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Self-Help (Without the Magical Bullshit)


I try to read a variety of different books, including the occasional “Self-Help” book. While reading The Secret, one thought repeatedly crossed my mind:

Wow. This book is full of magical bullshit!

Spongebob Rainbow

Now, don’t get me wrong. I think the book contains a lot of empowering ideas. But, reading this book was like listening to a 4-year-old explain how computers work. Sure, they seem to grasp that computers have incredible potential, but their understanding of the inner workings are a bit fantastical.

This mysticism can be a non-starter for many people that would otherwise benefit from the book. That got me wondering: could I write a self-help book without the magical bullshit?

Now that I think about it… I probably could. Here’s an initial outline of some of the topics I’d want to cover:

  • Intro

    • I’m not a billionaire who buys a new mansion instead of mowing the lawn.
    • I’m just somebody who seems to be doing OK at life.
    • Here are some of my strategies.
  • Some easy wins to get us started:

    • Stop making self-deprecating remarks. (Reminder to self: tie back to this in Echo Chambers chapter)
    • Spend 2 hours cleaning your workspace / home.
    • Get some sleep. (Reminder to self: only 24 hours in a day)
  • To-Did Lists

    • There’s a good chance that you’re already doing a ton of things!
    • Listing these out on a daily basis can give you a sense of accomplishment, and thus help to reduce anxiety.
    • Once you’re feeling less anxious, you can then review these lists and figure out what to change.
  • To-Do Lists

    • Brainstorm first. Organize later.
    • Strategies for organization.
    • Strategies for prioritization.
    • Pick 2-3 things. Table everything else.
    • Oh, and leverage things like Trello or Google Keep!
  • Overcoming Decision Paralysis

    • Prototyping
    • Timeboxing
    • Picking things at random
  • Embracing Technology

    • Don’t allow an irrational fear of technology to become a barrier to opportunity!!!
    • Must-Have apps: TODO lists, calendars, document sharing, etc.
  • Investments and Efficiency Gains

    • There are only 24 hours in a day. Work vs Value.
    • Reevaluation and Accelleration.
    • Automation.
    • Delegation.
  • Echo Chambers and Seeing Reality

    • Most people don’t see reality. They are just sleep-walking through a dream.
    • Noticing unconventional paths. (Reminder to self: sidewalks)
    • Assertions, Accreditations, and Capabilities. (Question everything. The world is full of misinformation and useless noise.)
  • Contingency Planning

    • Devise 2-3 solutions to every problem. (ie: “alternative plans”)
    • Always be prepared to fallback to another plan.
  • Multitasking

    • We’re not all wired for multitasking. But, there are some basic time-savers that many people are able to do.
    • Exercising while listening to audio books.
    • Talking on the phone while walking to your destination.
    • Etc.
  • Making friends

    • Find people who inspire you!
  • Taking care of yourself

    • You might not be in a position to do some of these things right now. But, make these a priority ASAP!
    • Eating right.
    • Getting plenty of sleep.
    • Respecting yourself. (ie: make time for yourself. Don’t let others stretch you too thin, etc)

Okay — not too bad for an initial brain dump. But, it’s a good thing I didn’t include a section on “motivating yourself”. Otherwise, I might actually have to write this book!