Five-step plan to turn your reading into actions to improve your life

 In Blog

I absolutely love reading personal development books. It’s a great way to download some amazing ideas and processes that can represent another person’s life work in one handy easy-to-consume format.

When you start tuning into the leaders in personal development (Tony Robbins, Tim Ferriss and many, many more), you find that their approach has been to systematically learn from the best. They find the best people out there in all sorts of disciplines and try to deconstruct what they do and figure out how to apply it to become better themselves and to help their audience to do the same. Reading books is one way to do that.

I used to feel embarrassed to be seen in what they term ‘The Self-Help’ aisle in the bookstore. But more and more I’ve come to realise that helping yourself to become the best version of you that you possibly can be should be our life goal. This isn’t just a selfish view. If you’re the best version of yourself that you can be then it’s going to benefit those around you as well.

I’ve read so many of these types of books and usually am able to take all sorts of inspirational messages from them as well as actionable advice.

But reading them isn’t enough. The key when reading these books isn’t just to take in the knowledge and then move on. You have to transform those insights into action in order to get any benefit.

The Five-Step Guide for putting your insights from reading books into action

My usual process is to read my books on a kindle but this works with paperbacks too.

  1. Highlight key sections whilst you read (I use the colour coding for how I want to use the different types of information).
  2. Write down any key thoughts or flashes of inspiration that hit whilst you’re reading. I note them down in my ‘Book Tracker’. For me, that’s a Goodnotes app on my iPad Pro as it’s always with me and easy to use handwriting rather than dig my computer out to get to Evernote. But you can also do it in an app like Evernote, or of course a dedicated notebook or journal.
  3. Review. This is the step that is often missed. Once I’ve finished a book I spend some time going through the highlights in the book and my book tracker page and collating those thoughts and ideas. This is a useful process in itself to consolidate the thoughts you’ve had whilst reading the book.
  4. The key then is to move those thoughts and ideas into the right place so you can process them and put them into practice.
    • Things you want to put into practice now, add to your bullet journal or list system (more on that in future blogs) and action them for the day or week that you want to start.
    • Longer-term goals or ideas you have should go into your goals tracker and/or vision board (again, more on those in a future blog). And if it’s something you want to take action on in the near future, you should take the time to break each of those ideas down into actions that need to be taken to get to that goal and move them into your bullet journal / to do lists and calendar.
    • Any nice ideas or quotes you like but have no immediate use for… decide if they will be of use for inspiration, motivation or ideas in future, and if they are put them into another notebook of quotes and ideas (I use Evernote for this purpose). Again, you’ve got to make sure you do something with these, so I set a reminder to review every quarter and move any out into actions when ready or just remind myself of the quotes of others.
  5. Take action! Now the information is in the right places, you should have your biggest insights from your latest read on your to do list and you can benefit from it properly by putting it into action.

How do you turn your insights from books you read into actions? Let me know in the comments below.

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