Self-help books are a prevalent part of personal development. In fact, they’re probably the starting point for most people’s self-improvement journey. I know that was certainly the case for me. But are they actually effective? Can you really alter and improve your life by reading these books or are they just mental masturbation?
The answer is: it depends. Let me explain.
The Truth About Self-Help Books
I am a big advocate of reading. I have been reading every day for years, and it has had a huge impact on my life and personal development. And I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. However, the truth about self-help books is that they’re not for everyone.
Why? Because many people get caught in the spiral of analysis of paralysis. They read book after book but never take action on anything they learn in those books. As a result, they continue consuming without actually improving.
Now, if you’re reading strictly for entertainment purposes, that’s a different story.
But reading a self-book implies you’re trying to improve something about your life. And while you do need to gather information first, nothing actually changes until you ACT.
Are Self-Help Books Effective at Improving Your Life?
The simple answer is: Yes, self-help books can absolutely improve your life. But only on two conditions…
- The book has practical, actionable steps you can take (no abstract ideas or concepts, you need a concrete, step-by-step guide or plan).
- You actually APPLY what you learn.
If these two criteria are met, you can completely revolutionize your life with self-help books.
The Problem People Have With Self-Help Books
The trouble many people have when reading self-improvement books is a lack of focus. They read 5 or 6 books at a time, thinking that just because they’re reading, they’re expanding their knowledge.
I used to do this a lot myself; I would read several books at once (sometimes as many as 4 or 5 at a time). And quite frankly, I don’t remember a damn thing from any of those books.
When you’re spreading your focus amongst that many self-help books, it dilutes your mental bandwidth. This makes it harder to retain and apply the information you consume.
Luckily, there’s a better way…
A New (And Far More Effective) Approach
I have a better approach to reading self-help books.
Read one book at a time (or at the absolute maximum: two). And instead of trying to get through the book as fast as humanly possible, try to pay close attention. Take notes, ponder the information and, most importantly, read the book multiple times.
Yes, this is extra work. But if you’re serious about using self-help books to actually improve your life, it’s necessary.
All the books I’ve learned the most from are books I’ve read 10, 15, 20 times or more.
It’s far better to MASTER one or two books at a time instead of passively reading 4 or 5 books at once using the scatter-brain approach. So pick a single book to read, mark it up and really digest its contents and, when you’re done, read it again.
Continue this process until you’ve absorbed all its information and feel as though you could give a seminar on it. Here’s a simple plan for you to follow through on this process:
- Decide the area of your life you want to improve the most
- Purchase one to two books on that subject
- Read them at least 10 to 15 times (each)
- Take notes and underline important passages
- Go out and apply what you learn
- Stay persistent with your efforts until you succeed
There are no shortcuts to success. This plan will give you a roadmap for how to get the most out of your self-help books.
You can alter your life with self-help books. However, that transformation requires your participation; you can’t endlessly read, not take action on what you’ve learned, and then expect your life to improve. It doesn’t work that way. You must do your part, and that requires effort, patience, and consistency.
If you have trouble staying consistent, I can help. Be sure to grab my ebook to help you develop rock-solid self-discipline in your life.