Everyone in life has a purpose, and the older we get the more eager we are to discover what that purpose is. Typically called the “identity stage”, the 20’s are when we feel most pressured to figure everything out and have a clear understanding of who we are, what we’re meant to do, and how we’re supposed to do it. Sounds like a lot, right? Yet, we hold ourselves accountable for having answers within a made-up and unrealistic time frame, which can put us in a very lost and unsatisfied space.
So, what do we do? All that we experience is part of our journey through self-growth. While on this journey we will need tools to assist us. The very resource that encompasses all of that is literature – the ultimate tool. Yes, people still read books. And yes, people read books about self-growth.
It seems simple enough, and maybe even redundant. But how many of us are actually conceptualizing what we read, or even applying the knowledge? We need to create room to process our reading; that is how our growth begins to be actualized.
So here are three easy phases for you to navigate to help you move into a space that will jumpstart your experience with that actualization:
One: Choosing the Book
So we’re here, on the path to gaining new knowledge and there are a billion and one places we can start. Due to so many of us in this space, there are a plethora of books for promoting self-growth, getting in alignment with your purpose, unleashing your full potential, and so much more. For those who are constantly reading all the time and have a comfortable rhythm, more power to you. For others like myself, whose reading experiences haven’t been much outside of class assignments from high school and college...let’s make it easier for ourselves to get back into the swing of things.
The easy thing would be to go to the bookstore or online and just buy a bunch of books that you’ve seen people talk about or that were recommended to you. But let's be real, what works for others may not work for you. Be honest with yourself when it comes to the books you choose, whether it is by what the book is about, the length or even the style of writing, read something you will actually enjoy rather than forcing it.
Two: Reading the Book
With non-fiction fantasies and other fun genres we normally don’t have an issue finding the time to read, or staying engaged. However, with self-help books sometimes we have to discipline ourselves to make time. We have to be consistent with our reading to remain engaged and coherent with everything we are trying to learn.
In the process of reading, have a mindset to look out for words, quotes or anything that stands out to you, or relates to what you’re dealing with. You know that feeling in church, when the preacher is hitting every point that relates to where you are...both good and bad, and you can’t help but think they have to be talking to you? Or when you’re listening to a song and the lyrics seem to just sort of sing your soul? That’s what you’re looking for when reading these books...you want the book to read you.
I suggest annotating the pages like an English assignment. Think of it as studying. We aren’t just reading these books for entertainment but to learn things to apply towards our independent journeys, so that’s going to require some notes, and studious habits. Some books even come with a study guide where you have review and reflection options for each chapter.
Lastly, when taking time to read these books about self-growth, allow them to open you up in order for them to work. Transparency throughout the reading process matters. With openness, you are allowing yourself room to explore both the criticisms and teachings of the book.
Three: Reading the Book Again….Yes, Again
At this point, we’ve completed the book! This is a huge accomplishment every time it happens. However, to really take in what we’ve read we have to read it again. Yes, I am serious, but this time we are more so reviewing the notes and comments we made in order to observe. It is really important to assess our prior annotations because this is where we get all the information we wanted to retain. With this information, you can do with it what you will, i.e. write a reflective note, create an outline of your notes, etc. Whatever method you would like to use should intend to take your understanding to the next step.
The first book I really applied this method to was The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, by Deepak Chopra. I personally enjoy journaling so once I finished reviewing my notes I simply just wrote to myself what I learned and what I wanted to apply in my life. I created new goals, affirmations, and realistic habits I could add to my daily routine. Of course, in the beginning, it didn’t stick, but after enough discipline, what I gained in that book began to be actualized in my life. Every now and then I go back to the book and my notes and refresh myself on what I learned, and what I should be holding myself accountable for because we’re human and fall off sometimes.
These methods have worked incredibly for me, and it is my hope that you can use them to help form your own method that works best for you! Reading is still fundamental, just like our elementary teachers told us, and books are still the best place to find the knowledge others don’t want you to know. So let’s go, let’s read, and let’s grow.
Our guest contributor, Ramona, is a freelance journalist in both the DMV and New York areas. Through her growing journey of self-care and wellness, writing has been an essential tool for her. It has helped her discover her voice personally through her own dynamic storytelling.
Get more of Ramona:
on social media (@SincerelyMonaa) + be sure to check out her blog here!