Maneuvering Through The Self-Improvement Overload

“The more you know, the less you have to say.” ~Jim Rohn.

I was very encouraged to read some recent research on the younger post-MTV consumer generation. The good news is that this younger generation is fed up with the constant consumption addiction and the illusion of getting it all. The main reason for the buying is the desire to have something to make the buyer a slightly improved person. This has relevant application to the billion dollar self-improvement industry of motivational and success books, self-awareness tapes, online self-help sites, self-betterment newsletters and self-actualizing training seminars.

What seems to be slowing down the consumer movement is that we are all finally getting smarter, especially this younger generation. What we are all getting smarter at is in our drive and efforts to discern the precious useful truth from the rest of all the gimmicks, shortcuts, illusions, opinions, unapplied theories and pure nonsensical bunk. We all sense it is time to simplfy the mountains and tons of information and advice overload that would take several lifetimes to read let alone begin to apply.

So out of necessity we are facing the realization that it is time to separate the sense from the non-sense. So how can consumers become savvier in knowing what self-improvement materials and programs to wrap their arms around and sink their teeth into? By accepting a few ground rules, your consuming can be much more cost-effective and consumable in real-time earth hours.

1. There are no short-cuts or magic pills, including The Secret and Law of Attraction. Every valid self-improvement and success system is a total belief system and lifestyle, not a few exercises to get instant results in one week. The instant need gratification that we all fall prey to is what resulted in this current total overload that we now have to sift through. Genuine progress and maintaining it over the long haul, takes much persistence and perseverance.

2. Self-help books and self-improvement programs are based on many years of life experiences of the authors and may realistically take an equal time to understand and apply for the kind of results that are intended. More often than not, five hours of reading represent 20 years of experiences and solving problems to prove the value of the solutions.

3. Only the crème of the crop self-help wisdom answers the really tough questions—exactly ‘how to’ apply the information for results. Programs and materials at this level are few and far between because this knowledge is as difficult to arrive at and teach as problem-solving, common sense and performance enhancement of elite athletes. Sometimes it is even at the edge of current consciousness.

4. There really aren’t any one-size-fits-all self-improvement theories or success systems. Just like computer software, these things have to be customized to the context of the individual application at hand. All these theories and systems are really personality and preference driven and have to be tried on to see if they fit. The same is true for serious therapies—cognitive approaches, behavior modification of symptoms, rational-emotive therapy, etc. all work best with the people and situations they fit best—both therapist and patient and the situation.

5. The real truth of anything is difficult to find and recognize and so careful critiquing is essential to validate the utility of the self-improvement knowledge. This takes time and effort to understand the pros and cons of any one system and how complete or incomplete it may be. You almost need an in between person to help you do this.

6. We are all traveling at different speeds on our growth and self-improvement journeys, and so timing is critical. Different success systems and self-improvement programs may work better for you at different times and places in your own journey.

7. Oddly, it doesn’t always make that much difference what particular book or program you embrace, if you follow it through to its conclusion and apply the advice consistently. You can get to the same place by reading ten books once or one book ten times.

The effort you put into discerning and understanding the right program or ideas for you will pay dividends in the results you get. Dig deeper than the cover of the book you are buying, the website you are surfing, or program pamphlet you are looking at, in order to get your money’s worth

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA and also a business and personal success coach, sport psychologist, photographer and writer living in the mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, Passwords to The Prosperity Zone, You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too, The Bow-Wow Secrets, Do What Matters Most, “P” Point Management, and Reality Repair Rx coming shortly. He can be contacted with comments or questions at 425 454-5011 or