Self-Help Books: Get the Most From Them in 3 Steps

Self-Help Books are Soaring

From 2013 to 2019 the number of self-help books tripled from 30,897 to 85,253, according to the NPD Group – a $500m American Research company. That’s a lot of help we are needing! But with so many books all wanting our attention to share their secrets for financial success, a happy life, and the path to eutopia, should we read them and if so, which ones?

Can We Read Them All?

Each self-development book is about 60,000 words. Given an average reading speed of 225 words per minute, a book will take just under 5 hours to read. If we started at 9 am, stopped for an hour for lunch, and a couple of short breaks, we’d finish at 3.30 pm. That’s a large chunk of anyone’s day. Is it worth the time? It depends on whether you read for pleasure & enjoy it, in which case, yes. If you are reading the self-help book for a reason; inspiration, how to manage people, or something similar, then the answer lies in whether you know what you want. And that’s where we need to start with the first of our 3 steps:

Step One

What behaviour do you want to change by reading this book? You want to be better at time management just won’t cut it because the topic is too big. ‘I want to stop procrastinating’ is a better topic because it is more focused. Think rifle, not shotgun when you are choosing a self-help book. Have a problem in mind that you want this book to solve. For example, I read ‘Eat that Frog’ because I kept procrastinating and wanted to stop.

Step Two

Write down the behaviour you will change because it will bring the behaviour to life. For example, ‘On my to-do list each day I will highlight the worst & biggest task and do that first by writing an ‘A1’ against it.

Step Three

Remind yourself every day until the behaviour becomes habit. It takes doing something 21 times before it becomes a habit. I was all for keeping a frog in my office, but my wife disagreed, so I sufficed with a big picture of one on my office wall.

Green frog peeking out from behind leaves

These 3 steps will change your behaviour and make reading the self-help books worthwhile. Whilst we are on the topic I also recommend; ‘Think and Grow Rich’ by Napoleon Hill for focussing on a goal, ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie for how to get people to do what you want, and ‘Made to Stick’ by Chip & Dan Heath for how to get ideas to stick & go viral.

Written by Darren A. Smith for The Grocer.

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