Do you have your driver’s license? Do you know how to ride a bike? How about how to use a Smartphone? These must probably seem like silly examples, but bear with me a little. If you only study the theory side of driving a car, you wouldn’t be able to drive, right? If you only read about learning how to ride, you would probably fall off the first few times you tried. If you read the manual on your new phone, you won’t suddenly be able to master all of its functions.
The same applies with change: you can read a million self-help books, which will give you advice, tools, motivation, and guidance, but unless you put the book down and apply what you learn, your efforts will remain fruitless. Have you ever wondered why there is a wealth of information out there, yet so many people struggle to apply it? Because that is the hardest part, change, and it happens when we stop reading and start doing.
Here are 5 reasons why you should stop reading things about change and start to change now.
1. Activating the information
When it comes to change, reading alone will certainly not get you any new results; you need to activate what you have learned. You might read some great information that is really motivating, find some great tips, feel inspired, and then… you put the book down and what really changes? What are you doing differently?
If you are reading a book about how to be more confident, for example, but you don’t apply any of the suggestions, what good is it? Will you become more confident? Unless certain information is applied, it remains useless.
2. Change is habitual
When you want to change, you must understand that change is habitual. It is not about reading facts, memorizing them, and having a good understanding. I believe one of the reasons many individuals can easily read many books on change, but then struggle to change successfully is because of the resistance one feels when trying to change a habit.
Most change requires change some type of habit or way of doing something. However, your brain is actually predisposed to resisting change, so understandably, it isn’t going to be easy. You have a natural tendency to move away from change and anything that puts you out of your comfort zone, the new or the unknown. You need to do more than just read if you want to change what isn’t working.
3. You will never know if it works until you try
Perhaps you have read some amazing techniques and tools that you would like to apply to your life. Imagine, you test a few techniques out, and to your surprise, they just really don’t resonate with you.
This is normal; what works for someone else might not work for you, but you would never know unless you first tried. Change is about trial and error, and reading alone makes this impossible. Until you put the book down and try to change, you will never know.
4. Change is ongoing
Change can be challenging for some and easier for others; however, change is certainly ongoing. It isn’t a once-off effort; you need to try, test, monitor, and test. Go through what is working and what isn’t working until you have successfully changed what you initially set out to do.
You can’t just make one attempt. Perhaps you need to make a few attempts, but either way, you can’t attempt anything if you are simply reading.
5. Reading alone gives you a false sense of accomplishment and effort
Many individuals feel that if they are making the effort to read, study, and delve into hundreds of articles that will be enough to change. You might carry a false sense that if you are reading, you are making a change, and therefore, things will change.
If you find you are always reading but you never take action and don’t know why, explore the possibility that you might be procrastinating because you resist change, even though you can see the benefits. Perhaps as you are resisting change, you spend a lot of time reading about it, but not taking a first step because you are not ready. Spend some time reflecting on this if this resonates with you.
Hopefully I have convinced you to stop reading and start doing. What’s next? Well, it certainly depends on what you are reading, but here are some general guidelines that should give you some targeted direction moving forward.
1. Get crystal clear on what you want to change/improve and why
What exactly do you want to change and why? How will your life be different if you make this change successfully?
First, start with making one change at a time and put all of your energy into reaching it. Secondly, get clear on the why. Change is never easy; you must expect to face some form of resistance, so you need to know exactly why you are doing what you are doing and use this to motivate yourself when you need it most. Give yourself a reward as well when you reach your objective.
2. Write down the ways in which things will be different
Change implies doing things differently, so what exactly will you be doing differently? You must be clear on not only what you want to improve, but what you need to do to make it happen. Write down what you usually do (how it is now) and then your ‘new’ way of doing (what will be different).
3. The more prepared you are, the better your chances of success
If you want to boost your chances of real change, consider these 4 important questions:
- What resources do you have to support you in reaching this objective?
- What resources will you need that you don’t currently have?
- What potential obstacles could come up?
- What can you do to overcome them?
Monitor your progress, tweak what isn’t working, and build on your success until you make the change successfully.
What are you waiting for? Stop reading things about change and start to change. This is the only way you are going to see different results; thinking alone will not cut it, so you need to take a step forward and make things happen.
You cannot expect to read alone and then experience different results, as this is not possible. Are you going to invest more time and money in reading or are you going to invest your time in activating what you know and getting better results? You always have a choice!
Ready to change?: The Secret to Changing Habits SuccessfullyFeatured photo credit: Railway tracks in front of the station, Prague. High contrast, black and white image via Shutterstock