I am OBSESSED with self-improvement and wanting to learn everything I possibly can about all of the stuff that interests me. I regularly invest in coaching and workshops and self-help books. I spend hours of my time every week watching videos and trainings and learning how to do things that I’m interested in.
I’ve been like this my entire life. I have always loved learning and growing and improving. It’s just who I am. I’m a super high-achieving lifelong learner who’s always ready to learn more, more, more.
When I was 14, I played softball on a summer league for two years, and the first year at our end-of-season banquet I received a trophy for being the Most Improved Player on the team. It was the highlight of my year.
I’m obsessed with being the Most Improved Person. I love doing something, getting feedback and constructive criticism and being able to use it to improve and do even better the next time. I live for it.
Maybe you can relate to this?
But there’s a HUGE problem that underlies being someone who is constantly looking to learn more. And that is, learning more can become a sandbox for you to stick your head in.
Learning can become a way for you to avoid doing the real work. The stuff that actually matters. The stuff that will move you forward in your life and/or business.
When it comes to being a person obsessed with learning, there has to be a balance between learning and growing. And growing requires implementation.
So many of the writers and entrepreneurs I see in the online space (myself included at times) are constantly trying to learn things and are constantly investing in new programs and workshops and downloading free trainings and getting caught up in watching hours of YouTube videos and Facebook Live replays, trying to learn more. You tell yourself that it’s OK because you’re learning how to do things you don’t know how to do yet, so it’s a valuable use of your time.
And while that’s not totally untrue, if you’re not learning and then implementing what you’re learning, it’s no longer valuable. It’s just random information.
The information you learn only has value when you’re actually able to use it to move forward and grow. Otherwise you’re just using it as a way to avoid doing what you know you need to.
I get it–I really, really get it. I’ve spent years of my life and business learning, learning, learning. Investing in trainings and programs and workshops and coaching. Taking notes and making plans and dreaming and scheming.
But the implementation of the things I’d be learning has been few and far between.
This is when learning becomes a problem. It’s great to learn stuff, but unless your goal is to be a walking know-it-all or to be someone who can spout off random facts at the drop of a hat, all that learning is wasted if you’re not implementing.
Implementation is the missing piece.
So often writers and entrepreneurs are searching for that “quick fix” or even the missing information they think they need to know that will finally allow them to blow up their writing career or business in the way they always dreamed they would. Then they spend days, weeks, months and even years convincing themselves that there’s still more to learn, still something else they don’t know yet.
They tell themselves they just need to learn a little more, and if they do, eventually it will click and they’ll have the life and business they want. They tell themselves they just have to find the key to having, being and doing it all.
But what they don’t realize is they’ve had the key all along.
The key isn’t a piece of information that you learn or a course that you take or a coach that you work with. Because there’s nothing missing.
The key is implementation.
The key is taking what you’ve learned and actually using it to improve your life and business. To see what works. To see what doesn’t. And to pivot and tweak from there.
Learning is actually a total waste if you don’t implement.
This was a hard-truth I came to at the beginning of 2017 when I realized I’d spent the last 5 years in my business learning, learning, learning; taking classes and workshops and programs and working with coaches, all to try and fix something that wasn’t actually broken.
And the hard truth I had yet to accept was that my learning to implementation balance was off.
You can’t spend years and years learning and investing in stuff and then not do the implementation and think you’re gonna be successful. Not a freaking chance.
But somehow my delusional learning-obsessed mind had me convinced that if I just learned a little more, if I just continued to seek and then find the answer, the fix, the thing that would change everything, then I’d finally have the life and business I always dreamed of. Nope.
Because without implementation all you have is a bunch of info that you’ve now learned.
Implementation is everything. It’s the key, the fix, the magic bullet that allows you to actually use the things you’ve learned in a meaningful way. Implementation is the value of being an educated, lifelong learner.
So in January of this year I made myself an agreement: this year I would do things differently. This year I would strike the balance between learning and implementing.
The truth is, there’s nothing else I need to learn right now. I’ve learned everything I need to know to build a multi-million dollar business and brand and live the crazy-amazing dream life I’ve always wanted.
BUT I don’t yet have the multi-million dollar business, brand or life because I’ve spent the last 10 years of my business learning more than I implemented.
Whew…that’s a fucking hard pill to swallow. But it’s true.
When I give myself a hard time about where I’m at and feel like I should be further along, I only have myself to blame. Because I’ve held the keys to a super-successful multi-million dollar business for YEARS now. I just haven’t used the keys to open the fucking door.
I’ve barely even tried. I’ve been too busy telling myself there’s more to learn and more I need to know.
I literally say to myself on a regular basis, “I must have missed something” or “I must still have more to learn if I’m not ‘there’ yet and if I don’t have the success I want yet.”
I didn’t “miss” anything. There’s nothing “more” that I have to learn right now. There’s one very simple reason why I don’t have the success I want yet…
I haven’t implemented enough.
I’ve studied and invested in myself and been a great learner, but I haven’t been a great implementer. My balance is all off.
Right now I probably have a 70-30 balance going on… 70% of the time I’m learning, studying, training, getting mentored, and 30% of the time I’m implementing some of what I’ve learned.
My obsession with learning has become a hinderance to my success. Its become the reason why my business has made almost the same amount of money for the last three years in a row (growing each year, of course, but only slightly).
This is when learning gets you in trouble. You’re always better off learning less and implementing more, because it’s in the implementing where you really learn.
Reading stuff in a book or hearing it from a coach or learning strategies and methods in a workshop can only take you so far. You have to implement to see what actually works for you.
Otherwise you’ll get stuck in neutral.
I knew this already. I’ve known this. And I committed to not learning more and just implementing in 2017. Except by early February I was already ignoring that commitment and had started investing in shit again that I didn’t need.
Don’t get me wrong–sometimes what you actually do need is a workshop, a program, a class, a coach. Sometimes there are legit things you need to invest in and learn. If you’re someone who hasn’t invested at all, that could be a big part of your problem.
But most of the time what you really need to be doing is implementing.
The year 2016 was a brilliant year for me. I sold THOUSANDS of books. I hit #1 in my category on Amazon twice, and one of my books stayed there for a whole month. I wrote nine books and published seven of them. I implemented like a motherfucker.
And then in 2017 I fell into the trap that I’d been in the years prior of thinking there was more to learn, more that I didn’t know. I, again, started looking for programs and coaches to help me fix what wasn’t actually broken, so I could have the business I really wanted.
But the real truth is, I got scared. Scared by all of my writing success and by how easy it was to achieve that success when I just got out of my head and got into action. Worried that I couldn’t keep it up. That the “other shoe” would eventually drop.
So what happened in 2017? I started trying to learn again and became obsessed with finding the answer, the fix, for why I didn’t yet have a six-figure business.
I wrote and published fewer books, and my book sales took a nosedive. I began investing in more workshops and courses and coaches, and I didn’t spend nearly enough time implementing anything. My balance was off BIG TIME.
And let’s be even more real, when you invest in all of these courses and programs and coaches, you don’t have time to even go through the workshop content, because you’ve invested in way too much stuff.
In early 2018, I got the same nudge I got the year before, which was it’s time to IMPLEMENT. It’s time to commit to NOT investing in anything else and instead take massive action, like I did in 2016.
I started off right. I started amping up my daily actions and focusing on what I know I need to be doing. And then in mid-February, I started to get the urge to learn more. There were like three courses my mentors were running that I just had to be part of.
But this time, I fought it off. I fought the urges HARD. I even had to drag myself away from their sales pages over a dozen times. All the while telling myself that I made an agreement with myself to not invest in any courses, programs or coaches this year UNLESS it directly relates to improving my writing skills (and let’s face it, most of the stuff I’m interested in has nothing to do with that).
I did attend an online business workshop last night in Austin, because a friend of mine bought a ticket and couldn’t be there and we didn’t want it to go to waste. And one of the workshop presenters said something that hit me HARD.
She said, “I’m gonna tell you three things you need to be doing every day in your business that I know you ain’t doing right now, even though you know you should be.” And then she listed off the three things.
The three things I already knew I should be doing. The three things I’ve already known how to do and have done in different capacities over the years.
But not consistently.
My implementation game has been weak AF over the years, and that is the only reason why I’m coming up to my 10-year business anniversary and my 6-year Quitiversary from my day job and I still don’t have the success that I want.
So last night I recommitted to my agreement with myself that I will IMPLEMENT this year and NOT invest in things that will just continue to allow me to avoid doing the actual work.
Sticking your head in the sand might feel good at first, but eventually you realize that you’ve just been fucking yourself over the whole time, and you’ve now got very little to show for all the years of your life except for sand in unspeakable places.
It’s time to create a REAL balance, between learning and doing, between discovering what you need to know and implementing the things you’re discovering.
It’s time for real, massive, consistent action. Daily. Daily. Daily.
It’s time to make an agreement with yourself that this will be the year you finally implement more than you invest and take action more than you learn.
Otherwise a year from now you can expect to find yourself exactly where you are right now, or slightly past where you are, but not much closer to the life and business you actually want.
Dream life or bust,