Don’t Buy Self Help Books, They Won’t Get You Anywhere

I have always been an avid reader of self help books and online articles. I preferred books that imparted knowledge and thought that reading anything apart from the news paper or books in the non-fiction genre was a waste of time.

It’s not that I only read self help books to gain knowledge. I read enjoyed the anecdotes the authors shared like the mini paradigm shift by Stephen Covey in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People or the story of a sales man with his flash cards in The Power of Positive Thinking. It was also of interest to me how successful people achieved their success and fueled my own desire to be successful.

I've experienced several different healing methodologies over the years - counseling, self-help seminars, and I've read a lot - but none of them will work unless you really want to heal. - Lindsay Wagner

One day I asked myself how I have benefited from reading all self help material that I have been reading for the past 5 years. I have been reading a lot of content about self development, motivation and productivity but what was the net gain from it? How much did I grow as a person and was there a way for me to quantify the benefits I gained?

When I am disheartened I often go back to the question, “What is my WHY?” and the sole purpose of writing this blog was to be able to connect with people who want to be successful in life just like me. I don’t post here regularly but only when I think I can provide something of value to my readers who just like want to find out how to be successful in life. I write from the heart, pen down my point of view and write about things that either make sense to me or work for me.

Therefore I think that my point of view of why Self help books never worked for me might be helpful to you if you are in a similar situation.

I think that I shouldn’t have wasted [wasted not invested] all the money and more importantly time in self help material because it does not work the way it is supposed to work and that is the truth for most people. I say this because if there are supposedly millions of copies sold then there should be at least a million more successful people right?

Here’s another fact that I realized, no matter how much money I spent on buying books, training programs or hiring a coach, it was not going to make a difference unless I was prepared to accept the fact that I am responsible for myself and I was going to need to take action if I ever was going to be successful.

I was so desperate to be successful that in my mind I was sure that reading this book or going to that training program is all I needed to be successful in life. I set the bar of expectation too high and patience level too low and I ended up being disappointed. I kept looking for other resources on the internet.Blogs such as this, articles, videos, free training programs but none of them worked.

It didn’t work because I was not willing to work to make the necessary changes to be successful in life.

For me the problem was that a particular personal development or self help resource did not apply to my situation and that there were other resources that I hadn’t discovered yet that would make me successful.Our brains tries to take the easy way out when it encounters a task it finds unpleasant. I didn’t want to invest in the stock market because it was too risky. The truth is I was not willing to learn how it works. I don’t want to publish a book because no one would like to read what I write when the truth is that I am going to need to work hard and push myself outside my comfort zone to learn about how to publish and market my book.

The problem isn’t self help books; the problem is that I won’t help myself.

How to Make Self Books Work for you?

Any book is a self-help guide if you can take something from it.
– Kevin Smith

In the past couple of weeks I have learnt and see myself constantly reminding myself that is very important to surround yourself with people who love you and have your best interest at heart. I learnt that almost anything that is essential cannot be quantified and is invisible. I learnt this not from any self help books but from reading fiction because when I opened the book I had no expectation whatsoever.

I was so engrossed in reading and understanding the words and thoughts that those words and thoughts were now my words and thoughts. When you start reading any book, especially self help or personal development books have zero expectations from the book.

Rather than reading try to get into the frame of reference of the author, understand the content and if it makes sense to you get to using it right away. Don’t wait for the perfect time or day, just get started and keep using it until it no longer makes sense to you or you come up with your very own solution.

Another important thing to remember is if you find what you learnt from a book to be helpful keep revisiting the book even if it’s only to read the text you’ve highlighted, you will almost always discover something new that you missed previously.

I’ve read “A million little pieces” by James Frey at least 4 times but each time I find something fresh to take away from the book. The last time I read it I learnt about how any sort of addictions works in a way that I had never viewed it before.

Self Help Books Don’t Make You Successful.

Imagine being successful just by reading a couple of books? I would memorize each and every page if that were possible. Self help books should not be thought of as means to riches.

A good way to learn is to learn from your mistakes; even better way to learn is to learn from the mistakes of others.

A couple of self help books comes with years of experience from the authors, what worked and what did not work for them. Think about it, even this post comes from my personal experience with self help books. You will make mistakes no doubt but by learning from the mistakes of other you learn to avoid the most common ones.

Books are mediums of learning not secret pathways to success. There is no guaranteed formula for success; each one must carve his own way. If you are better equipped with knowledge and the information you need you will get there faster. Others will learn from their mistakes and get there eventually. Read to Broaden Your Perspective to help you make better decisions.

Top 10 Self Help Books To Master Productivity and Generate Wealth.

Did this title catch you attention? Did you try clicking on the URL above to check out the list?
I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, ‘Where’s the self-help section?’ She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.
– George Carlin

find the best self help book

You are unique and so are your goals and areas of learning. Instead of reading from a pre-defined list identify your areas of strength and weakness and discover books, training programs, articles that best suit you. If you are trying to learn a trade or technique just one book is not enough. Get involved; follow people who are considered authority in that field. Check out what people are talking about in forums.

Most importantly if you come across a book that you found helpful and think someone else could benefit from it, suggest it to them. If you have a spare copy lend them or better yet gift them the book, they will be thankful to you.

17 thoughts on “Don’t Buy Self Help Books, They Won’t Get You Anywhere”

  1. Wow, that headline and title is extremely eye catching and intriguing it sucked me in right away. I’ve always read self help books as they helped me immensely but I always made notes and did what they advised me to do. One thing though, what they did was motivate and inspire me immensely, and just by doing that I started achieving more and more success each time

    1. Hey Jose,

      That is exactly the point that I was trying to make. Unless you are willing to take action no amount of self help books will help you. Thank you for your visit.

  2. Wow, superb blog format! How lengthy have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The entire glance of your website is exlelcent, as well as the content material!

  3. Great information, I’m sure everyone goes through this at some of their life. Having a desire to be successful but not willing to put in the hard work. Thinking that just reading certain books will do the magic. You hit it right on the nose, we all must be willing to put in the work. In order to make the necessary changes to be successful in life. Extremely informative on self realization.

  4. Sorry about your bad experiences with self-help books!

    On the other hand, I have gained a lot of knowledge from self-help books such as Rich Dad Poor Dad, Risky Is The New Safe, Awaken The Giant Within, Life Without Limits, Attitude Is Everything and Eat That Frog, just to name some.

    I have a big book collection, and my library has helped me to grow as a person because I take notes of certain pieces of information that shout out to me, I apply the information I learn to myself and my business, and I take part in the daily tasks outlined in some books.

    Self Help books only work if you take the right action!

    Thanks for sharing a great article on the subject 🙂


    1. Hey Neil,

      “I take notes of certain pieces of information that shout out to me, I apply the information I learn to myself and my business, and I take part in the daily tasks outlined in some books.”

      This is exactly what each one of us should be doing with self help books. Thank you for the visit and sharing your experience with self help books.

  5. Thank you for your post, interesting point of view! And I totally agree with it.

    I love personal development books and I think they sharpen my knowledge and norms but the problem is exactly what you mention yourself; every time I get a new one I expect something to change in my life.

    I read plenty of books the last couple of years but I never took a look a back and asked myself the question you write; did they really make me succesful? No, not really. They haven’t changed me but they gave me knowledge.

    Books won’t make you successful but they can help you to find a way to make yourself capable of much more you thought before.

    Great post, great thougths!

    Thanks again!


  6. Love the design. Background id white and clear giving emphasis to the content. I sometimes wonder if having so many sub headings is a good idea
    The post is so full of content – full marks.
    The niche is itself a unique one and has given rise to .a load of content. well done and keep the posts rolling in

  7. This is a great article, and I appreciate the reading before I continue to review self-help books on my own site.

    I am only currently on my second self help book. I was shocked at the first one because of how much writing the author wanted you to do: chapter summaries and examples from your own life.

    Now my second book requires even more writing. Self help books require a ton of effort to really work.

  8. Hi there Josh,

    I can’t tell you how much I resonate with this article, except that my experience came from a slightly different context.

    I spent my late 20’s after college searching for ‘my life’ through traveling. I get a lot of inspiration from different people but I still came home feeling lost and not knowing where my path should be.

    And mind you, traveling is way more expensive than buying motivational books. My last trip finally made me realized what I’ve been missing all these while. All I ever need to be inspired, creative and successful is very close to home – my family, my culture and my dreams.

    When I put all that into perspective, the entrepreneur spirit in me started to emerge. Whatever took me so long to notice it?!?!?

    That turning point was almost 2 years ago and I’ve never look back since. I like this ‘new person’ that I am becoming and it’s exciting to see what the future holds for me.

    1. Hey Cathy,

      I am glad to know that you are in control of where your life is headed. I haven’t been much of a traveler but would love to travel very soon. I guess I get your point about being inspired to do something and then not doing anything about it. I had a lot of false starts and never got to anywhere.

      The true answers lie within us and yet we don’t find because we are looking at the wrong place I guess.

      Thank you for visiting my site and I hope you keep coming back 🙂

  9. Hey there Josh

    I have to say that I am really impressed about your hard work and the information that you provide. I got to add that I absolutely agree with you.

    I mean, if someone doesn’t want to change his current situation, he never will, no matter how many books he reads. That could be a lesson to people that make excuses rather than work hard.

    Wishing the best of luck and success.

  10. Hi there,

    Absolutely fantastic awesome and very accurate read. Personally, I love self-help and self-development book. I do recognise that it is not the book, Simply just reading the book is not going to do anything, you have to apply what you have read or learned and make a habit out of it.

    Brilliant site and a brilliant article. I loved the quotes.

  11. I agree. You have to be ready to take action on what you read, hear, or learn. Even the smallest step is a step in the right direction. I suppose a lot of us expect change to come upon instant contact with the material, but in reality the material should be a catalyst or a road map. Good read.

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