I hear from quite a number of people – clients and readers of my Personal Development Ezine – who tell me that they have become far calmer, more aware and focused as a result of the various little “mental exercises” that they undertake to banish stress and move themselves in the direction that they want their life to go. Indeed, I regularly get feedback from some clients who tell me that their lives have changed immeasurably and that they have seen some or many of their goals being achieved almost effortlessly – some have told me that it’s like ticking things off a shopping list! On the other hand, others contact me wondering why, if they are developing calm, clarity and presence of mind, nothing new and exciting seems to be happening in their lives – and why their goals seem to be as elusive as ever.

In answering them, I often refer to what a client and good friend from Northern Ireland said to me at the height of the so-called “Troubles”. He said “Obviously, for some people, doing their mental exercises is a bit like the way some of my fellow-countrymen go to Mass on a Sunday, kneel down and pray and, on a Monday, go out and blow someone up!” The point is very well made – if your efforts at personal development don’t make an impact in the ordinary course of your everyday life, there really is little or no point in fooling yourself into thinking that you’re on the road to the life that you want. Personal development isn’t supposed to make you feel good for five, ten or fifteen minutes each day. And whilst those few minutes clarity and presence of mind will inevitably have a knock-on effect in your ordinary everyday life as the effect of that calm seeps into the fabric of your ordinary day, personal development is actually supposed to change your life. If it isn’t doing that, then you’re doing something wrong.

As I write this, I’m awaiting the arrival of a client who is going to spend the next couple of days with me here with me at home in the French Alps. I received an advance note from him – what he called his “agenda” – and, on that note, he asks how to bring the calm and focus that you get through meditation or mental exercising into the rough and tumble of everyday life. My answer to him will be simple. During the course of your everyday life, especially when the going gets tough, you’ve got to regularly pause, take note of your state of mind and compare that state of mind to the calm and clarity that you get when you’re doing your personal development exercises or meditation in the morning – this early morning calm is your benchmark state of mind or reference point against which you can compare your state of mind throughout the day. If, when you pause to “reality-check” yourself, you’re state of mind has drifted from this benchmark calm then you’re going to have to take a momentary step back from what’s going on, take a few deep breaths, and restore the mental calm and focus that will make the difference to your actions and personal effectiveness in the present moment. This calming down process is not akin to becoming relaxed, it is a process through which you become fully energise to take whatever action – rather than normal reaction – is appropriate in the situation in which your then currently find yourself.

In other words, you come back to now. The normal tendency which in-built in all of us, is to drift through the day on a sea of mindless distraction – you’ve got to constantly check this tendency and bring yourself back to the actual reality of the present moment, whatever that might be. As I say, a few deep breaths may well do the trick. But, if they don’t, take five or ten minutes, find somewhere where you won’t be disturbed and simply see, feel, hear, smell and taste your surroundings – coming to your senses is at the heart of being present, focused, turned on and moving towards the life that you really want.

Personal development isn’t personal development if you’re not seeing concrete results in the course of your everyday life. If you find that your life is still all over the place, you may well be simply lulling yourself into an even more dangerous place where you may well end up making decisions or taking what you think is action that may well make your life worse rather than better. I have seen this happen, a great deal has been written about it – great care is required to measure the effects of your personal development work on the actual daily reality of your life. As I say, if the results don’t stack up, you need to take careful stock of your state of mind during each day, rather than simply go through the unproductive motions of what might be simply described as a personal development ritual.

Author's Bio: 

Willie Horton has been enabling his clients live their dream since he launched is now acclaimed two-day Personal Development Seminars all the way back in 1996. His clients include top leaders in major corporations such as Pfizer, Deloitte, Nestle, Merrill Lynch, Wyeth, KPMG, G4S and Allergan together with everyone from the stay-at-home parent to sports-people. An Irish ex-banker and ex-accountant, he lives in the French Alps from where he travels the world as a much sought after motivational speaker and mentor. In 2008 he launched Gurdy.Net where is self-help seminars are now online. For more information visit Willie Horton’s Personal Development Website Gurdy.Net