Knowledge is one thing, but putting that knowledge into action is another. A pile of unread self-help books at the side of an unmade bed or clothes draped over a cross-trainer are useful clues—”the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
Knowing what is “in our own best interests” is the easy part. If you exercise regularly and have a well-balanced diet, you will be healthier. That’s knowledge, but it’s not much use unless it is partnered with wisdom, commitment, self-worth, action, and accountability.
They say “Knowledge is power”, but only by putting knowledge into action can you harness that potential. The best place to start is with yourself. The only way to fulfill your potential is to use what you know about yourself.
So, here are seven tips to help you transform knowledge into action.
1. Examine Your Thinking
Knowledge is a useful tool, but how effectively it is put into action depends on how it is applied. You need to discriminate and contextualize knowledge if it is to serve you well.
Just as information for information’s sake has limited value, knowledge on its own can sometimes hold you back by limiting your intuition and common sense. The highly developed human brain can cloud your judgment and rationalize your behavior with damaging results. Decades of reinforcement create beliefs that are so imprinted on your consciousness that they become utterly unquestionable.
The ego, which is attached to the status quo, aims to keep these “certainties” in place to avoid new perspectives and choices. The ego is terrified of change—even change for the better—since its comfort zone is based on familiarity, however debilitating it may be.
2. Value Yourself
Deep down, you know what’s best for yourself. But how much do you value yourself? The extent to which your actions are congruent with what you know is good for you is the extent to which you value yourself.
Whether you are out of balance with work or lifestyle, it is your self-worth compass that will get you back on track—but only if you set it free.
All too often, old negative feelings of unworthiness prevent self-care and investing in your own well-being. If you value yourself enough, you can break free from these beliefs, make better choices, and act based on knowledge rather than myths.
3. Hire a Life Coach
The role of a life coach is not to make you feel better. It’s to help you see better. Most breakthroughs during a coaching session are the result of the client being able to see their thinking for what it is—completely illogical and fatally flawed. Positive thoughts and potential solutions are often dismissed as your own unchallenged assumptions block your path to a better way.
The ego breathes a sigh of relief: no need to change, to challenge the received wisdom, to take a chance, not even to resolve a chronic issue. It’s too hard. In fact, it’s impossible, so you can stay exactly where you are: stuck, a prisoner of your own thoughts and beliefs—beliefs which can be used as excuses for doing nothing.
But what if the belief isn’t true or, at least, isn’t true anymore? What if there’s another way of looking at this? You need to break this chronic cycle that prevents you from doing what’s best for you. But trying to see an existing paradigm from a new perspective can be like trying to tickle yourself.
The transformational coach’s role is—in essence—to disrupt the negative reflex actions of your thinking, to help you break the cycle that prevents you from doing what’s best for you, and to put your knowledge into action.
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“I can’t do anything about that.”
“Is that true?”
“Of course, it is.”
“Based on what?”
The pause is the chink of light that may open a door to the breakthrough. It means that a certainty is being questioned and a new perspective becomes a possibility. Only through disruption can age-old thought patterns be broken. The block fades away and the door is opened.
“Yes, why not? I could at least try this instead. It couldn’t be any worse than it is now. What have I got to lose?”
This is how you can transform paralysis and procrastination into purpose, moving forward with self-empowerment, commitment, and turning knowledge into positive action. In a matter of a few weeks, working with a coach as your thinking partner can facilitate huge changes and seismic shifts in your life.
“Problems can only be resolved at the level beneath that at which they manifest themselves.”—John Whitmore, Coaching for Performance.
“If you want to make minor changes in your life, work on your behaviour. If you want significant, quantum breakthroughs, work on your paradigms.”—Stephen R. Covey
4. Stop Procrastinating
Procrastination can vary from mildly irritating to devastatingly paralyzing. The engine that drives procrastination is fear of the unknown: “If I choose this option, what if..?”
Another contributor is the perceived need for control—specifically to control the future, including other people’s emotions and actions. Delaying decision-making based on the inability to predict or control the future is about as irrational as it gets. But then, humans are not rational.
Then, there is the fear of regret: “If I get this wrong, I’ll feel terrible. I’ll blame myself.”
This is invariably based on experience and adds to a vicious cycle of negative emotions:
expectation > disappointment > judgement > self-judgement
There is a solution: ask yourself what is the worst thing that can happen. Feel into your major organs—mind, heart, and gut—and do something.
5. Trust Yourself
If you are one of those people who tend to dwell on previous decisions that resulted in a less-than-perfect outcome, take a piece of paper and start writing a list of the ones that worked out well. You may be surprised as the list becomes longer and longer.
Accept that due to the variables that are completely out of your control, sometimes things don’t work out exactly as planned. However, when you look at your past actions based on your knowledge, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how successful you’ve been.
So, pat yourself on the back, recognize your past accomplishments, and have faith in your ability to turn knowledge into action.
“At the centre of your being, you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”—Lao Tzu
6. Improve Your Time Management
Time management is boring. It’s mundane and repetitive. It’s for other people, not you. You’re creative. You live in the moment. Worst of all, time management is controlling and restrictive. You need space to express yourself organically in your own unique way.
On the other hand, you hate it when you leave things to the last minute—something comes up, then you’re in a rush and feel unprepared. This creates stress, and it’s ten minutes into your presentation before you’re really in the flow.
Come to think of it, knowing those tedious admin tasks are yet to be done kind of hangs over you like a cloud and dilutes the pleasure you get from the things that you really enjoy. Is time management controlling? Or could it be liberating?
7. Work With an Accountability Partner
Whether it’s mindfulness or the gym, committing to your own well-being can be hard, and actually following through on that commitment is often even more challenging.
Having an accountability partner is a great way of keeping on track. It may even introduce some healthy competition. The important thing is that it gets the job done. Not only will you achieve your well-being objectives, but you will also enhance your self-worth, thereby increasing your chances of success with the next activity you choose.
By having awareness of your knowledge, whether it derives from formal training, work, or life experience, you are in a better position to use it in context.
You can use what you know not only for absolute decision-making and action but also for weighing up the probability of outcomes. With the confidence of this awareness, you will find putting knowledge into action empowering, enjoyable, and rewarding.