Updated: Jul 27, 2020
You receive a newsletter prompting you to read a blog titled “5 benefits of exercising in the morning.”
You’re genuinely curious about these benefits, so you begin reading the article.
When you’re done reading, you feel good about yourself—you just learned something new that has the potential of improving your life in some way.
You go on with your day.
A few weeks go by. Guess who hasn’t applied a single thing that they learned about exercising in the morning? That’s right.
We’ve all been there.
In the age of information overload, it’s enticing to read and learn about all kinds of subjects—especially those that can improve our current situation.
They say knowledge is power, but simply acquiring information doesn’t actually change anything in our lives unless we take action.
Fortunately, there’s a way to ensure that we are not only learning about important topics but also applying that knowledge and reaping the benefits.
Your Brain is a Trickster
You may be wondering why you fail to apply the majority of the information you read about.
The problem is paradoxical. On the one hand, human beings naturally love to learn. We get excited about reading something interesting, especially when it relates to solving a problem we currently have. We convince ourselves that once we’re armed with this new knowledge, our lives will change for the better.
But there’s a problem.
We’re also creatures of habit. We tend to stay in our comfort zones because we feel safe in our familiar environment. In other words, change is hard. If we’re going to change our behavior, we’d better have a damn good reason for doing so.
This explains why the vast majority of us read and learn incessantly, but only a few make it a point to take action on what we’ve learned.
How to apply what you learn
Step 1. Prioritize ruthlessly
You can spend hours reading about designing the perfect garden, but it’s no use if you live in a condo in downtown Miami. Since your time is finite, it’s important to pay close attention to the information you’re consuming. Before impulsively clicking on a blog post or podcast episode, ask yourself:
“Does this contain information that will help me in any way?”
If the answer is “no,” skip it and use your time more productively.
Step 2. Commit to taking action
Let’s say you’ve been struggling to lose weight. You stumble upon an article from a credible fitness professional about how tracking your macros (macronutrients) is the key to successful weight loss. In the article, she shows you how to track your macros step by step.
Once again, simply knowing this information won’t actually help you lose weight. However, making a commitment with yourself to begin tracking your macros will.
Instead of passively consuming the content in the article, say to yourself:
“I will commit to tracking my macros for two weeks and see what kind of results I get.”
You can do this with many topics, from articles on tips to writing more professional emails to discovering productivity hacks. The point is to take the knowledge you’ve just acquired and instantly make a specific commitment to apply it.
You’re One Step Closer to Growth
The thing that separates extraordinary people from everyone else is that they take action after acquiring knowledge.
You can be one of these people.
By making a few slight adjustments to your learning approach, you can go from passive consumer to empowered “doer.”
Cultivating the habit of applying what you’ve learned brings you one step closer to becoming the person you want to be.