How many of you have read book after book after book in personal development wanting to make a positive change in your life but… your life hasn’t changed at all? You’re still stuck in your dead end job, you haven’t started exercising, you haven’t lost weight; basically you haven’t reached any of the goals you set when you started reading the books. Nothing has changed.
I have been reading personal development books since my teens. That’s almost 30 years of acquiring knowledge from authors who have shared valuable lessons on how to make positive changes in life.
I consider myself to be a passionate knowledge seeker. Whilst books have been my main source of learning, in the past few years, I’ve also invested a lot of time and money on courses to expand my knowledge and to better myself in any way possible. I’ve read and taken a variety of courses from coaching, productivity, online business, website building, and whatever else I feel like learning and wanting to improve in my life.
You’d think that having dedicated a lot of time and money to reading and learning from books and all the courses I took, would have meant I made a life-altering change. I’m not saying that my commitment to learning was a complete waste of effort. I have learned a lot and I believe I am a more knowledgeable person today than I was yesterday but what I’ve also come to realize is, the changes were not big enough to make a difference.
The reality is most of us read personal development books would be in awe with some of the knowledge shared by the various authors we read from but a few weeks later, we would completely forget what we read and go back to life as it was.
Here’s the thing that I have come to realize quite recently in the past couple of years; acquiring knowledge is a good and noble pursuit but acquiring knowledge without taking consistent action to make a positive change means absolutely nothing.
With this realisation, I started implementing simple practices a few years ago that has helped me make positive changes in my life. Here are some tips on how to take action from the knowledge gained specifically from reading personal development books.
1. Pick the Right Books
Be clear with what your objectives are when picking up a personal development book. Is it just to gain general knowledge? Or do you have a specific concern that you want to overcome? For example, are you looking to improve how you manage your time, or are you looking to learn how to manage anxiety, or do you want to implement a new habit in your daily routine?
Whatever your objectives are, be clear about them. Look for books in the area you want to improve. Don’t just read one book, read a few from different authors so that you get different points of view and techniques that you can test.
2. Highlight, Summarise and Notate
When reading a book, always have a pen and highlighter ready so that you can highlight important points from the book. Then summarise each chapter in your own words so that you have a deeper understanding of the authors main message.
Write down important action points or techniques that you think would be beneficial to you or that you could implement to make the change you want in your life.
If you’re not one to write in your books, you can always use a small notebook to write in or use a digital notebook to capture your thoughts.
I use Evernote as my commonplace notebook to capture all my thoughts and learnings from whatever source I get them from.
3. Review Your Notes and Summaries
Once you’re done reading the book, go through the book again but this time read the pointers you’ve highlighted and the notes you’ve written so that you have a deeper understanding of the books main message.
Take some time to go through your reading notes, slowly digest the knowledge you’ve acquired and identify important techniques or lessons you’d like to remember and implement.
4. Take Action
This is the most important step; pick the techniques that you want to adopt or implement in your life to achieve whatever it is you’ve set upon to achieve when you started reading the books.
Put the learnings into practise consistently until it becomes a habit.
Remember to take small steps to implement a new habit or practice in your life. Break and create action points from the book you’re reading into smaller actionable tasks and then slowly implement the action points into your daily schedule. Make it a part of your to-do list or habit implementation list.
Tips to remember when reading personal development books to make a specific change in your life:
- Read the same themed books so that you can learn and test various concepts or techniques and adapt it if necessary so that it works for you.
- One thing I’ve come to realize is, there are many different techniques to improving yourself so it’s best to continue to test techniques and methods and adopt the best practices that suit you best to help you move forward in life.
- Don’t give up! Take consistent action until you’ve finally achieved your goal.