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Getting it Done, Personal Finance-Style: End of the Year Ruminations

I was in a bookstore tonight and wandered into the self-help section. There are a lot of good books out there. Of course, some of the self-help/self-improvement books, but I’d bet that well over 75% contain lots of good insights that would improve your life—if you acted on them.

If. That’s a key word. Whether it’s personal finance or cognitive behavioral therapy, it’s much easier for me to read all these great ideas than it is to do them. And it feels good to read. Learning is great—I love it and I hope I’ll keep on doing it my whole life.

The problem comes when we spend so much time learning that we don’t do. Or perhaps we’re paralyzed by our mental hangups and can’t bring ourselves to act.

We can reading Getting Things Done or Zen To Done (just won it from Christian PF–very exciting so far) but they don’t mean that we’ll actually get things done.

As a Zen master once said “I must leave now, to use the bathroom. Such a small and insignificant thing, but none of you can do it for me.” (I’m paraphrasing, he wasn’t quite that polite about it.)

David Allen and Leo cannot organize our lives. Well, they could if we paid them lots of money to do it and acted on their recommendations.

In fact, I have a hunch that it might be easier to act if we were actually interacting with them. I know it was easier to do CBT when I had regular therapy.

How do you do it? How do you translate the inspiration you get from books into everyday life?

Do you have to keep rereading the books? I keep a copy of Feeling Good around and reread sections periodically.

Do you make yourself notes or reminders urging you to act? I wrote “CBT!” on a sticky and stuck it on my work computer. Reminded me of what to do if I felt I couldn’t take things anymore.

Do you do something else? We’d all love to know.

Or are you still learning how to translate reading into action? I’m definitely there too.


{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

CatherineL December 29, 2007 at 6:16 am

Hi Mrs M. I have definitely been guilty of reading far too many books at once and becoming too overwhelmed to put all the info into practise.

Highlighting interesting content often helps me to remember it better. And taking notes and going back through them helps me to implement a lot of stuff too.

And I flick back through the most useful ones often to remind me of stuff I’d forgotten.

Amphritrite December 29, 2007 at 11:20 am

I’m guilty of probably not reading ENOUGH books. Often, when I read them, I feel like I’m being preached to, that these authors know nothing about my life and although they’re brilliant… they’re also broad in their theories.

Instead, I read blogs and websites (Bankrate, MSN Money, etc) to get a more personal approach; how do you find a good hair stylist? You get a recommendation. Same goes for writers around the blogosphere πŸ™‚

As to reminders, I have my own personal finance blog, so when something hits me, I blog about it. After I’ve purged it from my head and it’s somewhere that I can look it up or reference, I remember it better. Strange, but true!

Lynnae @ beingfrugal.net December 29, 2007 at 1:01 pm

You can definitely put me into the “having a hard time translating reading into action” group. I’ve read Getting Things Done, and it’s a great book. Now I need to re-read and actually do what David Allen says. Even if I just picked 5 things to work on, I’d be in better shape than I am now. Actually, even if I just picked one thing I’d be in better shape…..

Need more organization around here!

mrsmicah December 29, 2007 at 2:42 pm

Catherine, I love to highlight in books. The only problem is that some books I feel more comfortable with than others. And some are library books. πŸ˜‰

Amphritite, I love reading blogs too! Perhaps one advantage of blog reading is that you’re seeing people actually putting the principles to work in their lives. And you’re experiencing it over time with them, not as a quick process in a book.

Lynnae, one thing I like about Zen to Done is that Leo suggests working on only one habit at a time for 30 days each. There’s a good summary in this lifehack review: http://tinyurl.com/2h7ljb

RacerX December 29, 2007 at 3:09 pm

Even if you have the best helpers in the world you still need to use and internalize their advise of it means nothing.

Look at Britney Spears;she has (or had) the bestlawyers, money managers and probably therapists. However until she starts to follows the advice it doesn’t matter.

fathersez December 29, 2007 at 7:51 pm

I have given up on books. They give me a burst of “go get it”, but it dies off after a while.

I feel that reading blogs and blogging is the best way.

For starters, I am now an early riser, something that I could not get done for decades!

dawn December 29, 2007 at 9:07 pm

I love personal growth books…they are a spark plug to jump start my enthusiasm for becoming a better me. But once they get my mind/body/soul pointed in the right direction…it’s up to me to take the steps. Which to me is the best part; I love the doing part. I’d much rather take action, and possibly mess up, than not take a chance. Sometimes those mistakes are the greatest teachers of my-life-lessons than the books I read. When I do feel like I’m losing focus on a particular area, I definitely re-read my favorites. (Then the spark is ignited once more). These P.F. Blogs are awesome too. I love the supportive nature of the whole thing… it’s fabulous πŸ™‚

Laura December 29, 2007 at 11:32 pm

Ramit from I will Teach you to be rich has an article about being addicted to gathering more information and being an producer of information.

Early Retirement Extreme December 30, 2007 at 12:52 am

These three rules work for me:

1. Commit 100%. Less than 100% is not good enough.
2. Commit now. Don’t put it off.
3. Announce the commitment to the world. Makes one accountable.

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