I can claim to know a great deal about personal development. Just from reading books in this field, I've easily consumed more than 100 million words of other people's content. However, most of that knowledge is useless to me. I've surely forgotten the majority of it, and the parts that I do remember are resting in the back of my brain somewhere, largely unused on a day to day basis.
Similarly, I can claim to have many friends and contacts in this field. But most of those connections are useless to me when it comes to my daily reality.
And lastly, I can claim to have done a lot of work on myself. But for the most part, that work involved a lot of trial and error to figure out what works and what doesn't, so the results were more educational than tangible.
What actually generates tangible results is when I regularly and consistently apply what I believe will make a difference in my life. Only when I take action do I see real world results that I can measure.
Here are some things that I know make a positive difference for me:
- Get up at 5am, 7 days a week
- Exercise first thing in the morning while listening to audio books
- Do high value tasks at the start of each workday, and delay routine items till the afternoon
- Eat at least 90% raw vegan foods
- Maintain a clean and uncluttered workspace
- At the end of a workday, write a to-do list for the next day
- Visualize my goals/intentions at least once a day
- Read during the last hour before bed
Take note that knowing about these practices does not generate results. Nor does writing or talking about them. Nor does thinking about someday doing them.
What generates results is actually, physically doing them — consistently.
That sounds obvious of course, and yet this is a place where people fail again and again.
If you keep reading about personal growth, listening to audio programs, going to workshops, etc., but you don't apply what you already believe will make a difference for you, then you're just spinning your wheels. At best you're getting some entertainment value from the material you're absorbing, but otherwise you're wasting your time.
The whole point of absorbing new information on personal growth is for you to apply what you learn so that you can achieve better results than you're getting now. Better results may mean being able to earn more money with less time and effort, to increase your body's physical fitness, or to enter into a new relationship.
Sometimes better results are very simple. Having a clean home is a better result. Feeling more relaxed is a better result. Getting a date is a better result.
If you're learning a great deal, but you aren't seeing tangible improvements in your results year after year, you're doing it wrong. You might as well be playing video games instead of studying personal growth.
More information won't help you if you aren't doing a good job of applying what you already know.
This morning I got up at 5am. By 5:10am I was in the car on the way to the gym. At 5:20 I started my workout. I did 60 minutes on the elliptical machine, burning 750 calories. Then I walked around the track for a mile, which burned another 100 calories. During all of that time, I listened to an audio book on time management. I drove home from the gym feeling refreshed and motivated.
When I got home, I showered, shaved, got dressed, and made a fruit smoothie for breakfast: 4 bananas, 2 cups spinach, 2 cups blackberries, maca, ice. I talked briefly with Rachelle and took the smoothie to my desk, starting my workday at around 7:30am. Immediately I began working on this newsletter, wanting to finish it and send it off by 9:30am, when I have to leave to meet a friend.
Now this is all well and good, but what are the actual results? First, I burned off 850 calories at the gym. If I keep up this routine, I'll get leaner. That's tangible and measurable. I can see the difference in the mirror and on the scale. Also, I can feel the difference from the metabolic boost and the endorphin release. I feel happy, I have lots of energy, and I'm motivated to work. Compare that with the results I'd get from sleeping in late, eating a crappy breakfast, and getting off to a sluggish start.
Another result is that I was able to create and send out this newsletter this morning. That's also tangible and measurable. Every time I send out a newsletter, it generates extra income. It drives more traffic to my website, and some of that traffic funnels into income sources. Other people benefit too. I'm sure some people will sign up for CGW after receiving this newsletter, and that's an experience that will probably send their lives in a positive new direction. But those kinds of effects are just predictions at this point. The tangible difference is that you're reading this right now. If I didn't take action, you wouldn't be seeing this at all.
What about listening to the audio book at the gym? That hasn't generated any tangible results today, but if I gain one good idea and apply it, it could pay off. But listening to such material does help me feel more motivated, and when I'm more motivated, I usually get more work done. So this practice can help, but the benefits are usually indirect. The nice thing is that it didn't take me any more time to listen to an audio book while exercising.
Now if I continue with these types of habits and actions for many more weeks and months, I'll be able to see the benefits quite clearly. My body will continue to get leaner. I'll earn more money and see my bank balance go up faster. I'll see more people in the audience at the October CGW. I'll write more blog posts. The gains aren't just wishful thinking — they can be measured.
For the most part, the practices that work really well are simple. You can read many books on fancy techniques and systems, but they'll do you no good if you can't apply them consistently.
So let's drop the fancy stuff for now. Let's get back to basics. What practices do you truly believe will make a difference for you in terms of results that you can see?
What would happen if you started getting up at the same time every morning, 7 days a week?
What would happen if you did a vigorous workout first thing every morning?
What would happen if you kept your desk clean and uncluttered for 30 days straight?
What would happen if you consciously procrastinated on email and web surfing until the final hour of each workday?
Now think about where you'd be if you applied your own best practices consistently for several years...
Would you have a nicer body? Would you earn more money? Would you enjoy better relationships? All of these and more?
Perhaps it's time to switch from learning mode to application mode. Surely you've learned plenty that you aren't consistently applying. Disengage from the Internet for a while, and put at least one of these best practices into action, starting today. Don't kid yourself that you'll do it tomorrow. Right now is the only time there is.