How to Do Everything You’ve Ever Wanted in Half the Time and with Less Effort

The personal development sphere is known for its rather sensational claims, even if a lot of it really does work.

However, there are some personal development habits that are pretty overrated, be it something that’s preached to be the perfect productivity vehicle for all or an exercise that isn’t quite as straightforward as it seems.

It’s important to work on yourself but it’s also important to know what the truth is. And, with the advent of digital media, it’s become harder to tell between what’s real and what’s marketing.

The road to success is always under construction.

– Lily Tomlin

Here are the most overrated development habits:

1. Meditation isn’t a panacea

As someone who has taught meditation for several years, I can attest to its power.

Sometimes, that power appears almost mystical in nature. However, images abound of blissed-out 20-somethings sitting serenely on top of a giant freaking hill.

How they get there apparently with full makeup and without breaking a sweat we’ll never know but one thing is for certain: this, often, isn’t what meditation feels like (and, no, I don’t advise you to climb a hill or mountain just to meditate).

Sometimes, meditation is great and truly instills in you a sense of peace and serenity. However, often, it feels like you’re being dragged out of your own skin.

The purpose of meditation is the realization of truth, much in the same way that a scientist studies the connection between basic elements of reality to find out how things work.

First and foremost, the realization of truth requires you get past yourself and that means overcoming years of subconscious programming and an internal dialogue that is often almost villainous in nature. So, when you sit down to meditate you have to deal with a lot of crappy things that rise up from below the surface including past trauma and issues of low self-worth.

But more than just the fact that meditation isn’t this perfectly wonderful experience, it isn’t a panacea.

Do a quick search online and you’ll find pages of articles on the benefits of meditation, the first and most prominent of which have a laundry list of positive effects. But everyone responds differently to meditation itself and each meditation style. While some might find serenity, others find nothing but struggle. Plus, some of the purported benefits, depending on where you read, are outright myth.

The practice is always worthwhile, more worthwhile than almost anything else you can do for your mental well-being, but it’s not always easy and it’s not some perfect cure for all of life’s ailments.

2. Rising early isn’t best for everyone

One of the most popular ideas in modern personal development culture is that of rising early. Early rising, many will tell you, is the meditation of productivity.

Wake up an hour or two earlier and you’ll evolve into a higher lifeform, one which doubles its speed and amplifies its mental faculties several times over. At least, that’s what most articles online make it sound like.

Waking up early is said to not just give us some extra time each morning but offer a perfect kind of solace, the ideal environment for productivity and creative thinking.

And it’s hard to argue against when countless big-thinkers and notable authorities rep the habit and said benefits, from Tony Robbins to Oprah Winfrey and Apple CEO Tim Cook.

However, the problem is the assumption that just because something works for others that you admire or would like to emulate the success of, it will work for you.

But there’s ample anecdotal evidence that, if you take the time to look around, some people just work better as night owls.

I’ve done both and even purposely shifted between the two to study the effects on my body and mind. And I can say from personal experience that both have their benefits and drawbacks.

All you can is test out each and see what feels better for your own body and mind and, most specifically, how they affect your productivity and creative thinking.

3. Making personal development too much about you

Personal development is about improving, well, yourself. In case you didn’t already know that.

However, one of the most prevalent mistakes is to make your own personal development all about making yourself better isolated from the rest of the world.

In 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey talks about the habit of making personal development only about yourself and ignoring how effectively you perform with others.

The pursuit of personal excellence isolated from others is a somewhat egotistical fantasy as true progress requires that you work closely with others at almost every stage of your development.

Sure, there are domains and skills which require strictly self-improvement in terms of your own individual productivity (perhaps more than ever), such as focus and maximizing your ability to tune into your creative voice.

However, you can’t accomplish any great goal or dream on your own and the better you work together with others, from your communication to collaboration, the more likely you are to be successful. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if you don’t work well together with others and work to improve your ability to do so, you’ll be severely handicapped.