This is more of a personal rant. I am taking a break from reading self-improvement hacks for an indefinite time. Reasons, the popular life-improvement ideas make me feel-
It might be my personal fallacy. Be that as it may, self-improvement hacks were designed to bring more clarity into our life. Not anymore.
Here, I am point out to the popular self-improvement industry only.
In the event, you too, are feeling a little burnt-out by reading one “do it my-way-or-highway” stuff after another; consider taking a hiatus from them.
Do we need more cookie-cutter advice?
When I was mid-teen, Shiv Khera’s ‘You Can Win’ exploded into the Indian market.
For months, I had heard my friends gloating over the line “Winners never quit, quitters never win”.
I tried to read “You Can Win” couple of times but the fact-only book seemed cold and impersonal to me.
Few years down the road, Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret” hit the shelf and became a world-wide phenomenon. I was recommended “The Secret” many times but never bit the bullet.
But surely, I didn’t miss much. The onslaught of self-improvement hacks I see these days- books, articles, podcasts, the same thoughts are being rehashed.
And the biggest pet peeve? The stories are impersonal.
e.g. – What authority does the author have to tell the readers that- investing in Bitcoin or 3-day rule in dating is the best thing after sliced bread? Did s/he do it personally?
This is the same reason I don’t like travel blogs that say “10 fun things to do in Sicily”.
I would like to ask- have you personally done those activities? If not, on what basis you are telling me that getting shot by the mafia is- actually fun?
Lesson learnt: We don’t need so many self-help hacks every day that are basically the same.
Authenticity is lacking
Subroto Bagchi is an Indian entrepreneur, business leader and author. In 2008, his best-selling book “Go Kiss the World: Life Lessons for Young Professionals” hit the market.
Subroto Bagchi belonged to a very very humble back-ground, studied Political Science in University, started off his career as a benign clerk and went on to establish a scintillating career in IT industry, despite his lack of STEM education.
By the way, I loved his book and he is the model self-improvement guru I would like to hear from more. Not the random internet dudette/dude.
Lesson learnt: Before picking up a book/or skimming through a self-help article, it’s imperative for me to check out the background of the author.
Did s/he live the life or is it just another ploy to sell a course/book?
The system is convoluted
I can very well wake up at 4 AM to do yoga/lap dance, gulp down the bullet-coffee with sesame banana oat muffins and rush to reach the office before everybody else.
But the super-charged morning ritual won’t make me feeling less sluggish by the effing traffic on the street.
Similarly, you can read the bootstrapping articles till the cows come home.
But if you belong to a developing country, besides launching the MVP in the market, you need to think about
- the red tapes
- obtaining license
- crony capitalists and many more.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Lesson learnt: Read “how I launched my start-up in 3 months” with a pinch of salt. Few countries have the privilege called ease of doing business. Others don’t.
Our parents taught the same
You shouldn’t quit your 9-5 job. Rather, start a side-hustle, grow it till it reaps you profit and then quit your 9-5 lifestyle.
Give yourself a timeline, put 1-year worth of savings in bank and take the entrepreneur route.
This is the genesis of many self-improvement articles, advice for would-be entrepreneurs/go-getters these days.
Remember that time when we were all young and playful and our parents taught us that-“study now and once you start shitload of money, you’ll have plenty of time to play”?
Though, given the unfit grown-ups ( I am guilty as charged as well) I see all around, I doubt how many execute this ‘golden’ tip in actuality .
However, you get the gist. The above two statements basically saying the same thing, i.e-
Do the expected now, acquire enough mileage and start doing the unexpected.
Lesson learnt: The philosophy and psychology books contain more about life and its way, than quick-bite self-help hacks. Or grind your teeth and listen to seniors.
We are already jaded
I am highly skeptical about do <insert any power act here> and you’ll get <insert a juicy reward>.
While half-of-the-wealth of this world is accumulated by 1%, these self-improvement straws sound like consolations.
As if doing headstand in the dawn and building-mail subscribers’ list would unlock the gate to the 1 percenters’ club. Or it might do. What do I know?
Lesson learnt: The system is rigged. May be what we need is not another garden variety life solution but a whole new world order aka utopia.
There are millions of people who must get benefits through these self-improvement articles and I am no one to undermine that. What I am trying to imply that-
You have to separate the wheat from the chaff.
P.S.- If you have bitter-sweet experiences with self-help stuff, do share them with me.
2 thoughts on “Why I am taking a break from ‘popular’ self-improvement tips”
You raise a lot of great points! I do think a lot of self-help books are ultimately the same. And often general advice we know–just have trouble putting it into practice.
Also, I agree that the whole attitude of “Work hard and good things will come” is…sort of not true. I know plenty of intelligent, hardworking people who can’t get jobs or good jobs or jobs in their field. Who does have jobs? Incompetent people who have connections. The longer I live, the more I realize that you can work all you want, but if you don’t know the right people, you’re not likely going to make it. While it’s nice to hear those amazing rags-to-riches stories or those stories where people beat the odds, the reality is that they became bestselling stories because they’re unusual. If this happened every day, no one would care.
And, yes, other factors come into play. Socioeconomic class or geographic area and all of that can limit opportunities. Yes, someone can still beat the odds. But the odds are so much higher and advice like, “Study hard and smile” isn’t necessarily going to help someone figure out how to convince their family they need to go to college, help them navigate the application process, and figure out how to pay for it. Meanwhile, there are rich students who can fail every class and they get to stay in college because it’s well-known that their family gives money to the school and the college doesn’t want to lose it.
I suppose I sound really pessimistic, but…maybe I am? I’ve just seen a lot of intelligent, hardworking, decent people see their dreams die because they’re repeatedly passed over in favor of people with connections.
I couldn’t agree more with every word you’ve written here Krysta. This is especially true in a country like India, entangled into bureaucracy and red-tapism.
And you’re absolutely not sounding pessimistic. Connection is everything- whether it’s getting a good job or raising fund for your start-up. This is so frustrating.
That’s why I’ve given up on the race of becoming “someone”. Just collecting money and doing whatever I like is my motto.
“Someone” else can save the world and get featured on the cover of “Forbes”. 🙂 I don’t care anymore.