The Toxicity of Self-Development, Goal Setting, and the Law of Attraction

Self-development and goal-setting are usually seen as a beneficial practice in life. It is great to be self-aware of your flaws and take actions to make changes to yourself, so you evolve into a better version of you.

I love the idea of it and I do practice it quite frequently, as it goes hand-in-hand with spirituality. However, there are some things that are also harmful about this practice.

Not Living in the Present


When you are goal-setting, taking action towards that goal, and taking time to visualize the future, you are not living in the present moment. Your mind focuses on living in the future, because through the Law of Attraction you are taught to visualize it.

Yes, visualizing what your life could be can put you in a good mood in the moment and motivate you to get to work on your goals, but it makes you not enjoy living in the present.

When I first started practicing the Law of Attraction, I went face-first into this visualization that I would do it all of the time. Because of this, I never took the time to sit back and live in the present moment, because I was so focused on what I needed to get done in order to ensure that my future was exactly how I wanted it to be.

It created a false sense of urgency and I became a workaholic.

We need to live in the present to be able to ground us to now. We don’t need to focus so hard on the future that the beauty of the present passes us by.

I’m not saying that you should completely disregard thinking about the future all together, but what I am saying is that there needs to be a balance between both.

You need to think about your hypothetical future to help motivate you to accomplish your goals, but you also need to be able to rest and appreciate the present moment by taking a step back and resting for a bit.

“On to the Next” Mentality

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Yay! You finally accomplished your goal. But, with workaholic mentality you are not celebrating it as much as you should be.

Goal-oriented people tend to have “On-to-the-Next” mentality. They tend to continue to push themselves towards their next goals, instead of taking a step back to bask in their current accomplishment.

I feel like a lot of the time, I personally need outside acknowledgment to really make me realize how much hard work I put into a project to make it successful.

Accomplishing a goal should be a cause for celebration, not a mere thing we can check off of our to-do list.

We glorify productivity. We need to take the time to appreciate and celebrate our smaller accomplishments. We need to reward ourselves in order to enjoy the process itself along the way.

If you don’t enjoy the process, is it something that you truly want to be doing? I feel like if you don’t enjoy it, you won’t feel as ecstatic once you complete your goal.

Even if you are feeling ecstatic and energized working all of the time, is it really that healthy for you?

Personally, I used to throw myself into my work in order to feel a sense of accomplishment, worth, and to distract myself from my mental illness.

Doing the work felt good at the time, but that led me to burn out. I lost all interests in my hobbies and, when reflecting on that time, I felt like I was a shell of a human being.

My only personality trait at that time was being addicted to my work. I lacked self-awareness that I was going and not stopping for hours on end. I never took breaks.

In the end I realized that, yes, you do have to take action towards your goals for them to come to fruition, but take it one step at a time instead of letting the excitement blind you from self-care.

It’s like if you were to dive head-first into concrete… it’s not fun.

There’s A Constant Need to Improve or Acheive


In regard to self-development, it is healthy to be aware of our flaws and, if we so choose, make the changes to improve ourselves as individuals.

However, this practice can lead to us overanalyzing ourselves to the point of us getting down on ourselves. I feel like there’s a constant criticism of yourself in the world of self-development, which can be unhealthy, especially to those with mental illness.

I think that we should be able to come to terms with ourselves and practice self-acceptance, but it becomes tricky when self-development comes into play.

When you accept yourself you can be at peace with yourself. When you are self-developing you are trying to change yourself, because you aren’t okay with who you are in the present. This sounds quite contradictory to me.

How much can you change yourself until you are no longer authentic?

Flaws are relatable. Flaws are quirky. Flaws make us unique.

Constantly self-developing is like you are trying to achieve being your definition of the perfect person, but what is best for you is to do your best and be the best version of your true self that you can.

I feel like this process, if taken to the extreme, can make you seem like there is always something to improve on, and it is almost like a never ending internal battle to become your ideal self.

It’s like chasing a never ending goal, something you can never accomplish – perfection. Perfection doesn’t exist.

Similarly, when it comes to workaholics and goal-oriented people it appears to me that there will always be another goal to accomplish after you complete one.

What comes to my mind is like when DJ Khalid says his catch phrase, “And anotha one. And anotha one.” It’s almost like since you are always working towards something it feels neverending, you know?

I feel like there needs to be a point of satisfaction and a point of reflecting on all of the things you’ve accomplished, but instead to go on to the next thing and reject that awareness.

I believe that the only things that should matter in our lives are feeling purpose, enjoying the process, and chasing happiness


We need to value the now, take breaks, and step back and rest for a moment. Life is short, but you shouldn’t rush through it with the blinders on.

I feel like self-awareness of our flaws and being attuned to our bodies is an amazing thing, I just feel like self-development shouldn’t be a constant in our lives.

I myself am working to find balance. A balance of work and play. A balance of self-improving and self-acceptance.

The key to contentment is balance, and I feel like in society we could all use a little bit more of that.

-JW (aka Indigo Stardust)