I just had a bit of a revelation.
I love learning new things.
Sometimes it’s software. Right now I’m teaching myself how to use Tableau.
Sometimes it’s more academic- hence why I’m in my MBA program right now.
Sometimes it’s a principle that has helped people. My current Audible book is The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins.
Constant learning is something I love. It helps me feel like I’m growing as a person. And the more I grow, the more I become.
The problem is that I don’t have the greatest track record of putting what I learn into action.
For example, I first read The Four Hour Work Week over 5 years ago. Even though I’ve tried to incorporate some of its principles into my life, I can’t say that I do it regularly.
Another example is nutrition and fitness books. Over the years I’ve learned (and forgotten) more than most people ever learn. So am I in the best shape of my life? No way- even though I’m losing weight right now, I am still very overweight.
It’s said that knowledge is power. But we all know that the real power is applied knowledge.
If I know eating gluten will cause leaky gut but I continue to stuff my face with bread, my knowledge isn’t helping me at all. In fact, it’s making things worse because I will kick myself later.
If I know I have the choice between a fun activity and working on a passive income stream but I choose the fun activity time after time, I’ll be mad at myself . I will know I cheated my future self, and even my family.
So yes- learning new things is great. But it’s not enough. I need to improve my ability to take action on my goals. Even if it’s just for 5 minutes at a time.
One way I’m going to do that is use the 5 second rule by Mel Robbins. The basic premise is that if I have a thought of something I need to do, I immediately start counting down from 5 and then take action.
5. 4. 3. 2. 1.
Then I go.
The reason this is powerful is it doesn’t give me time to “feel” a certain way about the action. I’m not giving myself time for fear or anxiety to build up. I can’t talk myself out of it. I just do it.
Sometimes this may mean working on a blog post (like right now.)
Other times it will be working out or making a phone call or applying to a job. Whatever it is I feel like is the most important thing for me to do at that moment.
This is powerful for another reason though. It helps me build habits. And as I build a new habit, it becomes so strong that I won’t be able to skip it as time goes on.
For example, take writing. I’m not in the habit of sitting down to write everyday. The struggle with getting words on a blank canvas isn’t something I constantly face – even though I want it to be.
But the best way for me to overcome that is to make a habit. Sitting down to write everyday – even if it’s just 50 words. If I do this every day – especially at the same time – I will slowly build a new habit. Before I know it, I’ll have thousands and thousands of words published.
The same goes for working out. I don’t do it regularly. I’ll think about it, but then figure “I don’t have the time” or “I don’t feel like it right now.”
But what I’m learning right now is to use the 5 second rule to overcome that. Even if I only work out for 4 minutes, that’s a lot better than nothing! It builds a habit, it builds a stronger body, it builds momentum and it builds a bias towards action.
This is largely what the book Mini Habits by Stephen Guise is all about. Taking regular, tiny actions towards a goal will build a habit that becomes so strong it’s hard to not do it.
Stephen started by setting a goal of doing just 1 pushup a day. Sometimes that’s all he did, because he suddenly realized it was 11pm and he hadn’t done it. But usually he did a lot more.
There’s a lot of great information out there on habits, and I’m going to write more about them in the future as I get better about them.
Healthy eating, calling old friends, reaching out to influencers, applying for jobs, etc. These are all things I want to do better. Each one of these things can be life-changing if I let them.
But the key is applying the knowledge I’ve learned. Even if it takes some kind of little trick like the 5 second rule, the most important thing is to progress. As I progress and build momentum, I’ll become unstoppable.
All I have to do is improve myself 1% everyday. That’s what James Altucher recommends, and considering how successful the guy is I figure it’s good enough for me.