Self-help is one of those things that can let you down one hundred and two times, but you’ll still love it unconditionally. Some people tell us that some self-help doesn’t do anything for us, and it’s just an obsession with “getting better” that will lead nowhere. Other people claim that specific books changed their lives. I personally believe that, yes, there are some tell-tale signs to whether a self-help book will be good, but if it does pass that test, any lack of success is on the reader. So, is there a way we can make the best of life-changing self-help book? Yes.
Self-Help Books Aren’t Novels, They’re Workbooks
Most people aren’t happy to hear that, if you want results, you have to work. Nothing life-changing happens without effort. That’s the major problem-people think the information alone, if it rings true, should embed itself in their unconscious and thus change every aspect of their lives. Not so much. Everybody who does well, if you notice, has made some effort to. Self-help books aren’t novels; they’re workbooks. Workbooks require comprehending, practice, baby-steps, goals, and progress to be successful. In this article we’ll discuss how to sift through the self-help book section to find books for you that have the potential to work, and then how to read them correctly, and how to apply them to your life.
Finding Books That Can Work For You
Define what you want to change. If you’re feeling bad about yourself, what in specific do you think is causing that? Your job? Your failing social life? Your looks or intelligence? Each of these examples would be easily treated with finding the career right for you, becoming more likable, and creating self-esteem. But even for just these three subjects there are hundred and hundred of books some of which may not be insightful at all.
Do some research. I recommend you do your research of the book here on the internet. My advice is to compile a list of 10-20 candidates for that specific subject. Then Google this phrase: “(the title of one of the books here) praise” for all of the books. Praise usually gives you a pretty good idea of what’s good about it. You decide from there your top five books. Then, I recommend you go to http://www.amazon.com/books, and check out their rating. You shouldn’t be satisfied with any less than 4 stars. Five stars are best, even the book isn’t your favorite. But even that isn’t the best tell-tale sign if it’d be good for you. I recommend you look at the most helpful negative and positive reviews. The link to this is on the book’s profile page in the Customer’s Review section where there should be a link that says “Read All (number) Customer Reviews”. Decide from both the positive and negative reviews whether you would like the book, regardless of the amount of stars. Make sure you have one to two back-ups, just in case your book doesn’t pass the next test.
Learn about the author. Since the author is going to be teaching you, it’s important that they are a good person and not a hypocrite yearning for a few bucks. Look up the author’s biography and if there’s anything that seems to contradict the fact that they’re writing a self-help book about that certain topic, chances are they’re not really going to help you.
Once you’ve found the best book, it’s time to start reading, which is the most important part.
Reading Your Self-Help Book Effectively
Reading self-help effectively consists of yes, reading it two times, fearlessly wielding a highlighter, and creating resources according to it. Skimping on one of these things could mean that you glean nothing from the book at all.
Reading the Book the First Time
The first initial time you read your self-help book, it’s important you focus. Create a goal on how many pages you want to read a day (depending on how fast you want to or can get it done), and then get in a quiet, distraction-free place and read. Make sure you comprehend. Ask yourself when you feel a bit glazed over what it just said. If you can’t answer, find somewhere else or turn off the radio or whatever is distracting you. It’s very important you focus, otherwise it may never help.
Besides from comprehending the text, highlight whatever really, really rings true with you. There might be something every page. Or maybe twenty pages. On average, I found there’s something every three pages for everyone, but that may or may not hold true for you. Once you’re done, make sure there are at least ten highlighted parts or phrases. If there isn’t, you risk the book changing your principles, and you don’t want to risk that it changes them for the worse.
Even if there are ten parts you highlighted, make sure you check with yourself if this book feels right to you. If there’s something about it that feels wrong, don’t read it. It has to ring true with you if you’re going to really take what it says to heart.
Reading the Book Again for Application
This time you understand it and what it’s go to say. Give this book a few weeks on the back-burner so you don’t loose your enthusiasm. When you’re ready to dive in again, get out your paper. Now it’s up to you to create tools to help you apply your book effectively to your life. Here’s some basic tools for you to use.
Charts: Benjamin Franklin, a genius at applying wisdom to life, created a chart so he could apply the principles he felt were most important to his life. You can do the same by labeling on the side of your chart whatever you want to work on, and for each day of the week, check if you actually used it at all. Set goals-one each day of the week for one week, then two a day for half week, and then three every three days, etc. Name your ultimate goal and work hard to achieve it. Remember, speed is not key with self-help, rather, engraining it in your lifestyle should be. Give yourself a period of at least a month to engrain it.
Diagrams: Create visual aids to help you. For instance, somebody I knew made a poster with different fruits against different backdrops detailing the specific virtue for the 7 Fruits of the Spirit. This can help to engrain it in your memory.
Goal Pyramids: On a large poster board, create a pyramid with 5 tiers. At the small, top tier, write what your ultimate goal is. On the bottom tier write 10-20 goals that are ridiculously easy, but are in the efforts to achieve that big goal. Keep creating goals from there in increasingly hard increments to get to that ultimate goal. Check off whatever you achieve from the bottom up until you can get to that ultimate goal. Make sure it is in reach though. Only you can tell.
Create your own tools: These are only a few basic tools that can help you. You know what book you read; be creative and think about what tools could be created to help you with the information you found there. My challenge is to create five of your own. Make sure they help you with your progress-that should be their ultimate purpose.
Tips for achieving your self-help goals
Here are some tips that I have found to be helpful in the efforts to achieve goals.
To really ingrain it in your memory apply it to as many aspects of your life as you can. Though the information may only apply to your spouse, see if you can apply it to your work, art, religion, home, friends, even to your drive to work. The more places you use it, the easier you will learn to apply it and utilize it.
Check your progress: Take a few hours one day to ask yourself if it’s helping you. Come up with five places (and if you can’t find five, you probably need to work harder) that it’s helped you in your life, and detail all changes and observations you’ve made from this change. Record the small changes that happened as you reached up to achieve this goal. This will help you when you have future goals as you become a better and better goal achiever and your goals get increasingly harder.
Refresh: Reread the most important parts of the book as often as you need to in order to help you achieve your goals.
As an end note, good luck in all your self-help endeavors!