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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.

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 11 Reasons Why You Aren’t Getting Results How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect 20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

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    1 3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively 2 How to Master the Art of Prioritization 3 How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life 4 How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 5 11 Reasons Why You Aren’t Getting Results

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    Last Updated on July 8, 2020

    3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

    3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

    It is easy, in the onrush of life, to become a reactor – to respond to everything that comes up, the moment it comes up, and give it your undivided attention until the next thing comes up.

    This is, of course, a recipe for madness. The feeling of loss of control over what you do and when is enough to drive you over the edge, and if that doesn’t get you, the wreckage of unfinished projects you leave in your wake will surely catch up with you.

    Having an inbox and processing it in a systematic way can help you gain back some of that control. But once you’ve processed out your inbox and listed all the tasks you need to get cracking on, you still have to figure out what to do the very next instant. On which of those tasks will your time best be spent, and which ones can wait?

    When we don’t set priorities, we tend to follow the path of least resistance. (And following the path of least resistance, as the late, great Utah Phillips reminded us, is what makes the river crooked!) That is, we’ll pick and sort through the things we need to do and work on the easiest ones – leaving the more difficult and less fun tasks for a “later” that, in many cases, never comes – or, worse, comes just before the action needs to be finished, throwing us into a whirlwind of activity, stress, and regret.

    This is why setting priorities is so important.

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    3 Effective Approaches to Set Priorities

    There are three basic approaches to setting priorities, each of which probably suits different kinds of personalities. The first is for procrastinators, people who put off unpleasant tasks. The second is for people who thrive on accomplishment, who need a stream of small victories to get through the day. And the third is for the more analytic types, who need to know that they’re working on the objectively most important thing possible at this moment. In order, then, they are:

    1. Eat a Frog

    There’s an old saying to the effect that if you wake up in the morning and eat a live frog, you can go through the day knowing that the worst thing that can possibly happen to you that day has already passed. In other words, the day can only get better!

    Popularized in Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog!, the idea here is that you tackle the biggest, hardest, and least appealing task first thing every day, so you can move through the rest of the day knowing that the worst has already passed.

    When you’ve got a fat old frog on your plate, you’ve really got to knuckle down. Another old saying says that when you’ve got to eat a frog, don’t spend too much time looking at it! It pays to keep this in mind if you’re the kind of person that procrastinates by “planning your attack” and “psyching yourself up” for half the day. Just open wide and chomp that frog, buddy! Otherwise, you’ll almost surely talk yourself out of doing anything at all.

    2. Move Big Rocks

    Maybe you’re not a procrastinator so much as a fiddler, someone who fills her or his time fussing over little tasks. You’re busy busy busy all the time, but somehow, nothing important ever seems to get done.

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    You need the wisdom of the pickle jar. Take a pickle jar and fill it up with sand. Now try to put a handful of rocks in there. You can’t, right? There’s no room.

    If it’s important to put the rocks in the jar, you’ve got to put the rocks in first. Fill the jar with rocks, now try pouring in some pebbles. See how they roll in and fill up the available space? Now throw in a couple handfuls of gravel. Again, it slides right into the cracks. Finally, pour in some sand.

    For the metaphorically impaired, the pickle jar is all the time you have in a day. You can fill it up with meaningless little busy-work tasks, leaving no room for the big stuff, or you can do the big stuff first, then the smaller stuff, and finally fill in the spare moments with the useless stuff.

    To put it into practice, sit down tonight before you go to bed and write down the three most important tasks you have to get done tomorrow. Don’t try to fit everything you need, or think you need, to do, just the three most important ones.

    In the morning, take out your list and attack the first “Big Rock”. Work on it until it’s done or you can’t make any further progress. Then move on to the second, and then the third. Once you’ve finished them all, you can start in with the little stuff, knowing you’ve made good progress on all the big stuff. And if you don’t get to the little stuff? You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you accomplished three big things. At the end of the day, nobody’s ever wished they’d spent more time arranging their pencil drawer instead of writing their novel, or printing mailing labels instead of landing a big client.

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    3. Covey Quadrants

    If you just can’t relax unless you absolutely know you’re working on the most important thing you could be working on at every instant, Stephen Covey’s quadrant system as written in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change might be for you.

    Covey suggests you divide a piece of paper into four sections, drawing a line across and a line from top to bottom. Into each of those quadrants, you put your tasks according to whether they are:

    1. Important and Urgent
    2. Important and Not Urgent
    3. Not Important but Urgent
    4. Not Important and Not Urgent

      The quadrant III and IV stuff is where we get bogged down in the trivial: phone calls, interruptions, meetings (QIII) and busy work, shooting the breeze, and other time wasters (QIV). Although some of this stuff might have some social value, if it interferes with your ability to do the things that are important to you, they need to go.

      Quadrant I and II are the tasks that are important to us. QI are crises, impending deadlines, and other work that needs to be done right now or terrible things will happen. If you’re really on top of your time management, you can minimize Q1 tasks, but you can never eliminate them – a car accident, someone getting ill, a natural disaster, these things all demand immediate action and are rarely planned for.

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      You’d like to spend as much time as possible in Quadrant II, plugging away at tasks that are important with plenty of time to really get into them and do the best possible job. This is the stuff that the QIII and QIV stuff takes time away from, so after you’ve plotted out your tasks on the Covey quadrant grid, according to your own sense of what’s important and what isn’t, work as much as possible on items in Quadrant II (and Quadrant I tasks when they arise).

      Getting to Know You

      Spend some time trying each of these approaches on for size. It’s hard to say what might work best for any given person – what fits one like a glove will be too binding and restrictive for another, and too loose and unstructured for a third. You’ll find you also need to spend some time figuring out what makes something important to you – what goals are your actions intended to move you towards.

      In the end, setting priorities is an exercise in self-knowledge. You need to know what tasks you’ll treat as a pleasure and which ones like torture, what tasks lead to your objectives and which ones lead you astray or, at best, have you spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

      These three are the best-known and most time-tested strategies out there, but maybe you’ve got a different idea you’d like to share? Tell us how you set your priorities in the comments.

      More Tips for Effective Prioritization

      Featured photo credit: Mille Sanders via unsplash.com

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