Are self-help books for millennials?

Are self-help books for millennials?

I started reading Ikigai recently, and found myself trying hard to flip through the pages beyond a point of time. And Ikigai is a critically acclaimed book and a well-proven and effective concept for self-help. So I felt guilty and discussed this with a few friends. And I realised that millennials either loved the book or found it pointless. There was no middle ground.

This applies more widely to the genre of self-help books. There is enough research that says millennials are obsessed about self-help. But then the most common trait among millennials is impatience. And in most cases it is very difficult for these two to tango. One of these two characteristics end up dominating the other for an individual and helps define which camp you are in.

Self-Help industry is booming due to millennials

The self-help industry is worth about $10 billion per year in the U.S. alone. It’s also expected to see 5.6% average yearly gains until 2022 when the market should be worth $13.2 billion. Millennials consistently feel the need to improve and make resolutions. And this is why they are taking the lead in expanding this market.

Recent studies showed that while Boomers said they’d spend an average of $152 a month on self-improvement, millennials anticipated spending nearly twice that—though our average income is half as much. This goes all the way from eating healthy to life coaching and therapy. Books are a not so big part of this spend though.

But, is it helping them?

“If you’re looking for self-help, why would you read a book by someone else?” 

George Carlin

 Self-help often takes its own due time to show results. Incorporating what you learn into life takes a while and for the new habits to show an impact is another long journey. For a generation known for impatience, how effective are these books really?

Add to that, constant reminders and nudges on social media make it harder for us to take a step back and allow slow recovery. The self-industry itself is caught in a Catch-22 situation. It teaches you how to achieve your goal, but depends on your failure to do so. And self-help books often speak the same language with minor twists, that are often individual-oriented.

Is there a healthy middle ground?

I don’t think there is. Self-help books need patience to read and time to digest the key message. And to inculcate that in life on a consistent basis is a journey of its own.

However, the broader discussion of balancing impatience with the desire to improve can have a middle ground. Maybe some small gains and a consistent positive feedback of results can help strengthen one’s urge to improve. And that can eventually allow us to invest more in personal aspects that take longer.

Talking about small gains, think I am going to start with daily meditation now, and maybe one day I can get back to reading Ikigai!