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Ditch Self-Help Books. Do These 10 Things To Cultivate Self-Awareness Instead


There are millions of self-help books.

Sitting on dusty shelves around the world, these books aim to help people improve their mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Unfortunately, they don’t work.

If self-development books worked, people wouldn’t need to stockpile them like canned food in an emergency shelter. They wouldn’t need to bookmark their favorite inspirational talks. And they wouldn’t need to talk about them to their friends–the evidence would be in the results instead of the chatter.  

Above all, if self-development books worked, less people would be suffering. More people would be happy. And the world would be a better place. 

But don’t worry–things get better from here. Because as a coach and licensed therapist, I believe in the resilience of the human soul. I’ve seen people overcome unthinkable obstacles to change their behavioral patterns and live a fulfilling life. 

There are many individuals–wonderful, hardworking people–that receive tangible, quantifiable benefits from self-development books and practices.

These efficient and productive individuals have discovered how to maximize their personal development. By translating great ideas into action, they have unlocked the key to a life full of success, happiness, and continued growth. 

Read the list below so that you can make use of the plethora of knowledge available to you in the digital age.

1. Conduct a thorough needs assessment.

Don’t just throw darts at a wall and hope to hit a target. Survey your life from a biological, psychological, social, and spiritual perspective. Try to determine your strengths, weaknesses, and which areas you’d like to address. 

2. Determine your target issue–the one small thing you’d like to focus on improving. 

Now that you have several general ideas, pick one small aspect that you’d like to improve. This can be everything from improving your diet, to changing the shape of your body, to increasing social skills, to building a support network, or working through feelings of depression. 

3. Read several sources and approaches to deal with your target issue. 

Nothing legitimate is a one-size-fits-all. You may read something that sounds great in theory, but simply doesn’t work for you. 

4. Consult with experts or others with experience in your area of growth.

Talk to people that have walked this path before you. The more knowledgeable, the better. You can also reach out with a professional on the topic. Use these connections to guide your process, ask your questions, and lean on for additional support. 

5. Apply one aspect of the practice gradually over time. 

Making one small change rather than several big changes is not only more realistic, it’ll lead to better results. If you do everything at once, even if things go well, you won’t know which practice helped the most. It’s better to do something small and sustainable. 

6. Maintain the changed behavior for at least three months. 

Quality results take time. Your life isn’t a merely a reflection of what you’re doing right now, it’s a reflection of what you’ve been doing for months and years. Create new habits. Trust the process.

7. Review and document your progress. 

Keep track of what’s working and what’s not. 

8. Modify your plan or select a new technique. 

After spending a significant amount of time implementing the new technique, if you’re not getting the results you want. Then try a new approach. Sometimes, like finding the right shoe, it just takes some time. 

9. Repeat the process above. 

Don’t start rapid-firing solutions. That state of desperation makes things worse. Continue using a methodic approach. 

10. Consult a professional if this process continues more than three times. 

If you’re not seeing the results you want, then contact an expert that can help guide you towards the person you want to become. 

Next time you feel inspired to make a change, do it with intentionality. Don’t just read a book, feel temporary motivation, and then do nothing. Don’t get overwhelmed by trying to do everything at once. And don’t try to make huge changes when all you might’ve needed is a minor adjustment. 

Break free from that self-defeating pattern and start taking charge of your situation. You have the ability to make intentional changes in your life. All you have to do is approach your areas of growth with compassion, patience, and intelligence. 

Quality results take time. 

This article originally appeared in Inc Magazine.

Matthew Jones is a life coach and licensed therapist. His work has been published on, the Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, Observer, and more. He is best known for his writings on holistic self-development.

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