Are You Getting High on Self Help?

Did you know that buying a new book can release the same endorphins as if you were having sex?

A recent study showed that purchases of material things give momentary highs, while purchases of experiences give more lasting highs. But whether they fizzle out quickly or linger longer, both give you the sensation of fleeting bliss.

A similar experience happens any time you’re attempting to make a personal change.

I’ve known people who are addicted to buying books yet they’ve read less than 20% of what’s on their shelves. That’s because buying a new book on happiness, productivity or money gives you the illusion of having a solution (releasing a momentary rush of endorphins).

However, nothing has actually changed.

The same phenomenon occurs when you read a self-help article on a blog, an inspiring quote on Twitter or see a motivational video on Facebook. You get a quick high. Your life feels better. Something is different. Now you’re going to go and take action!

That’s great, IF you use that to fuel action. That is where real change occurs — doing the work every single day to create positive habits and beliefs.

It’s not sexy, it’s not a constant high or peak state of awestricken excitement. But it’s what destinies are made of.

Books, articles and blogs can actually get in the way of you transforming if you kid yourself into thinking that they’re creating real change. You can end up chasing the next epiphany or the immaculate blueprint for success.

Can knowledge inspire you to change? Yes, absolutely. But remember, the real change happens when you get busy doing the work.

I love hearing your experiences. Have you ever got caught up in chasing the next solution, when you really just needed to get working? (God knows I have.)

Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

1: Source: The Journal of Positive Psychology

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Comment & Add Your Voice

Trevor March 20, 2013 at 2:26 am

That’s the story of my life. Moving from one great change to the next. But never actually accomplishing a damn thing.

Like you say, it wasn’t until I got busy doing the actual work that I began to see results. But of course, it’s just so much easier to read about how to change than to actually implement that change. So we follow the path of least resistance . . . more self-help books, more personal development blogs, less and less work.

No results.

Better to follow the hard path. Get started. Do the work. You’ll never change until you do.



Camila March 21, 2013 at 3:07 am

Nothing really to add to this excellent comment. Except, getting high on self-help is beneficial when you don’t have a clue about how to work towards to the goal you want. When do figure out some actions you can do, to keep reading self help is just distraction and avoidance. It’s the brain protecting our ego (from fear, from failure). The hardest thing is to rip away from the safety and comfort of reading, and actually taking the first step.

Jonathan March 22, 2013 at 2:35 pm

You’re right Camila. You have you use that inspiration to create something. If you do, awesome. If not, than you’re better off not having read a thing in your life.

Vincent Nguyen March 20, 2013 at 3:53 am

Personally, I’ve never had that feeling of knowing I should take action and then just sitting there doing nothing. When I’m inspired, I take off. However, I know tons of people who are exactly like that. They buy the material, they hype themselves up, then… Nothing

I think they’re hoping that the excitement just builds up higher and higher and that their bodies will just go on auto-pilot but they don’t realize it still requires conscious effort and discipline.


Jonathan March 22, 2013 at 2:35 pm

You’re a rare breed Vincent.

Jess March 20, 2013 at 3:56 am

I have literally just bought two self-help books online. One about manifesting things into my life and one about being my own boss.
It definitely does give you a temporary high. After hitting the ‘purchase’ button I had an instant feeling of making a difference in my life. Then, I wondered, would I just keep doing what I’m doing, plodding along, until the books arrived and I started living the way the books told me to?
Instant high… Gone.


Kola March 20, 2013 at 7:38 am

great post, Jonathan! you’re exactly right.

Ii think that the ease of accessing information sometimes belies the heavy lifting that is required to benefit from that information.

It’s easier to buy books and think that change will happen by way of osmosis


Galina March 21, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Yes Kola..Until recently I wasn’t even aware that buying a book/ course can’t solve my problems. I started daydreaming and imagining I already had the results described in the product. So it didn’t lead to real action.

Phoenix March 20, 2013 at 9:10 am

I’ve read so many self-help and entrepreneurial books over the years. While it may have seemed unproductive at the time because I didn’t act on much of the advice they gave, those years of subtle shifts in my perspective did offer a lasting benefit.

If I had not read these books before my world fell apart, forcing me to change, I would be worrying over what jobs to apply for, living confined by the perceived limits of my education and abilities. Instead, I know without a doubt that I have many options, in fact, so many that I can’t take advantage of them all.

The combined strength of all that reading (research) enables me to see potential paths and recognize when I’m just holing up with a self-defeating attitude. Those books weren’t wasted, the knowledge was there, waiting for when I’d grow into it.

I didn’t have a long-term plan of self development when I was reading them. If someone had told me I would one day be acting on those ideas and that my worldview would change so much, I’d have sighed regretfully or laughed at them for blatantly flattering.

It’s a good thing such books were attractive to me. I needed the mental nutrition that came with the high. That accumulated wisdom is going to continue as a benefit for the rest of my life.


Rebecca March 21, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Phoenix, your words have inspired me and reminded me. Well put! Thank you.

Bruno Coelho March 20, 2013 at 11:44 am

My biggest high was when I picked up my credit card at 4 AM on the Trailblazer webinar that you did last year. My wife was sleeping so I couldn’t discuss this decision with her. But I knew that it was time to take action.

Best decision I’ve ever made. She supported me off-course! :D

Knowledge isn’t power until is used!

Honor each breath by walking in full alignment with who you are and what your purpose is. Only action can enable you to fulfill your mission!

Come on!!! WE NEED YOU TO DO IT!

Only you can.


Daniel March 20, 2013 at 11:53 am

Yep, just like a drug addict, I got high off of that stuff after realizing I could forge my own path. Still in the process though.

I wasted over $400 on numerous products (I did get some money back though :P), on for example:

Jonathan Register’s Gravity Formula for Internet Wealth Blueprint
Empower Network by David Wood and David Sharpe
American Writer’s and Artist’s Inc.
Numerous purchases for my Empower Network blog.

All amounted to nothing, no progress, and it sucked. I know Paid to Exist this time will help, although I wish there was still a free spot in the program, not asking for a handout though :(


Tom March 20, 2013 at 11:58 am

Totally valid addiction. Everyone always thinks the solution to their woes is behind an easy fix. Dont get me wrong, there are easier ways to do things but everything worth it at least requires a little effort.


Jonathan March 22, 2013 at 2:36 pm


Jeremy March 20, 2013 at 12:15 pm

The reason I know this post is the Real Truth is that I know it is true, and it also doesn’t make things easier. In other words, it’s a tough truth to wrestle with.

Yes, there is an addictive component to self-development.

But there is also real wisdom to it, on two levels. First, general background wisdoms you might have to hear several times, or in just the right tone, or when the moon is trine to Neptune. These can be fodder for future growth, but can often be found in cheaper resources (e.g., Marcus Aurelius at the Gutenberg Project).

Second, sometimes you find the program/book/e-fix that REALLY DOES speak to you in exactly the words you needed to hear–and you can tell you’ve found that because you take action. You really-honest-and-for-true do the workbook assignments.

The problem is you can’t know beforehand whether any given piece of information is in Category #0 (addictive high-fructose e-crap), #1 (worthy but expensive truths), or #2 (match to the fuse).

Come to think of it, it’s sort of like dating. The existence of #0 and the ease of #1 shouldn’t dissuade you from searching for #2, jumping on it, and riding it like a bronco at the rodeo. (I’m talking about information products now. Yes.)



Jonathan March 22, 2013 at 2:38 pm

I like the way you put this Jeremy. Perhaps it’s better to improve our filtering processes in the first place.

Shannon Lagasse March 20, 2013 at 12:22 pm

So THAT’S what it is!


I have definitely done this. I own mostly books that I have not read (seems that I only read the ones I get for free from the library – what’s up with that?) ;]


Melissa March 20, 2013 at 12:27 pm

Yes, I have experienced this high SO many times that I actually built up a tolerance and don’t even get the same high anymore! But this doesn’t completely stop me from seeking.

I am always on the lookout for a book, article, idea, philosophy, guru who can give me that high again. I know, but I know deep down I’m chasing the dragon!

Something I read recently about the whole self help urge and how this effects us; the constant need and desire to change ourselves, to transform ourselves and the feeling that we can never be satisfied. The article suggested taking a sigh of relief and encourage us to be ok with where we are right rather than constantly trying to be different. THIS gave me the same high too. For about a minute I thought wait, I’m NOT doing everything wrong? I ‘m ok as I am???

And ironically this article is yet another attempt for me to find “the secret” as though reading more and more and more is the path to peace and enlightenment.

I suppose all I’m really learning is that I’m definitely not alone in this boat.


Lauren Black March 20, 2013 at 12:27 pm

Just watched Jason Silva’s The Mirroring Mind. Feeling stimulated from this new pursuit of information.


Luke March 20, 2013 at 12:30 pm

I feel this is a common thing in the online marketing and self help arena. There is an overwhelming amount of information, books, courses, trainings workshops etc.

I don’t think the problem lies in that the information is bad or doesn’t help rather people get caught up in a launch or believe this will solve all there problems, purchase the course and then are left alone to figure it out and take action.

Most people need accountability, support, encouragement, and guidance to really make a change in their lives for the betters.

I feel the ‘magic’ happens in a combination of information and a system that supports them throughout the process.


Susan O'Connell Wolfe March 20, 2013 at 12:35 pm

This is something I have struggled with quite a bit. It happened when I started getting ” trained” to be a Real Estate Investor ( wrong thing wrong time :2007), and it has happened with Internet Marketing – not to mention my real passion: to be a Social Entrepreneur. You do not want to know how much I have spent on products and training! While I have made money (even a profit) in Internet Marketing – I still suffered big time from shiny object syndrome. To make matters worse, so many of these gurus (especially Internet Marketers) tell you something is wrong with you (some subtle some not so subtle) if you don’t do what they do. Someone else on this string mentioned Empower Network. They resorted to calling you a ” Wussy” if you don’t get all in! Sorry, big turn off for women. I know who I am I know where my passion lies: I want to help wake people up so we can make the world better than it is today through: Social Justice, Economic Fairness and Eco- Conscious Choices and Movements. Perhaps I should narrow it down? :) …..I can’t decide if I have zero ideas or so many ideas my mind can’t handle it. I have yet to find out how to get from here to there. Thank you for asking! :)


Galo March 20, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Guilty as the next. You basically end up chasing your own tail, with these highs. One habit at a time, is where success comes from. Slowly but surely.


York March 20, 2013 at 12:41 pm

This is true. I have tonnes of books that I have yet to read and I took classes thinking the next class would be “the one”. A few great people woke me up from the spell. There are a lot of books out there….in the library. And after taking a certain number of courses, one can rely on self instruction.

However, there is nothing wrong with having an unread book if you eventually read and apply it. That’s the important thing. Knowledge + application. We have all the time in the world and absolutely none at the same time, so in choosing to hone one thing sometimes we hinder another.


Erik Richvoldsen March 20, 2013 at 12:55 pm

I am definitely guilty of buying more books than I manage to read.

It started when I worked as a developer, and wanted to become the best developer I could be by reading and consuming all the information I could find on anything related to programming.

Three jobs and one burnout later it turned out I wasn’t cut out to be a programmer; it was the learning part that got my juices flowing.

I still order ten or twenty books a month, and yes, I get a kick every time (which often has passed by the time the books arrive). I still like having them, even though I realize I will never finish most of them. I get a great feeling from glancing over the books and imagining all the potential knowledge and wisdom contained within.


Patrick March 20, 2013 at 1:06 pm

I am guilty of this, and recently even more so. So now I am in TrailBlazer. So far I find that it is interesting, but I am still at that finding my idea stage, which is where I left off after reading many books that I really thought were helpful. We will see what I come up with.

This is a really interesting subject though. Like in many areas of life, there is just way too much out there. No wonder many people never start, the vast amount of information can be simply overwhelming.


Matthew Kimberley March 20, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Boy, I remember my first furtive tokes of the self-help herb. It rendered me useless in the end – a spiraling tunnel of addiction. I wrote about it here:


Ola March 20, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Thanks for this post – it was spot on. You are very correct with making the comparison with taking some drug. I am consistently purchasing books that I believe will help me to make that great leap into fame and fortune. And of course most of them do not. I start to read, very enthusiastically, but I seldom make it through to the end.

But I have to admit that some of these books have really been sort of life-changers.

Perhaps I had never found those very good ones if I did not do that massive search? For me some books that really made a lasting impact were Linchpin (Seth Godin) , Do The Work (Steven Pressfield) and also Turning Pro (Steven Pressfield).

Regards from a Procrastinator in Sweden


Evan March 20, 2013 at 1:41 pm

The rush means that something is going on.

What we want can tell us about ourselves. Note those things you find attractive, they can let you know your needs. Then you can set about meeting your needs.


Cristina March 20, 2013 at 1:57 pm

U know, self help helps me.
Not the you think and it’ll happen kind of self help, but some books about plan and do, and inspiring creative books help me keep going on everything i do.
I don’t buy compulsively, I have no more than five self help books and they’re the same since five years ago, I search for them when I need. Most of the times, five minutes of inspiration give me a week of action in doing what I believe.

Hope you all stay good,


Iris March 20, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Bingo! This has struck a real chord. My husband and I have spent thousands of dollars on self-help but more so of the seminar variety. For over 10 years we go through a cycle of attending a seminar, making the shifts and changes only to find ourselves falling back into old habits and needing to go back again.

This is a great distinction: “It’s not sexy, it’s not a constant high or peak state of awestricken excitement. But it’s what destinies are made of.” Makes me appreciate that the constant peak state from seminars doesn’t have to always be there.


Fred March 20, 2013 at 3:30 pm

I’m not surprised at this research. I recently reached the crossroads where I realised that acquiring more self help stuff was actually a dead end street. It becomes an excuse to get that high and feel like I am actually doing something towards achieving my goals, thereby masking the real problem: I’m afraid/lack confidence/lazy. It leads to an endless cycle of despair and euphoria while nothing actually changes.

There is almost always something else going on, which is why nothing will change until one addresses the root problem. This may account for the fact that people find the positive thinking movement so alluring, despite much of that stuff being pure hokum. Thinking positive isn’t by itself enough and the action steps one needs to take are often not that complicated.

My advice is to pick a path that has actually worked and is reproducible and go with that. If you do need to get a book on psychology, get ONE that is about belief change and go to town on your limiting beliefs. Mindless parroting of affirmations is ineffective and the solution is often just removing obstacles and clarifying your desired outcomes (and taking as much action as you can physically manage). It’s working for me anyway.


Thom Walters March 20, 2013 at 4:53 pm

I wasn’t aware that purchasing a self-help book or reading quotes gave you the same high as making love. Totally makes sense though. Quotes can be the most “addictive”.


HM March 20, 2013 at 5:42 pm

It’s easy to look at things in black and white: BSO addiction vs doing the work. Hopefully it’s not an either/or situation. Everything has it’s place and context. As an apprentice, or someone wanting to transition, research is needed. Maybe that BSO helps jumpstart the process. Then, you move on to doing the work (the practice), before you achieve mastery. What we lack from mainstream education (especially at an early brain+character development level when it really counts) is learning+applying systems thinking, relentless and honest self-reflection (you know deep down when it’s just escape i.e. getting the high vs really acquiring knowledge for practical application), and building the structure that supports that transition/development. Systems include having the support of peers, family, etc., to be accountable to. I think this is the essence of PTE: having/providing the support, from self-help materials to a real network, with which you can build the scaffolding to scale towards your dream life/true calling.


Scott Stephens March 20, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Umm, let me think. EVERY DAY! A big way it’s manifested for me has been chasing new equipment in media work, and new techniques and “tools” in building websites and blogging. I move from thing to thing, seeing no real results for lack of time invested. Old wisdom is often best when it says things like, “Keep your hand to the plough.”


Juliette March 20, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Perception is one huge key. Change perception especially when it’s the hardest to do so. That’s creating your own reality and rewiring the brain. Retail therapy is just another drug to escape how reality feels. Kindof a self medication. quick rush leaving you empty holding somethingyou think you might use later. i quit years ago ultimately due to being poor . also do to the fact that it leads to hoarding. holding things more sacred than people!


Juliette March 20, 2013 at 6:50 pm

Reading only gets you so far… application is the trick!


Sean March 21, 2013 at 4:16 am

Great article and yes I went through a period of about 5 years where it was all about the next book or program, and while I did apply some of the principles I was learning, in hindsight I realize I was simply looking for the next “answer” as more of an all-encompassing “quick fix” than the next step in my development.


Sumitha March 21, 2013 at 7:51 am

Wow, you hit the nail on the head!!!! Just last week I found myself on audible with several books in my cart. Just before hitting the purchase button though, I took a quick inventory and found 6.5 unread (unheard?) books on my phone. I abandoned the cart and put my account on hiatus for 3 months. (I think I may have followed that up with a purchase on amazon though…. Sigh!!!! :) )


Jonathan March 22, 2013 at 2:34 pm

At least that’s some kind of progress. :)

Hermine March 21, 2013 at 9:42 am

Oh my god, this is so spot on. I know I’ve fallen into this before, the shiny object syndrome. In fact, I was there for years and it wasn’t until I had stopped buying and searching for the next new thing about making money online or changing my mindset that I was able to start applying some of what I had learned and actually start making money. Kind of ironic isn’t it?

I think that self help materials definitely have their place and I think they can be helpful, but they should be used in moderation. We all have moments in our lives where we need the extra pick me up, that little voice saying “Hey, you can do it, nothing is impossible.” Hope can be a very powerful motivator. Then again, so can the prospect of not having enough money to put a roof over your head and food on the table.

The real trick to using these kinds of materials wisely, is to stick to one method and really give it a shot. Not to many people do that though. Most of us tend hang on to the hope for something better that these books and programs promise and get bored when we actually have to put in work… Ah, fantasy is always more exciting than reality.


Ellen March 21, 2013 at 11:08 am

Yes. Yes I am. I do believe that there is a certain beneficial ‘brainwashing’ effect that comes from all the reading I do. However, it is HIGH time to get moving.


Hannah March 21, 2013 at 12:43 pm

This is so true. I can speak from experience when I say that nothing shifts inwardly (and consequently outwardly) until you actually put that book down, go out there, and implement. Implement is a really unsexy word, but that’s what it comes down to.

If only it were as easy as reading a book… ;)


Jonathan March 22, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Wouldn’t that be something. Just read the magic words, and bam!

Emily March 22, 2013 at 4:41 pm

If it were that easy, I would be a multi-millionaire working 4-hour weeks in some fantastically tropical country. I’m really, really not.

Jess March 21, 2013 at 6:25 pm

I can definitely relate to the high from a great self-help/motivational book. My issue in the past was that I would be motivated, would take action, wouldn’t get the results I expected quick enough and then the idea might die on the vine. Then a while later, I’d try another idea.

Usually, I look for these types of books/materials to take on a vacation, the high is amplified then because I’m in a very relaxed and receptive state. Lately though, I’ve been following through more and only look for new material to hone what I’m already working on to try and get more results, rather than to try something brand new and that is working much better. Great post.


Chiara March 21, 2013 at 9:10 pm

Yes,it is a constant challenge to distinguish between motivational fuel and emotional porn (or motivational junk food)


Jonathan March 22, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Haha, motivational porn. I’m going to have to use that! I love it.

Janelle March 21, 2013 at 11:35 pm

Hell, yeah. I think we’ve all been guilty of this. What matters is whether we get past it.

“It’s not sexy, it’s not a constant high or peak state of awestricken excitement. But it’s what destinies are made of.” I love that line. Living an amazing life requires action and risk. But to be real, it also requires tons of boring as hell steps to even GET to the amazing part.


Emily March 22, 2013 at 4:39 pm

What a fun and probing question to ask – especially since your readers are likely prone to self-help medicating (as are mine). Here’s my question: Armed with this knowledge, what are some steps we self-help blog writers can take to help our readers take the leap from the momentary high to sustained change?


Samantha March 25, 2013 at 5:34 am

Gosh! That’s exactly how felt minutes before I read this article, I was over-hearing someone talk about the thing they do aside work. It made me realise that I’ve been doing none of things I’ve set aside to do except finishing books on how other people have accomplished wonderful things. Honestly, all these books leave me feeling like I have really long path to bush-whack through.
Thanks Jonathan! I needed a wake up call to just get started with some doing.


Deacon Bradley March 25, 2013 at 6:41 am

So true Jonathan! A while back a Jim Rohn audio program really convicted me on this point. I’ve always been great at learning new things and I consider myself pretty good at it.

Jim pointed out that everything I’ve learned is really useless if I don’t act on it. Useless? Ouch Jim! Since then I’ve tried to be more intentional with what I put on my “read next” shelf. #workInProgress


Andrea March 27, 2013 at 10:11 am

“…use that to fuel action. That is where real change occurs…” Could not have said it better myself. Great post!


Shawn March 28, 2013 at 11:12 am

This is so true. What is even worse is when people buy self help programs like video tutorials and they don’t even watch them, let alone apply the information. Or even worse… They spend time watching all of the videos and don’t actually do anything with it! This is a really common thing that blows my mind. I have been a part of some group programs like that and I just don’t get it. I try to only buy the books and programs that I am actually going to finish and I know I will get something out of. The thing that I still struggle with sometimes is checking email and reading a little too much. It is easy to get into a state of information overload. Thanks for the post and bringing this to the attention of the self help industry!


Alia Arlys Alford March 28, 2013 at 11:54 am

Great article and I completely agree. It’s not the “seminar, book or process” that’s the problem. In fact, most of them have FANTASTIC information. The issue is what has been said here, the need for ACTION.

I think the issue sometimes is simply that as humans, we don’t always know what action to take. Other times we may feel compelled to an action that seems to turn out not to be as beneficial as we would have hoped.

The critical decision making process itself seems to be missing from so many modalities of self-help. My personal focus has been to be more focused on how to make the critical decision (i.e. what information do I need to order to satisfy my requirements to reveal my most obvious choices) and then to move myself to take action. Not always the easiest thing to do. Having a great team around seems imperative.


Joe March 29, 2013 at 6:42 am

Holy crap! You’re right. I found you, Jonathan, via Tiny Buddha this week, and it’s led me to an avalanche of awesome support in so many ways. So many new ideas and outlooks, new blogs, people and practices- all seemingly intertwined by this self-made movement. It’s all truly enlightening and motivating, but I was beginning to wonder if my new energy might become a short term facade. But!, like every other piece of my transformation so far, you’ve intercepted my worries with a spot-on tweet or email. (It’s like you’ve been here before or something) :)
Now it’s up to me to see all of this through. Cheers!


Tyler March 29, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Self help books are an entrepreneur’s crack! We can’t get enough of them.

I agree with what someone earlier said…

We constantly feel like there’s something missing from our lives. Like we’re not complete. So we’re constantly seeking to improve upon ourselves.

We don’t really celebrate our successes. And I think it’s due in fact to that we’re blind to them.

My suggestion: take a step back and reflect on what you HAVE accomplished in the time you’ve been working towards this whole “better you” thing. Really reflect on what you’ve learned and what you’ve achieved.

I’ve got 50 bucks that says if you take the exercise seriously, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by your findings.

We ARE improving guys! Even if it feels like teeny-tiny ones. Enough of those over a significant period of time can add up to make a big difference.

Appreciate what you’ve already done, then strive to do more.

Time to go read another Jim Rohn book. I need a fix!


Deborah March 31, 2013 at 9:54 am

YES, in fact I am just now reading through my thousands of emails and found this again. I’m always wanting to learn from the “guru’s” and that keeps me feeling “less than” and not prepared to go out and share my wisdom with the world. When will I ever learn enough, feel confident enough and have the time to work on my own business if I continue to listen to others who are already on their path? Where is the fine line between learning and listening to others and trusting my inner guidance?


Aaron Morton April 1, 2013 at 9:44 am

You know, you could read the same message in 10 different self-help books but only one hits you and thats ok because that is all you need.

Reading self-help is a resource. It can help inspire new ideas, it can motivate you to act and it can create new understanding within a context of your life……but it is not going to do it for you.

I have many books because I like reading…are all of them helpful? In different ways yes…but my successes have come from me making a decision to act and after each act asking ‘what next’.

Aaron Morton
The Confidence Lounge


Don April 9, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Thanks, Jonathan. Excellent insights and interesting replies.
I agree with a lot of the other comments. Often it can be a distraction, this feeling that, ‘there must be an easier trick, just round the corner.’ But its like planting a tree. You can keep exchanging your spade for a newer, sharpier, shinier one but unless you stick in the ground and dig…
But I also think there is value is exposing yourself to a lot of self-help material. It can be like positive brainwashing which helps push against the prevailing culture (which tends to tell us to conform, aim for the middle ground). Exposure to a lot of self-help and inspiration at least starts to shift the mindset inside and tell you, ‘hey, its ok to dream, to want to be more than you ever thought possible – look, plenty of people have done it!’

But yeah, better to plant a tree using a blunt, bust-up spade than not plant at all (that’s what I need to keep reminding myself).


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Mark Hermann July 3, 2013 at 10:56 am

Hi Jonathan,

Really great post and something near and dear to my heart.

You hit the nerve with me because I started asking myself these questions after taking a bunch of online training courses. Much as I thought I was going about learning about online marketing, I realized I was quickly becoming a victim of the Self Help mainline fix and was shocked that I became one of those people who bought the program but didn’t actually complete it.

Kind of freaked me out until I came across Jon Morrow’s Guestblogging course.

That finally gave me something real that actually got me guest posting on major blogs and put me on a path of actually building my brand vs. sitting around talking about it. It also restored my faith that there were some great folks out there offering real value (you’re certainly one of the good ones).

I wrote a similar piece recently called Warning: We’re Drowning In A Sea ff Experts. It’s about how we keep feeling like we have to learn just one more thing before we can go ahead and actually do the work.

Keep up the excellent work you do!


Pru September 11, 2013 at 7:10 am

I agree with Phoenix all the way up there. I am a devil for buying books, particularly self help/spiritual/entrepreneurial. I’m a slow burning aspie, who sees patterns over time, and all the info I read adds up until I reach a big AHA moment and then I make shifts. From the outside it can look like there’s nothing going on, but no one sees the inner work involved :-) Great post. Thank you.


Carl September 18, 2013 at 3:03 am

Great (and timely) post Jonathan!

Staying in analysing mode far too long (via more and more reading on a subject) and getting caught in the starting blocks is a real problem for many in our technology driven age. Distraction attraction is a modern day curse!

Keep fighting the good fight!


Larry October 14, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Derek Rydall in his teachings refers to buying more self-help books and doing nothing with the information as ‘shelf-help’. I love that term. I have lots of shelf-help on the shelves of my library. Derek goes on to say that the term ‘self-help’ is an oxymoron, as our Self is perfect – always has been. It’s our ego or shadow that we need to work on.


Wendy October 14, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Very true! I get caught up in this all the time. It doesn’t help that I love reading to begin with – and I feel that there’s always more to learn!

But there is a time where you know “enough” and need to just start working!

As others have said, very timely post, thank you Jonathan!!! Now back to work for me!!!


Jason October 13, 2014 at 7:07 am

Hey Jonathan,

Great article. This often hits people when they do a weekend or week long seminar. They leave the seminar pumped but often I find there’s not enough practical advice. Quotes and feel-good pieces of information are useful for keeping your motivation and spirits up high as a nice booster. But like you said, action is the only true way to make any lasting change.

For me I realized I had all these great ideas and wasn’t implementing them. So I started setting myself daily tasks. I’ve decided recently to launch a blog and so I set up a massive Excel spreadsheet to track all the actions I took and what I needed to do.



Jason October 23, 2014 at 1:49 am

Hey Jonathan,

Great post idea. I think that the way books are written also lends to the problem. People want a solution, not to read hundreds of pages of theory and information. We don’t to understand the issue as we already know it quite intimately. I have lots of books but the reason is I hope that one of them will have some more meat to it.

I have discovered some great techniques and exercises through the years that have helped me get closer to where I want to be.


Steve December 17, 2014 at 9:09 am

Read Read Read Self Help day after day, its good to find just one piece of information to read, and put a full stop on it, instead of driving yourself mad over indulging in the world of information.


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