The multitude of personal development programs available in the market is vast and overwhelming. How do we know which programs are right for us? What can we do to maximize the benefits of a self-improvement course? Here are three steps that I've discovered to be crucial in starting any personal development program:

1. Be Open-Minded

It's easy to look at a program and discard it quickly. There are so many options available that we may tend to be too critical or unintentional in our selection criteria. Remember that in life, answers don't always come from the places that we'd expect them to come from. Often, we are surprised at where we make new discoveries. So don't dismiss a book by its cover and don't dismiss a seminar because one friend had something negative to say about it.

When I was a teenager I came across a program called A Course in Miracles. I wasn't terribly interested because I knew the course had a strong Christian focus, and I wasn't Christian. I was, however, open-minded and took the course. The coursed introduced me to biblical wisdom and opened the door (for me) to personal growth through spirituality. Today, A Course in Miracles is one of my favorite programs that I would highly recommend.

In fact, personal development programs originate from seven distinct roots (see the article, "Distinctions in Personal Development" at the home page of Perhaps you've tried personal development programs that have an emphasis on philosophy and psychology. Maybe it's time to try something new. Maybe it's time to explore some of the other paradigms of personal development.

2. Have an Attitude of Expectation

Henry Ford said, "Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can't, you're right." I believe it is also true that, whether you think you WILL, or whether you think you WON'T, you're right. Our minds have the ability to transform our expectations into reality. If we start a new job thinking that it was the worst decision we could make, we'll create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Similarly, we must tart and complete personal development programs with the attitude that they WILL make a difference for us.

3. Take Personal Responsibility

Buying a book or attending a weekend event is simply not enough. We've got to read the book, and we've got to be proactive at the event. More than that, we must do the exercises recommended to us. If a certain activity scares us, that's all the more reason to do it! In fact, let's be courageous - engage the speaker/facilitator, ask questions, and discuss with peers. We must take action and implement what we're learning. Knowledge is power - true - however, it is more like "potential" power. Knowledge is not real power until we learn to put it into action!

There is only so much an author or a speaker can do to motivate us. At some point, we've got to take personal responsibility. If we don't understand something, we must seek out the answer. If something is not working for us, we must talk to others and discover why. Complaining, or even being content with our lack of understanding, produces a life of mediocrity.

As a depressed teenager, seeing a psychiatrist three times a week wasn't working for me. I didn't see any tangible changes occurring. I could have had the attitude: "Well, I'm trying to change, and it's just not happening. I guess there's no hope." Instead, I took personal responsibility for the results I was seeking and sought other means of change . . . and so began my personal-growth journey. I became curious and sought-after alternative forms of education. Some were good, and some were not so good. It was my "personal responsibility" that had me take what worked, and if something didn't work, to move on to something else.

There's no "magical" personal development program available today that will work for everyone. Different programs relate to different people. What makes a program more effective for one person than another is the person's faith, belief, and their ability to recognize the importance of these three steps. These steps may seem simple, yet they are frequently overlooked. Be conscious of them, and may start your personal development program RIGHT.

(And if you decide to buy my book, "A Dictionary of Distinctions", remember these steps before you begin reading.)

Coming Soon...
Don't miss the follow-up article, "Four Cornerstones to doing any Personal Development Program RIGHT" in the next issue of the Distinctions e-zine.

Author's Bio: 

Danish Ahmed is turning heads in the personal-growth movement by brining the education of the industry down-to-Earth -- by teaching from our popular culture, like television, movies, music, and other current day media. Get a FREE bi-weekly newsletter -- no advertising -- just ordinary words with some extraordinary power! Visit