older we get the faster time seems to go ?

But we all know that when we were children there were 86,400 seconds in the day. Now that we are adults there are….. 86,400 seconds in the day. THE SAME !!

So what’s changed ? And what has this got to do with us not being able to make personal development programs work ? (All will be revealed below)

“I’ve heard people fail because they just don’t take action !!

WRONG !!!!!

That isn’t actually the main reason people fail.

There’s actually a step before that, which is CRUCIAL before any action steps can be taken. This is a step that we are ALL suffering from (but more about that later).

Put it this way, personal development programs promise that you can have whatever you want. You just need to do 3 things :

  • Read / listen to / watch the material
  • Understand the material
  • Take action

Surely if it was that easy why aren’t more people seeing success ? Why aren’t more dreams being fulfilled ?

People give up

If you’ve failed with your self-improvement goals in the past, there is only one reason for it….. You’ve given up. Okay, that’s too simplistic.

WHY have you given up………… ?? Let’s cut to the chase…..

8 Reasons Why Personal Development Programs Don’t Work

If you are struggling to see success, then there is a real chance that your problem stems from one… OR MORE… of the following.

1) People start off in the wrong frame of mind start off personal growth with wrong mindset

The problem many people have is that they fall into personal development when the going is tough. They’re either:

  • Having problems, or failures, in their relationships or career
  • Experiencing issues with finances, fitness, or health
  • They are stuck in a rut and looking for a push to take them to the next level

Whatever the problem might be, they are clearly not in the place they want to be right now (otherwise they’d be no need to seek information on how to improve their lives).

They are starting off on the back foot with an element (or a LOT) of negativity in the minds. This is likely to lead to suppressed desires. And without desire you’re going no-where.

However, ‘we are where we are’ and there are things that you can do about it, so that you can ‘hit the ground running’ when taking on a new self-improvement book or course (see below).

2) There’s work involved. People don’t like work

Too many people think that if they buy a few books on personal growth, personal development, self-help, self-improvement, or whatever other label you want to put on it, then it’s just a case of sitting back and waiting for the magic to happen.

Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work like that. We are going to be blunt and say that there is work involved.

It is predicted that many people don’t even get to the end of a self-help book, or course, before they ‘give up’. Do YOU have books that you’ve never completed…. or didn’t even start, because ‘change’ seemed like too much hard work ?

There is no doubting that there are tools and techniques that you can use which will make your development a lot easier, but the reality is that you do have to take action (and that starts with opening that book that you paid a lot of money for).

3) People want immediate results

So here you are in your life (good or bad) and it’s taken you how long to get to this point ? 20, 30, 40 years ?

If it’s taken you that long to get ‘here’ you can’t expect overnight changes with ANY personal development program. What you need to understand is that self-improvement is an on-going process.

Doing a few mind-exercises from a book, or adding a few things to a to-do list, for a couple of weeks, is just not going to cut it in the long run. And it’s the long haul that leads to success…. NOT what you do for the next couple of weeks.

Be realistic. Don’t expect immediate changes or results…. But DO make small steps towards your goal…….


4) People try to take on too much of ‘a change’ at once

This follows on nicely from “People want immediate results”. Let me give you a ‘real life’ example……..

PianoFailing Self-Help

The times I’ve regretted not continuing with keyboard lessons when I was 16….

  • I regretted it at 25 (when I still could have ‘started’)
  • I regretted it at 32 (when I still could have ‘started’)
  • and then again at 46 (when I still could have ‘started’)

How good would I have been at playing the piano now (at 48), even if I only practiced for just 30 minutes per week from the age of 16 !!!

But no… because I wanted to complete the whole 40 cassette course in a month (which was not possible), I just gave up.

I still have the course…. right here (with dust on it).

nb. We’re not suggesting that the Play it Today keyboard course (pictured here) is not good. It is actually VERY good.


Learning an instrument is like exercising, or trying to lose weight. Instead of just doing a little bit each day (so it becomes a simple routine – like brushing your teeth), people try extravagant exercise routines that take too long and leave them feeling exhausted and NOT wanting more.

Imagine just doing 25 press-ups and 25 sit-ups EVERY DAY for the next year. That’s only going to take you 5 minutes per day – and it can even be done whilst watching your favorite TV show. Would it make a difference to your body ?… YOU BET IT WOULD !!

Little but often !!!

5) Not one ‘single’ personal development system can help you achieve your goals

Think about this. It’s taken a lot of different ‘circumstances’ to get you to where you are now in your life. A lot of different training and a lot of different ‘bits’ of knowledge.

It follows that it’s going to take more than one ‘bit’ of knowledge, or ‘system’, to move you forward in the next 5 years isn’t it ?

We actually blame part of this ‘problem’ on the personal development industry itself. There are far too many self-help gurus, who promote their ‘system’ as being “The only thing you’ll ever need to see fantastic success in your life”.

That ‘system’ might be: NLP, Hypnosis, Law of Attraction, Goal-setting, Time Management, EFT (Tapping), confidence courses, visualization, affirmations, subliminals, meditation, or any diet, weight-loss, or exercise regime…. In fact, anything to do with personal development cannot be done without at least one other ‘system’ to supplement it.

You wouldn’t bake a cake with just the flour and no other ingredients. So why are you trying to improve your life with just one personal development system ?

The truth is you need a combination of techniques but this is not widely communicated or understood. If you are stuck with just one or two ‘systems’, that are not propelling you forward as quickly as you would like, you will simply give up.

It’s only a combination of tools (or systems) that can lead you to success. This is why if you look at the top of this page, we have several different categories that we write about….. and use ourselves.

6) People try too many different things

Okay, this might seem contradictory to the previous point.

However, too many people flit from one idea, or product, to the next BEFORE they have given the first idea a chance to succeed.

There is no matrix of success for this. You need a combination of systems working in harmony, as opposed to working on one system, before dropping that, and then moving onto the next enticing ‘shiny object’.

7) Focus, focus, focus

Being able to live ‘in the now’.

Okay, DON’T switch off at this point, we are not going to get all spiritual with you (promise). Let me tell you a story that I’m sure many of you can relate to……..

My Ironing Failures Time I did Personal Growth

When I was working for one of the largest banks in the world, I would spend Sunday afternoons ironing my shirts, together with a few other bits that needed ironing, for the following week. It used to take me 60 minutes. I did this whilst I was listening to Tony Robbins ‘Personal Power II’ (which is an excellent program by the way).

I was always happy with myself that each Sunday I was able to do a mundane chore, such as ironing, whilst feeding my mind with such great personal growth information.

Each Sunday I could ‘claim’ to have done my hour’s personal development training for the week (that’s no-where near enough by the way) and had therefore fed my mind with some great stuff…..

WRONG !!!!!

If someone would have asked me on Monday morning what I’d learnt from the previous days ‘fix’ of personal development. I would have had to have said,

“I don’t know. I can’t even remember what I heard, let alone learnt” Tony Robbins Personal Power 2

Why ?

Was my memory that bad ? NO

Is Anthony Robbins a boring teacher and I just switched off ? CERTAINLY NOT !!

What was going on in my head, as I pressed the creases out of my work shirts ?

I was getting distracted !!

(nb. We’re not suggesting that the Personal Power II (pictured here) is not a good course. It is actually VERY good and we highly recommend it.)

Whilst initially getting ‘pumped up’ by Tony’s enthusiasm, my mind would soon wander onto other things….Like:

  • What disasters would I encounter the following week at work ?
  • When I would finally find the partner of my dreams ?
  • How I was going to break out of the rat race ?
  • What could I do to finally make me really happy ?
  • Why were others achieving success with seemingly little or no effort ?
  • Why I seemed to be going backwards in my life ?
  • Why wasn’t I as fit as I once was ?
  • Was my receding hairline making me less attractive ?

All of these things were subconsciously spinning round my head…. actually they were consciously spinning round my head too !!!

Is it any wonder that as brilliant as Anthony Robbins is, I was learning nothing and therefore I was not putting any of his ‘wise teachings’ into action.

And it wasn’t just Anthony Robbins either. The same thing happened when listening to Brain Tracy, Christopher Howard, Michael Heppell, Deepak Chopra and many, many, more.

Over 20 years of self-improvement programs and I was actually further back with my life….. But more worryingly, I wasn’t in total control of my own mind.

Children focus, learn, and practice

Being able to live in the ‘present moment’ is the one thing that children can ALWAYS beat adults with.

  • Children don’t worry about the mistakes they’ve made in the past (if they fall over, they just get up again)
  • Children don’t worry about how they are going to pay the bills if the economy continues to falter or their income ‘dries up’

They just don’t worry about that type of stuff. They are only concerned with what toy they are playing with, or TV program they are watching, AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME. They are TOTALLY focused on ‘this moment in time’.Poor attention span

THAT is one of the reasons why children learn so quickly. It’s their unshakable ability to:

  • Focus
  • Learn
  • And then practice what they learn – without getting distracted

If they want to learn it and apply it, they WILL learn it an apply it.

The Adult Distraction

Adults, on the other hand:

  • Get to a stage where their lives are not going as planned
  • ‘Force themselves’ into picking up a self-improvement program (or maybe 2 or 3, or over the course of a few years, maybe 100s of them !!!)
  • Some even do this in desperation…. a last result when all else has failed

How many times have you read a book (any book, it doesn’t have to be a personal growth book) and once you’ve read it you can’t remember hardly anything that was written in it. Or how many films have you watched and can’t really remember the plot ?

You’re not alone………..

Some people might be reading this and saying “I’ve no idea what you are talking about. I have no problem focusing ?”. If that’s you then great. However, there is still a problem……..

8) Your brain is just a computer – subject to viruses

For most adults, if they are really honest with themselves and take time to note down what they are thinking, they will have to admit that they can hardly go 15 seconds without their minds shooting off in all directions :

  • “What am I going to cook for the kids’ dinner ?”
  • “How will the boss react to last month’s sales figures ?”
  • “Will my husband / wife still be upset with me because of the comment I made 2 days ago ?”
  • “How are we going to be able to afford to pay those bills in 6 months’ time ?”
  • “What will my friends think of me when I tell them I’m looking at more personal development material”
  • “I really regret that incident 2 years ago – I’m sure deep down it’s really affected me”

All of these types thoughts (worries) are constantly flashing round our minds, whether we are consciously aware of them or not.


Now for many of you, that might be a bit hard to swallow. There is no way you are going to allow “a website” to tell you that you’re losing your mind…..

But I’m afraid that’s EXACTLY what’s been happening if you have been reading lots of personal development books and have got no-where with them.

Why have you got so many self-improvement articles on this website if all of this doesn’t work ?

We are not here to criticize ANY particular method of self-improvement studies. They all have their place : Hypnosis, EFT, NLP, Time Management, Goal-setting, Visualization, Affirmations, and Meditation.

They are all good, BUT you have to clear the ‘junk’ from your mind first. You have to be able to TOTALLY control your mind. Thankfully, more and more people in the personal development industry are becoming aware of this.

Think of all of the famous successful people in the world. Do you think that they carry around ‘baggage’ in their minds ‘fogging’ up their thinking ? Or do you think that they have the unshakable ability to focus on that ultimate goal ?

Andy Shaw, the author of the Bug Free Mind process explains this brilliantly. He gives the analogy of a pond of water that is polluted.

The Polluted Pond Andy Shaw Polluted Pond

Imagine a pond of dirty polluted water. The pollution has seeped into this pond over a number of years.

If you had this dirty (polluted) pond in your garden you might recognize there is a problem (perhaps with your fish dying). What if you get your watering can out and start to pour good, clean, filtered, water into the dirty pond…. That would work right ?

Well it might help to dilute some of the ‘bad stuff’ for a while, but if your pond is being constantly polluted, form an outside source (perhaps the contents of a leaky drainage pipe is finding its way into your pond), then it will soon be back to being a polluted pond again.

You need to stop the pollution seeping into the pond BEFORE you start to fill it up with clean water – otherwise you are just fighting a losing battle.

The Polluted Brain The Polluted Brain

The above analogy is much like your brain. Just like the pond, over the years more and more pollution (e.g. negative experiences and negative self-talk) has seeped in to your head and is now taking up more and more of your brain space. It’s not your fault, it just happens to all of us.

Again, just like the pond, you might suddenly recognize that there is a problem. However, rather than fill your brain up with cans of water, you buy a personal-development program (or maybe 2 or 3 of them), to ‘feed your mind’ with healthy information.

The problem is that, just like the pond analogy, you are fighting a losing battle with the constant world of negativity that surrounds you. So dripping in the greatest self-development programs ever produced is no match for the amount of bad experiences, or negative information, that your subconscious mind absorbs on a daily basis.

Now you might well say,

“Yes, I understand what you’re saying, but I’m far too smart to watch negative news programs, I only surround myself with what’s good in the world…. I don’t even have a Facebook account, so I avoid other people’s negative status updates about how disastrous their journey to work has been !!!”

Well, then you are on the road to success…… But what about all of the bad things that has happened in your past ? How can you shut them out ? Because you would have failed at some things in the past right ? (We all have)

  • You didn’t get the job or promotion you were after
  • A relationship failed
  • A friendship ended
  • Someone joked once that “you are a loser”
  • You did something wrong and lost a bit of confidence

It happens to all of us. Even the most successful people started out with problems, or things that didn’t go right for them.

This is such an important point that we are going to summarize that bit again:

  • Think of your brain like a computer
  • Now imagine your past problems, and the irrational worries you have about the future, as being like a virus on the computer
  • Now think about those personal development books / CDs being great new software for your mind (or the computer)
  • What happens when you put good software onto a computer that’s already got a virus on it ?

ANSWER: The software won’t run as it should and it might not even work at all.

Your mind is full of ‘negative chatter’:

  • “I’m no good at that”
  • “I’m going to put that off making that phone-call for a couple of days (I just don’t think I can do it)”
  • “I won’t ask that guy / girl out. They’d never be interested in me anyway”
  • “I won’t bother applying for that job. What’s the point ? There’s too much competition. They’re bound to be better than me”
  • “Our family just don’t have that sort of luck, so there’s no point trying to get a house in that nice neighborhood”

Negative self-talk gives you a triple whammy because it:

  1. Distracts you from being able to focus 100% on achieving your dreams… or (even worse) it stops you from even having those dreams in the first place. THAT is why when we ask people what they want out of life, they don’t even know. (Do YOU know what YOU want from YOUR life ?)
  2. Distracts you from absorbing the content of self-development programs
  3. Distracts you just as you are starting to take action (and so you procrastinate)

That is why:

  • You start off with all good intentions
  • You might write-up a brilliant list of tasks you need to do to ‘make your life a success’
  • BUT….. within 2 days, you ‘get distracted’

Then before you know it, you are 6 months down the road and your life hasn’t changed one bit and you can’t even remember :

  • What it was you were supposed to do
  • Why you were were supposed to be doing it



So what’s the REAL answer to the above 8 problems ?

You need to be able to TOTALLY take back control of your mind. 100% !!!

Once you do that then:

  • YOU are in control
  • YOU are the one that sails your own ship
  • NOTHING distracts you

Check back at the problems identified above and imagine if you could have ONE personal development program that would:

  1. Allow you to start in the right frame of mind
  2. Allow you to take control of your mind, which will allow you to work a LOT smarter (not harder)
  3. Get you to see instant results, because your planning will be done with a much clearer mindset
  4. Provide you with a program that is deliberately set out to take regular ‘small steps’
  5. Be a ‘total system’ that looks at
    – Clearing your past problems from your mind
    – Eliminating worries
    – Boosting your confidence
    – Producing a strategic and workable life-plan
  6. Provide you with many inter-linked systems (a holistic approach), rather than several products from different people who are not ‘joined up’
  7. Allow you to stay highly focused via engaging, short, videos to keep moving forward
  8. Give you access to a program that:
    – Clears out the mind-virus that you inevitably already have AND
    – Teaches you how to have laser-sharp focus BEFORE you start developing yourself

There is one program that we highly recommend to cover all of the above. It is the foundation that you must master before you start any serious personal development program.

Andy Shaw’s Bug Free Mind

We already have several articles on this site about this program. We would recommend that you start with this overview:

Andy Shaw’s Bug Free Mind Program Review

You can get the two books, or the audio course – However, getting all of the material ‘up front’ (with the books or audios) will lead you to ‘burn out’, or trying to go too quickly.

Therefore, we highly recommend that you get the video course, which is drip-fed in small manageable chunks, and you won’t be tempted to take on too much at once. This is a system…. a system that MUST be followed.

It’s a 400 video personal development course. (Yes, read that again !!)

Would you rather make ‘slow but sure’ progress for the next 3 years, or NO PROGRESS at all for the next 3 years ? (By which time you would have likely to have spent $100’s on other unproven personal development material).

Andy’s re-vamped his site and you can get access to this highly recommended video course by clicking on the image below.

Bug Free Mind


Success Made Simple Video Course Site

“But why would I spend money on this course, which is drip fed to me ? I want to change my life NOW and I can do it for free just by looking at free personal growth articles and YouTube videos.”

As we’ve indicated above, there are millions of people randomly looking at personal development material every year. It’s simply NOT working. You need structure from someone who has ‘been there and done it’ (like Andy Shaw has).

Certainly if you read random articles and watch YouTube videos there is no-way that all of these ‘opinions’ (by unknown ‘experts’) are going to link up with the next ‘opinion’ that you read (or watch).

Just like the exercising scenario we gave above…. little but often is the key to success – and that is what this course offers.

Final Thoughts

If you have been struggling with personal development in the past, we hope that you can see there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Just take a look at our reviews of the Bug Free Mind system, or Andy’s official website for more information.

We hope that you can take away something from “8 Reasons Why Personal Development Programs Don’t Work” and will help us help others by sharing this info, using the social medial links below.

IMAGE CREDITS: Duck & Pond by criminalatt/Brain Design Cogs & Gears by MR LIGHTMAN/Man thumbs up by stockimages/Lady biting laptop by Ambro/Mom & Daughter By David Castillo Dominici: all at freedigitalphotos.net

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