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9 Ways To Tell If You Are A Self-Help Junkie (And What To Do About It)

9 Ways To Tell If You Are A Self-Help Junkie (And What To Do About It)

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    A week ago, I received a message from a blog reader. He commented that my entries have been longer of late, and while he tried reading, he was lazy to continue on. He suggested I should create shorter versions of my articles for busy and lazy people like him.

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    For perspective, my guest posts on Lifehack are about 1-2k words long, while the ones at my blog are about 3k words on average. I don’t intentionally write long or short posts – I write what’s needed to convey the message. If I think putting in more details helps the reader, I’ll do so. My objective in every post is to deliver the maximum value to the reader.

    So when I first read the mail, the first thought that came to mind was this person seemed like a self-help junkie. A junkie is someone with a substance abuse problem. A self-help junkie refers to someone who indulges in self-help (for leisure) and doesn’t follow-up with action. Over the course of my personal development blogging and coaching journey, I’ve come across a good number of self-help junkies, such that I’m able to sieve out the tell-tale signs. Are you a self-help junkie? Here are 9 ways to tell if you are:

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    1. You read self-help without following up with action. You read self-help blogs, books, and even attend self-help seminars once in a while. You are largely familiar with the different authors and teachings in the industry. Yet, of all that you’ve read, you’ve done little to nothing to apply what you’ve read. Rather than just read all the time, it might be more useful to ask yourself why you’re reading and what you intend to do with the information you’re acquiring. As with any activity, it’s important to do it with purpose.
    2. You like to discuss about self-help but you don’t act on it. Besides reading about self-help, you talk about it too. You interact with the authors, asking for advice once in a while. At the self-help blogs you read, you make the occasional comment or two, sharing your thoughts and engaging with the community. You even talk about it with your friends sometimes. However, after getting the advice, you don’t do anything. It falls short of action. When do you intend to take action? Perhaps start with what you want and when you want to achieve them. Create your action plan then act on it.
    3. You read for the sake of reading. You make it a point to read each self-help book/blog/post you come across, even if it’s in a topic that has no relevance or significance in your life. Does it serve any purpose though? It might be more useful to be choiceful of what you read, and read only if it pertains to what you’re going through. More importantly, make it a point to follow-up what you read with action/application (see #1 and #2).
    4. You treat self-help as leisure. It’s ok to read self-help books/blogs in your leisure time. But you treat self-help as just a recreational filler activity, never quite intending to take any action after you read it. However, self-help is more than just a filler or enrichment. It’s an important tool to help us live it in the best manner possible. What do you see self-help as and what role do you intend for it to serve in your life? Your answer to that question determines the kind of results you will get out of it.
    5. Self-help is your avoidance outlet. As ironic as it may seem, some people read self-help as a way to avoid dealing with problems in their lives. They seek refuge in it. They think reading about self-help is taking action. Of course, that’s a flawed notion, and very much just a delusion. If there is something you’re avoiding, you can’t ignore it by indulging in self-help. You have to face it and deal with it eventually. Use self-help to equip you with the right information, then act on it afterward.
    6. You measure your achievement by how many articles/books you read a week. With every post/book that you finish, you move on to the next, feeling satisfied by the amount you are reading. But real results should be measured by what you create in your life, not how much you read. Reading is merely a preparation step. Even if you read 1000 self-help books, nothing’s going to change until you do something. To date I’ve read less than 20 self-help books my whole life. I only read if it’s needed (to get certain info/knowledge); else I don’t touch the books. Read only what’s needed to achieve your results. Focus on what you want to create instead.
    7. You read self-help to motivate yourself / get a certain high. Like real junkies, you get on an emotional high from reading. It slowly tapers off afterward though, so you keep reading more to fuel that feeling. While it’s inspiring to read about others’ success, it’s even more inspiring to achieve that success for yourself.
    8. You keep fiddling with life hacks rather than work on the bigger pieces of life. Some people get absorbed in life hacking because it’s easy and it makes them feel productive. For many, it’s to procrastinate working on the bigger areas of life. While there are merits behind life hacks (this site is called Life Hack after all), you can’t hack your way to your dream life. There are big decisions you need to make, and until you do you can’t start your real life.
    9. You bookmark and RT list posts like “10 ways to XX” and “101 ways to XX” without remembering/applying any single tip in the post. It’s great to bookmark these articles for future use and it’s even better to share them with your friends. I always appreciate it whenever readers share my posts with others. However, you don’t want to end up just bookmarking/collecting a ton of these articles without doing anything. 2 questions you should ask yourself after every post you read are: (1) “What have I learned from this article?” (2) “What can I apply to my life moving forward?” There is always something to learn from everything, even if you may think you know everything that was written. If you read 1 post every day and you learn / apply just 1 thing out of each post, imagine the huge change you’d see in your life after 30 days.

    How about you?

    Are you a self-help junkie? Does any of the 9 traits above apply to you?

    And true to what I wrote in #9, here are 2 questions I’m going to ask you: (1) What have you learned from this article? and (2) What can you apply to your life moving forward?

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    Feel free to share your comments with others. :)

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    More by this author

    Celestine Chua

    Celestine is the Founder of Personal Excellence where she shares her best advice on how to boost productivity and achieve excellence in life.

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    Last Updated on March 31, 2020

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

    Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

    There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

    Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

    Why We Procrastinate After All?

    We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

    Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

    Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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    To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

    If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

    Is Procrastination Bad?

    Yes it is.

    Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

    Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

    Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

    It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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    The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

    Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

    For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

    A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

    Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

    Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

    How Bad Procrastination Can Be

    Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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    After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

    One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

    That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

    Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

    In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

    You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

    More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article: 8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

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    Procrastination, a Technical Failure

    Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

    It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

    It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

    Learn more about how to fix your procrastination problem here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

    Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

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