Why Self-Improvement Isn’t Working For You

The missing ingredient of positive change

Adrian Drew
5 min readMar 12, 2019


I love self-help. I know it’s fashionable to criticize personal development gurus nowadays and all, but it’s helped me in countless ways and has the potential to help you too.

Not only that, but in great contrast to the psychological theories of the past which have suggested that our personality is fixed and unchangeable, more and more research is showing that we can improve. It is possible. No longer are we believed to be a product of our genes or our upbringing, but the sculptors of our destiny. Our brains are literally plastic — malleable balls of dough that we can shape and color however we wish.

Personal development has enormous potential, but sometimes it just doesn’t seem to work. You read all of the books, take the courses, practice the habits, but sometimes, you just can’t seem to make any lasting changes. You fall back into the same old ways and routines.

You may find yourself right back at square one from time-to-time, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that self-help isn’t working—it might just mean that you’re doing it wrong.

More Than Just Words On Paper

Many of us want to alter aspects of our lives that we’re not completely happy with. It could be anything. Perhaps we want to become more confident or learn how to be a better leader. Maybe we want to get in shape and start eating healthier. The specifics don’t matter. The point is that we’ve been driven to the mystical and inspiring realm of self-improvement for one reason and one reason only: we want to change.

A couple of nights ago I was reading a book called How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie for the third time. It’s a classic, and I’d recommend it to anybody. Carnegie doesn’t teach us mind games or magic tricks to hypnotize people into what we want them to do, in contrast to what his provocative title seems to suggest. He offers simple tips for making more meaningful connections with people in our work and lives.

The thing is, this was my third shot at reading the book. The first couple of times I’d retained some knowledge, but not all of it. I wanted more — and I wanted to figure out how to…



Adrian Drew

Owner of Mind Cafe | Let’s chat on Instagram: @adriandrew__