This took me a long time to figure out. Do you ever notice that millions of books are sold on the subject of self-help, improving our lives, financial management, and being happier in general? Why are there bestsellers every single year in these categories? There is a TON of knowledge out there for our consumption. We are aiming for habit change. It is the every day habits that produce long-term change. How can we change those habits? We have to do something different. Reading another book is not doing anything different. How do we overcome the inertia of information overload?
Reading and Not Changing
Maybe you are somewhat like me and love to read a lot. After all, we have to start somewhere down the self-improvement path so why not read a good book of instructions to guide the way. The problem is that 90% of the time we stop after consuming the knowledge. Why? Why do we read all of this good content and then cease to take action? This is the crux of the problem.
The only real change is going to come about from modifying our behavior. There are many sets of instructions to set us upon a path of brilliantly efficient improvement. Do we reach our goals by reading books and not acting? No, most of the time we’re just becoming a little more informed. Maybe the next time you’re reading something, surfing the internet or watching a movie, you can ask yourself, “what action could I take right now to move me a little closer towards my life goals?” Get in the “habit” of questioning yourself throughout the day and discovering ways to take just a little more action towards goals. This is real change. This is fun. This gives us a real sense of accomplishment. Do think there would be so many best-selling books in these categories if people actually got moving towards their goals with real results?
The Torture of Wealthy Knowledge and Little Results
This brings me to another point worth making. I would argue that gaining a vast amount of knowledge without taking the succeeding steps to enact that knowledge and achieve real goals is a form of torture. I’d rather be blissfully ignorant than have a vast storehouse of wisdom and knowledge while not using it. What a waste! What a waste of life and potential! Lets not be on our deathbeds knowing what we “could” have accomplished. Lets not be on our deathbeds knowing so much and achieved so little. Maybe this is why so many academics look miserable! What small action can you take right now?
Action Can Be Tiny and Still Produce Results
The exciting fact to realize about action is that taking small amounts of action will do just fine. In other words, maybe we don’t take a lot of action after learning something because our own minds have us convinced that taking action would be “painful” or bring us out of our comfort zone? Could that be the case? I believe that is the case. Don’t buy into the B.S. inside your head. Better yet, from this day forward, just realize that it is in fact, B.S. It is a LIE. If we realize that most stories circulating in our heads are B.S. then we can start to question those stories and understand that taking action is not as risky as the portrayed story in our heads.
We do not have to make great leaps in a single bound towards our goals. Just completing a small task in the right direction increases our self-esteem and it immediately provides fuel to keep going. It “feels good” to accomplish small tasks. When we chunk our goals into small bite-size pieces like this, we feel more at ease and can trust the process towards achievement.
In Summary about Knowledge and Habit Change
The purpose of this post is to make you more aware of your daily actions. Is reading the book in your hands really going to accomplish your goals? What would be a better use of your time? As a Coach, I’m working to produce habit change in people like you. To accomplish real change in others, I constantly have to remind myself that people are not receptive to large behavioral change patterns. You get real, lasting results by focusing on small changes of behavior, which is not the same thing as acquiring more knowledge.
We call this the “information age” with the advent of the Internet, but is it really making our lives any better? Is it producing real, lasting change for most of us? Will reading another news article be as advantageous as taking a 30 minute brisk walk? No, it won’t. Will watching Fox News or CNN for an hour benefit us more than preparing a simple, healthy meal in our homes? No, of course not. So just become more aware of your daily pattern. Are you acquiring more knowledge or taking action?