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One Caveat To Every Piece of Personal Development Advice Ever

As someone who discusses, thinks, and writes about personal development on a daily basis, I occasionally worry about the people who may have tried out my advice and gotten poor results. In an indirect (but ultimately real) way, I am partly responsible for the pain I may have caused in people’s lives when they follow the suggestions on this site and don’t get what they expect. I’m sure out of the near 250 posts I have written within the past two years, I can only imagine that some of it has been less than satisfactory for many readers. That is a karmic price that I have to be willing to pay if I want to maintain this blog, as I am nothing but another student in this game of life – and in no way perfect.

However, I would like to be given a chance to rectify some of this negative karma. And that is why I want to give you a caveat that I believe applies to almost every piece of personal development advice that can be told, whether on this site or elsewhere. And that advice is…

It depends on the person.

The truth is that while we share a lot of similarities as human beings, we are also innumerably complex individuals. No two people are wired exactly the same. We all share different sets of genes, different environments, different experiences. There are multitude of factors that make us who we are, and no single individual can ever be reduced to a blog, or a book, or a mathematical formula, or anything like that.

Thus, every piece of advice you ever get needs to be taken in the context of you and your situation. Sometimes it is good to think more, sometimes it is good to think less. Sometimes it is good to make decisions based on your emotions, sometimes you need to be more detached. Sometimes you should be really mindful and present in the moment, other times it is okay to reminisce on the past or imagine the future. Sometimes it is good to express happiness, sometimes it is good to express depression. Sometimes it is good to socialize, sometimes it is good to enjoy solitude. Sometimes it is good to have focus, goals, and expectations, but sometimes it is good to just wander.

Every piece of personal development advice should come with the warning: “It depends.” Blogs, books, and teachers can give you guidelines and educate you on certain tools in your arsenal, but ultimately it is up to every individual to put those tools to practice and choose what they create with those tools. I can’t make that decision for you! I don’t want to make that decision for you!

Please don’t compromise your free will to anyone (especially not me). And please take every piece of personal development advice with a grain of salt. Psychologists, therapists, counselors, coaches, and bloggers can only make educated suggestions, but you hold the power of choice over what works for you and what doesn’t. For example, right now I’m running a poll on whether or not people use affirmations (a form of self-hypnosis or self-suggestion). So far, it is pretty evenly split between people who use affirmations and notice they have a positive effect, and those who have tried affirmations but they didn’t work.

What matters most is that you know what works for you. And that is why I consider all of the advice on this blog to be optional. Of course, I encourage that you try new things and explore (that’s why I make the suggestions that I do), but I don’t think you absolutely need to do anything that I write about. I believe that everyone has their own path, and the most counterproductive thing any of us could do is try to get everyone to follow the same footsteps. Those aren’t my intentions.

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The 3 Step Guide to Achieving Your Goals

The 3 most basic steps needed for achieving your goals.

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How to Take Criticism Like a Champ


Simple tips for learning how to take criticism like a champ.

  • Listen to everyone, no matter how painful.
  • Acknowledge good points made by the other side.
  • Admit when you make mistakes and learn from them.
  • You can disagree without being disrespectful.
  • Depersonalize criticism by not identifying with it.
  • Remember not everyone knows what is best for you.
  • Anyone who has done anything great has had critics. It’s part of being a success.
  • Know the difference between your core values and when you are just being stubborn.
  • Try your best to never resort to personal attacks or insults.
  • You can understand someone’s point of view without necessarily agreeing with them.
  • Consider criticism a necessary component to growth and personal evolution.
  • Actively encourage others to give healthy and constructive criticism.
  • Taking criticism like a champ takes practice and experience. You need to be willing to face it on a daily basis.

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Respect Your Body

Your body is the machinery that makes your life possible. Love it. Respect it. Feel blessed and grateful, no matter what – and take care of it as best as you possibly can. Watch what you consume. Be active and give your body the attention it deserves. Don’t ignore it. You only get one body to take care of, one shot to do your very best with what you have been given.

Respect Your Body

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30 Acts of Kindness


Improve the well-being of yourself and others with 30 acts of kindness.

  • Give a genuine compliment.
  • Tell someone you love them.
  • Smile at everyone you see.
  • Do something nice for a stranger.
  • Donate to a charity you believe in.
  • Volunteer in a local community organization.
  • Plan a fun social event for friends, family, and/or coworkers.
  • Encourage someone to pursue one of their goals.
  • Forgive someone who hurt you.
  • Apologize for your mistakes.
  • Catch up with an old friend.
  • Be a good listener when someone needs to vent.
  • Create a mix CD for a friend.
  • Dedicate a song or poem to someone.
  • Say “please” and “thank you” – and really mean it.
  • Leave a generous tip for a friendly waiter/waitress.
  • Pass along a great book you’ve just finished reading.
  • Print out inspirational quotes and post them around town.
  • Deliver fresh-baked goods to the local fire department or police department.
  • Give blood.
  • Mow a neighbor’s lawn.
  • Tell someone you appreciate them.
  • Leave a positive comment on a blog or website you enjoy.
  • Spend more time with your kids.
  • Pay the toll for the car behind you.
  • Organize a local event.
  • Create a “Free Hugs” stand.
  • Do something nice for yourself.

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