The Number One Mistake People Make On Their Self-Improvement Journey

By AAwosika07 | Purpose

Mar 19

I know how you feel. I really do.

You want a better life, but it’s hard, truly hard to pull off. You’re trying to find direction and clarity. You’ve experienced the stops and starts, ups and downs, moments where you’re elated and moments where you want to quit.

You’re wondering whether or not any of this is possible at all. Self-improvement sounds nice on the surface, but, for the most part, for most people, it doesn’t work.

So many people use self-improvement to cope mentality, to feel like there’s a chance. Deep down, you’re wondering whether or not you’re one of these people. The good news? Even if you are, you can change. The possibility of change always exists.

But you have to go deep to make that change. Start by asking this question.


Do you really want help?

Have you ever stopped to consider whether or not you want to live a better life? Maybe you don’t. I’m not saying this in a demeaning way at all. I mean it when I say this path isn’t for everybody.

Honestly, it’s not for most people. If I could filter out the people who’d take my advice directly and speak just to them, I would, but I can’t, so I’m sending out the bat signal. You can move into the camp of serious people, but you have to be honest with yourself about your current state of mind.

I ask this question because there’s this telltale mistake I see people make all the time that shows me they really don’t want help. Somewhere deep down in their subconscious they’re sabotaging themselves by making this mistake.

Let’s investigate what this mistake is, why people make it, and how you can avoid making it yourself.

How to Give Up Before You Even Start

I’ve seen people do this in many forms, but I’ll share the most common one. Whether it’s from my personal development writing or my website dedicated to professional blogging, a reader will send me an email, which does a number of negative things all at once:

  • It makes me never want to talk to them or help them again
  • It puts a subconscious signal in their mind that they’re not worthy of help
  • Of course, they get the opposite of their intended outcome and move further away from their goal

The email is always some version of, “Ayo, please fix my life for me.” This ty[e action is a microcosm of the way people go about the process of self-improvement as a whole.

I’m fine with people asking for help, but what irks me the most is when people don’t first try to help themselves in any shape or form. This example of the biggest make people make illustrates a larger point.

If you want to improve your life, you have to use self-improvement.

You have to take it upon yourself to change your life by using your effort.

I’m no fan of learned helplessness in either context:

  • People who adopt learned helplessness in the form of becoming jaded nihilists who want a handout and worship the government and other institutions of society.
  • People who adopt learned helplessness in the form of looking for gurus to save them.

I’ve never charged a bunch of money to be anyone’s personal guru for a simple reason — I can’t guarantee outcomes at all. Even if I were to coach in the future, my sales page wouldn’t sound like most get rich quick hucksters.

It’d say something like “I can point you in the right direction, do everything in my power to hold you accountable, and teach you strategies I’ve used to successfully change my life, but I guarantee you absolutely nothing.”

Far too many people get caught into this trap of thining self-improvement is there to save them, when it’s really a means of helping you save yourself. 

The Right Way to Improve Your Life

Self-improvement teachings, courses, and coaches are amazing resources to help you change your life as long as you use the proper frame.

I got hooked onto self-improvement through YouTube. First, I found Tai Lopez. I took his course and bought a bunch of books from his recommended list. You know what I didn’t do? Email Tai and ask him to answer some elaborate questions or be my personal mentor for free.

I was looking for answers, but I knew I could get direction and clarity from the materials themselves and act on it. That’s exactly what I’ve done throughout this half-decade of becoming a student of life. I was lost, broke, depressed, working a dead-end job. But I never expected anyone to fix my situation for me.

If you want writing advice from me, first read every single article on my website, start your blog, write a couple of dozen articles, bang your head against the wall out of frustration, then come talk to me.

If you want to ‘pick my brain’ about life, show me what you’ve tried already. Don’t reach out to people with vague questions.=.

You have to make the switch on your own, at some point. That lightbulb has to go off in your head that you’re going to give a damn about your life. The good thing? Self-improvement helps you get there.

I wasn’t a self-starter immediately. The YouTube videos, audios, books, etc got me fired up after a period of time and then I decided I was going to do something about it.

Mainly, search for the right information and follow directions.

If you can do those two things, you’ll be successful. Really, that’s it.

Become a Seeker

As society has gained more resources, people have become less resourceful.

You have access to information that can change your life, but you actively have to search for it. And you have to search for it in the right way.

Some practical tips for you are:

  • Don’t ask people questions you can Google, especially not me. I can tell you how many little blogging tricks I learned by Googling questions about blogging, finding detailed resources, and following them step by step without pre-judging the information.
  • Move up to the next level once you’ve exhausted your resources. I started buying paid products for complicated skills that’d be easier to learn about in a streamlined way, like self-publishing.
  • If and when you reach out to someone, either a peer or a mentor, for advice, make it clear you’ve done the work upfront.

In general, remove this idea that the answers don’t exist.

“Upward mobility doesn’t exist! You can’t pull yourself up by the bootstraps!” Yes, you can. But most people won’t do it because it’s hard. An online business idea and the steps needed to carry it through are a literal Google search away.

“Society is rigged! People like me can’t do things like invest!” Says who? You could be disciplined, learn about investing, save a portion of your money, and become rich over a period of decades. Again, the information is out there, and it’s psychologically difficult to pull off, but it’s doable.

I could go on here, but, the bottom line is simple. Naval put it best:

The means of learning are abundant–it’s the desire to learn that is scarce.

Will it be difficult to learn how to code if you were previously a coal miner? Yes. Might you have a steeper learning curve based on your circumstances? Sure. Is it unfair to ask a hard-working person like you to have to learn an entirely new skillset to save your life? Maybe.

But you have no choice but to be who you are and have the circumstances you have right now. It just is what it is. Cold reality. If you pull it off, yes, you’ll be the exception to the rule. But fuck rules. You have to win.

Learn How to, You Know, Um, Listen

The next time you read a blog post, e.g., 5 tips for improving your personal finances, do all five steps.

The next time you read a book about time management, attempt to manage your time better.

If you actually follow the directions of self-improvement advice, it will work.

Most people like to hate on books like The Four Hour Workweek, but if you were to set up the businesses as he suggests with excruciating detail, you’d own a lifestyle business. His series of books are some of the most information-heavy and extremely well thought out business books ever, but most people are lazy, don’t follow directions, and point to his gimmicky title. I doubt most people who knock the book have actually read it.

And this is the state of self-improvement in general.

Most people mock and distrust the product creators but they never actually follow through with the information. I took the 67 steps from Tai Lopez, a guy that many people really seem to dislike. Guess what? The ideas in that course changed my life in a profound way. Many of these courses and mentoring programs work, but there’s no product in the world that can work if you don’t, you know, do the steps.

I received a comment on one of my YouTube posts and the person said my messaged boiled down to “just do it” and that my style would impact more people if I included more “How to” information. He’s wrong. People want ‘one little trick to lose 10 pounds in 10 days,’ instead of the truth which is ‘lose one to one and a half pounds each week over a period of six months.’

I maintain a similar message for a reason.

Once you’re serious and motivated enough, you’ll graduate to more nuanced information and start to implement it. Until you reach that mindset, all the information in the world isn’t going to help.

There is no magic answer to any of this.

I’ll tell you this. If you make it a few years without quitting and you follow directions explicitly, I’m 99.9 percent confident things will work out for you.



About the Author

Ayodeji is the Author of Real Help: An Honest Guide to Self-Improvement and two other Amazon best-selling titles. When he's not writing, he enjoys reading, exercising, eating chicken wings, and occasionally drinking old-fashioned's.