The pandemic season is upon us. At the time of writing this, we’re all isolated from each other to protect ourselves and others more vulnerable than us. A by-product of this rather long isolation is just heaps of spare time. Although you may feel there’s nothing to do except watch and wait, what started as a break from life, unchecked, will become something much worse. Disorder and lethargy will slowly creep in. Your life becomes monotonous, and you start getting frustrated. Here’s where an endless supply of “productivity life hacks” and “self-help tips” comes into the picture.

They offer you numerous tips that help you BE productive. If you’re a person like me, you follow these tips with maximum intensity and feel like you’re being productive, for two whole days. But now, you’re back to square one, and this cycle continues. This is when you begin to wonder, is there an end to this seemingly endless search for satisfaction? Here’s what I learned from my experience of these self-help guides.

There are a lot of self-help and ‘get productive’ guides out there that come with numerous techniques to expunge your feeling of dissatisfaction. After every such article or video I completed, I had this surge of motivation. I felt like I accomplished something great and have done something productive. Furthermore, I went on to watch more such guides to look for that one more secret, that could change my life. That one last tip, that could unlock my inner self.

I kept gathering information, article after article, podcast after podcast, and kept giving myself a sense of satisfaction until, I paused for a moment and realized, that nothing, really changed. Every time I read one of these “productivity hacks”, I just imagined this person who’s going to do all these things is who I am going to be tomorrow. But tomorrow is just this fictional land where most of the productivity happens. And when the time comes, it’s just the same old unproductive me again. 

This state of discontentment is what the “self-help industry” thrives on. They tell you that more information can solve your problem. So we read more, buy more books, attend more seminars and what not hoping to find the answer, but sadly, that doesn’t work. I fundamentally believe that it’s just a trap, a very profitable one, mind you. According to Marketdata Enterprises, the industry of self-development is estimated to be worth around 13 billion dollars by 2022. With figures like these, a lot of these self-help gurus will keep pushing content to keep their fan base hooked. After all, you’re more profitable to them dissatisfied than content. This type of addiction takes a heavy toll on the viewers, as it could lead to problems like serious anxiety and self-loathe. 

So, how to correct this? Here’s some advice that actually helped me.

As I stated before, I kept consuming information instead of acting upon it. I kept building this expectation of who I am supposed to be, but never actually delivered on it. Everyone knows that the answer is ‘just doing it’. But, we still don’t. This is what happens when you do things just because you are told to, this is the root of procrastination.

A way to avoid this is to take a step back and think about our strategy. Weigh in the consequences of not achieving it. Try to imagine a version of yourself that has failed. If the action you are trying to achieve is something you really should be doing, you’ll realize the importance of not being able to do it. This is why the world is built on contracts and not promises.  Will power can only go so far as to keep you motivated. On the other hand, fear of failure, if done right, is a very powerful tool for success. 

Having said that, it’s important to mention that there are exceptions. Not all of the advice is just a ploy to get more money, and not all the blame goes to the industry itself, consumers need to take accountability for their actions too. Self-help shouldn’t be treated as a “quick-fix” for all the problems in life. After all, it’s you who can change your life, not some “secret lifehack” you read online.

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