Personal Development Is More Than Just Meditation & Positive Thinking

I grew up hearing Robin Leach’s voice chiding, “Champagne wishes and caviar dreams” while most people were ‘living on a beer budget’. Thus the era of DIY was born and stores like Home Depot, Lowes’ and Menard’s got their boon.

My husband remodels and renovates homes for a living and the pitfalls of DIY are prevalent. An abundance of flipping and fixer-upper television shows has only made matters worst in recent years. Good for us, as their ‘oops’ keeps him in business. Why all the ‘oops’?

There are things you can’t know, you don’t know.

You just have to look at the myriads of ‘Nailed It‘ Pinterest posts to really understand how something ‘so simple’ can go ‘so wrong’. Now imagine that with two by fours and tile.

In the eighties, health clubs were the ‘in’ place to be and a slew of personal trainers hit the market. Everyone who was in the vicinity of being physically fit was calling themselves a personal trainer and charging outrageous fees for their time. Not everyone who has gotten themselves into shape have the skills and tools necessary to help others in their goals, however. Yes, you know how your body responded, but everyone’s body is unique and you can do real harm. There are things you can’t know, you don’t know. Eventually the industry began to regulate itself, some standards were put in place and now there is some consistency and quality in the profession.

Today I see that same thing happening in the area of personal development, self-help, and/or spiritual evolution whatever you choose to call it. A lot of people are hanging up their shingles with titles such as Wellness Coach, Lifestyle Coach and Life Coach (to name a few), offering their services to patrons who might not really even know their own needs. Yay that you raised yourself above your situation, but again there are things you can’t know, you don’t know when working with other people. Just like the Personal Training industry established standards to ensure consistency and quality, I have every faith that the personal development industry will do the same. In the meantime though, it is buyer beware.

Concerns

There are two categories that concern me. The first is the “I Just Went Through A Really Hard Time And I Want To Help Others” type. And the second is the “I Walked Away From A Six-Figure Corporate Job To Follow My Dream Of Being A Coach”. Some of these may or may not have a certification to do such a job.

Honestly, a certification is just an attendance indicator. It certifies that ‘this person attended/participated in this training and fulfilled all the requirements’. You have no idea what those requirements were. You have no idea what the qualifications of the certifying institution are! You have no idea how well the person integrated the information presented. You have no idea how well the person implemented the information into their own life. Do they walk the walk or just talk the talk? Think of it in terms of a degree or diploma…you know the person graduated but you have no idea what their GPA was. No wise employer hires someone strictly on the basis of having a degree alone, they always do an interview, right? They ask important questions and listen to the answers. This is how you need to hire any kind of personal development professional, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Back to the two concerning types:

“I Just Went Through A Really Hard Time And Now I Want To Help Others…”

This type is well intended. They are on a high from their shift in perspective and want to do something more! They have the drive!! That’s awesome, however that drive really needs to be applied to their own further development. DIY personal development is awesome, you certainly can get very far on your own with a few tools, this however does not translate automatically into your being a good teacher for others. I see so many starting to work with others before they are even done working on themselves.

There is a personal inventory that needs to take place. Yes, you have left this relationship and you feel amazing, but have you adjusted the things that caused you to call that into your life in the first place? Just understanding it wasn’t good for you and making the decision to end it does not mean you now have the skills to have healthy relationships, nor does it mean you have the skills and tools necessary to help others do it. I’ve been watching online entrepreneurs in this arena for the past four years. I have seen the majority of coaches ‘out themselves’ and I don’t think the anyone is paying attention. I have seen this time and time and time and time again…

They start off with promotions of beautiful professional photography in front of houses, cars and relationships they’ve ‘manifested’. They have great copy talking about how great their life is and how they can help you too. This goes on for awhile, then one day you might realize you haven’t heard from them in a bit. They disappear only to resurface later with new promotions; “I’m six months sober and I have learned so much. Let me help you too!” or “I finally walked out of my abusive marriage and found the love of my life. Let me help you too!” I am left wondering how many of their clients in the meantime wasted their money -or worse – were damaged while these ‘coaches’ were still figuring out their own lives.

Before you begin your path as a personal development professional you have to have your big ticket items handled.

Beyond that, you have to have a certain amount of time with them under your belt, because you don’t always know you have it mastered until you are challenged again…that’s how the Universe works. This is not to say that as Personal Development professionals we do not have things we still need to work on, nor that we won’t have situations come up. There is always room to expand and life always has curve balls, but how that is handled distinguishes the professional from the amateur.

The second type: “I Walked Away From A Six-Figure Income To Follow My Dream…”

What have they done exactly that might indicate they are good at being a personal development coach? Ok, so they had a six-figure income. That alone is not a measurement of personal development, we have only to turn on shows like “Real Housewives” to prove that. How does having that background indicate higher evolution? What credibility does it lend? What have they done exactly? Ok so they followed their dream. Do you know what that dream was? How long did they follow it that now their dream is working with others? Or is this just a way to make more money than their dream affords? They have left a high paying job, to pursue selling themselves to others as an expert at something and yet actually proclaim nothing. Ok, so they quit, learned to meditate, spout positive thinking and this makes them inspirational? I don’t think so. I think they have cornered the market on self-promotion and that is all. They are selling the unsuspecting buyer on their image with no substance. Personal development is more than meditation, magical thinking and motivation.

How can either of these types help their clients build solid foundations for getting through challenges and improve their experience of life? Foundations that will last the rest of their life? Maybe they know what worked for them, but how do they know what will work for another?

Personal development is real and deep work. It doesn’t happen by just repeating affirmations, stating goals and thinking positively. Nor does it happen by mimicking what another has done.

There is an influx of ‘coaches’ in the personal development field. A wave of well-intentioned motivated individuals dedicated to help others traverse rough terrain in Life. In truth, I love it. I love that so many who have done their work are breaking free of the problem focused models of Psychiatry, Social Work, Therapy etc. to embrace a more solution-focused model. What I don’t love is those who haven’t done the real work to move on to the next step in being a personal development professional. This isn’t about ‘being new’ because everyone has a starting point. This is about 1) doing your work, honestly and truthfully and realizing that you must always stay on top of your own stuff; and 2) about doing the additional work to gain the skills to help others.

Its about understanding why what worked for you, worked and why it might not for another. Its about understanding how the human mind works and why it works that way. Its about understanding the Soul and how it works within the elemental body.  Its about understanding the differences in learning styles and how one problem might have several solutions. Its about knowing how to facilitate for others so they can determine which of those solutions is right for them. Its knowing how to set someone up with the right lifetime tools for them. Its about understanding how every problem has a unique origin and a single cause as the same time.

Ya ya ya, but do I need a professional?

So now that I’ve laid all this out, how do you know how to choose the right sort of personal development professional or even if you need one?

Let’s start with how to determine you even need a personal development professional. It isn’t a question of how to determine if you need personal development. I happen to be of the mindset that personal development is a lifelong journey. As long as I am alive I am developing personally. Some don’t have that notion. They would not be interested in personal development and that is certainly ok!

So you are interested in personal development, you don’t have any self-limiting beliefs or irrational fears, things are going great in your life, and when bumps come up you have a healthy network of supporters and excellent coping skills. You understand that the Universe conspires on your behalf and you see that clearly, even when things don’t go the way you expected. You don’t need a personal development professional. 

You are interested in personal development, you have a ton of self-limiting beliefs and irrational fears, things are not going according to plan and you notice you keep dating the same sort of person who may or may not remind you of one or both of your parents. You smoke, eat sugar like its candy (hee hee hee) and don’t like to talk about your problems. You need a personal development professional.

You aren’t opposed to personal development, have everything you could ever want but you still are not what you would call happy. Something seems to be missing. You have a good job (or not) but it doesn’t fulfill you like you thought it would. You struggle in relationships often wondering if something better that might come along, but a bad relationship is better than no relationship. Your friends don’t seem to have this figured out anymore than you do. You need a personal development professional.

Of course there is a full spectrum of examples, but this should give you some kind of idea.

Now for you DIY type people, I suggest you re-read the first part of this post, and possibly look up some Pinterest-gone -wrong posts as well, just as a refresher. You are a responsible grown adult (assuming) and you have all the capability in the world to DIY personal development. The thing is, you don’t know what you can trust. You can’t trust your programming because you’ve already decided it hasn’t been working thus far. You can’t know, what you don’t know. This programming has been installed since your birth by your parents, community, school church and peers. It is this programming, insidious in nature, that is creating the problems you haven’t yet been able to isolate, eradicate and replace. You can’t see you from where you are sitting. In some instances this would be like cleaning your house with the lights off at midnight. Technically, you could do the job, but it will take you much longer and you are bound to miss stuff that will show up when the sun rises. Fresh eyes on the task, not to mention a fresh brain with a wealth of new resources to pick, will make for swifter success and results that are more likely to stick.

Whom To Choose

Wow, now that one is not so easy, because no matter how hard I try I will forget (or not be aware of) someone. Forgive me if you are personal development professional and I’ve left you out.

There are money coaches, mindset coaches, life coaches, business coaches, love coaches, relationship coaches, NLP coaches, manifesting coaches, holistic health and wellness coaches, transformational coaches etc.. (Are there any without the term ‘coach’? I couldn’t find any.) There are the metaphysical types; psychics, mediums, intuitives, empaths, and energy healers.  Energy healers include Reiki, QiGong, Crystal, Therapeutic Touch, Shiatsu, Bars and so so soooo many more!  This list is not exhaustive by any means, but you get the idea.

How do you possibly choose? Good question.

First of all decide whether you want a more metaphysical or practical approach to your adventure. That cuts things in half right there. Secondly, decide what you want your focus to be. Do you need extra help with your relationship with money or in romance? Is that your focus? Or do you see yourself needing to address issues across the board of your life? Is your business your main focal point? Are you experiencing some chronic or acute physical issues? Answering these questions will further narrow down your search.

Once you’ve narrowed down your focus you need to start googling what you can expect of that genre. If you think a money coach is what you need for instance, google money coaching and see what comes up. Educate yourself on the trainings and programs out there. Research those institutions, look up their curriculum/accreditations/qualifications. Note which sounds most responsible to you. Then start looking for individuals. Remember that certifications are just indications of participation. Do not let them be your only criteria. If someone has raised themselves from rags to riches that’s pretty good criteria, too. (Just be sure to vet the story, as stated next.)

After you’ve selected a few individuals its time to do your due diligence in researching them, too. Cyber stalk them…well, not really, but flush out their social media presence. Do a deep dive, don’t just take their website’s word for it. Go hunting on social media platforms. Note if they have all positive messages one week but then go on rants the next. Google the snot out of them. If a recent arrest record comes up, you can easily scratch that one off the list. What relevant jobs did they hold previous to this? Scroll back on their personal pages as far as you can (send a friend request if you can’t). Look for discrepancies in their timelines. Note if they might have a personal profile and a separate professional profile, what does that say to you? Yay or Nay? Research them thoroughly, you are about to put your life in their hands for remodeling. You don’t want to treat that lightly. If you see reviews on their social media business page then see if you can message that reviewer to get more information.

Narrow it down to no more than three individuals and schedule interviews. From their professional side of things they will call it a ‘discovery call’ or a ‘free consultation’, but you need to control that narrative. You are interviewing them as much as or more so than they are interviewing you. If you don’t feel the vibe, then pass. Use your intuition rather than your logic. Too often logic takes us away from what we need rather than towards it (because logic is instilled programming and is highly influenced by fear-based propoganda). We can be ‘sold’ on something because it can seem logical, but in the long run not actually in our best interest.

Finally

So there you go. My manifesto on personal development professionals. I never intended it to be this long, but if it serves its purpose (to get the right client in the hands of the right professional by educating the consumer) then my work here is done.

Personal development drives me. It has driven me ever since I can remember. It drove me into Social Work, where I had less occasion to assist others in this manner than I envisioned. And it drove me to pursue opening up to assist others in a full-time professional capacity as well. I love it. I love everything about it. I love how we hold the truth within our own selves and how amazing that realization is when it comes. I love how we have the power to heal ourselves in so many ways! Sometimes we just need a little guidance on how to focus that power, that’s all.

I’m here if you need me. You know that.

Oh…

and I love you.

~Jade