Personal development is never enough

“A person leafing through a book” by João Silas on Unsplash

You may be a personal development junkie like me. If you are, please know something:

Developing the personal self is never enough.

If I were to read every one of Tim Ferriss’ books and do all of his hacks and processes perfectly, I promise you, at the end of it all, I’d still be unsatisfied. Not to blame him or any other personal development author (I guess I could even be accused of being one), but that’s why personal development sells so well. Because we can never get enough of it.

Personal development can easily become fodder for the ego to spin its wheels on.

If personal development remains the focus, you’re playing the ego’s game. A game focused on the separate, personal self. This game always ends in shattered expectations, burnout, not-enoughness, and lack. Yes, it may lead to some cosmetic and material improvements in life, but we still… won’t… quite… be there.

At some point, if we really want to experience fulfillment, joy, and connection with our life and our work, we have to trust-fall back into something wider than the personal self. If we don’t gain the awareness of a deeper Self (yep, I’m talking about the Divine here, folks), we’ll just stay in that hamster wheel chasing the next shiny improvement.

Without a sense of surrender, life gets tiring really easy. But when we see that the personal self is a representation of something bigger and unseeable that’s tied into all of life, we start to see that we’re mere bit players in a grander dance than our rational minds can understand. When our death grip on life becomes too much to bear, we can surrender to that loving, creative, intelligent, uniting force present within each of us.

This is the role of spirituality. It takes us deeper and helps us transcend our small personal selves. And when we live from an awareness of that deeper place, we can put personal development in its proper role. We can have fun with it…

We can go for that 6-pack because it seems fun, not because we’re disillusioned into thinking our self-worth rests on it (I prefer the dadbod myself, but…).

We can start that YouTube channel, not because our idol does it and we have to be like her, but because it’s a great creative outlet to express a deeper mission.

We can improve our relationships, not as a way to cajole or manipulate a separate being into accepting us, but in order to express grace, forgiveness, intimacy, and our deeper truth as united beings.

There’s great virtue in personal development on this human journey. But we can’t stop there. The personal self will always be in a state of development. But the soul could care less about development.

All it wants is to know and express itself as it is.

Know that you can do both.