Market studies show that the personal development/self-improvement industry is growing at a rapid pace. More and more people are spending more and more money to help them lose weight, improve relationships, manage stress, attain success, increase productivity, achieve balance, and find fulfillment.

Yet despite the increase of people investing in self-help tools, techniques, technologies, teachers, and coaches, daily I hear from people who are stuck. They feel helpless, resigned, and frustrated after months or years of:

• being on diet and exercise routines yet not seeing a shift in their weight or inches
• trying to adhere to a budget yet never getting out of debt
• practicing yoga and meditation daily yet still being consumed/paralyzed by stress and anxiety
• looking for “the one” yet finding no one special
• wanting to start, ramp up, or change careers yet continuing to sit at the same desk or lie on the same couch

Although they tell themselves that they are “getting closer,” “doing better,” or “gaining awareness,” there are no concrete shifts in their lives. And the fact is, they represent the majority. Studies show that only 8% of people actually reach their goals.

So, the question has to be asked…What is going on?
Is all of this self-help helping?

Is “being on the path” actually leading to anywhere new?

Let’s face it. Personal development and self-improvement are somewhat esoteric concepts. Although I understand that it is often “about the journey and not the destination,” people on a spiritual path can often get so caught up in thinking “I’ve done so much work on myself” that they try to ignore that feeling of dis-ease inside them. They sign up for the next course or buy yet another book without stopping to question if the path they are on is actually leading to anything new or different.

Although I am a big proponent of self-reflection, self-realization, and spiritual growth, you want to always take time and see if what you are doing is effective.

When it comes to self-help, the best way to tell if your self-help is truly helping is to look is to your external world. Has it shifted? Have you…

• manifested a healthy relationship?
• started living more abundantly?
• let go of the people, situations, or patterns that are not working for you or are toxic?
• made the changes you have been talking about for years?

Our outer world acts as the mirror to show us what is going on inside of us. When you shift or heal something on the inside, it will be reflected in the outer world. When you truly do transform a limiting belief, bring faith to your fears, or integrate parts of yourself – shadows that you have disowned - these internal shifts will be reflected in your external world. It’s actually quite magical! All of a sudden you’ll be able to:

• get out of bad relationships or stop sabotaging good ones
• step out of your story of being the victim and take back your power

You’ll be able to see opportunity where a week ago you couldn’t see any and you will have the confidence and courage to take advantage of it.

Your life will be different!

How do I know?

Because I experience it all of the time – not only with the people I work with, but consistently in my own life.

I am particularly reminded of the impact and blessing of doing self-help that helps at this time of year since September is my birthday month. For the first forty plus years of my life I was one of those people who dreaded their birthday. Birthdays were always a source of disappointment, unmet expectations, and hurt feelings.

Learning about the shadow, I started to unravel my “birthday karma.” I realized that my dread and feelings of sadness and disillusionment around birthdays started at a very young age. I also saw how as an adult I had become the culprit who sabotaged my birthdays by never communicating my wants and desires to my loved ones and then getting upset at them for not being mind-readers and doing what I thought they should.

I am happy to report that as a result of shadow work – self-help that helps - for over the past ten years, my birthdays have become a true celebration. Not only do I celebrate with my nearest and dearest, but my three daughters and now their boyfriends know that Labor Day Weekend is Kelley’s birthday weekend. We have walked the beach in Malibu, hiked in Aspen, seen theater in NYC, gone wine-tasting in Napa, and eaten gelato in Capri. As I write this blog, I am on my way to Paris to celebrate my birthday.

So here is what I know for sure. Self-help does help! When you do the work to shift something on the inside, not only will your life dramatically change on the outside but you will also attract people who reflect your internal shifts! Your life will become a manifesting machine as it reflects the self-love and wholeness you feel inside!

Transformational Action Steps

(1) Take a moment to reflect upon the personal growth you have been doing. Take a moment to survey your life. Ask yourself, “Is my self-help helping?” Have there been concrete changes in your life? Are you manifesting that which you desire?

(2) If you see you have made concrete changes…fabulous! Ask yourself, “What’s next?” If you don’t see concrete changes, then consider trying a new path.

(3) If you want to do some deep, life-changing inner work, we invite you to come to The Shadow Process Miami September 14th to September 16th. Click here to learn more and register:

Author's Bio: 

Kelley Kosow is the author of The Integrity Advantage, a motivational speaker, and the Chief Executive Officer of the highly acclaimed Ford Institute. She continues the legacy of the New York Times bestselling author and thought leader, the late Debbie Ford, and leads the development and teachings of The Ford Institute’s transformational programs to thousands of people across the globe. Known as a “kick-ass coach” to high-level executives, change makers, and celebrities committed to personal transformation, Kelley blends her quick wit, laser sharp insight, and relentless compassion to help people upgrade their lives on a cellular level. Throughout her impressive career as a successful lawyer turned personal growth super star, she has been featured in Oprah Magazine as someone who could “Dream it, Do it,” as well as In Style, People, Working Mother, Latina, NY Times, Conde Nast Traveler, and LA Times. Kelley has also appeared on “The Balancing Act” and Connect with Kelley at or