zenhabits : breathe

Stop Reading About It and Do It

Post written by Leo Babauta. Follow me on Twitter.

We learn more by doing than by reading.

That’s a simplified statement, of course, because reading teaches us a lot, but it’s in the actual doing of things that we do our real learning. It may be a fairly harmless statement for most of us, but think about this: do you actually put it into practice? How about in your efforts to improve your life?

It’s easy to see how this applies in a school situation: In an article in the Chronicle for Higher Education, studies show that the best way to study for an exam is not to read and re-read, but to put the book down, try to recall what you read, then write it down. Much more effective.

But how about in your everyday life? This isn’t as obvious, but it’s just as effective.

When you want to improve your life in some way — by simplifying, by being more frugal, by starting to exercise or eat healthy, by learning more productive habits, by being a more positive or compassionate person — 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.

So reading countless self-help articles and books are great — I’ve written a few myself — but remember that it’s only the first step.

You have to put the personal development posts away, get away from the computer or book, and start doing it. Today.

Only in doing it will you actually learn.

Reading does help though: 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 stop reading this post, and go do what you want to learn to do!


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