When I was a student in Music Conservatory, I read every possible thing I could about trombone playing. I wanted to make sure I had all the head knowledge possible before I embarked on practicing; I didn’t want to do anything “wrong”.
Problem was, I never got around to actually playing.
Look…reading teaches us a lot, but it’s in the actual doing of things that we do our real learning. Same goes with teaching. We can talk a great game to kids, but in actuality, the kids need to learn by doing and making mistakes on their own. It is great to read a ton to gain knowledge of something, but unless you actually put it into practice the information is only partially effective.
When you want to improve your life in some way and bring about change — by simplifying, being more frugal, starting to exercise or eat healthy, learning more productive habits — you are learning a new skill.
And when you learn a new skill, all the reading in the world won’t teach you the skill. You have to learn by doing it.
Let’s say you need to read 10 pages in a book and then take a test on it in one week. You have 30 minutes to study. Do you:
A) Read the 10 pages over and over again, 4 times in a row and try to memorize them?
B) Read the 10 pages once, then close the book and write a one page summary?
Research shows that people who use B as a strategy retain 50% more material over the long term than strategy A.
So, reading a ton of books, magazines, and blogs is fantastic — but remember that it’s only the first step.
You have to put the books down, get your hands dirty, and start doing something. Like…today.
The learning is in the doing.
Reading does help, of course; first in helping you to understand what to do, and second in keeping you motivated as you actually do the skill.
But it’s not a substitute for doing.
So make sure you put down that self-help book for a second, and go do what you want to learn to do!