Five years ago, right after picking up my first self-help book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I got hooked on self-improvement. Every new insight I gained, every new paradigm shift that occurred and every limiting belief that got demolished was as exciting as counting down on New Year’s Eve.
It wasn’t really a surprise that I got hooked on self-improvement. You see, in the months prior to picking up The 7 Habits, I completely self-destructed. I was stuck in a 9–5 job that I absolutely hated and I was struggling with a serious gambling addiction that no one knew about.
After having gone through enough pain, I decided one day that I had enough. I had enough of being broke. Enough of feeling like a failure. Enough of the pain and misery. I literally Googled ‘how to become successful’, and I quickly learned that successful people are readers. That’s when I had my first glimpse into the world of self-improvement, and I never left ever since.
The hope, ambition and dreams that it offered were a much-needed source of light after hitting personal rock-bottom.
Did Anything Really Change?
Fast-forward about a year and a half later, and I had read more than 40 books and followed a bunch of online courses. I felt pretty good. Instead of self-destructing, I was setting self-improvement goals. I even decided to start my first ‘business’ after reading Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Work Week.
Aside from a few changes, my life didn’t change that much. I was still broke. I still lived at my parent’s house. And, despite setting many goals, I struggled to actually achieve them. Even though I started a ‘business’ I didn’t really know what I was doing nor was I working on it with consistency and focus.
Yes, my mindset had definitely changed, but my external reality didn’t change that much.
In my mind, I felt like the hero of my own journey. I felt really good about myself — all because I knew so much about success habits, mindset and self-improvement.
Because of all the knowledge I had gained, I dreamed and fantasized about how successful I could become — which in turn made me feel good about myself. Yet, I was still stuck in the same place. I was still playing video games instead of working on my goals. And I was still living on $800 a month…
“Knowledge is not power…it’s potential power. Execution will trump knowledge any day.” — Tony Robbins
Instead of actually taking massive action upon the things I had learned, I got lost more and more in consuming self-development content. It was almost like reading more books and following more courses became the goal itself as I believed that the next book I’d read or the next course I’d follow could hold the secret (or better said, short-cut) to success that I desperately desired.
If you don’t watch out, self-improvement can become like being stuck in a maze. You may feel like you’re moving forward, but in reality, you’re moving in circles.
However, the discrepancy between the lacking results and the 18-month effort I put into self-development became too obvious to ignore. And that’s when I realized a painful but powerful truth…
I was a self-improvement ‘junkie’ who got lost in finding the next ‘fix’ of knowledge in order to make me feel accomplished and good about myself. These good feelings actually served as pain-killers to numb the pain that I actually experienced from my lack of progress and lack of results.
I realized I needed to stop consuming so much and start creating a lot more. I needed to transform my knowledge into massive action.
Why We Like Consuming More Than Creating
At the beginning of your journey, it’s good to consume a lot of self-development knowledge through books, courses and seminars. This way, you built the strong foundational layer of knowledge, insights and beliefs.
However, when you’re already into self-development for quite a while, it’s time to limit the amount you consume and increase the amount of action you take. Yet, this is where many people seem to run into problems.
You see, consuming content is easy and it makes you feel good about yourself. You feel a sense of progress, accomplishment and productivity — despite not even acting upon your newly gained knowledge.
On the other hand, taking action is much more challenging and out of your comfort zone — it doesn’t always make you feel good. Yet, taking action is the only thing that can propel you forward in life. If you don’t take action upon what you know, you’ll stay stuck in the same place.
That’s exactly the trap of self-improvement. After months or even years of reading, learning and improving, you know that you know a lot and you may feel quite accomplished. However, if you don’t really transform your knowledge into action, you won’t see the results in life that you’re hoping for.
You see, where knowledge junkies are chasing more knowledge, action takers immediately put their newly gained knowledge to work. They gain a new idea from a book and immediately execute upon it — which is why they’re getting faster results than those who merely consume knowledge.
“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” — Leonardo Da Vinci
The problem is, you’ve been consuming content for so many months that this became a strong habit. It’s familiar territory, while taking massive action may still be unfamiliar and out of your comfort zone. You’ve not been trained to do it yet. And thus, the majority of self-improvement ‘junkies’ rather continue to consume and feel good than to take on the uncomfortable road of action.
Yet, the only way to live a truly productive, fulfilling and accomplished life is by executing on your goals, ideas and newly gained knowledge. As Leonardo Da Vinci said, ‘knowing is not enough, we must apply.’
As soon as I truly realized the power behind this message, I started taking action on levels I had never done before. That’s when I finally started to see real results — ranging from improved personal finances to faster business growth. No longer did I need to be the hero in my own mind. Instead, I actually made my dreams and goals a reality.
Now Do It
Because of this experience, I end all my articles with a ‘Now Do It’ call to action. I hope this encourages you to not only consume the knowledge but to take action on it as well.
So here we go…
If you are into the self-improvement space for a while now and you haven’t gotten the results that you thought you would have by now — whether it’s in your career, business, health, finances or any other important area of your life — I invite you to put the consuming on hold and execute on full speed instead.
As someone who has built a business out of creating self-development content, sharing this advice seems to go against my own interest. However, it’s the truth — and I can’t stand to withhold that from you.
Remember, if you want to make your goals and dreams a reality, you need to execute more than you’re consuming. Much more.
To Your Personal Growth,
Founder Personal Growth Lab