How to Actually Use What You’ve Learned

less-is-more

I gave a presentation today and at the end of it I got a great question from a new friend in the audience: How do you maintain your motivation and actually use the new information you learned to create your best life?

We had a good conversation about that, and as I drove home I started listening to an audiobook that addressed the exact same question. I don’t believe in coincidences, so my ears really perked up.

Here’s what I got out of my drive home:

Have you ever read a great personal development book, or listened to an audiobook, or attended a seminar, gotten fired up about changing your life and reaching new goals, only to have the feeling fizzle?

Then, you’re off to read the next book and the cycle repeats itself? This happens to me sometimes, how about you?

When we get great information, why don’t we use it to change our behavior and our lives?

I think it’s because that can be a hard thing to do. It’s easier for us to read a book, or listen to a podcast, or attend some training, than it is to implement what we’ve learned.

I love what Ken Blanchard and Paul Meyer say in their book, Know Can Do! Put Your Know-How Into Action. Once you’ve got some good knowledge, you need to integrate it into your behavior and life before you move on to the next thing. Otherwise, you end up in information overload territory.

Imagine getting a golf lesson and the pro explains how to fix ten problems with your swing. How do you think your next round of golf is going to go? There is no way you are going to be able to remember and implement all the suggestions. You are probably going to end up getting frustrated, playing worse, and then giving up changing your swing at all.

Instead, how about learning less, but really learning it. The idea is to take a couple pieces of great information, or ONE book, learn it through spaced repetition and use it in your life. Once you’ve integrated it into your daily routine, then you’re ready to learn something new.

Learn less, more.

To continue with the golf analogy: Work on one or two fixes to your swing. Get those down really well, and then move on to the next fix.

Or, say you just picked up a new book and the information in it resonated with you. Here’s how you really learn it over spaced repetition: Read the book through once. Read it through a second time, underlining the compelling points. Read it a third time and take notes on the “aha moments” that leap out at you. Read it a fourth time with an accountability partner who keeps you on track to actually implement the ideas from the book into your life. Finally, teach the ideas to someone else.

If you do all that, you really know the material, in theory and in practice. That makes a lot more sense to me than getting a superficial knowledge and then moving on to the next shiny thing.

What do you think?

Let’s GO!

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