how to get the most of self help books picture of stack of books and glasses

How to Get the Most out of Self Help Books

Self-Help books are like a new fashion statement. We tell all our friends about our latest favorite, and demand they read so we can discuss it later. How can we read a self-help book once, and still get all of the information we need?

I created the perfect method you can use to get the most out of any self-help book.

Self-Help books have been popular since the dawn of time, but we have been reading them wrong. We casually keep them on our nightstand, or on our Instagram feed and rarely finish them, much less implement them. The best way to read a self-help book is with a pad of paper next to you while taking notes and implementing steps. You need a system in place in order to be successful with self-help books.

Do Self Help Books Actually Work?

In short, yes.

If you put the time in to actually read them and do the steps, you will see results.

Successful people do what unsuccessful people are unwilling to do.

Jeff Olson

Similar to a diet, without putting in any of the work you’re not going to see the results and you’ll feel like the system has failed you, or you’re unable to change.

Related: How to Create a Self-Care Kit

Self-Improvement is a very broad genre of books, let’s narrow it down.

What type of Self-Help Books Are There?

There are five main buckets you can put self-help books into.

  1. Expanding Your Horizons.

    These will help you see things from a different perspective, such as “Awaken the Giant Within” by Tony Robbins.
  2. Daily Habits.

    These self-help books give you powerful new daily habits you can adapt to replace old toxic habits. The most popular example of this is How to Win Friends and Influence People, one of the most popular self-help books of all time.
  3. Get Rich Quick

    These ones are super duper popular. There is always a way to convince people how to spend or save their money. Top examples of this are books by Dave Ramsey, like this one.
  4. Monkey See, Monkey Do

    More of a showcase of what the author did to achieve success, usually with action steps for you to do the same thing. A popular example is “Four Hour Work Week“.
  5. Technical or Scientific

    These self-help books give you scientific backed reasoning to see results. My favorite example is “Feeling Good” by David Burns, but more popular these days is “Daring Greatly“.

Each type will give you an entirely different experience. Some people only dabble in one type, while others do all of them.

My favorite type is the daily habits. I like adding things to my daily routine to see a difference in my life.

Related: Daily Habits for Reducing Anxiety

You may need to try different types to see the results you want.

Why Self Improvement Books Don’t Work

Self Help books are a great source of information.

Generally, they’re compiled of years and years of experience and scientific research.

This isn’t enough though.


In order for self-help books to be successful, we need to put in the work necessary.

Having the knowledge isn’t having the experience, and knowledge isn’t enough to make a change.

You have to decide it’s time for you to make that change.

How to Read Self Help Books Effectively

There are just a few steps you need to take to see results.

Related: How to Create the Best Morning Routine for Moms (The perfect time to read your self-help book)

Pre-work . . . you have to decide that you are going to make this change in your life. No one can decide this for you, and no one can change your life but you.

Great advice is merely entertainment until you decide you’re going to take action and make a change.

Make the choice, be a better version of yourself.

  1. Buy the Book and Take Notes.

    Borrowing from the library is fine for novels and casual reading, but you’re going to change your life. This book needs to become part of your life.

    Take the leap, buy the self-help book.

    Get your pen, highlighter, and sticky notes out, it’s about to get real.

    Take notes in the margin, dog-ear the pages, put post-it notes with takeaways into the folds.

    You’ll also want a notebook so you can record the action steps you plan to take, the bits of knowledge you find amazing, and the most important lessons you found.
  2. Create a Plan

    This is where your notes come in handy.

    Take your notes and create a plan of how you can implement changes. Your old behavior is going to keep bringing you the same results.

    To get new results you HAVE to do something new.
  3. Take Action

    Knowledge does nothing for you without action. Use what you learn to create a better life for yourself.

    That plan you created will be useless just sitting on your desk.
  4. Hold Yourself Accountable

    Or find an accountability partner.

    Holding yourself accountable is a key way to improve yourself and achieve your goals.

    Sometimes you’ll fall behind or have a misstep in implementing your new lifestyle. Have some compassion for yourself. It’s okay to make mistakes.

    Don’t beat yourself up, just look back at your plan and adjust to keep things realistic.

    Rewarding yourself when you achieve a goal will help you to create new habits and celebrating is fun. You should always take the opportunity to celebrate.
  5. Sharing is Caring.

    Teaching is one of the best ways to learn.

    This is why I love blogging. I enjoy learning new things and then turning around and teaching my tribe. There are times when I don’t know everything, but I don’t think my readers come here to learn from a professional.

    Sometimes I will have a reader ask a great question that turns into another post answering the question after a few days of research.

I recently created a group for fellow overwhelmed moms, and I’d love for you to join us. Click here to visit our private Facebook Group

The key to success is NOT passively consuming information from self-help books.

Nothing in your life is going to change if you simply read a book.

The more you learn, implement, create and share . . . the better your world becomes.

How to Take Notes on a Book

I have always been a fantastic note taker. They really pushed in my early education how important good notes are, so I’ve always been a fan of taking notes and writing down useful information.

Here is a video with a few tips for creating some notes based on the text of the book.

Tips for Taking Notes from a Book

There are a few things you can do to help ensure your success while reading self-help books.

Have a single notebook for all of your notes on this self-help book
Pause after each chapter and write down key takeaways and what next steps you could take to implement the steps in the book.
As you read you should also jot down anything you might find helpful in your journey.
If this book doesn’t fit into your values, you don’t have to finish it.

What is the Best Way to Move Forward?

Hopefully, this article has helped you find new ways to read and implement self-help books.

Grab the first self-help book you see that speaks to your pain point, and give it a shot. Try it out today and see where it takes you.

If you dig my advice, I’d love to show you what I give my readers. This week I created a Morning Routine Planner. Grab it below before you leave.

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9 thoughts on “How to Get the Most out of Self Help Books”

  1. I am such an avid reader, and I admit that I love certain self-help, but I read it and move on. I don’t really absorb anything. This article really made me think how important it is to digest what I’m reading by taking notes and taking action. What’s the sense of spending the time reading it if I’m not going to put what I learn to use? Thank you for this informative post!

  2. I love this post! I think reading self help books is such a great way to learn and grow but growth always requires work. Taking notes in such a mindful and specific way is such a fantastic idea!

  3. I love this! I have read one self help book, but didn’t get everything I could out of it…I am going to reread it now after reading your post!

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