Seven Pitfalls of Personal Development

24/10/2013 10:39 BST | Updated 23/01/2014 23:58 GMT

Personal development is big business. Run your hands across the shelves of any book shop and you'll see it relate to the spectrum of our personalities and increasingly in to our business life.2013-10-23-personaldevelopment.jpg

For me, personal development is about being a better, stronger, more powerful, confident person who shows up to my best potential and makes the best contribution to my life and the world as was intended. That can involve learning as well as dealing with 'stuff' that is in my way. This 'stuff' can be anything from emotional, to mindset to life experience that has impacted on me and now holds me back.

Much of the personal development agenda is based on an illusion because most of mankind lives in illusion. However, personal development comes in to shatter those illusions and get to the truth, well it does if it is 'good' personal development. Sadly some personal development is also illusionary too, but if it works like a placebo, then it is not totally bad!

The sheer broadness of what personal development is makes it hard to 'regulate'. While some aspects of it are held to some level of account by relevant professional bodies, the influence is weak at best. It's the nature of the beast that it relies heavily on YOU the recipient being responsible for your own transformation and some things are simply meant to be.

Yet, if you are going to embark or continue with personal development in any area of your life then I have created seven pitfalls for you to avoid, call it your own personal development manifesto.

For the avoidance of doubt, I love personal development. There are rotten eggs across all industries and it's neither smart nor useful to discount all personal development because of a few.

Feel free to use this personal development manifesto as your own, share it and comment on it. We may just create a movement that helps people make choices about who they are and what they need based on truth rather than a fear created by a marketing genius!

  1. Avoid those that need to be 'right.' Avoid working with anyone whether a healer or a life or business coach that makes others wrong or makes any part of the world wrong and themselves right. If someone has a need to judge others to make themselves feel better and to try and win you over, run a mile. There is nothing good going on.
  2. Don't give your power away! Never think someone else has the full answers or solution for you. Personal development is not a fix but a catalyst for empowerment and giving the reins to someone else means you are likely to get hurt as you are no longer in the driving seat of your life!
  3. If it doesn't feel right then it probably isn't right for you! When it comes to personal development, I see people making decisions on where to spend their money and time based on what others are doing often without due diligence and going against their own intuition or gut instinct. Just because someone was someone else's metaphoric cup of tea that does not mean they will be yours!
  4. Never forget YOU! I coach people and used to be a healer and I put my money where my mouth is and am a client of others too. I find it amazing that there are so many 'clients' who don't implement recommendations and then get their knickers in a twist that they have been duped or nothing is working. You have to remember in your life or business you are the only one who can make it so. When you are implementing if you stumble then then check out manifesto point five.
  5. Ask for more help and clarification. When you have paid someone if after, you are not clear or you are working or implementing something you agreed and it isn't feeling right or its making you feel worse, then ask for more help. Don't be fobbed off but of course be respectful too as boundaries will exist, but at the same time if you are offered no help in between sessions then I would say that person isn't as committed to your personal development as you may be. There has to be a balance but if you need help you need to ask and there has to be a way to get it. Ask this upfront before you commit. Understand what you are paying for.
  6. Develop practices that are conducive to your personal development desires. Having said personal development isn't a fix nor is it a repentance payment. You can get addicted to it like anything so to support you as you want to transform, grow, expand and heal, rather than bouncing from therapist to therapist and being on what feels like an eternal journey of seeking, be the one who finds. The best way to do this is to remain connected with practices that are in alignment with personal development, like meditation, contemplation, journaling and so on. Practice self-connection as ultimately that is a goal as well as tool for personal development.
  7. If it's not fun then stop. This doesn't mean if it is hard stop as sometimes you may have to get over bigger bumps and that can feel painful. Yet nothing ought to feel like you are poking your own eyes out. This is all optional in the end and if you don't have a rapport, some fun and trust in your personal development specialist then what is the point? If you aren't getting results and just feeling more pain then what is the point? If you know you have stayed true to points 1-6 and it still isn't fun then my advice is get out and work out what you need more clearly and then go off and find that person or service!

Personal development isn't fluffy or just about the feel good, it is about personal development. People who sell you dreams are charlatans but people who help you make your own dreams a reality are the personal development experts that you want close by your side.

(Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/

Sarupa Shah is an award-winning entrepreneur and mentor. She is the founder of The Soul Agency, working with entrepreneurs and leaders to instigate real change in our approach to modern life; putting consciousness back on the agenda. Sarupa speaks, coaches and runs workshops and study programmes across the globe which inspire people to tap into their own inner power. Sarupa is a published author of the no.1 best seller - The Art of Affirmations and The Heart Centred Entrepreneur (both available on Kindle via Amazon) and