As a coach and consultant who spends a lot of her time helping small business owners improve their businesses, I sometimes find myself having to put them on a fast from purchasing and reading business books.
Heck, I’ve even put myself on a fast from reading business books! I’m actually coming out of one now. After a self-imposed fast of about eight months, I’m just now getting around to reading some business books I’ve been collecting on my Kindle app.
Why You May Need to Fast From Reading Business Books
It may sound strange to hear me say that sometimes we just need to stop reading business books for a while, especially after I’ve written about the importance of continuing education for business owners.
But, the reality is, sometimes it’s just too much. Just like we can burn out from too much work, we can also burn out from too much learning.
Don’t get me wrong, learning is important and we’ll never know everything there is to know about running a business. However, there are instances in which reading business books is just getting in the way of your progress.
There may come a time when you need to get your head out of a book and start taking some action. Here are some obvious signs that it may be time to put yourself on a self-imposed fast from reading so many business books.
You’re having a hard time retaining all the information.
Look, I like to read. I also happen to like a challenge. Combine these two attributes and sometimes I’m cramming four books a month into my brain.
This is fine if you can actually retain the information, but if you’re reading just for the sake of reading and can’t even remember the information in the books, it may be time for a break so you can actually integrate.
You’re using “research” as an excuse.
I’ve worked with many coaching clients who get stuck in the “research” phase of running a business.
They’ll spend hours upon hours researching the perfect way to write ad copy or the perfect way to host a webinar, but they won’t actually ever get around to writing the copy or hosting the webinar.
Instead, they’ll find some other book and keep reading about ads and webinars in the hopes of finding the perfect answer.
First off, there is no perfect answer. While there are strategies and tactics that have been proven to work over time, different things work for different people. It’s going to require action and experimentation on your part to see what works for you.
Second, endless research in pursuit of the perfect answer is just a form of procrastination. I would even venture to say it’s a person’s way of avoiding the work because they don’t want to put it out there out of fear that it won’t be good enough.
That’s right. People use “research” as an excuse to avoid any actual work because they are afraid of being criticized or failing. So instead, they call research “work” when in reality, it’s just research.
Your judgment is being clouded by too many opinions.
Another surefire sign that’s time to take a fast from reading so many business books is when your own judgment is being clouded by too many opinions. Opinions that, quite frankly, probably arose during your pursuit to find the perfect answer to your business problem.
This is partially why I took a break from reading business books. I had so many differing opinions from so many people that I was having a hard time figuring out what works best for my business.
The truth is none of these people know my business better than I do. It’s up to me to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes, that looks like taking a break from reading about what other people think I should do.
You’re too overwhelmed.
If reading multiple business books is causing you to feel overwhelmed, it’s probably time to take a break.
In my case, overwhelm looked like so many options to try and not enough time. Should I run a challenge to build my list? Or, should I just do evergreen webinars? Should I focus on membership site sales or getting two more retainer consulting clients to reach my income goal?
As much as we’d like to do everything we’re learning about at the same time, it rarely ever works out. Trust me. Additionally, overwhelm can just stop you dead in your tracks because the task seems so insanely huge.
The moment I realized I had no idea which step to take next because I felt like there were way too many options, I stopped reading business books. From there I was able to choose the path of least resistance because I was no longer being influenced by the next great marketing technique or tactic.
You’re not really implementing what you learn.
If you don’t have time to implement what you’re learning because your head is always in another book, then it’s time to take a fast from business books.
This is slightly different than avoiding work out of some sort of fear, because some of us really just have an insatiable appetite for learning new things.
The problem is when your appetite for learning Is getting in the way of implementing. For example, I’ve known about Evergreen webinars for a while but just never got around to doing it because I was always reading about some new marketing and sales technique.
To combat this from happening again, I’ve given myself limits. I can start reading books again (such as Russel Brunsun’s books), but I have to actually implement as I go. In fact, I’m not allowed to move on to the next book until I’ve implemented.
This means I may be reading two business books a quarter instead of four a month, but if that means the work actually gets done then I’m find with it.
While continuing education in the form of business books is a great way to keep growing your business, sometimes we use these tools to get in our own way. If you’re noticing any of these signs in your own life, it may be time to back away from the books for a while.