The Only Self-Help Post You’ll Ever Need

The subtitle should read “(and the only one I’ll ever write)”

The phrase “self-help” makes me cringe.

To me it conjures up an image of people reading book after book about the same concepts, talking through the same principles and rehashed over and over again by different authors using different terms over and over again in an attempt to make a buck.

There’s a lot of money to be made in “self-help” because the people who consume it tend to keep reading and reading. Unfortunately, the reading and books have to opposite consequence and often become part of the problem. Instead of pushing people to action, they draw the reader back in to read more and more and keep an artificial barrier between them and action.

So let’s cut the crap: here’s the gist of every self-help book out there.

The only thing keeping you from doing the things you want to do is…you.

I hate to borrow something from Nike but instead of talking about doing something – Just Do It. You can wait for someone else to change it or you can take responsibility for it and make a change yourself. It might not happen overnight and it might be hard, but unless you do something about it yourself, nothing will happen.

The Most Common Way People Give Up Their Power is By Thinking They Don’t Have Any – Alice Walker

If you’re able to read this, you’re most likely in very small minority of the world that actually has the ability and freedom to get up everyday and choose what they want to do.

Do you realize how lucky you are?

We get the ability to focus on doing what you want to do. We don’t have to worry about finding food. We don’t have to worry about dying from the black plague. We don’t have to worry about becoming lunch meat for a hungry mountain lion somewhere who thinks we look tasty.

We live in an amazing time. We’re more fortunate than most people in the world  – at any point in history!

Stop finding excuses why you can’t do something and start finding excuses why you can do whatever you want.

It comes down to you. Do you want to do something or not?

If you do…then go do it and stop worrying about everything else.

If you need some help actually doing something – join the Impossible League – the community behind the site and start doing something impossible today.

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  1. Cesar says

    Wow, that was powerful.
    I needed that today.
    Been struggling with work problems but this is a succinct, constructive way of looking at problems … and simple.

  2. Gaurav Kishore says

    You are right on the mark on this Joel. “Just do it” sums it up. This wan’t the way I used to think and believe in. I used to believe that reading self-help, motivational books will “actually” change something in me. It did at an intellectual level but didn’t really get me any closer to the goals I had. Surprisingly now “just doing it” works much better.

    The only road from a seemingly stupid & simple to a really great idea is the one called “just do it” – the reason being when you do it the idea either fails or becomes better and in both cases you are on your way to a great idea.

    Thanks for an awesome post.

  3. says

    Hey Joel

    Just came across your blog but have also heard your comments on the Lifestyle Business Podcast, so was a little familiar with you that way. I love the whole concept of this blog and am a big believer also in the ‘just do it’ mentality.

    Keep up the good work and I’m looking forward to following along with your adventures.



  4. Dallas says

    Thanks a lot! This was motivation for me this morning before I worked out! I just found this site yesterday and I’m already subscribed! Looks like an awesome life style. I’m going to create my “Impossibe List” this weekend some time. thanks for all you do.

  5. says

    Joel, Joel, Joel!! I get it and I know where you’re coming from. There is NO WAY I would advocate reading INSTEAD of action, but I think you are a little hard on those of us who read self-help books as a part of our action plan. So what if we read the same message more than once? We learn by repetition, and we also learn from one another. At the end of the day, each of us IS responsible for our own success or failure, but “No man is an island.” I also think it’s unfair to lump all self-help gurus into the same self-serving category. There are many authors who are sharing their journeys in the hopes of helping others who are mired as they once were.

    You are quite right that we are blessed. And, like you, I firmly believe that we have an obligation to recognize this fact and to make the most of our opportunities. But let’s not lose our compassion for one another. The answers, as you outline above, are simple. But that doesn’t make them easy.

    • Josh Denness says

      Deborah I see why you disagree with Joel, but I think it definitely can be the case for a significant proportion of people who rely on self-help.

      I, for example, am the prime example. Since the age of 14 I was reading up about fitness on interweb and tirelessly absorbing all of the information I ever came upon. As a result I became a complete expert on exercise but never put it into practice myself.

      It’s only in the last 6 or 7 months of my life (I’m 20 now) that I’ve actually taken action and become fitter and healthier.

      Self help is hugely valuable (How to make friends and influence people helped me become who I am today and stop being shy) but I think an over reliance can be dangerous.

  6. says


    “Out of shape? – Get Healthy” – I get where you’re coming from when you write this.

    However, millions of people are afflicted with chronic health problems that are not curable – they can not simply exercise their way out of it much as they wish they could!

    I urge you to reconsider your approach to those with ill health and hope that you never learn first hand what it is like to be un-well no matter your own actions.

  7. says

    I agree with everything you said but some people need an extra push and a dose of inspiration. Many people have some bad experiences in their past or some limiting beliefs or habits to get rid of. Those are not always so easy to get rid of, and sometimes self-help “products” help people make those changes. Yes, there are people that stay “stuck” and become self-help junkies, but for others it provides a helping hand as they make changes in their lives.

  8. says

    Great stuff Joel! I have been reading your site for almost a year and this is my first comment.I like the headspace this post led me. Most people spend their lives worrying little petty issues insted of taking action and stepping up hard. They don´t realise how short life is and the only way to be happy is living by their own standards and values. Sometimes this is just plain hard. And that is a great thing because it forces you to grow and become become who you really are..and drop all the weak personal traits if you intend to continue on your path.

  9. says

    I think before we vilify “self-help” we need to acknowledge what’s the purpose of it. Self-help is inspiration and empowerment to take action to be the best that we can be. This entire blog is self-help in it’s own way.

    Someone people need more help than “just doing it” themselves. That’s like telling a depressed person to just snap out of it.

    Having said that, I’m a big supporter of taking decisive action, doing rather than saying, and other similar cliches :)

  10. says

    I agree! Self-help becomes a state of paralysis for many people where they overanalyze and don’t actually DO anything to improve their situations. Great post!


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