We read all the self-improvement books, articles, blogs, listen to lectures, attend seminars, but sometimes we don’t see the results that were promised!
In a quest for reading “X” amount of books, all too often our goal becomes to finish one book so we can move on to the next. Knowing what to do is not the same as doing what you know. The difference is results.
Here are the 5 steps I follow to implement what I learn:
1) Ask this question: Why am I reading this in the first place.
My Goal setting is quarterly based. I have my one-year goals split into 4 Quarterly goals, split into 2 professional and 2 personal goals per quarter. Each quarter, I review my goals and then I decide what skills I need to learn to achieve my goals.
Based on this – I decide on the materials that I should read. Sometimes there might be a specific skill I want to learn. It might be to – improve my writing or to learn more about social media. Or someone I know is having a problem – say low self-esteem, and I want to learn more about the area of self-esteem, so I can help them with the issue.
Approach the material with a result in mind.
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2) Three Best Ideas from the book, Take One Best Idea
You don’t need to implement everything suggested in the book. Write down the 3 best ideas you want to implement. Then – take one idea you want to implement this week.
If all you did was to implement, measure, and review and improve upon one idea from every book you read, your results would improve dramatically. I think you would be surprised how little impact all your learning has had on your life up until now.
3) I follow a”5:3:1” rule – 5 Books, 3 audio books, 1 live seminar
My System is: per quarter, I read 5 books, listen to 3 audio books, and attend 1 live seminar.
• Books Strategy: Underline, circle, take notes, write on the side and backside of the page, and write “amazing take away gems”! Take three Best Ideas from the books; one to implement this week.
• Audio Books: I prefer to listen to audio programs during my commute time. I load all CD’s to my car audio system and listen to the whole program five to six times. Repetitive listening helps to imprint what I learn – to my mind. Take the best three ideas from the program and one to implement this week.
• Live Seminar: This could be a weekend seminar, or a class you take on a subject. A live seminar helps you to be “in-person” with like-minded people in a room full of vibrant energy – actively doing exercises and assignments.
You can do the same for live seminar study as well – three best ideas, one idea to implement immediately.
• Article study: In social networks (Facebook, twitter, etc), newsletters, or random browsing, I regularly come across good self improvement articles. After I read it once I ask what is the one thing that I can implement, out of it and then I make a note of it. Then I save the article for future reading (One good website to save links is delicious.com).
• Lectures/Talks: Take active notes for the session and save the notes to your journal. Strategy: Same as above – 3 best ideas, one to implement this week.
4) Knowledge Bank
You need to have a placeholder for all the information you gather. This is your knowledge bank. All my best ideas, gems, success thoughts go to my knowledge bank. You can maintain it via Google docs, or a word document (I have my knowledge bank as a blog whose website address is known only to me!)
Since I categories my journal based on topics – ex. Leadership, Worship, Physical fitness, Book Gems, Article Gems, etc., my knowledge bank comes in handy when I want to review the things I learned. I also refer to my knowledge bank when I want ideas for my next article!
5) Review the Results of Your “Idea” Implementation
When you pick one idea that you are going to implement this week, write down what it is and also pick a time for you to review it one week later.
It is very important to have a fixed time to review your results based on the idea you implemented. Did it work? How much I improved compared to last week. What other skills do I need in addition to this? And then – make your self-improvement plan accordingly.
At the end of the day/month/year/life – what will matter is not how much we learned, but how much action we took from what we learned.
Take action on what you learn, and soon you will start making an impact – in your life and in the lives of those around you, Insha Allah.