Why I Stopped Reading Motivational, Self-Improvement-Type Books

Yea, yea, I know. The girl who is always annoyingly reading “those” types of books seemingly just slammed the door on them. 

I’ve always been a proponent of seeking to improve myself every single day. Whether that means setting aside time for myself to read each morning, making it to the gym a certain number of times each week, sending a thank you note, being intentional about having a conversation with someone or doing one thing for my business…whatever it is… I’ve always felt like if I’m not improving and moving forward each day…surely I gotta be sliding backwards, right? (to my friend NK – we just talked about this!)

I don’t necessarily view this as perfectionism or unrealistic.  I’ve always been an optimist, so believing I can improve just a little every single day certainly is not out of the realm of possibility. 

Reading is a HUGE source of self improvement, or the “getting better every day thing” for me. I absolutely love reading books about how I can be a more effective leader, a better wife, mom, friend, business owner…really…just a better, more loving, empathetic human in general; taking tidbits from each book, applying them to my life, testing things out, putting things into practice. I eat that stuff up. 

You guys know this about me. My library of suggestions is obnoxiously 17 miles long. Ask me about what book I’d recommend to you and you’re stuck with me for 15 minutes where I’ll ask you 40 questions before I allow myself to narrow it down to which one I think would be best.

But about five to six months ago, I just stopped reading them. I was over it. Done. 

I put down “Girl, Stop Apologizing” (after barely getting through it) and vowed I was officially done reading these types of books until further notice. It had absolutely nothing to do with the book or the author. I adore Rachel Hollis and her message to women.

Additionally, I stopped writing and using my “Five minute a day journal” every morning which lists out goals/tasks/thoughts/gratitudes. I couldn’t put one more pen stroke to a page in that thing. 

But as I put the book and journal away… I was trying to figure out why I was so turned off. Did I suddenly become a McScrooge for self improvement? One of the people who now viewed “self-help” books and tools as a crock of crap? I started to panic… WHO IS THIS PERSON WHO SUDDENLY HATES BEING BETTER?! 

I for real was worried. I spent the next few days reflecting…trying to dig into what the heck was going on. 

This is what it came down to: For the longest time I had only been reading self-improvement type books. I’d been focusing so much on them. I was addicted. I needed more. I wanted more. Take a look back through my instagram feed where I typically post about my latest reads and you’ll see the “trend.” But what was happening was that I was becoming overwhelmed. I was reading, and absorbing, and making plans, and wanting to do this and do that, and improve on this and start journaling that…accomplish this thing and achieve that goal.  And everything was SO IMPORTANT TO DO NOW.

I. Was. Exhausted. I was wearing my psyche so thin, and starting to put unrealistic expectations on myself about what I should be doing with my life and where I should be and what I should be accomplishing. What had once been so life-giving in the optimist “every day can be better” realm was suddenly suffocating.

I had to cut myself off from it. I was going through some life changes (moving, pregnancy, jobs, toddler, etc. etc) and nothing felt completely stable. Things were changing faster than I could keep up with. I needed to focus on living and doing one thing well at a time. Instead of the books feeling life-giving and motivating… I was left feeling guilty that I wasn’t putting things into practice. That things weren’t happening fast enough. That I was a fake. That I was putting on a facade of “look what I’m reading and doing” and “let me suggest these great leadership/minimalist/positive vibe books/podcasts to you that I love!”  when really I just wanted to just…be…..and not think about the laundry list of things I wanted to be working on personally and professionally. 

Over these past several months I’ve realized that sometimes we need to take a break from things… even the best things…the things that are supposed to be helping us. Because even those “life-giving” things can become exhausting and overwhelming. Stepping back to evaluate and reflect and figure out what we need in any given season of life is good. And just because we step away doesn’t mean we won’t ever go back. It just means that this is where we’re at at the moment. (I’m literally saying all this stuff as a reminder to me. You guys may already know all of this. 🙂 )

AND. That. Is. Ok. 

Have you ever felt this way about anything? What was your “thing” you had to step away from for some time? 

A five to six month break was needed, and had. 

I find that as I get older I become more in tune to what I personally need to thrive. I start seeing the warning signs and symptoms of these things earlier and earlier and have been practicing knowing when to wave my little white flag and ask for help, or ask a friend to coffee, or to spend some time alone or get to the gym. 

Getting older and wiser is actually quite nice I’ve come to realize. A few more crinkles around the eyes, sure…but that’s what good eye cream is for… ammiright? 

I think I’m close to wrapping up this mini break, it feels like the right time. A book about coaching caught my eye just last week, and I felt the old familiar spark of genuine excitement again..and I thought,

“Annnnnnd WE’RE BACK, BABY.”

So, I can’t help myself…. what books have I missed these past several months? 

The list revamp is underway my friends. I promise I won’t overdo it. 

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Glass half full kinda gal. Lover of hugs and 'atta-girls.'

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