How To Take Action After Reading An Inspiring Self-Help Book

When you love self-help and personal growth books, it’s easy to consume book after book without actually taking action on most of it.

I’ve been guilty of doing this a lot, and I’m working on how to actively apply what I’m learning before moving onto the next thing. Without focusing on applying what I’m learning, it can feel like I’m endlessly learning new things, but never have enough time or energy to implement.

When you know better, you do better. But sometimes when you consume too much even of something as amazing as personal development content, it can leave you feeling overwhelmed and stuck.

Where do you even begin? What action steps should you apply first?

With personal development, there’s so much that we can be doing to better ourselves. It’s a never-ending process. And we’re up for doing the work, but we need ways to apply what we’re learning that feels inspiring instead of daunting.

I wanted to share some ideas that I’ve been using, and that I’ve learned about as actionable ways to learn and organize your notes after reading an inspiring book on self-improvement.

So, let’s get into it. Here are five ways to take action after reading a personal growth book.

1. Take action-oriented notes

As you’re going along, highlight, and take notes on what resonates with you. And more importantly, take notes on how it can apply in your life as you go along.

How would this apply to your own life? Once you read through the entirety of the book, look back on your notes and map out a game plan for taking action on 1-3 things you learned in the book.

Tim Ferriss writes notes directly inside the first page of the book, using the first page to jot down page numbers in the front of his book with a short sentence to help remind him about why he highlighted the paragraph that he did.

2. Do experiments after each read

Have you ever thought to map out a plan based on strategies laid out through the self-help book?

Well, Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer do just that in their podcast, “By The Book” where the two ladies choose to live by a self-help book for two weeks straight and document the process.

You can totally do the same thing. Create experiments to live out the book that you read. Most self-help books give you specific action steps you can use to work through the books. You could even use the guidelines set in the “By The Book” podcast to try it out yourself for two weeks.

3. Create a commonplace book

If you’re a next-level self-help consumer, you might want to take it as a far as creating a commonplace book to store your notes.

Whether it’s to refer back to for content creation or simply to keep as inspiration, it’s a useful way to physically keep track of the knowledge you’re gathering from self-help books.

So what the heck is a commonplace book? 

It sounds a lot weirder than it is.

This is a process for storing and organizing your book notes on notecards in a filing container with labels. It’s not a book so much as a box.

I first learned about this through Amy Landino – who talks about how she implemented the commonplace book strategy from Ryan Holiday.

Essentially, you use one notecard per a single quote from a book. Include the author’s name, the book, and the page number.

For personal development books, you could store it by topic:

  • Mindset
  • Success
  • Creativity
  • Spirituality
  • Discipline
  • Productivity
  • Mindfulness
  • Happiness

And when you need a hit of inspiration, refer back to the notes you took. For more information on commonplace books, our friend Elena Hartung created a great blog post on how she created hers.

4. Use a system for tracking your books

Whether it’s GoodReads or using ClickUp (see above) to track your reading log (see image), keep track of what you rate the book and what you learned. You can summarize what tips stood out to you.

Make it a habit that as soon as you finish a book, you instantly go into your reading log and make notes about it. If you have highlighted notes, you can even add those in from the pages so that you keep track of what was noteworthy.

5. Join a book club

Personal growth book clubs are a great way to make what you read memorable and action-oriented. With the power of community, you can gain insights from the group on what stood out to them, talk about how to apply it to your life, and read self-help books you might otherwise skip over.

How do you take action on self-help books that leave you feeling inspired?

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