I have been a self-professed self-improvement junkie, student, lover, consumer, – all the adjectives you can throw at me and I’m it. I spent about three years devouring any and everything I could get my hands on. There was never a day that my nightstand didn’t have some form of self-help or self-improvement book on my night stand. Personal development was my job. My work on becoming a better person wasn’t limited to books either. I also kept lists of podcasts, audio books and Youtube videos to keep me motivated, moving forward and constantly improving.
In reading, consuming and marinating in all these suggestions to improve myself I did not always love or resonate with all of the authors. But, I never felt as if any of my time was wasted because I was always able to get at least one nugget to take away. So, I kept at it. Reading and listening more and getting tidbits here and there that helped me think differently, gain confidence and get out of my own way, for a lack of a better term.
Then one day I just stopped. I put the books down. I realized I was getting the same message, hearing lessons I had learned on my own. I’m not so egotistical to think I know it all. These are valuable books, ya’ll. I believe that. It’s just that the tools weren’t helping any longer. I’d learned an incredible amount on ways to move through grief, set goals, figure things out, gain independence, simplify, get happier, and keep my big girl panties on. I found that when I opened a new book that was going to teach me how to appreciate or be grateful or how to get through life’s struggles, I wasn’t getting anything new. I could fill in the blanks.
That sounds arrogant I know. But I had been working hard. For a long time. I’d done the work. I got it.
I love to be motivated and I love to motivate others when I can.
All the talk to hustle, meditate, appreciate and wash my face were all good and valuable. . . until it wasn’t.
After a while I wanted to quiet the noise. Not be yelled at. Not be told what to do.
It was time to take what I knew, what I felt in my gut, sit down and take the time to determine how I wanted to feel.
I can’t say how long I took. But I can say it was long enough to marinate on the messages I had taken and allowed the ones that were specifically meant for me to be absorbed. After a while of reading, studying, listening and note-taking, there comes a time to act. Because we can take all the inspiration, underline all the right passages and put the sticky notes on the mirror and still be stuck. There comes a time to take your Oprah “aha” moment and all the other little nuggets you’ve collected and “fish or cut bait.”
You CAN keep reading all the books – because there will always be new books – keep planning, and keep waiting for all to be set, ready and “fixed”. But here’s the thing. You know there’s no such thing as completely ready and “set”, right? There will always be room for more growth, more ways to look at things, new seasons that bring ideas. There comes a time to stop all the reading, and listening and thinking about all the stuff you need to do and just take a step. That’s the only way to get unstuck or move forward. Take the first step, even if it’s only half of a baby step.
And here’s the other thing. I think we all know what to do. We can choose to use all the personal development stuff out there as either inspiration or a way to keep stalling and putting off getting on with it waiting for the perfect time.
So, at some point we need to stop the reading and start the doing. Follow your gut because I know you know what to do. You just needed that boost to confirm it or tweak it or reframe it.
Allow yourself to use some of the new ideas that serve you, and only you. Then create tools of your own. Take the time to experiment to see what works best for you where you are right now. Personally, I’ve seen that what might have helped me three years ago doesn’t apply to 2020. What I needed to work on personally during other seasons of life doesn’t serve me now. That can because I’ve done the work in particular areas, my needs are different or maybe I’m a different person. The same goes for you.
Consuming all the content can be a little addictive. And it can keep us stalled. As long as we tell ourselves we need to continue consuming to “figure it out” we miss the opportunity to grow.
So, for now, I’ve put down the self-help books.
Remember, this is life. No one ever said it would be easy. And no one can do your life or my life or make us or our lives any different. And sometimes good old fashioned trial and error is the best tool out there.
*All this to say I will still tune in to a podcast or flip open one of my favorites for a little reminder or kick in the pants . . .as long as it keeps me moving forward(: