Personal Development

Why We Postpone Personal Development

Written by Craig Morton

The risk of delay

If you delay on action, the urgency slips. That is why you take a band-aid off quickly or get somebody to count down from three rather than 50 before you jump. The more space between decision and action, the less likely you’ll do it.

I see this phenomenon with myself and colleagues involved in personal development: a client enthusiastically inquires, you set up a first session to connect, and then an email comes to postpone.

postpone_personal_developmentHere is why this happens

Reaching out looking for help starts to soothe what ever it is that is bothering you. It feels like real action and that you have taken steps forward. But if you postpone that call, you’re not any further/farther ahead. In fact, you’re behind because you’ve just unknowingly settled for more time in your rut.

Think of it like wanting to start running. You go out and buy the gear, the shoes and the biggest, latest watch/pedometer.  In the morning after you get all decked out, your shoes tied and the watch set, you then fall asleep on the couch. All of the urgency and momentum  you had buying the equipment is now lost and fading into the cushions.

What you won’t delay on

Personal development might not be as pressing or in your face as a broken down car or a tooth ache, but it is much more essential to a life well lived. When these daily issues pop up, they surprise us, inconvenience us and we act. But the wanting of change or personal development has been a long slow boil, and let’s face it: “you’re used to being unsatisfied.” So another day, week or month is minute in the large scheme of miserable.

But the car and the tooth ache, we take care of instantly.

If you had to personally fix your car every week, chances are the health of the engine would slip and the exterior would be dirtier with a few more dings and nicks. But since all you have to do is pay somebody, you keep it looking and running like new. The same thing applies to your tooth ache. If you had to pull it out yourself, you might live longer with that decaying tooth and it’s associated pain.  Other than money, they require no effort on your part.

The support systems versus the work

The catch with personal development is that not only being vital to your quality of life, it also requires work on your part.

Deciding to do personal development and actually doing it are two very separate things and it is important that you don’t confuse them. Making an appointment and then canceling, buying a new book but never reading it and/or talking a lot of talk about what you want to do but never doing it is nothing but theater.

If you are serious, then the logistics and support systems of making your personal development happen need to be seen as just that; logistics and support. The scheduling, the time, the effort, the money are all setting you up to start.

But starting requires you showing up and doing the work.

A personal call to action

I would like to leave you with a challenge to pick a goal in personal development, create the atmosphere to make it happen and then DO IT. The excuses that will try to get in your way need to be ignored and the time has come to move forward and look that fear directly in the eye. If you start, that is one step closer to where you want to be.

Some Amazing Comments


About the author

Craig Morton

Craig Morton is a Life Coach at Ignite Change. He practices Ashtanga yoga and is in the process of moving to Laos, SE Asia.


  • I like the idea of “creating an atmosphere.” Not only the decisions and the actions… but taking the time and making the effort to somehow create a personalize atmosphere to complement where you would like to go in terms of your growth.

  • Craig you have explained this concept of having a action oriented approach so effectively.I completely agree with the aspect that gaining knowledge is incomplete if an individual does not have an plan of action in mind.
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge .

  • This is very good advice, but what happens when you don’t know where or what the information is that will help you? Simply grasping at anything you think will help only serves up more frustration. I’m currently experiencing a situation where I know what the issue is, but don’t know how to get information that will truly help. I’ve seen too many “miracle” websites/people/books who simply take your money and really don’t offer any true improvement. I certainly appreciate your “get up and do something” approach though, as we all know if nothing is done, nothing happens!



    • Hi Melissa. You raise a good point. Anybody who offers a miracle or easy approach to anything should be avoided at all costs. Personal development takes work but with even a small amount of work you can see huge results so the return on your investment is quite large.
      But, like you ask “Where do I start?” There is no one size fits all like many in the personal development field try to make you believe. Your development needs to be approached like a scientist or researcher and pick and choose methods, ideas and people. Your end result will be a collection of many different resources. The best place to start is simply investigating: asking questions, hiring professionals, and most importantly listening to yourself. Ask yourself “What do I need to do here to get from A to B?” The answer is inside of you already and it might just take you being very honest with yourself.
      But, don’t be shy in asking others (professional coaches, counsellors and even others that have been through a similar situation). Most likely, with your internal questioning, and then some input from others, your answer and what actions to take are much closer than you may realize. Be honest, be brave and no question is too small. In fact, the smallest of questions are usually the ones that produces the biggest perspective shift.
      I hope that helps. I’d love to hear more about it so please feel free to contact me directly. Yours in service, Craig

  • Craig,

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom on this. Too often we delay what isn’t urgent at the cost of our future. The fact that it isn’t something screaming at us, but rather a dull ache on our hearts, makes the pain bearable and if it is bearable, we won’t act on it. Only when we reach the “fed-up” point in our lives do we start to improve.

    I enjoyed this post.


    P.S. You’re moving to Asia? I am completing my first year in Turkey now. What is prompting your move?

  • Craig,
    I agree that it’s best to strike when the proverbial iron is hot – whenever possible. I work with my clients to get them to “procrastinate later,” advice that usually gets a laugh but does work. I first heard Albert Ellis say that and it stuck with me.

    With personal development, results take time so the feedback loop isn’t as rapid. That being said, we have to look for the subtle progress that we make, the baby steps that are taken before we can start to see change unfolding. Sadly, this is what keeps people eating unhealthy foods, smoking, etc. Above, Maurice mentioned Nike’s simple motto: “Just do it.” I might add: “Just do it. Keep doing it for progress isn’t always apparent.” Not as catchy, but you catch my drift.

    • Hi Jack…I agree entirely. I’m working on an ebook (due out soon) on just that topic of starting AND keeping it going. That is where the magic is. LIke a credit card, the effects of personal development shows up later. Only with PD, it’s a good thing :)

  • What you say is so true. The longer we put off our personal development, the less likely we are to ever actually get around to it.

    Change requires two things: a choice and a commitment. Make your choice, then commit to it. Understand that it’s a difficult road, but know also that the easy path has only ever led to stagnation.

    Once you’ve taken those first difficult steps, the rest of the journey becomes easier.


    • Thanks Trevor. Thoughts are great, but without action, they stay just that. That first step can be a powerful start to many. The key is taking it. Thanks

  • So true Craig. I consciously began my personal development journey back in 1997 and I have been at it ever since. It literally has become a part of who I am and I believe that personal development should be utilized throughout ones life.

    Take Care.

/* ]]> */