Beware the Simplistic Logic of Most Self-Help

The self-help industry is booming; and it’s been booming for years. On one hand, I think this is great, because it provides people useful tools and advice to help them grow, flourish and make the most out of life.

One the other hand, not all the tools and advice being provided are actually valuable. In fact, based on my own personal development experience for well over a decade, and nearly a decade of training and coaching experience, I dare say that the vast majority of the self-help literature consists of naive guidance and ineffective solutions.

The biggest issue I see in most self-help is what I can best refer to as its simplistic logic (and I use the word “logic” hesitantly).

The dictionary defines the term “simplistic” as: “treating complex issues and problems as if they were much simpler than they really are”. That’s exactly how a lot of the self-help literature treats people’s complex life problems, and thus offers crude, superficial solutions for them, solutions which inevitably fall short.

So I wanna share with you some ideas on how this simplistic logic works and how to not fall prey to it, so you can find and apply the best self-improvement tools out there, and see the best results.

I distinguish two major manifestations of simplistic logic in self-help. Let’s tackle them individually.

1. Reducing the Solution for a Major Issue to a Single Variable

Most self-improvement issues are multifaceted and complex. It makes sense for the proper solutions to them to not be too simple either.

Whether you wanna have more confidence, better relationships, better health or more money, you’ll probably have to address and tweak several variables to reach the desired outcome. Because success in such areas involves an array of factors, many of which are necessary, but not sufficient individually.

That’s not what you’ll read in most self-help literature though. On the contrary, you’ll often be presented one-simple-step solutions to reach your goals, which address a single variable. It’s the all too common “just do this and you’ll get what you want” approach.

For example, many self-help authors say that all you need to be happy is love. Or that all you need for a relationship to work is honesty. Or that all you need to have a thriving business is to care about your clients. I can see how such ideas can be appealing, as they make success seem straightforward. But they are gross oversimplifications.

There’s a popular book out there right now that asserts the one secret to outstanding achievement is a mix of passion and perseverance (referred to as “grit”). The book does a good job of showing that grit is important, and it offers inspiring examples of people who achieved great things with aid from grit. But it fails to prove that grit is the only big factor that matters.

Indeed, grit it is as a necessary factor, but not a sufficient factor for great success. For every person with grit who achieved great things, there are probably hundreds who only achieved moderate success at best.

Grit alone does not cut it. Other factors play key roles as well. Choosing goals that match your natural strengths and learning from mistakes are two more such factors in my view, but there are likely more.

So, whenever you see a book, course or article stating there is one simple key to getting something, be cautions. It’s probably exaggerating the role of one factor for success, while ignoring the others.

2. Failing to Explain the Process of Changing a Variable

Not only that a lot of self-help insists that a single variable is all you need to change in order to achieve a meaningful result, it also assumes that once you know that, you can just go and do it.

It treats changing that variable as a simple, straightforward action anyone can do with little or no additional instructions. Thus the term “just”, which is very common in self-help advice: “just think positively”, “just love yourself”, “just be confident”, and so on.

What many self-help authors either fail to recognize or deliberately ignore is that such changes are not basic, simple actions. Rather, they are complex psychological processes, which entail a set of steps and integrated actions that need to be taken.

For example, loving yourself is not something you can just start doing one day, because you’ve realized it is important. If that were the case, there would be no people with self-esteem issues on this planet.

Loving yourself involves taking a series of steps, at the cognitive and behavioral level, which if taken correctly create long-term positive changes in your self-image. I talk more about this process in this confidence video. Telling someone to just love themselves is like telling them to just build a harmonica. Hard to do if you lack any training or guidance.

That is why in my work as a confidence and communication coach, I focus on properly teaching people the actual process of becoming more confident or communicating better, with all the relevant underlying psychology. My experience has consistently shown me that it is not only the best approach, but the only approach that works.

By the way: if being more confident in social situations is something you seek, I highly recommend you check out my Conversation Confidence guide, from which you’ll learn my step-by-step method for achieving this, which draws from my almost a decade of training and coaching experience in this area.

Improving yourself opens up amazing new possibilities in your career, social life, and dating life. But you can’t do it effectively with a simplistic approach.

As alluring as simple tips & tricks type solutions can be, it’s crucial to recognize they will probably not benefit you, and seek a more mature, complex approach to self-improvement. If a solution to bettering yourself and your life sounds too simple to work, it probably is.

For more non-simplistic advice from me, especially on improving your confidence and communications skills, I invite you go here and join my free newsletter today.

How to Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills

We live in a world full of information. Every day we are showered with hundreds of messages and ideas about a variety of issues, coming from our computers, our TVs, our phones, street advertising, or the people we talk to.

Unfortunately, many of these messages are not exactly accurate, and buying into them can be highly detrimental to us. This is where critical thinking skills come in, as a set of skills that enables us to correctly and logically asses the ideas we are exposed to, develop our own opinions and make decisions.

Not only that critical thinking skills help us possess accurate ideas, but by doing so, they also permit us to develop powerful arguments and counterarguments in our discussions with others, thus making us much more persuasive. They’re both a mental and a communication asset.

I’ve started working on developing my own critical thinking skills more than 15 years ago, back in high-school, when I joined my school’s debate club. Later I began training others in debate and critical thinking, and still later I added critical thinking enhancement as part of my communication coaching services.

Drawing from these experiences, I wanna share with you 3 powerful strategies to improve your critical thinking skills, make better decisions and be more persuasive. Here they are:

1. Question Conventional Assumptions More Often

Our minds are highly predisposed to just absorb the ideas they get exposed to, without judging their truthfulness first. Especially ideas we hear a lot. They are, in a way, like sponges for any type of information. And while this has benefits, it also goes often against critical thinking.

So a very effective way to improve your critical thinking skills is to put some effort every day into deliberately stopping when you hear or read and idea, and asking yourself (and, if suitable, your interlocutor too): “What’s the evidence that this idea is true?” In other words, you don’t just accept the idea as true, you ask for reasons to accept it.

If convincing evidence is presented, you accept the idea and move on. If not, it’s worth maintaining some doubt towards that idea.

As you practice this, your minds gradually gets used to it and it becomes a habit. You build into your thinking a natural tendency to regularly question ideas, a healthy dose of skepticism.

2. Gain a Good Understanding of Logical Biases

Logical biases are tendencies to misjudge information, reason incorrectly, and reach false conclusions.

For instance, overgeneralization is a common logical bias, which consists in the tendency to jump too quickly to a general conclusion from a small number of sample cases. For example, you meet two lawyers who are arrogant, and you conclude that all lawyers are arrogant.

Although we like to think of ourselves as rational people, the truth is that all of us frequently fall prey to biases. However, by learning about the kind of logical biases that exist and working to identify them in our own thinking, as well as in the thinking of others, we get better at spotting them, and we increase our critical thinking abilities.

There is lots of information online about logical biases. I also talk about them often in my free newsletter, which I suggest you join. The better you understand biases, the easier it is to spot them and protect yourself from them.

3. Learn About Topics from Multiple Perspectives

When we learn about a topic, it’s common to learn about it from only one source, which has a particular view on that topic, although many other views exist, some of which are at least as credible, if not more.

The problem is that if you only know one theory about something, in the absence of alternative theories, it will often seem believable even if it’s severely flawed. Knowledge-deficient minds are often credulous minds.

This is why it’s good to learn various theories about any topic and acquaint yourself with an array of perspectives on it. It makes you wiser and it trains your critical thinking skills.

For example, if you live in a very religious Christian environment and you learn that we are the descendants of Adam and Eve, that explanation sort of makes sense if you don’t know any other explanation. But if you also learn about the theory of evolution by natural selection and the evidence to support it, you have a competing explanation that’s likely to make you question the previous one.

This in itself is an invitation to research some more and think some more about this issue, which develops both your knowledge and your critical thinking on the issue. It can be frustrating to come to doubt an idea you’re used to holding, but it pays off in the end.

As you practice questioning conventional assumptions, you gain a good understanding of logical biases and you learn about topics from multiple perspectives, the entire way you see things changes. It’s like you’ve been looking at the world through a dirty window until then, and now the window gets cleaned and the image becomes much clearer.

With strong critical thinking skills, you are apt to distinguish good ideas from bad ones, make wise choice in life, communicate in a persuasive manner and have a real impact on the world.

For more advice from me on how to improve your critical thinking skills, as well as your communication skills, I encourage you to get onboard my free social success newsletter. The content I publish in it is always top-notch.

The 3 Layers of Learning in Personal Development

There are many ways to learn and grow as an individual, using a variety of tools. But not all of them work as effectively, and each tool entails a unique mix of advantages and disadvantages.

I’ve been involved in the personal development field for more than a decade: first as a practitioner only, then as a trainer, and now as a coach. In time I’ve reached the perspective that there are only 3 major tools a person can use in their self-improvement, and each one signifies a certain layer of learning.

The higher you go with these tools and the deeper you go in these layers of learning, the better results you achieve in your self-development. So I’d like to talk about these layers and help you get a better image of what you can do to see the changes you want to see in your life.

Layer #1: Articles

The internet is riddled with how-to articles on every imaginable personal development topic. Such articles are the first and most basic tool for self-improvement.

Articles are usually short and simple, each one only takes a few minutes to read, they are fairly easy to find, and most of them are free. So it’s obvious why, when facing a problem in life, people are quick to jump online to search for some articles with advice on how to solve it.

The trouble is that, although reading articles is a good start to learning how to deal with a certain problem, if the problem is fairly complex (and most personal development problems are), it will not be nearly enough.

This is why often, people who try to solve intricate issues like a lack of confidence, poor social skills, anger problems or toxic relationships just by reading some articles, although they make some progress, they fail to fully fix the issue or they take a reaaaally long time. The tools of the next layer may just do the trick though.

Layer #2: Books

booksBooks are the next level in personal development. When you feel like you’re not getting good enough solutions for a problem from articles, it’s wise to look for and pick up a good book addressing your type of problem. This can be a physical book, an e-book, an audio guide, etc.

As a general rule, books provide a much better learning and growth experience for a few keys reasons:

  • They offer more in-depth advice, which works better when put into practice than the more superficial advice you find in articles.
  • They address the multiple facets of a problem, from more angles than articles do, because they have the space to do so.
  • They typically organize all the info into a system, a method, which is much easier to apply then a bunch of scattered tips and advice.
  • People who write books tend to be more competent than people who write only articles, which makes for a higher quality of information on average in books.

Of course, books have the disadvantage that they cost money, although usually not that much. Price tag considered though, if you’re serious about making a crucial change in an area of your life, it’s highly valuable to get at least one book on that topic instead of stopping at reading articles.

I’ve read many personal development articles over the years, but I’ve also invested in many dozens of books, and looking back, it was definitely worth it.

Layer #3: Coaching

Coaching is in my view the most advanced tool for personal development, and it reaches the deepest layer of learning. By ‘coaching’ I mean any type of one-on-one learning, whether it’s coaching, counseling, therapy, etc.

Coaching people on a daily basis, I understand its dynamics and I’ve witnessed its benefits clearly. The main reason why coaching is a very powerful tool has to do with the fact that, being a one-on-one experience, everything is entirely customized to deal with your particular issues, in your particular circumstances.

When you work with a coach, you move from, for instance, “here is how to gain confidence in general” to “here is how you can gain confidence, given your specific beliefs, personality structure, lifestyle, and life experiences.” Plus, you get constant support to implement effectively all the insights you’ve gained. And that matters, a lot.

The major drawback of coaching is that it costs, and it costs considerably more than books. While you’ll usually spend $20 to $50 on a good book (physical, digital, or audio), you can expect to pay at least a few hundred dollars for a full-fledged coaching program.

Provided you find a good coach, I believe it’s definitely worth it though. But I also realize that for many folks, such a financial investment is too much for their current possibilities.

So if you have a meaningful goal you wanna achieve and you can afford some coaching to help you, I definitely encourage you to use it. You’ll see much, much better and faster results with reliable one-on-one support. Otherwise, consider both books and articles.

Of course, working with a bad coach will probably help you less than reading a good book and applying it on your own. And a bad book will likely help you less than a few good articles. But a good coaching program is net superior to a good book, which is net superior to a few good articles.

On the assumption of competent authors and providers, it’s worth shifting your self-improvement from articles-based to books-based, and then, if you can, to coaching-based. By investing some money in the right tools, you save a lot of precious time and you get way better results.

For more personal development and social success advice and articles from me, I invite you to join my free newsletter. And to take your learning to the next level, check out my Conversation Confidence audio-book.

Talk Is Cheap: How to Practice More the Ideas You Believe In

One thing I find exciting about today’s world is that we have more and more access to more and more rational, well-documented and practical ideas, which a lot of us are keenly accepting. We’re going through a veritable second Age of Enlightenment.

However, it’s one thing to believe in a good idea at a conscious level, it’s a totally other thing to live by that idea every day. It’s much harder to practice an idea consistently than it is to agree with it and talk about it. Which is why you’ll often find a big gap between what people claim to believe and what their actual behavior reflects.

Take the case of minimalist living: lots of folks are getting wise to the fact that the relentless pursuit of stuff won’t make them happy, and they give considerable credence to the idea of a low-consumption lifestyle with other priorities than acquiring stuff. Many of them are quite vocal about this too.

I think it’s great that the notion of minimalist living is catching on. Nevertheless, it’s much easier to proclaim you believe in it than it is to live by it. So you’ll often find people who state they believe in a low-consumption life, yet they change their phone every 6 months, their car every 2 years, and they have a wastefully big house, crammed with stuff they rarely use. And many of them fail to see the duplicity in this.

As a coach, I regularly help others practice consistently ideas they believe in and they know can transform their life, to make them a part of the very fabric of their personality. I’d like to show you some ways to do this that have worked very well both for me and my coaching clients.

1. Live More Consciously 

The more you pay conscious attention to your thoughts and your behavior, the easier it is to spot inconsistencies between the ideas you believe in and the way you act. Then you can make deliberate changes to close this gap. This is what I call living consciously.

Most of us rarely live consciously. We mostly live in reaction; we are impulsively driven by obligations such as work or house chores, and by distractions such as television, advertising, fast food, and funny YouTube videos. It will take work to be more mindful of how you live, moment by moment, and take charge of your behavior. But it’s worth it.


2. Carve Out Specific Actions for Yourself 

Often when we discover a good idea, we decide to adopt it, and then we stop there. We think that decision alone will change our behavior and align it with that idea; which rarely happens. In order for your behavior to change, it’s crucial to come up with specific actions to carry out, and then do them regularly.

For example, say you decide it’s a good idea for you to be more social. You can then come up with specific ways to be more social; like going out to social events at least 3 times per week, or talking to at least 3 new people at each social event you go to. These kind of specific, actionable goals turn good ideas into practical behavioral changes.

3. Overcome the Emotional Barriers 

Frequently you may want to implement a certain idea but have problems because of emotional obstacles. Going back to the example above, you may wanna be more social, but you may be afraid of talking to new people or feel anxious in social situations. Such emotions will make it hard to genuinely come out of your shell.

So you’ll have to work on overcoming these insecurities in order to be able to change your behavior. Since this is a broad and important topic, I’m not gonna go into details on it here.

Instead, I’ve created a separate instructional presentation in which I’ll show you with clear explanations how to overcome your anxieties, especially the ones you may have in social settings. I’ve helped literally thousands of people with this issue, I’m sure I can help you too. Go here to watch the presentation.

4. Ask For Feedback 

Other people can often see things about your conduct that you are oblivious to, because they have an external perspective on you. So to better align your behavior with your beliefs, it’s a good idea to tell others about the kind of beliefs you wanna implement in your life, and ask them for honest feedback when they think your behavior is off track.

Pick people you trust to be honest and levelheaded to help you with this, and who genuinely care about you. Sometimes their feedback will be a hard pill to swallow, but it’s just the right medicine.

5. Have Someone Help You Stay Accountable 

It’s always important to hold yourself accountable for your actions. But it’s even better if there is another person to keep your accountable in addition: someone who aids you set personal development goals, someone you report back to on your progress, someone who gives you and extra dose of motivation, focus and guidance to keep going.

A competent coach, counselor or psychologist is probably the best person for such a task. They will have the skills to properly oversee your personal development and help you stay committed to your goals. So if you wanna align your behavior with your beliefs as fast and as much as possible, this is definitely an option to consider.

For more help from me in changing your behavior (especially in social situations) and becoming the person you wanna be, I recommend you join my free social success newsletter.

Ultimately, when you practice what you preach, when you align your actions and your whole being with the ideas you consciously believe in, you are a person of integrity. It’s not only something to feel very proud of, but also a great path towards success and happiness.

Be a Long-Term Hedonist

Albert Ellis, arguably one of the best psychotherapists who ever lived, often described himself as a long-term hedonist. Some years ago, I’ve come to think of myself as a long-term hedonist as well. And practicing this as an overall philosophy for life has been one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Today, when I coach other people, I frequently encourage them to practice long-term hedonism in life, and I help them develop the confidence and communication skills that aid them accomplish this.

I believe that no matter who you are, if you’re seeking solid principles to guide your life by, long-term hedonism is definitely one of the best principles you can adopt. So let’s take a better look at what this concept means and how you can apply it in your life.

It’s Okay to Pursue Your Own Pleasure

Our attention will first go to the second part of this concept: hedonism. Derived from the Greek word ‘hedone’, which means pleasure, the term hedonism signifies the pursuit of pleasure. A hedonist is a person who makes the pursuit of pleasure (and implicitly, the avoidance of pain) the key theme in their life.

This pleasure can take basic forms, such as eating something tasty, as well as complex forms, such as connecting at a deep level with a like-minded person when conversing with them.

The ancient philosophers who founded hedonist schools of thought, such as Aristippus of Cyrene and Epicurus, believed that personal pleasure is the only essential good in life, and that it makes sense to live life striving to maximize your own pleasure.

You might say that’s a normal thing and there’s nothing wrong with that idea. And I would agree with you. The problem is that in the society we live today, the pursuit of one’s own pleasure is often criticized and villainized. People are frequently labeled as selfish or bad for putting their pleasure first. Under the social pressure, many of them end up constantly sacrificing their own gratification because they’ve been made to feel guilty about pursuing it.

I think that’s a big problem. I believe that it’s only rational to make the pursuit of your own happiness your most important compass in life. Every living creature on this planet does that in some way. It’s in perfect accordance with the laws of the natural world and the principles of life perpetuation.

Upside down in chairThis doesn’t mean you can’t concern yourself with the happiness of others as well. In fact, often in life, you need to give others what they want and make them happier in order to get what you want and be happier yourself.

But still, keep in mind that your final goal is your happiness. You’re doing a self-interested transaction. And that’s really okay.

Other times in life though, your interests and other people’s interests will run divergent courses, and that’s when hedonism dictates that you pick the course that best suits you, not them. And doing that is really okay as well. There is no sensible reason to think it’s not.

If you’re the kind of person who often feels bad about doing what gives them pleasure instead of what helps others, this idea is something to really dwell on, regularly. You wanna learn to accept your own needs and to be comfortable with putting them first, so you can pursue them freely. Here is some more in-depth advice on how to build the confidence to achieve this.

Thinking Long-Term Makes a Huge Difference

Now that we’ve established that it’s okay to pursue your own happiness, let’s move our attention towards the first part of our concept: long-term.

The type of hedonism you’ll commonly see practiced in the world we live in is short-term hedonism. This is when an individual considers solely the options that give them pleasure quickly, and then they choose from these options the one that gives them the largest amount of pleasure. They don’t wanna wait. They want instant gratification.

Just look at some of the widespread delights people bask in and you’ll know what I mean: fast food, fast-effect booze, instant TV, instant sharing, Instagram. Notice a pattern?

The trouble is that many times, there is at least one option that will give you a lot more pleasure than the rest, but it won’t be quickly. In fact in the short-range, it may actually cause you some displeasure. The overall amount of pleasure you’ll get will be much bigger, but in order to get it you’ll have to wait a while and perhaps put in some work or make some sacrifices. Now we’re talking about delayed gratification.

When you choose to eat something healthy that tastes only decent instead of something that tasted good but is unhealthy, when you choose to prolong your education to get a high-paying job a few years down the road instead of getting a low-paying job now so you’ll have money to go out and party next week, you’re choosing with the long-term effects in mind, not just the short-term ones. That’s long-term hedonism put into practice.

Long-term hedonism doesn’t mean you sacrifice today for the deceptive promise of a better tomorrow. It means you realistically consider both today and tomorrow when you make decisions, big and small. You look at things in perspective. And perspective is crucial.

Delays, effort, compromises and all, the long-term hedonist still gets to experience a lot more joy and delight in life than the short-term one. That’s why he/she is a long-term hedonist in the first place. It’s a rational, advantageous choice.

For the reasons discussed above, long-term hedonism makes so much sense to adopt as a philosophy for life. I encourage you to be a long-term hedonist, and dedicate your life to the rational, responsible pursuit of your own pleasure. No other way of living can compare.

If you believe that a lack of confidence or a lack of social skills is holding you back from experiencing the happy and exciting life you wanna experience, I strongly encourage you to join my free social confidence newsletter, where I’ll share with you my tried and tested advice for improving in these areas and getting the social life that makes you truly happy.

Long and short-term considered, I think it’s gonna be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. Go here now to join the newsletter.

Develop Your Conversation Style around Your Natural Strengths

Giving others advice for improving their conversation skills is very tricky.

People often expect formulaic instructions on how to talk to other people. And this probably happens to a large extent because many authors out there offer this kind of instructions. They will boldly tell you to do this, then do that, then say this, then say that, and you’ll have amazing conversations and everybody will love you.

Years ago, when I first started training others in improving their conversation skills, I was eager to give this kind of advice as well. But in time, especially by coaching others one-on-one, I came to realize this is a bad approach to helping people develop good conversation skills.

The Dynamics of Conversation

You see, conversation has one interesting attribute. It’s something that doesn’t need to be done in one single way in order to go well. In fact, there are many styles of conversation that work, just as there are many conversation styles that don’t work.

Most of the people I call my friends are very charismatic and socially skilled individuals. But if you would bring them to the same party and observe them, you’d notice that they have very different styles of talking to people. They are clear similarities, but there are also clear differences between them.

One is high energy and jokes around all the time, one rarely makes jokes but captivates people with his ideas, one has a more brazen, bad-boy attitude in conversation, and one is really good at making people feel appreciated. And all of them manage to connect well with lots of people and to sweep them off their feet.

Conversation styleWhen you wanna help others develop their conversation skills and you have this perspective on conversation, it’s a whole different game you’re playing. You can’t just give them rigid instructions and expect good results, as if you were teaching them how to tie their shoe laces and there is only one way to do it right.

What I do instead as a communication coach is to start by helping people realize that as clumsy or awkward as they may be right now in social situations, there is a good conversationalist somewhere inside them. And there are ways to bring it out. I help them believe in themselves. I talk more about how this psychological process works in this special presentation.

Next, I usually help them discover their natural strengths and get a good understanding of their personality type. And as they get to know themselves better, it becomes clearer to them what kind of a conversation style would match well the way they are.

So then they can work with me on developing a conversation style that creates amazing results with people, and at the same time is designed around their personality and their natural strengths. Every one of my clients develops their own unique social persona, which is ideal for them.

On the other hand, when you take the approach of giving someone formulaic conversation advice, what happens most often is that the advice is gonna be so far from the person’s strengths they will never fully internalize it, and it won’t work well for them. So their conversation style will perpetually seem clumsy and inconsistent. It’s kind of like having an eagle running a horse race, or a horse trying to fly.

Unfortunately, it’s common for coaches, trainers and bloggers to teach others a conversation style that works well for their own person, since it matches the way they are, but will fail someone else who different from them.

They’ll sort of try to create replicas of themselves, who go out there in the social world and act the same way they do; sometimes to the point of dressing the same way, making the same jokes and using the same lines. Ridiculous, if you ask me.

The Path to Sizzling Conversations  

Are there conversation principles and techniques that work well for people all around? Yes, there sure are. And I teach such principles as well, in my courses as well as in my free newsletter. But these exist mostly to help you master the basics of good conversation. They just set a sturdy foundation.

When you move beyond that, to developing advanced conversation skills, it’s time to put general techniques aside and find your own unique voice. To find and implement ideas that work well for you in particular, to customize them and optimize them for your circumstances, and to mix them so they form your own distinctive conversation style.

When you do that you find that your social skills not only improve a lot faster, but your conversation style feels much more authentic to boot.

Because you’re not trying to change entirely who you are in social settings. You’re only smoothing out the rough edges, gaining some new social habits, removing your social insecurities, and building on top of the qualities you already posses as a person.

It can seem easier to just take some do-this-do-that conversation advice and apply it, but that will never be very effective in creating top-notch conversation skills. When it comes to truly mastering conversation, finding your own way is the only way as far as I’m concerned.

If you want more help in improving your conversation skills and developing the conversation style that works best for you, I recommend you join my free social confidence newsletter, where I share most of my insights concerning this area.

Go to this page and enter your email to join my newsletter right now, and I’ll talk to you there.

Dealing With a Personal Development Information Overload

Information overload is very common for people who are into personal development. It’s essentially when you’ve learned so much theory that your mind is overburdened and so it’s difficult to put it into practice.

What happens is that you consume a lot of conceptual information from books, articles, trainings and so on, and then instead of applying it, you get even more information; and more, and more. And when you finally decide to start applying it, you find out there is too much competing information in your head, to many concepts, ideas and voices telling you what to do.

You can recall everything and nothing at the same time, you don’t know where to begin with practicing, you feel confused and overwhelmed. So you become paralyzed and all that information goes to waste, because you don’t actually apply any of it to build real-life skills or attitudes.


I think that personal development information overload is very common because many of us, when we decide to improve an area of our life, we want to get all the information from the get go, to make sure he have any hypothetical scenario covered, and only then start using it.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t work very well. There needs to be a continuous balance between theory and practice in personal development, otherwise is gets disrupted. Considering this, here are my top 3 pieces of advice for dealing with a personal development information overload.

1. Take a Clean Break

Obviously, you’ll need to stop learning new concepts in order to prevent burdening your head with even more info. However, at first it’s also good to not try and jump into practice right away either. Instead, it’s best to take a short but clean break from both theory and practice.

You see, if you have too much information and you wanna start applying it, you’re like a person who ate an excessively big meal and wants to go jump in the swimming pool. With all that food in their stomach, it won’t be a pleasant experience. What they need is to wait a while and give time to some of that food to digest.

Similarly, you need to wait a while and give time to some of that excess information to go out. Your mind will quickly begin doing a cleaning job in your memory, dump some of the surplus info and keep and reorganize the info it sees as the most relevant.

This does indeed mean that you’ll lose some of the knowledge you acquired, but it’s much better this way. Because with less knowledge, your mind is more flexible, it can dig through the knowledge faster and it’s much easier to apply it.

2. Select Just a Few Ideas to Practice

When you start to practice the theory, don’t try to use it all at once. It’s too much. Your actions will be all over the place and you’ll make little progress in terms of building new habits.

The best route is to select only a few key ides and concentrate on applying them until you feel they’ve become a part of you and you now employ them naturally. If for example you want to be more outgoing socially, pick just 2-3 techniques and apply them. Then select a few more ideas and apply them, and so on.

This is the step-by-step approach to personal development, which is much more effective than trying to make one big jump and be done with it. The human mind works best if it focuses on a few simple tasks at a time. With this approach you’ll make the most progress in the long-run.

3. Set a Theory/Practice Ratio for the Future

In the future you’ll want to prevent information overload from happening again. This implies keeping a balance between how much theory you learn and how much you practice it.

The top way I know to achieve this is by setting a theory/practice ratio that you find convenient and sticking to it. For instance you can set a 1 to 5 hours ratio, which means that after 1 hour of conceptual studying, you need to spend 5 hours applying what you’ve learned. And you only allow yourself to go back to acquiring more info after the 5 hours of practice.

There is no universally perfect ratio; you’ll have to find one that works for you and your personal development goals. Just keep in mind that whatever ratio you pick, it’s key to have relatively short periods of learning theory followed by much longer periods of putting it into practice.

One of the perks of setting such ratios it that it forces you to be selective about what you study, since you’ve put a strict constraint on your studying time. This in turn means that you’ll be particularly picky about what you learn and you’ll be much more concerned with the quality of the information you get.

You’ll want to learn from the experts, you’ll be more willing to pay for information if it’s more valuable than free information, and the benefits will show in the results you’ll obtain consistently.

Your self-growth will be real and effective; you’ll see your behavior, your emotions and your life improve day by day, and you’ll enjoy every moment of it.

PS: I recently wrote 2 articles for One article is about making women notice you, the other is on how to make a girl laugh. Check them out.

Image courtesy of Will Lion

How to Be More Likeable

We all want to be liked by others, but few of us actually know how to be more likeable. Making yourself more appealing to others is a subtle social skill and it requires a good understanding of some key principles of human psychology to master.

If you’re interested in how to be more likeable as a person, either to benefit your social life, your dating life or your career, I’d like to give you my perspective, based on my experience as a communication and confidence coach.

Before anything else, there is one crucial aspect to grasp.

You Can’t Get Everybody to Like You

No matter how you are and what you do, not everybody is going to like you. Human tastes and preferences are very diverse, and very often the very behavior that will get some people to like you, will make others dislike you. And you just can’t switch between behaviors as you want, all around.

I’ve met some very likeable people over time. But none of them were liked by all. Even persons who were very upbeat and friendly with others, some found to be annoying because of this trait.

So if you’re goal in learning how to be more likeable is to get everyone to like you, forget it. It’s not gonna happen. However, you can make more people like you, you can increase your likeability factor, and this can be a goal worth pursuing.

Since I touched on this idea, it’s worth adding another thing.

Wanting to Be More Likeable May Be a Form of Approval Seeking

LikeableI regularly coach men and women who want to be more appealing to others. One thing I noticed about them is that, frequently, they already are very likeable and many people do like them. But they aren’t happy with this. They feel they need to get everybody to like them, and this is their motivation.

This is what I refer to as an approval seeking attitude, and it’s not only unproductive, but also psychologically unhealthy. It’s often rooted in shyness, low self-esteem, perfectionism or a deep feeling of inferiority to others. This is what makes them want to be adored by all and never be rejected.

But this is a very unrealistic and disturbing expectation to have, which does more harm than good in one’s life.

If you feel that such a motivation is a big component of what is driving you right now to want to learn how to be more likeable, then I encourage you to shift your priorities and instead of trying to learn this, seek to learn how to stop approval seeking and be socially confident.

And I can definitely provide the solution. Check out this instructional presentation I created, where I will show you how to overcome an approval seeking attitude, and give you a clear-cut process for building rock-solid social confidence. Make sure you watch it, please.

This being said, if you still want to become more likeable, here are my 5 key ideas on how to do so.

1. Be Positive

People who are happy and positive tend to be by far the most likeable people. These are the people who talk about positive stuff rather than negative stuff, show optimism, radiate feelings of joy through their body language, joke around and focus on having fun.

This feel-good, have-fun attitude is extremely contagious, and it makes others around them feel good and enjoy themselves as well. And then they end up liking such a person for helping them feel this way.

2. Be Confident

Confidence is also a very likeable trait. Sure, some people find it intimidating, but most are very drawn to it; and as I said, you can’t please everybody. There is something very alluring about a person who is centered, self-assured and at ease with themselves.

If you lack confidence, fortunately, you can develop this trait. Confidence is nothing more than the result of a certain habitual way of thinking about yourself and others. And there are now a few very effective tools for developing it. Again, I suggest you watch this video to learn more about these tools.

3. Have Empathy

Empathy is essentially the ability to understand another person’s feelings and point of view. This is a very important social skill because all people have a strong desire to be understood by others. And empathy permits you to genuinely understand them, as well as to convey this.

Empathy is something you can develop mostly by interacting with others, going beyond superficial conversations and actively seeking to understand them. This is the best way I know to gain empathy: real contact with real people and their inner and outer worlds.

In addition, reading books with complex characters, learning psychology and observing people and their behavior can also help significantly.

4. Have Integrity

Integrity is a very likeable attribute, and one you won’t hear much about. When you have integrity, it means that you say what you think and you do what you say. Your thoughts, words and actions are aligned.

Why is this important? Because it makes other people trust you. And there is a big overlap between trusting someone and being fond of them. Cultivate your integrity and you’ll notice others will be more open with you; they will appreciate you more and like you more.

5. Have Something Interesting To Say

Last but not least, as a rule, the more interesting what you have to say is the more interesting and likeable you tend to be as a person. So no discussion on how to be more likeable could skip this concept.

How do you have interesting things to say? There is no shortcut. The bottom line is that you need to a have a rich life, with diverse activities, challenges and learning experiences. Then you’ll naturally be able to converse on a wide range of topics and have intriguing things to share. You become an interesting person by developing an interesting lifestyle.

As you can see, becoming more likeable is not really something you achieve through a bunch of quick tricks you can use in social interactions. Sure, tricks may help a bit, but they are not a solution to create a visible and lasting enhancement of your likeability.

If you want to be more likeable, it’s important to develop the traits and attitudes of highly likeable people. Which is something you can absolutely do. I’ve seen many folks achieve this over the years, and it’s an amazing process that will yield benefits you can’t even imagine until you experience them yourself.

Image courtesy of Zitona

How to Better Yourself

I often say that the best way to better your life is to better yourself. With improved knowledge, skills, habits and attitudes, you can visibly enhance how you live and how happy you are (not necessarily in that order).

To do this, it’s key to have a good understanding of how to better yourself as a person. Self-improvement is not something you just do. You must follow certain steps in order to do it right. And the fact many people defy or don’t even know these steps is why they have such a hard time enhancing themselves.

As a coach, I’ve been helping others better themselves since 2006. And I’ve seen them achieve some impressive changes. Based on this experience, I’d like to give you my perspective on how to better yourself and show you 4 important strategies to follow.

1. Define Precise Personal Development Goals

The truth is that “I want to be a better person” is a resonating ideal, but a horrible personal development goal. Because it’s not specific enough. With such a goal, you don’t know where to start from, you’ll randomly jump from one area of self-improvement to another, and you’ll make little progress.

So, once you realize that you want to better yourself, it’s time to set more specific personal development goals. This entails thinking about the specific areas where you want to improve yourself the most and defining precise competencies to develop.

As a rule, try to only work on developing a few competencies at a time, so you don’t overburden yourself. You not only need to have specific goals, but you also need to program when you’ll work on them so you don’t try to work on all of them at once.

2. Get the Best Information Available


In the realm of self-improvement, there is a lot of information. There are tens of thousands of books and the internet is crammed with millions of articles.

Unfortunately, over 90% of the information available is ineffective. It’s general, simplistic, impractical, repetitive, poorly researched or just plain wrong. It’s so easy these days for anybody to write a few articles and post them online or even publish a digital book, that this niche has become flooded with poor quality material.

The implication is that in order to truly better yourself and do so effectively, you need to seek and find the best information available. Do your research, assess the information carefully, and be open-minded but use your critical thinking at the same time.

As a side note, most high-quality personal development information out there is information that you have to pay for. It’s in the form of books, courses, etc. This doesn’t mean that you won’t find quality information for free as well, or that all paid information has quality.

However, usually, the best information will come from real experts, and these people will provide some information for free but they will also charge for a lot of it. After all, they’re experts, they know how valuable what they have to offer is and they do make a living out offering it. So be willing to invest some money in bettering yourself as well.

3. Take Massive Action

In my experience, real self-growth means 20% at most getting information, and at least 80% applying it. This means you’ll have to spend at least 4 times more time practicing information than learning it.

Personally, I’ve met many folks who declare that they are into personal development, but sadly, all this means for them is reading lots of self-help books and applying almost nothing.

That’s not how you better yourself, which is why such people barely make any changes. They acquire an understanding of what and how they need to change, but they don’t actually change.

Wanna know how to better yourself? Equipped with the right info and precise goals, you take massive action. Always keep this in mind and concentrate on taking a lot of action. Be primarily a doer, not a reader.

4. Use a Social Support System

This is optional, but it’s a great way to speed up your personal development progress. As a rule, we make much more progress, much faster, in any area, if we surround ourselves with people who seek similar goals, who offer us positive advice and help us stay motivated and focused.

With respect to self-improvement, it’s ideal to make friends who are also into self-improvement and to support each other on this journey. You can even form some sort of mastermind group with them, meet regularly, discuss your goals and progress, and give each other constructive feedback.

You most certainly wanna stay away from toxic people who constantly criticize you and try to discourage you from thinking you can change. They will only pull your down when you could be going up.

Bettering yourself is a journey. And it’s not only the destination that can be very fulfilling, but the journey in itself to boot. In fact I think the only real way to do personal development is by enjoying the process at least as much as you enjoy the final outcome.

So as you better yourself, always remember to have fun!

Image courtesy of h.koppdelaney