3 Ways To Turn Knowledge Into Action - Deepstash

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The Journey of Self Improvement

Do you read a lot of self-help books? Do you watch self-improvement videos frequently to learn how you can better yourself?

If you do, one difficulty you’d undoubtedly face on this journey is ‘actionability’ — that is, taking action and applying new knowledge you’ve learned to better yourself.

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You see…

Knowledge is not power.

Knowledge is POTENTIAL power.

If you don’t use your knowledge in some way, shape, or form, it is innately worthless.

Yes. Knowledge is worthless if you don’t tap on them.

LYE JIA JUN

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How Do We Turn Knowledge Into Power?

So what’s stopping us from taking action on our knowledge? Well… there are a couple of reasons. Let’s explore.

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Problem #1 — We THINK we HAVE TO make really big changes

  • We often think that big changes are necessary for us to grow.
  • However, big changes require a lot of work. 
  • If you put yourself in a position where you can easily get overwhelmed by the large amount of work, you’d very likely give up.

Example:

  • You want to start meditating to clear your mind.
  • You set a goal to meditate every day for 30 minutes.
  • However, the large time commitment quickly overwhelms you and you give up on meditation altogether.

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Solution #1 — Focus on making REALLY small sustainable changes

The solution to this problem requires a mindset shift. 

  • Understand that small changes are enough.
  • Oftentimes the change you need is SMALLER than you think.
  • Starting small makes it mentally easy for you to get started.
  • You can ALWAYS ramp up your efforts as time passes.

These little bits of effort will add up in the long run.

Consider This:

  • Start by meditating for 3 minutes twice a week.
  • Once you start to notice the benefits, you can slowly ramp up your meditation frequency and duration.
  • It’s much easier for you to pick up the habit of meditation this way.

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Problem #2 — We don’t have a clear plan

Here’s a great example.

  • Bob and Alice are both trying to become healthier.
  • Bob says that he will “try to become healthier this year”.
  • Alice says that she will run 3 times a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, from 8 am to 9 am.

Who do you think is more likely to accomplish their goal?

They say that “ambiguity is the mother of procrastination” and that couldn’t be closer to the truth.

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Solution #2 — Make a plan and be specific

To eliminate ambiguity, you need a plan.

In general, the more specific and the more clear you are about your plan the better.

  • What’s the first task you will tackle when you wake up? 
  • How long will you spend on your afternoon workout? 
  • Where will you do your evening meditation?

The goal is to turn your desired outcomes into a series of very clear behaviors.

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Problem #3 — We don’t remember to do it

There are many golden nuggets of wisdom in self-help books and yet we struggle to remember most of them.

Even if we somehow remember the lessons vaguely, we fail to act on them at the right times.

A lesson about leadership may only be relevant when you are in a leadership position. However, you get so overwhelmed while leading that you fail to use the leadership tips you learned in a book.

Your breathing exercises will only come in handy when you’re in high-pressure situations. However, when you’re stressed, you fail to remember the breathing exercises that are supposed to calm you down.

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Solution #3 — Take notes and set triggers to remind you

The first thing you need to do is realize the fallibility of human memory.

  • To remember the lessons from self-help books, you NEED to take notes.
  • Taking notes not only helps you to remember key ideas from books you’ve read, but it also saves you the time from flipping through the book to search for ideas you vaguely remember. 

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Solution #3 (continue)

After keeping track of these valuable lessons, you’d want to set some triggers to prompt yourself to take action on them.

A trigger is any stimulus that influences behaviors (similar to a cue)

  • Time-based trigger: It’s 7 am — my alarm rang so I will get up to head for work
  • Location-based trigger: I passed by the park so I will slow down, try to be more present, and take deep breaths to relieve my pressure
  • Emotional State Trigger: I feel stressed so I will sit down and meditate

Ultimately, writing notes allows you to track your knowledge, and setting triggers reminds you to take action on them.

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To end off, I'd like to leave you with a quote

"Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do."

I hope you found some value in these writings. Take care and I'll catch you in my next writing! Cheers.

JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE

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CURATED BY

lyejiajun

Learner. Writer. Leader. I'm a tech enthusiast and love all-things productivity. 🚀🚀

Struggling to take action on what I’ve learned is something that’s very close to my heart. I sometimes wonder about the purpose of reading a whole self-help book if I fail to act on my newfound knowledge. If this resonates with you, I am positive that this article will bring great value. Have a read!

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