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How to Be Smart About How You Use Personal Development Information


Image by Davide Restivo (license).

[hana-code-insert name=’social w twitt face’ /]“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
Chinese proverb

“Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own.”
Bruce Lee

”Make it thy business to know thyself, which is the most difficult lesson in the world.”
Miguel de Cervantes

Personal development books, blogs, videos and audio programs can be truly wonderful. Some of them have helped me to change my in life in small and bigger ways.

Over the years I have also a picked up on a few insights that help me to use personal development information in a smarter and more helpful way.

I’d like to share a few of those insights and tips below. I hope you’ll get something good out of them.

Use your own common sense.

It’s easy to be drawn into thinking that gurus or teachers know everything. But a book or blog can’t know or understand exactly what you dream about and all the positive and negative experiences you have been through. No one can know you better than you know yourself.

So it is important to use your own common sense with any advice you are given. Sometimes it may mean that you rely on what someone knows and so you take a leap of faith. Sometimes it may mean that you recognize after you have tried it that something does not live up to the grandiose hype but still has useful things to offer. Sometimes it may mean to dismiss something because it just doesn’t sound right or simply doesn’t work for you even though you have tried it five or ten times.

Friends and family that aren’t that into personal development can be a voice of common sense. They can ground you if you become a little too lost in theories. So listen to them. But of course, use your common sense here too. Don’t listen to voices close to you that are always negative about just about everything.

Be the highest authority in your own life. Be your own guru.

Stay with it longer than you may have hoped for.

I think it took me four tries to establish a workout routine that stuck. It is common to have to start things over a few times before they really stick.

So things may take longer than you hoped for. Life is most often messier than the plan you had. Don’t let that stop you. Be patient, learn from your mistakes and keep moving.

If something doesn’t work dust yourself off and try something else.

Some things may work well for me to keep in shape or to keep procrastination at bay. But it may not work as well or very well at all for you. We are all different and there is seldom one solution that fits all.

I recommend using the advice from Bruce Lee at the start of this article and finding what works and fits you the best. Find just one, two or three tips that really work for you to avoid procrastination or to stay motivated. And then you can let go of the other stuff that you have tried.

Do to understand. Spend more time on using what you have learned by taking small steps forward.

Don’t hang around on blogs or online forums all day. Don’t get stuck in just reading more and more books about a topic.

Use most of the free time you have for experiences, no matter how small they are. Because you gain experience, confidence in yourself and real results by doing things. Not by overreading, overthinking things or having endless theoretical discussions.

Focus on spending 20% of the time you have for personal development on learning through books and blogs.

And then use 80% of your personal development time on taking small steps forward, on changing small and bigger habits step by step over days, weeks and months.

Reinforce what you want to be doing.

Maybe it’s just me but I sometimes have a tendency to forget what I want to do. It easily gets lost between old habits and the tasks of everyday life. This has been most common when I have changed thoughts habits such as a more optimistic mindset for example.

So I use written reminders – notes on the fridge, in my smart phone or on my bedside table – to reinforce what I am striving for and what change I am working on right now. If I don’t use such reminders then I tend to slip back into old thought patterns more often.

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