Self-help is a $11 billion dollar industry (including books, CDs, seminars, coaching and stress management programs) that continues to evolve.
The hottest growth areas in 2008-2009 were “holistic institutes” (e.g., Deepak Chopra’s centers) and “training” companies like Dale Carnegie Training (author of How to Win Friends and Influence People).
From 2010 to 2012 research by Daniel Gilbert ushered happiness into vogue. He created an iPhone app to collect data called TrackYourHappiness and wrote a book called Stumbling on Happiness. Shortly thereafter, happiness was all the rage, with books like The Happiness Project making Gilbert’s research even more mainstream.
Now the current wave of self-help, at least for the college-educated set, is centered on behavior change and in particular, habit change. In the last year dozens of books have been published on the subject. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg is perhaps the best known.
It’s an area that has also captured the attention of Silicon Valley. Leading the thinking on this front is Stanford Professor BJ Fogg. His research on how to create positive habits can be seen in several new technology start-ups and mobile apps focused on change, many designed as goal setting apps.
At the same time, self-help has found its way to television. Today, there are approximately 60 television shows on major networks and cable stations focused on self-help in some form – whether that be getting your dog to behave or stopping excessive drinking.
While leading research and information about current self-help concepts are making their way into books and early technologies, they are missing in media. On the other side, the impact of current research is limited, for the most part, to the reach of sometimes very academic non-fiction books and small groups of app users. To create the greatest impact information, technology and entertainment must come together.
I’m starting to see work in that direction. Question is, will the combination improve the self-improvement industry?