Popular Self-Help Tips That Might be Sabotaging Your Efforts


Not all self-help advice is great advice. Just as doctors and lawyers are wrong from time to time, your favorite self-help guru may have spread some poor advice, too. Some of the most common self-help tips have been shown to be ineffective or even detrimental. 

Ensure you’re not blindly following any of the advice below. If you are, evaluate how it is working for you before you continue. 

Are you trying to follow these self-help tips? 

1. Announce your goals to the world. They say that if you tell everyone you know about your goals, you’ll be less likely to give up. The idea being that you’ll be too embarrassed to quit. It sounds reasonable, but studies have shown that this advice doesn’t work for most people. 

  • It’s believed that this advice fails to work for one major reason: Most of the people you tell will try to sabotage you in some way. 
  • Imagine your goal was to climb Mt Rainier in six months. You might hear things like: 
  • People die climbing mountains.
  • Didn’t you once trip climbing the stairs? 
  • How will you get enough money to fly to Washington? You’ll have to lose a lot of weight to make it up a mountain. 
  • We don’t have any mountains in Florida. There’s no good way to train here. You’ll never be properly prepared. 
  • It sounds expensive. How will you pay for it? 
  • And so on. Most people don’t want to see you do too well, and they’ll find ways to hold you back as a result. 
  • Keep your goals to yourself. The odds of succeeding are usually greater. 

2. Pattern yourself after the most successful people. The most successful people in any field are anomalies. Being the best anything in the world is like trying to be the fastest human in the world. There are only a few people with the genetic makeup to succeed at the highest level. 

  • For example, striving to be like LeBron James isn’t the best way to get into the NBA for the average person. People with enough talent can make a lot of mistakes and still be successful. 
  • Keep in mind that for many fields, success at the highest level involves a lot of luck. 
  • Find the strategies that have worked for many people and incorporate those into your life. 

3. Just visualize your goal and think positive thoughts. This is poor advice when it’s the only advice. A few years ago, it was popular to believe that positive thoughts alone could manifest anything you could imagine. This led some to believe that there was no reason to leave their couch. 

  • It’s attractive to believe that no effort is required to create anything you desire, but life doesn’t work that way. You’re not going to wake up to a Mercedes in your garage simply by daydreaming about it and reciting affirmations to yourself. 
  • Positive thinking, knowing your goals, and visualizing success are helpful, but insufficient. Nothing changes until you do something or convince someone else to do something. 

4. Do what you love and the money will follow. There’s only one problem with this idea. The things that you like are either the same things that everyone else likes, so there’s a lot of competition. Or, the things you like aren’t easy to monetize, like playing horseshoes or watching TV in your robe. 

  • To make more money, it’s important to find something to do that’s valuable to enough people in the world that you can generate enough income to enjoy the lifestyle you desire. It also has to be something you’re capable of doing. Hopefully, you can enjoy it, too. 

Have you been using any of these ideas? They’re not bad advice for everyone, but they’ve been shown to be a poor choice for over 50% of the population. If something isn’t working for you, it might be time to give something else a try. Life is challenging enough without making it even harder! 

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