15 Popular Myths About Personal Development

With another year passing by, you probably have that sinking feeling again: everyone around you is experiencing personal development, except you. The idea is everywhere you look—on social media, in your family circle, within your friend group, and even amongst your coworkers. You notice people growing and changing before your eyes. These changes take the form of a new diet fad, a “spiritual awakening”, a newfound love for meditation, or better health habits. They all chalk it up to personal development…but what exactly does that mean?

The ultimate goal of personal development is to show that you are becoming a better person. It can even be stated that your own life is a journey of personal development. Our society has created an entire industry that promotes these principles of self-growth. However, most people yearn so much for the “key factor” or “secret ingredient” to a more prosperous and abundant life that they are willing to give both time and money to gimmicks that simply end up being empty promises.

How can you tell what information is real or fake these days? With the concept of personal development, it’s a challenge. To avoid unconsciously contributing to those who claim to have all the answers, check out these fifteen myths about personal development—and truly consider the facts before you buy into concepts that could potentially alter your life in a negative way.

  1. Positive Thinking is the Key

While positive thinking is an important quality, it is only part of what encompasses personal development. For many people, positive thinking is a great contribution to their daily routines. For others, it is simply unnecessary. Since everyone uses different methods for reaching success, it’s best to consider positive thinking as a single element of self-growth—and only if it works well for you.

  1. Not Everyone Needs Personal Development

The idea of personal development can seem like a chore or an unwanted practice for your life, but the fact remains that it is inevitable for everyone. You cannot control growth and change that happens during your journey, and it will happen regardless of how much you resist it. This change looks different for everybody, though. It might happen due to aspects of your relationships, your religion, your career, or other major life components. Still, everyone will experience personal development, one way or another.

  1. Sharing Your Goals with Others is Bad Luck

Nope. This type of psychology can only be applied to some people, and more so for those who believe it. A vast majority actually find it helpful to share their goals with people because it helps them stay accountable for their actions. However, there’s also those who prefer to keep goals secretive until they are achieved. No method is incorrect. Again, it’s all about what works best for your own personal success.

  1. “If You Believe It, You Can Achieve It”

False again. While it’s nice to have large goals for your life, you cannot obtain anything by simply wanting it desperately enough. Visualization is only one piece of the puzzle. The real way to achieve anything in life is to take action on what you want. Hard work, failure, and resilience are all critical parts of personal development.

  1. Writing Down Your Goals is Essential

No, it is not. Many theories and hypothetical studies have reported on the buzz of writing down all of your goals, but this is more of a guide than a requirement. Of course, the visualization of seeing your goals spelled out, in your own handwriting, allows you to better connect with them emotionally. Writing also displays your goals concretely so that you can better assess them long-term and organize them in a way that suits your needs.

  1. You Will Keep All of Your Flaws Forever

You might be superficial, apathetic, dishonest or untrustworthy now, but that does not mean you will always remain that way. It’s an absolute fallacy that your less noteworthy characteristics will be everlasting, so don’t listen to people who state that you cannot change. People can change and become better whenever they choose.

  1. Forming New Habits Only Takes 30 Days

A new thought or action will turn into a formed habit once it becomes automatic in the subconscious mind. It’s an activity that takes much effort and practice. For some, it can happen in less than 30 days if there is a lot of time devoted to the activity. However, most people require 30 days or more of repetition to establish a habit. If you truly want this habit to last, though, it’s something you will need to continue beyond the 30-day mark so that it becomes effortless.

  1. Become More Productive by Multi-Tasking

Many employers reinforce the idea of multi-tasking for better productivity, but critics are increasingly debunking this claim. In fact, more and more experts share that simply doing two actions at once will impair your brain’s performance. It also decreases your attention span long-term. Try focusing on one thing at a time for optimal results.

  1. 90% of Your Brain is Never Used

It’s often shared that humans only use 10% of our brains, but that fact has been disputed by many experts in the scientific community. Depending on the activity, such as higher amounts of physical movement or mental testing, you could potentially use twice or three times more of your brain than if you remain dormant.

  1. Positivity and Negativity Require the Same Amount of Energy

Contrary to popular belief, it takes much more energy to maintain a negative outlook than a positive one. Negativity often induces other high-energy emotions, such as fear, anger, shame, guilt, and resentment. Fear can especially trigger a physical reaction within your body, and it could lead to restless thoughts that impair your sleep at night. And you will use even more energy if you continually switch between positive and negative mindsets, since you are constantly trying to adapt to the new frame of mind.

  1. You Can Lose All Your Fears Instantly

You cannot simply snap your fingers to make all of your worries go away. While self-control and positive affirmations can help you overcome your situational concerns, these methods will not change the deep-rooted fears in your subconscious mind. This takes time, effort, and outside help to effectively pinpoint serious issues.

  1. You’re Born Being Happy

Happiness is not automatic, nor is it permanent. You might consider it to be a highly-sought quality, but it’s really a state of mind that anyone can have. Sure, a good amount of your happiness can be inherited biologically, but at least half of it is determined by your environment as you grow up.

  1. Positivity is the Same as Optimism

Positive thinking is great, but it doesn’t last forever. When your situation is rough and positivity is no longer making you feel good, then you know that frame of mind doesn’t come naturally. Optimism, on the other hand, is consistent positive energy, no matter how terrible the circumstances. Positive thinking creates acceptance for your situation, while optimism promotes positive action for change.

  1. Continuous Action Equals Success

You’ve probably heard all of your life that hard work leads to success. Well, these days, that’s not always true. Hard work is very important in moving forward with self-growth, but it can also lead to failures and setbacks. The best strategy here? Work smart, not hard. Make sure you assess your own performance from time to time, and keep on track with your short and long-term goals.

  1. Only Expert Coaches Can Help You

A professional coach sounds nice in theory, but it will be a huge expense for your pocket book. Consider getting a mentor instead—a person you know that has already achieved what you want to in the future. This can be for relationships, careers, family life, and other aspects of your life.

The Bottom Line

You can’t always believe what you hear about personal development. There are many common statements that just don’t hold up to reality, no matter how much wishful thinking you may have. Like all great achievements in life, personal development is a process that cannot be bought, done fast, or crafted for a perfect outcome. Success is often much more difficult and messy. Instead, take time to evaluate your own actions, pay attention to your feelings, and invest your effort in the right methods that will surely lead you to goals you’ve established for yourself.