Why I’m Giving Up Self-Help Books for One Month

I’m a self-improvement junkie. I’ve listed it as one of my hobbies because it takes that much time, energy, and passion from me.

The thing is, the proportion of the amount I’ve read to the amount I think I’ve improved isn’t as much as it should be. Have I improved? Absolutely. Hands-down, books have been my greatest teachers in learning how to understand myself. But compared to the vast, VAST amount of books and articles and podcasts I’ve consumed? It should be more. I’ve read enough business books to have started a hundred businesses. I’ve read enough dating books to be married. Or so I think.

The thing is, at some point, self-improvement books become another means of putting off actual action.

For instance, I need to stop logging the time I spend reading self-improvement books as productive work time because it’s really not. I’m enjoying the books and getting a buzz off them, but they aren’t upping my rate of actions taken or anything. In other words, the return on investment stinks.

Just like how I can plan and plan my business and project and never actually get anything done, I can read and read about writing and never have a novel written, but still feel like I’m getting somewhere. Only I’m not. A self-improvement book is a whirlpool in the river to progress, sucking me around and around. It feels exciting and fast-paced and useful, but I haven’t gotten any farther.

So…I’m swearing off them for a month. Starting November (when NaNoWriMo starts, so it’s a great time to buckle down) I will only read for pure pleasure. Like fiction. Or history. Any time I might have spent nobly reading a book on writing will be spent…you know…actually writing. Any time spent reading a book on communication will be spent, hopefully, communicating. Any time spent reading books on business will be spent on actions around that business.

I’m hoping I can count on you guys to help keep me accountable for this. Tweet at me, Instagram me, comment here…however you want to barrage me with reminders to stop reading and start doing, please do so. Heaven knows I’m addicted.

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10 thoughts on “Why I’m Giving Up Self-Help Books for One Month

    1. Uh, hello again, autocorrect thinks “Coalmine” is “Coalmoke” – but anyway, you know who this is (the one with the toasted marshmallow and chocolate sunday dogs) – and yeah, shut them books and start writing!!!

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  1. I think like anything, a good habit or practice, we need a reboot. I certainly went “all or nothing” in for years until I burned myself out. Now, I return to “self-improvement work” when I have fallen off my horse.

    Audios can be a nice way of committing without feeling like you are taking away from reading time (which is precious!). I can sew something or do something else while listening, and just listen for a short time. It’s nice.

    The BF and I were just talking about this idea what self-improvement feels like it never ends, hence your whirlpool analogy. So what we reminded ourselves of was it is a dance, a relationship with ebbs and flows, and well, that’s just the way it is, and the sooner we accept that the better we’d feel about it. Does that make sense???

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    1. It does! And I’ll never give it up entirely. I just know that I’ve been prone to put off things I really want to do in the name of “improving myself” by reading books. But once November ends…I’ve got a list already of stuff I want to read!

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    1. I’m actually done with my one month, so it’s back to the books for me! As far as podcasts, I don’t really listen to all that many. I listen to Writing Excuses and Critical Role occasionally, but I’m better taking in information visually than aurally. Do you have any suggestions?

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  2. What a great experiment. How’d it go? Brooke Castillo of the Life Coach School talks about how important the difference is between passive action (reading, listening to self-help) versus massive action (actual action toward your goals). I love her podcast — The Life School Coach Podcast. Lots of great self-improvement tips!

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    1. That’s so spot on! That’s exactly why I gave it up, and it sounds like I need to listen to that podcast. It was a lot of feeling good about sometime in the future maybe thinking about self improvement and not near enough actual action. And because I gave it up in order to write, and because I did write, I count it a great success. 😀

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