11/11/2013 07:53 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 10:53 GMT

Three Factors Reshaping Our Attitude Towards 'Self-Help'

The desire for self-improvement is natural, even if we don't put it into action. We want to look healthier and more attractive, and be more fit. We might start eating more consciously, or working-out, or look into the latest skincare formulations.

But delving 'deeper' is something we keep closer to our chest, because talking about our commitment to personal development is still seen as a little bit 'granola'.

Stop press! Because all of that is changing. It's sexy, glamorous, and totally on trend.

It's always been easier to work on the outside. They are the bits we can see. We can benchmark and measure these changes; they happen before our eyes. The return is obvious - to us and to others.

Working on the inside - on who and what we are - is trickier terrain to navigate.

This task is invisible; we can't 'see' either the beginning or the end. When we set off down an uncharted path we're confronted with many unknowns, which can be unnerving and maybe even a little scary. And that's without mentioning the taboo of 'self-help' and 'personal development'. If you're seen reading Deepak Chopra you may as well secure a soapbox and scream: 'I am a lost soul flailing in the universe!'

But for some of us, the need for a deeper understanding of ourselves and our role in The Matrix is becoming more urgent. We can no longer ignore the deep voice within, whether it's a whisper or an assertive declaration, urging us to figure out what we are doing here. We are acutely aware that we must remove what stands in the way of us doing that (hint: it's not just us that are in the way) and are also aware of how important it is to 'start empty' and with a 'clean slate'. Luckily, there are three factors reshaping our approach to personal development.

  1. The first is the prevalence of e-readers: Kindles, Nooks, iPads. With our reading material hidden in the latest (*)Speck sleeve, no one is privy to the state of our souls (or, more accurately, our awareness of them). Our reading material can be as spiritual or salacious as we choose.
  2. The second is zany book titles - for example, the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari or The Art of Non-Conformity - that lend the self-help genre some edge whilst appealing to our increasingly anti-establishment sentiments. ('Cool' and 'non-conformist' are magnets for social change.)
  3. The last, and perhaps the most pertinent, is the new wave of purpose pioneers, who are transforming the very concept of 'purpose', and its application, on its head. It's being packaged and served up on a contemporary plate with applications for life, art, and entrepreneurship that are resonant with popular culture.

Popular writers and social commentators like Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki, Scott Belsky and Amair Haque are serving these concepts direct to the business world. Sites like 99u and The Creativity Post are weaving them into strategies to make ideas happen.

Others, like Danielle LaPorte and Marie Forleo are dishing up the secrets behind 'making meaning' for personal and entrepreneurial pursuits combined. With the release of the book Conscious Capitalism by John Mackey and Rajendra Sisodia, this approach is also filtering up the corporate food chain, giving a big thumbs-up to those who want to act more from their intuitive hearts.

These pioneers are passionate believers in unlocking our spiritual potential, nurturing health and happiness and using our unique talents to impact the heart of humanity. It's no longer perceived as 'hippy' or 'granola' to go in search of this 'treasure'.

On the contrary, it's on trend and available to whatever degree you are ready to explore. The wisdom is out there. It's up to you to apply it in a way that makes sense to you.

So grab a kindle, download some titles, and embrace the new age of personal development.