Ideas without action are stillborn.

— Jim Rohn

We don’t need more information.

We know what we need to do, and we usually know how to do it. I know how to start exercising, you know how to lose a few pounds, and we all know how to carve out more time for our friends and families. These things may be difficult, but they’re not complicated. Instead of seeking new information, perhaps we should act on the information we already have.

Action is the name of the game, though it’s not always obvious. We all know the thrill of finding a solution to a problem we’ve been battling for weeks or months. “Aha,” we think, “problem solved!”

But the problem isn’t solved, not yet. It’s not solved until we implement the solution. Often we do so right away, but sometimes we don’t. Sometimes, we collect multiple solutions instead of implementing even one of them.

Below are three specific tactics to help you (and me) take more action.

  • Reading. Instead of reading a new book, choose your favorite book from the last 12 months and schedule time to actually do what it recommends. Put its best advice into practice. I’m going to take Peter Drucker’s advice in The Effective Executive and track how I spend my time for a few days.
  • Productivity. Got a stalled-out project? Commit to a deadline. Promise someone else a deliverable, and tell them when to expect it. Give youself a little less time than you’d like.
  • Personal development. Measure your progress in the areas you want to grow. At least quarterly, take stock of your life. Step on the scale, total up your retirement accounts, add up the days you worked out last month. Nothing forces us to confront reality like a cold, hard, number.

Knowledge informs action—it’s of limited use on its own. When it comes to self-improvement, don’t be a collector of knowledge. Put it to use.