The self-help industry is a multi-million-dollar industry that has been going strong for years… and only seems to be getting stronger.
Every few days, a new self-help guru pops up with a different take on the same old concepts that have worked for years.
The masses lap up the new content unaware that what they really need is not motivation but discipline… or what I like to say, plain old stubbornness… as a stubborn person is always determined.
There’s a quote by comedian, Damien Fahey, “It’s never your successful friends posting the inspirational quotes.”
As funny as this is, one cannot deny the truth within.
Why does this happen?
Motivating yourself and taking action are not the same thing.
Motivation is not enough
There’s a huge difference between visualizing a slim version of yourself and getting on a treadmill and sweating it out for an hour… The former is easy, the latter is hard.
Watching a David Goggins video where he shouts and tells you to, “Stay hard!!!” can light a fire in your heart and soul. But it comes nowhere close to lifting weights and doing burpees until your muscles really feel like they’re on fire.
Once again, the motivational video will make you feel good but won’t move the needle in your life… whereas the hard work which rarely feels good will make all the difference.
The Hard Truth: The reason people become self-help addicted is because they feel like they’re taking action and progressing towards their goals when they consume this content.
In reality, all they’ve done is spend time listening to others telling them things they already know.
It’s easy to become addicted to self-improvement because it makes you feel good and gives the illusion of progress… The stark reality that nothing has changed in your life, and you know it.
The irritating feeling in your heart that something is not right can only be mitigated by drowning yourself in even more self-help content… This is a vicious cycle that must be broken.
Consuming self-improvement content excessively will lead to anxiety and depression – because your soul knows that you’re not living up to your potential.
You know you can do better. You know you should be doing more… but you don’t… Because you’re only motivating yourself, but avoiding doing the hard work.
Here’s how we break this self-help addiction… but not more than once a day.
Famous self-help guru, Zig Ziglar, once said, “People often say motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”
To some extent, Zig is right. When you’re working hard to achieve a goal, the time and effort it takes can wear you down.
At times like these, watching a self-help video or reading a motivational book, can help to lift your spirits and put a pep in your step.
The content gives you hope that your efforts will yield fruit in time to come. You just need to keep on keeping on.
The best time to consume self-help content is when you’re going for a morning walk.
Go ahead and listen to videos or audiobooks. Since you’re already engaged in a productive activity (exercise), you might as well get a dose of motivation, if you need it.
That said, most of the motivation you need should come from within you… Not without.
Relying on external motivation is best reserved for times when you’re feeling drained from all the work you’re doing.
Let’s remember what Elon Musk said to young entrepreneurs – “If you need inspiring words, don’t do it!”
What Elon is trying to say is that the desire to succeed must be so strong within you that it’s enough to fuel you.
There’s fire in your blood to do whatever it takes to succeed. You do not need self-help books to fan the flames of your ambitions.
Execution is everything
By now, you’ll realize that action is the foundational key to your success.
The secret to being motivated is to take action… and then you’ll be motivated to take even more action. The more you progress, the more inspired you’ll get.
You’ll be fueling your own actions based on the motivation you derive from knowing what you’ve already done and achieved.
It’s of imperative importance to know what you need to execute on to achieve your goals.
If you’re trying to lose weight, that may mean preparing your own meals and hitting the gym.
If you’re trying to build a profitable website, it may mean sitting down and writing content for 4 hours a day.
If you’re trying to have a better relationship with your spouse, it may mean spending more quality time together.
Actionable tasks can always be logical. You know what you need to do, and you do it – whether you’re feeling up to it or not.
Motivation gained from consuming self-help content is short-term and you’ll have nothing to show for your time spent on it.
So it’s better to focus on action which will give you the strength to keep moving forward, rather than trying to feel productive but not actually doing anything.
Any worthy goal will require tremendous effort from you.
Obesity is the norm in the US these days. Staying lean and/or muscular is hard.
It has to be. If it was easy, everyone would be walking around with the bodies of Greek gods.
Becoming a millionaire is a formidable endeavor. It’ll require you to change your routines and take massive action.
It’s hard work… Being broke is easy.
So it goes without saying that the process to transform your life will be laborious, demanding and unyielding – but pay the price you must.
The goal demands that of you, and you’ll be duly rewarded once you pay the price.
Real rewards come with real effort… Expect it to be hard… That’s half the battle won.
If you do what’s hard, life will be easy. If you do what’s easy, life will be hard.
“Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can do what others can’t.” – Jerry Rice
No pain no gain
The motivational books will tell you to stay positive and be ‘one with the universe’, whatever that means. You’ll be told to raise your vibration to attract what you want into your life.
The hard truth is that you can’t lose a single calorie by thinking positive. You gotta do the work!
Keeping a positive mindset just means believing in yourself enough to not give up on your goals. Visualization may help, but the law of attraction is about action… that leads you to attract what you want.
90% of your effort is on action… and since we’ve established that it’s going to be hard, all that’s left for you is to ‘embrace what sucks’.
In other words, to accept that it’s going to be an arduous process and go through the motions anyway.
A man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor.” – Alexis Carrol
Once you understand that the journey is going to fraught with struggle, pain, failures, times of doubt and immense effort before you attain the prize, you’ll know that motivation is fleeting.
Ultimately, only grit and self-discipline will get you to the promised land. Both can only be cultivated from daily routines and doing what you need to do even when you don’t feel like doing it.
Nike say’s – “Just do it! ” I always say – “Just do it anyway!”
Track your progress
What gets measured, gets managed. It could be calories (weight loss), word counts (content creation), metrics (advertising), stock prices, etc.
Real-world success will require you to keep a close eye on the numbers. Even if it’s a weight loss diet, tracking your compliance will help to keep you on track.
If you slip up on your diet but are compliant 80% of the time, you’ll still make progress and lose weight.
Study how you spend your time daily and watch your output. The devil is in the details and the more stringent you are, the better your performance will be.
This is how you achieve your goals in the fastest possible time.
Set small targets
Self-help gurus will tell you to visualize yourself as a millionaire who sun-bathes on his private yacht without a care in the world. They’ll want you to ‘feel it’ … because UNLESS you feel it, you won’t achieve it.
Which is a very convenient thing to say because it gives these gurus a cop out.
“Oh Gary! You’re still slogging it out at Walmart and they made you work on Christmas too?
That’s a pity. You’re not a millionaire yet because you didn’t feeeeel it. You have to feeeeeeeeeeeeeel it when you visualize. But don’t worry. I have a $97 DVD set that will tell you how to connect with your chakra and feel your emotions on a subliminal level.”
And they’ll sell you course after course and make their money while you struggle to achieve progress with motivation.
Life is a lot simpler than that. If you don’t have what you want, you’re probably not doing something right or you don’t know what you need to do.
Find out what you need to do and do it consistently and you’ll achieve your goals… Set small targets and meet them.
- Want to lose 40 pounds? – Start by aiming for 5 pounds.
- Want to earn $100,000 a year? – Start by aiming to earn $274 a day.
- Don’t have the skills to make $274 a day? – Start by learning a high-income skill and mastering it.
Set small targets and have an actionable plan to achieve them.
There are many books such as ‘The Slight Edge’ and ‘The Compound Effect’ that talk about this simple concept.
As helpful as these self-help books may be, the concept is so elementary that you don’t even need to read them.
All you need to do is track your progress (as mentioned earlier) and do a little more each day.
For example, if you walked for 30 minutes on Monday, increase that by 5 minutes on Tuesday and so on.
Within 2-3 weeks, you’ll easily be able to walk for an hour without feeling tired.
By making small, incremental progress, you’ll improve your performance without wearing yourself out. All you’re doing is beating your personal bests. That is the proven way to become the best possible version of yourself.
Self-help and motivation have their time and place, but should be consumed in moderation.
Don’t make self-help your sole focus.
Action is the only thing that will create change in your life. It will eliminate your self-doubt, reduce your anxiety and keep depression at bay.
Self-help books will have you living in your head while your external circumstances remain the same.
Massive action will leave you very little time to overthink, but will transform your entire life for the better.
Less thinking… More doing… And you’ll be the success you’ve always wanted to be.
“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” – Thomas Jefferson