The self-help industry is booming. By Forbes’ estimates, the industry took in over $11 billion (yes, with a B) last year, and forecasts are that it will continue to grow at a rapid clip. People buy self-help books, CDs, coaching, and other products for a variety of reasons, but I suggest that the details all chunk up to one primary goal: to enact positive change in one’s life. For many this means achieving certain goals and/or lifestyles.
Many popular books talk about “the secret” to success, happiness, financial wealth, achieving you dreams, etc. This “secret” is often of mystical origins; e.g. – spiritual guides, ethereal attractions, or some other unknown, unseen force that if you only believe in it will deliver your dreams to you.
I propose a different secret to achieving your goals and dreams, or even just improving your life a little in some way:
Where you are at in life is a consequence of the decisions you have made to date; where you will be from now in life is a consequence of the decisions you make now and in the future.
Please do not get me wrong. I am certainly not discounting the power of belief. I am, however, discounting the notion that belief in anything is sufficient for real and lasting personal change and achievement. Also, while I am a devout believer in the power of meditation and self-reflection, I do not believe either alone will result in success of any kind.
Belief, meditation, self-reflection, and spirituality are all necessary components of personal change and achievement. However, personal change and achievement require something more. Specifically, that something more is action. And that action is driven by the decisions we all make as we interact with our environment.
You may want to run a marathon. You may believe you can and will run a marathon. You will fail unless you make the decision to train for the marathon you intend to run, then actually do it. Believing, meditating on, or taking counsel of spiritual beings will not give you the endurance to complete the marathon. Only intense training over a reasonable period of time will.
The same applies for amassing great wealth (or achieving any other substantial goal). Unless you are extremely fortunate – like 1 in 100,000,000 fortunate enough to win a sizable lottery – amassing great wealth takes more than just belief. It takes discipline, hard work, and a plan to deliver something that is valuable to society. (It also often takes a willingness to delay gratification for an extended period of time).
Again, I am not arguing against the power of belief. Definitely keep meditating, exercising your spirituality, or doing whatever helps you keep your morale up and your goal in front of you. Just don’t forget to act, and don’t forget to keep in mind that the decisions you make will dictate where you end up in the end.
Photo by Lisa M Photographs, who has loads of awesome images on Flickr