So you’ve bought just about every self-improvement book known to mankind and gone through them all with a find tooth comb looking for that one missing link that is going to turn your life around, make you rich beyond your wildest dreams and bring you more happiness than you ever thought possible. You thought the answers were in the last book, but once you finished the last page you were inspired, yet nothing had changed.
My friend I hate to break this to you but you’re going about this all the wrong way. You see reading self-improvement books is just a small part of transforming your life. Without putting what you learn into action, you’re just indulging in ‘shelf help’ instead of really developing as a person.
Action drives your success.
Without actively finding a way to implement what you’ve learned into your daily life, the knowledge just files itself away in your mind where it may never really be used again. A bit like all the self-improvement books you’ve read once that are now collecting dust on your shelf.
Damn shelf help….
So what can you do to turn things around right away?
Well firstly if there is a book or audio that has really resonated with you in the past, go back and read it. This probably sounds contradictory to what has just been said, but you’re going to treat the experience completely different to how you have in the past. You see most people read personal development books in the same way that they would read a novel. Cover to cover, chapter by chapter, then put it away once it’s been read, never to pick up again.
Is this what you normally do too?
This time the book is going to be viewed through the eyes of a student, treating it like a huge textbook full of lessons and practical exercises to be completed. Yep, you’re going back to school. But don’t stress, there’ll be no stupid exams in this. Who gives a fuck what you can memorize and repeat, that gets you nowhere in life! What’s important is that you take what you learn and put it into action.
Now once you’ve chosen your book, it’s time for you to sit down and map out your course structure. You can break it down by chapters or sections, just try to end each lesson at a suitable stopping point. Makes no sense to break something down by page numbers as you’ll have to many ideas crossing over which will just lead to confusion.
One thing that is common in just about every self-help book is that they actually give you tasks to complete or make suggestions on how you can implement what you’ve just read into your own life. Instead of just flying by at 100 miles an hour on a mission to get to the end of the book, we’re going to get into the slow lane and take our sweet time.
At the end of the break points you’ve chosen, get out your journal and write down the specific actionable suggestions that have been made in the book. Now for most people, making more than one change at a time is a surefire way to guarantee that none of the new habits will stick. We want to avoid this as we’re looking to get real, tangible results here. So pick just one of the specific actions you can take and come up with a list of ways you can put it to work in your life right now.
Yep, there’s homework to be done!!
Now like any course, just do one section at a time. You might be a fast reader who can knock over a book in the day, but this is about getting real results from the self-improvement books you’re reading. There’s no need to treat this like a race. The person who screams through every section in a rush to get to the end will probably be the biggest loser. You’ve got to stop to smell the roses along the way and do the actual work!
Never have I read a personal development book that doesn’t have some nugget of wisdom in it. Just don’t get so stuck on looking for the one magical piece to the puzzle that will change your life because there is no such thing. If you just take action on any of the books you’ve read, you will get results. But you have to do the work. So ask yourself honestly, are you practicing self-improvement or shelf help?