Every year nearly $10 billion dollars is spent on motivational or self improvement programs, products or services.
How much do you spend each year on self improvement products? How much of it do you implement each year? How many books do you buy that never get read and instead stack up on your night stand like a little army of guilty reminders of the work you still have ahead of you?
I myself am guilty of standing under the bright lights of the bookstore; being drawn in by the glossy covers and the promises of greater self-awareness and discovery only to bring them home lovingly stroking the dust jackets and never touching the pristine pages with my eager fingers.
So, why is that? Is it that it seems like too much work? Is it that I am afraid of the journey ahead and am not sure where to start? Am I worried that the time might not be right? Or am I just lazy? Does it make me a more interesting person to have these glorious images on my shelves?
Here is what I have learned for myself:
- Only by one book at a time. They really aren't going to run out of the latest best seller if you haven't completed your current read. By staying with one book until the end you are more likely to stay focused on the current message and more likley to have the takeaway you need in the moment.
- Look for the one thing you can take and incorporate into your life today. It is difficult to maintain focus with so many great options - it becomes tempting to try and do it all. Remember all the cliches, "Rome wasn't built in a day," "you crawled before you walked." You've got the idea.
- If a particular section of a book isn't resonating with you - flag it and come back. One of the first self - improvement books I ever read was Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins and I was stuck on the 3rd chapter and couldn't get past it. One afternoon I took a binder clip and just tied it up and went on to Chapter 4; gained momentum and arrived at the end of the book. I don't know if the 3rd Chapter was too close to me at the time and I didn't want to 'deal' with it - but I do know the decision to flag Chapter 3 and come back to it gave me one of the greatest reads of my life. Otherwise I could have ended up with another soldier reminding me that my giant was still sleeping.
- Ask other people close to you what they are reading for personal development and why they like it. This could help you find some real gems that aren't part of The New York Times best sellers list.