A revolution has been brewing amongst us in recent years. More and more, we are rejecting the norms society places upon us, unwilling to become slaves to consumerism and capitalist culture.
We can read incredible books by inspirational sages and at the click of a button inspire thousands of people to do the same. We can learn how to transform our minds and bodies while sitting in the comfort of our home. We have become enlightened by the information age - no longer naive to the concept of living a life designed by us for us.
But I worry this enlightenment presents us with a new kind of problem - the problem of growth overload.
I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, 'Where's the self-help section?' She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose - George Carlin, comedian
Overwhelmed by advice?
If you Google ‘self-help’, you are presented with 101,000,000 page results. That’s 101 million claims of advice to transform your life for the better.
Self-help is a multi billion dollar industry. Millions of people are benefitting financially from the basic human instinct for growth, and we are lapping it up.
A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention - Herbert A. Simon, Nobel Prize laureate
With the advent of self published books and the blog culture, adding your voice to the conversation has never been easier. Which begs the question - how much of the help on offer is of real worth? And how will we know?
What does this mean for us as consumers?
We become lost in a sea of advice and opinion, unable to distinguish the good from the bad. How can I be more effective at work (171 million search results)? How can I save my marriage (84 million search results)? Is fat bad, or is fat good (112 million search results)?
What is the best self-help book (37 million results)?
We end up in a state of advice fatigue, lost and confused about who to turn to for help. We spend our days reading blogs, watching webinars and listening to podcasts, overwhelming ourselves with information. Then we try and live by the myriad of advice we are consuming, inevitably failing to make sustainable change.
How can we cut through the noise?
- First up: Commend yourself on your thirst for growth. It’s not easy to look ourselves in the eye and admit we are flawed.
- Look for intent behind any sales pitch. Is it really designed to help you, or merely to line the pockets of a so-called guru? Look at what reviewers are saying in their comments - do they suggest applicability of the material?
- Think deeply about what you want to achieve through your change. Design a personal content filter around your needs.
- Finally, and most importantly: Take decisive action. If you’ve read something that resonates with you, then do something about it. Don’t move straight along to your next self help ‘fix’ - pause for breath and implement.
Because guess what? The result of inaction is the continuation of what exists today. As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said:
There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.
Pick your way forward, and act now.
Each of us will choose our own path. We will find value in different approaches to change. The good news is that there is something out there, some golden nugget of advice, that will resonate with you and become the catalyst for growth. The trick is to find that nugget and channel all your energy towards it. You owe it to yourself.
Do you feel overwhelmed by advice? Let us know in the comments below!