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3 Ways Towards Finding Out How to Get Real Self-Help

3 Ways Towards Finding Out How to Get Real Self-Help

What is Self-Help?

Self-help seems to have become a Mecca for anyone, regardless of background or credibility, trying to make easy money. Today, when the currently unemployed put “life coach” as the occupation on their Facebook profile, it is hard to know what that vague term even means.

Everyone needs some coaching from time to time, and the Internet is full of legitimate resources. Tony Robbins’ services are not exactly affordable to all who are in need. So, how do you choose someone that is legitimate and worth your investment.

First of all, remember this, it is called “self-help” for a reason. The idea is an old one. Instead of feeding the hungry, teach the hungry to fish so they can feed themselves. These lifehacks teach you what are 3 “must-haves” in the arsenal of any worthwhile “Life Coach”.

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1. Vision: If you don’t know where you are going, how do you expect to get there?

If a counselor of any sort is offering advice and they don’t first test your vision, then they cannot help you very much. Envisioning your future isn’t some sort of mystical scene, it’s not supernatural by any means. Necessary, on the other hand, it definitely is. Take for example a construction tradesmen, while many look down on physical labor of any sort, the tradesmen know and teach a fair share about vision.

If a tile setter has been contracted to set a floor on the a certain slab of concrete that has existing tile already adhered to it, some challenges are in play right from the beginning of the job. Contractors do not see challenges, albeit, they only see solutions. Not a single profiting contractor would say, “I cannot finish this job.” Because that’s the only way they get paid, by finishing the job no matter what. The contractor doesn’t see cracks in the slab of concrete. They see a need for membrane. They never see a foundation out of level. They see the low places that need to be filled, and the high points that need to be ground down. Your vision must be the same.

2. Take Action: Now that you see the finish, run towards it.

Taking action, is always a necessary lesson taught by any good instructor. Those life coaches’ teaching, that you don’t have to diligently labor to get what you want, are banking on naive, lazy, disillusioned people who believe they shouldn’t have to do anything to have everything. If that happens to be you, don’t feel bad, just evolve your mind, because it’s just not reality.

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Now that you’ve established where you will one day be, it is now time to take the next step. Make sure your next move is something that will line you up with your final goal better than you were before. For instance, if my end goal was to finish the floor that was contracted in the previous example, my next step would be to remove the existing tile floor first.

Once you’ve done the second step, start the next. You should always be moving forward. There will be times you fail, some of the journey will not be easy. You will need, aside from taking action, the 3rd ‘must have’ for any life coach: Perseverance.

3. You must persevere: If you get off track, don’t stay that way.

Without perseverance you will never accomplish your goals. In the words of the one time Austrian immigrant, from humble beginnings, Mr. Olympia himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, “Don’t be afraid to fail.” Failure should be your fuel, not your foe. If you fall down you stand back up better, faster, and stronger.

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The first person to ever inspire me to never give up was the greatest champion that ever lived, Michael Jordan. When I was a child, I remember the first time I heard the account of Michael being cut from his high school’s basketball team, I thought it was a lie. In truth, he was cut from that team but Michael Jordan persevered. His Royal Airness wasn’t looking like royalty as he vomited into a bucket on the sidelines during game 5 of the 1997 Finals. Years later, I would contract the flu, only then I was truly able to appreciate the 38 points he scored to win the contest, now infamously known as “The Flu Game”.

The year before that, Michael Jordan’s father was robbed and murdered. MJ came out of retirement to regain the title that same season. Time and time again Michael Jordan persevered. When the Gatorade’s promo “Be like Mike” aired, children and adult alike absolutely wished they could be.

If your end goal is a great task, you must have vision, take action, and persevere. If your “self-helper” is not teaching you those three tools, then try a different outlet. Remember, self-help is just that. So help yourself apply those three parts of the self-help lifehack and find the strength you need. In the end, there will be no mentor, no “life coach”, the end game finale has only one hope for help: You.

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Featured photo credit: The University of Chicago Campaign via campaign.uchicago.edu

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

Curiosity

Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

Patience

Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

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Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

A Feeling for Connectedness

This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

How to Self-Taught Effectively

With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

1. Research

Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

Learning the Basics

Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

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Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

Hitting the Books

Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

Long-Term Reference

While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

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2. Practice

Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

3. Network

One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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4. Schedule

For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

Final Thoughts

In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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