Self-help books. I think these are great. They make the people who write them a lot of money, and they are usually pretty funny. It’s a winning concept: give people with problems they’ve put off tackling a good reason to sit around and put them off a bit longer: a book (sometimes with exercises – written, obviously, not circuit training, although . . .). I’ve had the fortune to be sent a fair few of these eat-frog-move-cheese-power-of-intention-chicken-soup manuals and they’ve inspired me. Yes, I’m going to write a self-help book, though not right now. At some point. Probably. I can see that this would be very self-helpful indeed.
For people who aren’t sufficiently motivated to read a book, or turn their heads slightly away from the screen, there are webinars (‘Learn how to overcome procrastination and start achieving with this free online training session and video’). It’s like shooting fish in a barrel – and it makes people happy.
Anyway, to offset the onset of atrophy and get on with something, I’m speed-reading a few of the classics. I’m looking for words that tell me to throw everything to the wind and set off on a hare-brained adventure because that’s what I want to do, but with the rain and the whole packing thing, can’t be bothered to do. For three months now, friends have been saying ‘yeah,yeah, do it’ each time I tell them I’m going to abandon job, flat and the majority of my clothes to travel the world and the seven seas with nothing but a hatbox and iPhone for years and years and years, but usually after a few pints in the smokers’ alley behind the Welsh Harp and I’m not entirely sure they’re taking me seriously.
I strike gold with The Success Principles by Jack Canfield, subtitle ‘How To Get From Where You Are To Where You Want To Be’. Ah yes. I’m sure Jack – I hope he doesn’t mind me calling him Jack – won’t mind too much if I share a few of his quotes. To paraphrase: I fear the fear but I’ll do it anyway.
Jack says ‘Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself’ (which means turning off Radio 4) and find your ‘inner GPS’. Get a clear picture of what it is you actually want, and go for it. Just picturing your ideal life brings it nearer to you. Jack’s got back-up on that one from Albert Einstein: ‘Imagination is everything – it is the preview of life’s coming attractions’. I wrote an entire novel that had a suspiciously similar quote by George Bernard Shaw at its core: ‘Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.’ Ironically it was rejected by everyone.
After some other stuff about having a dream and fulfilment and visualising a pool, a wine cellar, big dog and pile of cash (actually, that was me), Jack cuts to the chase and says get going: ‘just lean into it’, ’embrace change’, ‘feel the fear’ etc. Again, he’s got back up, this time from Martin Luther King (‘take the first step in faith’) and some eastern philosopher saying you can’t cross the sea by staring at the water. That is true. I’d have a think about where I want to go and look on Skyscanner if it wasn’t time for the pub.