I have been reading, listening to and watching various personal development information for a few years now.
I have noticed a few mistakes I have made. And so I have made a few adjustments to how I take in and use this information. These adjustments have helped me make more practical progress.
The five mistakes are pretty obvious things really. Maybe you've already changed things to avoid them. Maybe you are at a different place and have a different experience and don't need to avoid doing these things because they work for you.
But anyways, I thought I'd share them and hopefully these pointers will be of some use to some of you.
1. Taking in too much information.
Up until about six months ago I took in lots and lots of self-help information from all kinds of sources.
It helped me but it also often made me a bit confused and I tended to forget quite a bit of information that could probably help me.
So I decided to trim down. Instead of reading a few books simultaneously I started to just read one at a time. Instead of reading 10-15 personal development blogs I now read 2 or 3.
The last few weeks I have taken this a bit further and delved into just one author. I have used almost all my study time listening to/watching stuff by Eckhart Tolle to both pick up his vibe of presence and to gain a deeper understanding of his work. I will probably do something similar with other authors later on (possibly Wayne Dyer next month).
Having this narrow focus has helped me get a clearer understanding of Tolle's thoughts and just “being in his presence” a lot has made it easier for me become and stay present more of the time.
2. Just reading through things once.
I have found that by rereading information from time to time I have been able to gain a deeper knowledge because my overall knowledge and experience has grown. So one chapter of a book that once had one meaning can have a pretty different meaning once I reread it. And things that I first half-ignored while reading now seems so much more important.
3. Not applying or testing the information.
I believe that this one ties into the first mistake. When you have a continual information overload in your mind it becomes hard to determine what to try next. Or you may fall into a common self-help junkie trap where it feels like you are making progress in your life just by reading about self-improvement. This is however mostly just a sort of emotional high that you can get hooked on.
4. Not reinforcing it.
Maybe it's just me but I have a tendency to forget what I should do. So I need to post external reminders – written notes on the fridge etc. – to reinforce what I am striving for and what changes I am working on right now. If I don't use such reminders then I tend to slip back into old thought patterns pretty quickly.
5. Go looking for magic pills.
A book will not change you. You change you. You have to put in work. A book may be just perfect for you at the right time, when you are ready for it. But you still have to follow the advice given to change your life.
I believe that the search for magic pills is one of those thing that can drive someone to make the mistakes above over and over and make little actual progress.
So if you know that you may have spent a bit too much time looking for magic pills I suggest that you focus on fewer ideas, actually applying them and reinforcing them.