Integrating information into our lives (part three)

In the past week, we’ve been exploring ways to integrate information we consume (like books, classes, podcasts, and more) into our lives.

I’ve been sharing this series in honor of my friends (Emily and Kathleen of the Being Boss podcast), who launched an incredible book last week!

Here’s the lowdown in case you’re just joining in: I’ve developed a method I’m calling Gather, Connect, Live to help us get what we learn out of our head and into our lives.

(If you missed the first two posts, here are the links to the first step, Gather, and the second step, Connect. You’ll want to read those first.)

Now let’s dive into the finale of this three-part method!

GCL Part 3 — LIVE

The Connect step was a big one—all about breaking the pattern so many of us have of consuming lots of information…but not really doing anything with it.

And this week, we’re going to break yet another pattern. One of not taking action.

Eep!

It can seem pretty simple to choose action steps. I’ll do this, and this, and this, and whee! But following through can be...a little harder. We all have a lot happening in our lives, and adding more can sometimes feel overwhelming.

Now’s a good time to stop, breathe, and remind yourself that a) you are doing this process because you want to bring positive change into your life, and that b) change takes time…but also work. And this? This is the work.

So here are some ways you can support yourself in bringing your action steps to life!

Make room and remind yourself.
If you decided to take a step like get a book from the library, ask someone for help, or write more about an idea or concept that came up for you, schedule time to do it—just as you would a yoga class or massage appointment or…you know…dentist appointments.

I recommend setting up a reminder as well. You could use your calendar’s reminder setting, the reminder app on your phone, or some other app that will email you or put a reminder on your phone when it’s time to do something (I really like Alarmed for this; it’s simple but effective for me).

If you decided to take a step like create an affirmation to review daily, start a new daily practice, or begin a new habit, I recommend you do something very similar. Choose the time of day you’d like to complete this practice and enter it onto your calendar, or simply add it as an all-day event. This will let you set a reminder for yourself each day to complete your practice.

You can also put up a physical reminder in your space. Putting a sticky note on your bathroom mirror, beside your desk, or on a kitchen cabinet is a classic. You could also create a vision board to remind you of why this practice is important to you. Seeing a visual reminder in your space will help keep this action step top of mind. (Note that I recommend moving your reminder around, maybe once a week or so—otherwise, it becomes part of the scenery and it won’t have the same impact.)

Of course, there are tons of apps for your phone that will prompt you to complete a habit, let you track your progress, and more. Or you can use a paper habit tracker; if you search for printable versions on Etsy, you’ll find a ton of them. It can take a little trial and error, but find what works for you and you’ll be well on your way to adding new practices into your life!

Team up.
Another strategy that works well for many people is finding an accountability partner. This person doesn’t have to be doing the same thing you are, but it’s helpful if the frequency is the same—that you’re both committing to doing something each day, each week, and so on. Knowing someone will be checking in on you can be a real motivation (especially if you’re an Obliger; if you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out Gretchen Rubin’s concept of the four habit tendencies!).

Try an experiment.
When working on a new habit or practice, I recommend looking at it as an experiment. When you simply say to yourself, I’m going to start meditating daily, there’s an implied forever tacked on the end of that sentence that can feel really, really scary in your subconscious. Forever is a long time, and that leaves a lot of room for failure and not a lot of room for change.

Instead, try saying to yourself I’m going to meditate ten minutes a day for the next week and then re-evaluate.

I’m guessing just reading that made you feel relieved. You’ve set an end point: a week from today. And you’ve set a next action: re-evaluate. All that’s left to do is try your best to meditate each day. If it doesn’t work out, you can examine why and try again!

Be realistic.
You can only do so much in one day, week, or month. Be realistic about what you’re capable of, rather than trying to cram in all your action steps today (ahem…talking to myself here just as much as any of you!).

The point I’m making here is that deciding to take action isn’t enough. You also have to make it as easy as possible for yourself to take that action. Breaking old patterns (in this case, the pattern of not taking action on what you learn) is tough. Do what you can to keep your action steps top of mind and actually make progress!

I want to end by saying I’ve loved sharing this series with you. I have a lot of ideas about ways to encourage all of us to get the things we learn out of our heads and into our lives, so expect to hear more about this concept in the future!

Note: I’m considering creating a guide out of this series, with some supporting worksheets to help you take action. I’d love to hear from you if this is something you’d like to see!

And if you’ve used this process, or have more questions, I’d love to hear from you as well.

Cheers to getting out of our heads and into our lives!

With much love,
Erica


P.S. I'm sharing this series in honor of my friends, Kathleen and Emily, who launched a book this week! Being Boss: Take control of your work & live life on your own terms is now out in the world, and it's incredibly beautiful. I can already tell how much of an impact it's going to have on my own work and life.

I plan to apply the exact tactics you’re reading about in this series as I read the book, and I'd love for you to do the same!

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Also: If you did end up buying the Being Boss book, I know they’d love for you to leave a rating and review on Amazon! It really helps to have ratings in the first week of a book’s publication, so if you are enjoying it thus far, consider helping Emily and Kathleen make an even bigger impact with their wisdom.

Integrating information into our lives (part two)

This week, we’re talking about how to integrate the information we consume into our lives, in honor of my friends (Emily and Kathleen of the Being Boss podcast) launching a book!

I’ve developed a method I’m calling Gather, Connect, Live. Two days ago, we talked about the first step: gather. (If you missed it, you can catch up right here.) Today, we’re on to the next one: connect. Let’s jump right in!

GCL Part 2 — CONNECT

 

At this point in the process, you’ve taken notes, done the exercises, and written down all your impressions.

Time to move on to the next book / class / workshop / whatever…right?

Sorry, but no. You can uncross your fingers—it’s not time yet. There’s more work to do.

In this step, you’ll review all your notes and look for patterns, make connections, and identify action steps to take next. Your aim is to figure out what's important to you and what you'd like to bring into your life and work!

Here's the process:

First, review your notes. As you do…

Write down anything else that strikes you.
Reading your notes as a whole will help you see the big picture (especially if you took notes over several sessions about a book or during a weekend retreat). As you take in all that you wrote down, add anything else that comes to mind.

Make note of what stands out.
Circle or underline anything that surprises you, feels overwhelmingly true, or otherwise moves you in some way. On a separate page or sheet of paper, make notes and lists about ideas or words or phrases that come up again and again, patterns you notice, and connections you make.

Take your time.
This step will probably take a little while, especially if you took a lot of notes. Go through them more than once if needed, or even walk away and come back if you feel a bit of space would help you out.

(I know. We live in a world in which we want to—and in fact, are encouraged and pushed to—move quickly. But you’ve invested time in reading or listening to or experiencing something. Why did you do that if you didn’t want to then bring the ideas into your life? This process can help you do that, but you have to put in the effort. I know this feels laborious, but I truly believe it will pay off.)

Then decide what you want to do with this information and choose action steps.
Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with your notes, it’s time to make some decisions. This all comes down to one big question:

How do you want to bring the information and ideas from your notes into your life?

This is where things can get a little overwhelming, especially if you read a book or attended a workshop—there’s a lot going on in your notes at this point.

But instead of giving up, it’s time to get specific and make a list of action steps to take. Review your notes one more time, and write down any action step that come to mind—don’t worry about how or when you’ll do them at this point; just get them down on paper.

Here are some example steps:

  • Create an affirmation to review daily.
  • Begin a new habit.
  • Make a phone call or send an email.
  • Schedule time for self-care.
  • Contact a therapist or counselor.
  • Sign up for a yoga class.
  • Order a book from the library.
  • Start a new practice.
  • Write more about an idea or concept that came up.
  • Ask someone to talk with you about what you discovered.
  • Work on how to let go of an old fear, doubt, or pattern that keeps cropping up.

There are so many possibilities and none are wrong. The point here is simply to decide how you  could use the information you took in (both from the material and from yourself!), rather than letting it languish on the page.

Now this week’s instructions might be shorter, but make sure you really do the work on this step. It’s where you move from consuming to integrating, and it’s the part that may feel hardest to many of us—because it’s where we’re breaking an old pattern. Instead of just moving on, maybe using 1% of what we read or learned, we’re digging deeper and trying to bring real change into our lives.

Be gentle with yourself, but also remember why you’re doing this!

Next time, in the conclusion of this series, we’ll talk about how to take those action steps—because there’s often a wide gulf between setting an action step and taking one.

Until then,
With much love,
Erica


P.S. I'm sharing this series in honor of my friends, Kathleen and Emily, who launched a book this week! Being Boss: Take control of your work & live life on your own terms is now out in the world, and it's incredibly beautiful. I can already tell how much of an impact it's going to have on my own work and life.

I plan to apply the exact tactics you’re reading about in this series as I read the book, and I'd love for you to do the same!

BeingBossBook.jpg

Also: If you did end up buying the Being Boss book, I know they’d love for you to leave a rating and review on Amazon! It really helps to have ratings in the first week of a book’s publication, so if you are enjoying it thus far, consider helping Emily and Kathleen make an even bigger impact with their wisdom.


P.P.S. Want to get the next two installments of this series in your email inbox? Sign up below! You'll get weekly-ish emails from me, as well as instant access to a library of worksheets I think you'll find really helpful.

Integrating information into our lives (part one)

As I mentioned last week, integration has been on my mind—specifically, how we integrate all the information we consume into our daily lives.

The saying in one ear and out the other comes to mind when I think about the way many of us take in information. There’s so much available that it’s easy to just let our eyes and minds slide right over the surface, feeling somehow virtuous or productive simply because we’ve graced that information with our presence.

I’m speaking of myself just as much as anyone else here. But lately, this has felt dissatisfying to me. The swell of excitement that comes from reading or hearing something new is no longer enough. I don’t just want to hear or read about something—I want to live it.

After some thinking and practicing, I’ve found a way to make this more of a reality for me.

And now, in honor of my friends’ book launch today (see more toward the end of this email), I’m sharing it with you!

The process has three main parts—Gather, Connect, and Live (or GCL as I’m thinking of it in my mind)—so I’m going to share it with you in three separate emails. Let’s get started with gather today!

GCL Part 1 — GATHER


This may seem obvious, but the first step is to take in some information. But how you do so is important.

Now we could talk for a while about choosing what will have the most impact for you right now, but let’s just assume you’ve found something meaningful you’d like to consume—whether it’s a book, a podcast episode, an email, a blog post, or even information at a conference or retreat you’re attending.

Here are the keys to consuming the GCL way:

Pay attention. Full stop.
If you’re not ready to pay attention, to show up for what you want to learn, come back when you are. If you’re tired or distracted, you may be better served by a nap…a walk…a laugh with a friend…or simply a few minutes spent staring out the window.

Take notes about what strikes you.
When you’re ready to read or listen, make sure you write down phrases or ideas that truly capture your attention. I know you think you’ll remember things later—but you won’t. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve come back to notes I’ve made and felt as if I’m reading the ideas for the very first time. Our brains just can’t hold that much information.

Now this isn’t college and there won’t be a test (whew!), so don’t feel like you have to write down every word. (I’m speaking to myself as much as you here.) This is about making note of what feels truly meaningful to you, what you’d like to bring into your life or work or mindset as you move forward.

In short: Write down things that surprise you, delight you, or evoke some other reaction that you’d like to examine later. Don’t worry about the rest.

Also write down your impressions.
I’m going to repeat this because it’s important: Write down your thoughts and ideas and personal impressions as they come up. (Yes, in your notes. Right there beside words others have said or written, so you’ll remember what triggered them. I know it feels weird—for me, anyway. But I know you can do it.)

Again, it’s easy to feel you’ll just remember these things. But again, I’ll say that I often come back to these kinds of notes I’ve made and wonder whose brain they came from—I have no memory of thinking or feeling what I wrote down (…but I’ll say that I’m always grateful I did so!).

Do the exercises or worksheets or whatever is recommended.
Are you prompted to close your eyes and visualize something? Put down your pen. Close your eyes. Visualize. Then write down what it brings up.

Are you asked (probably nearly begged) to set an intention, choose a path, fill out a worksheet? Take the time. Do it.

I know—it feels more important (or productive or efficient or interesting or whatever) to press on, to soak in, to read the end, to get to the point. But the person who created this thing knows what they’re doing. They have a plan for you. Getting to the point will be more meaningful if you do what they’re asking you to do.

Make the time. You’ll get so much more out of this experience you’ve committed yourself to!

Write down thoughts that come to you later.
By now, you know what I’m going to say. You think you’ll remember…you won’t. I’ll skip the lecture.

I’ll just say that when thoughts come up in the shower or grocery store or when changing your wiggly toddler’s clothes (just kidding, it takes all your mental faculties for that one), write it down. In your phone, on a receipt, whatever you have handy—just make sure you add it to your notes. (If you need help with this, email me.) You’ll thank me when we get to the next step!

Ok, that’s it for today. I recommend trying this out on something small—an article you’ve read or been wanting to read, a chapter in a book, a podcast episode. Just choose something, take some notes, write down your impressions and thoughts you have later, and then wait (im)patiently for the next chapter to hit your inbox! Sneak peek: We’ll be talking about making connections among your ideas, and it’s gonna be good!

Until next time,
With much love,
Erica


P.S. Today is the day Being Boss: Take control of your work & live life on your own terms enters the world as a real, live, hold-in-your-hand book!

I'm so excited for my friends Emily and Kathleen for having launched this into the world, but also excited for us to learn from it. I plan to apply the exact tactics you’re reading about in this series as I read the book, and I'd love for you to do the same!

PosterBook.jpg

P.P.S. Want to get the next two installments of this series in your email inbox? Sign up below! You'll get weekly-ish emails from me, as well as instant access to a library of worksheets I think you'll find really helpful.