Updated: Jun 15
There are 1000s of amazing personal development books available in the world which can & do help people.
There is fantastic, fascinating advice available on a HUGE range of topics, they are a low investment cost (individually!) and you can fit them in at whatever time suits you.
But there are 3 key problems to be aware of with the world of personal development books.
In this blog I’ll explore these AND what you can do as an alternative:
1) You actually have to READ them. It sounds obvious but there’s many a pile of PD books gathering dust…
and not only that - you actually need put into practice what you're reading.
Nothing will happen if you buy the book, put it on your bedside table and look at the cover.
In fact, something might happen, especially if you have a stack of them you're not reading - but it's unlikely to be what you want.
You may start to feel guilty for NOT reading them and doing the things they are suggesting. This can massively hamper you instead of help you if this is what's going on in your personal development book stack at the moment.
If this is the case, consider asking yourself what it is about the book that drew you to it, what you wanted to get out of reading it, and why that's important, it might help you either take action or decide this book isn't for you - either way, that's a positive outcome!
2) But let's assume you ARE reading your books. You’re doing the exercises suggested, reflecting and reassessing but you're still feeling as though you're not getting anywhere.
This can leave you feeling like a failure, you're really trying your best but nothing is really changing and it all still feels really hard, you're left wondering if it was worth all that effort.
The thing is, because a book is written for the masses, it can never be specific to YOU so can't get to the root of what you really need. In order to appeal to as many people as possible (the big shiny change everyone's life promises), by default they can't be perfectly set up to help YOU the person who has bought the book.
It's not you who is failing, the book just can't address your specific needs. It can give you guidance and great ideas yes, but if you're feeling stuck, no matter how many books you read and even implement, it's likely none of them is going to really get to the root cause because it's a one way conversation.
If this is happening, think about using the information and exercises you are doing to help you get really clear on what you're hoping to change - there's no "wrong" when it comes to uncovering this stuff, but it's good to spend your precious time focused on what is most important.
Once you're clearer on this, you can start to decide what the "best next step" for yourself could be.
3) A book cannot hold you accountable and help you stay on track.
You can have the best intentions in the world, but if you're like most of my clients, you're brilliant at doing things which help other people but not so great at keeping promises to yourself.
If you're relying on the "book" and the advice to keep you on track with willpower thrown into the mix, this can again leave you feeling like you're just letting yourself down - another route to feeling more stuck and demotivated.
PLUS (you know I always love to give a little more than expected) even though individually personal development books don't cost much, if you're in a cycle of book after book and course after course to find "the magic one" it adds up - trust me, I know this and all the above from personal experience having spent £100s on personal development resources.
If you're heading down this road, it could be time to bite the bullet and decide to work with a person, rather than a book.
This can feel like a scarily big step, financially and mentally, but here are some reasons why it can be a better option than continuing to buy more and more resources which aren't moving you forward.
4) When you work with a coach it's a bespoke approach (well it should be!). There’s no set in stone programme. The space is yours for what you need from it, which is different for everyone.
Without stating the obvious, unlike a pre-printed book, what you want to work on is your choice, and can and does change and develop alongside you.
If something isn't working for you, we change it and take a new approach, there's no one-size-fits-all and no forcing you to use a particular exercise/approach/chapter if it's not working for you
5) It's much more time efficient!
Think about how long it takes you to read a book - or even a chapter AND do the work alone.
By contrast, clients often have a number of lightbulb moments of realisation within an hours session with me.
Books have filler, fluff and things that aren't relevant to you - working with a coach cuts out the things that you don't need and maximises time spent creating change by focusing on what IS important.
I know you're time poor, busy and often can't fit in the time to read and do the exercises in your PD books, just imagine freeing up all that time by working 1:1 with a person and how much more quickly you would make progress.
6) It can give you a new perspective,
literally. Because there's another person involved who is listening to you, reflecting back to check they have understood what you're saying and helping you ask different questions to get deeper understanding of what's going on.
When you're stuck in your head, you tend to use the same words over and over again, creating mental furrows associating what's going on with particular vocabulary. You don't think to rephrase it differently, or use different words to describe the same thing because the words and phrases you use are so deeply ingrained in your experience and how you express yourself.
Whilst I'm no thesaurus, I give my clients the opportunity and ability to describe things differently, just through reflecting back what they have said.
A book can't do this for you, as it's again, set using the words the writer has chosen to use which may not resonate with you, but also doesn't give you the ability to say "no that's not how I would describe it but I would say..."
So often, this is the key to unlocking the problem that has kept them feeling stuck for so long.
In praise, nonetheless of personal development books and resources (you can grab my free ones here which ARE a great starting point)
I’m so thankful for all the information I absorbed from books because it's allowed me to learn and develop alongside working with my own coaches and given me a huge range of insights to keep my knowledge magpie brain happy.
But if you’re like I used to be & have an ever growing stack but nothing is changing, it might just be time to consider working 1:1 with a coach to get things moving in the right direction.
You can find out more about ways of working with me by dropping me a message, I'm always happy to have a chat about what's going on for you and how I can help.