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How to learn and benefit from a personal growth book May 2, 2014

Posted by Dennis Mellersh in Personal Growth Books, Planning.
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Reading and gaining useful ideas from a book about self-improvement should be approached as an educational study project.

You are looking for practical information that will help you in your goal of making your life better so you need to retain the details in a systematic, planned way if the book is to benefit you.

Here are some steps you might want to consider:

First: Read through it once quickly. This will give you a feel for whether the book has a lot of applicable ideas and concepts, or if it is primarily an inspirational book, or, if unfortunately, the book is shallow with little in-depth material to offer in helping you achieve your goals.

If you start studying the book diligently right away, making notes as you go on your first reading, you could be wasting a lot of time if the book turns out to have little practical self-help information.

Second: Read the book again more slowly, putting check marks in pencil beside passages that you believe offer effective practical concepts or techniques that can help you emotionally and/or intellectually with your self-improvement program. Don’t underline or highlight all of these ideas right now, just check different interesting points lightly with a pencil. (1)

Third: Leave the book aside for a day or two, then come back to it reading the check-marked passages and decide which of these you would like to highlight or take notes on. By leaving the book for a period of time you will be more objective when you return to it. On first reading, if the book has a lot of ideas on how to improve your life, you will be tempted to underline or highlight too much of it.

Fourth: Now that you have selected the most pertinent ideas, tips, concepts, or solutions to help you with making improvements in various areas of your life, write out the ones you consider to be the most helpful for your particular life situation.

Fifth: Assuming you have already made a plan and established goals for your personal growth program, decide how you will incorporate the ideas you have selected from your book into your overall plan and list of goals/objectives.

This approach can be adapted or modified for studying other self-improvement media such as videos, DVD’s, podcasts, websites and blogs.

The main idea is the same: review the material at the outset to decide if it is worth further study; then by a process of reduction and selection, decide on the information you consider important and make notes on that content.

Finally, whether our goals are increased self-knowledge and awareness, or developing skills such as managing our emotions and attitudes, we can all get over-absorbed in the studying component of personal growth and development.

We need to make sure that we also take steps to implement the ideas we are discovering in our studying.

(1) Marking the book with underlining or a highlighter, or pen or pencil, assumes that you own the book.

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