If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably spent a fair bit of money on books, ebooks and course materials over the years.
You probably get a little giddy when you pick up a new book or sign up for an online course. You’re sure that you’re going to finally do something great.
The problem is, reading isn’t going to get you anywhere. You need to put what you read into action.
And that, for most of us, is the tough part.
Here’s how to put that learned information into practice:
#1: Keep a Reading Journal
When you finish a book, you probably put it straight back on the shelf. You might remember one or two key points, or recommend it to a friend – you might even re-read after a few months. But you don’t necessarily use what you’ve learned.
A reading journal gives you a space to reflect on books, while you’re reading them and after you’ve finished. You can use your journal to:
Jot down ideas that were new to you
Copy out any key sentences – especially any inspiring ones
Describe what you thought or felt about the book
Record any “aha” moments that occurred while reading
I enjoy using my Livescribe wifi pen because it allows me the extra help in remembering things by the physical art of writing and provides the tech side of syncing wirelessly to my Evernote. Evernote is my electronic brain.
#2: Decide on Action Items
Unless you’re engaged in academic study, you’re probably not reading for the sake of absorbing information. You’re reading because you want to do something.
Next time you finish a chapter of your book, or read a great blog post or magazine article, decide on one action that you could take as a result. Write it on your to-do list (I like todoist as my to do list builder) or move it to Evernote.
One small to-do item might not seem like anything worthwhile – but if you have one action per chapter, or one per article, then you’ll soon be making far faster progress than if you’d just read that material.
#3: Take a Real-Life Course
Online courses like those from Lynda.com are great for many reasons: they’re often cheap, you can take part from anywhere with an internet connection, and lessons will normally be recorded so that you don’t even have to show up at a particular time.
The drawback to this is that you may well find yourself signing up for courses, attending one lesson, and then drifting away.
#4: Form a Group
If you’ve got a couple of friends who’re working on a similar goal to you, get together with them and form a mastermind group. Get hold of copies of a good book/e-book/self-study course, and agree to read a certain amount each week.
Every week (or every couple of weeks), get together – face-to-face or on a video conference – and discuss what you’ve read. Make sure that every member states a specific action that they’re going to take during the next week.
When you meet again, start with a check-in so that members can report back on whether they achieved the goals that they set for themselves.
Having the support of like-minded friends – and a sense of accountability to them – will help you meet your goals faster.