I love reading and some of my favorite books fall into the “self-help” arena. If you read every book out there, or even five or six, you’ll soon see that each of them has a slightly different take on the world.
In fact, if you were to try to follow every piece of advice in every self-help book, you’d probably end up in the hospital suffering from exhaustion caused by chasing everyone’s suggestions. You just can’t do it all, and you can’t take off and follow every new idea you hear or read, hoping that THIS time you’ve found the answer. There is no miracle formula that will work for everyone so you should stop looking and start constructing.
I’ve tried the route of reading a new book every week and starting a new life improvement plan with every book, and I know firsthand that it just does not work. Not for me, not for anyone.
So why am I still reading self-help books, if the new ideas aren’t going to help?
A while back, I thought about what did work from the various books I’ve read, and I put together a personal development plan.
Here are the 5 parts of my plan:
- Create a personal mission statement. This mission statement helped clarify what’s really important to me, who I think I am, why I’m here, and where I wanted to go.
- Design a life and lifestyle for myself that would be true to my deepest-held values and beliefs. I literally expanded upon what I had learned by writing my personal mission statement by looking at what was working in my life and what wasn’t – those things that had to change for me to live the life and lifestyle I desired.
- Define goals by identifying short-term and long-term objectives that would help me to achieve the changes I wanted and needed to make to realize the life and lifestyle I had designed.
- Take Action to turn my goals into habits for everyday living.
- Sustain the Effort toward those goals and identify and overcome obstacles to achieving my goals.
Now when I read a self-help book, I’m able to look at whether anything in that book fits into my current plans or whether there is something I should add to my plan in order to take advantage of what I’ve learned from that book. Sometimes I just enjoy reading the book and seeing the different ideas, and sometimes I want to work those ideas into my life. Other times, I feel compelled to debate the ideas.
But by writing down a personal development plan, I’ve helped myself find ways to integrate new ideas into my life, while staying on a steady track in terms of making the changes I want to make in my life.
With a plan in place, I don’t find myself drifting around and wondering what I should do next to get where I want to go. Or, for that matter, wondering where I want to go.
Written by David B. Bohl