At college, we study six (or maybe more) subjects a day. We loved some (Art and Technology), and we hated others (Pe and Math, right? At least one of them).
But I think we can all accept that diversity has brought an interesting, if rather chaotic, shape to the day. Also, mostly by design—sometimes sheer coincidence—it taught us, advancing us as human beings. If it’s not too much of a sweeping argument.
Forgetting on studying
Too many, as adults, we can fail to understand. It’s not our fault. Life is organized in a way that champions money, careers, routines, and because we absolutely need balance), social activities, and fun.
All these things, nice as they are, make a lot of noise. With all this ‘noise’ going on around us, our attention inevitably shifts from the education and development that was so important in our formative years. And it’s all too easy to never hear a call again.
We can’t change the framework right now. We’ve got to keep our jobs, pay our rent, feed our families and ourselves. These are always the most important things, but does that mean we have to stop learning?
Seeking Inspiration from School
Maybe we should take some advice from the way school is run. Every day, whatever our mood, ideals, and reasons, we had to go—we were forced to sit down and learn.
As someone who writes music, I am all too conscious of the adage that we must be ‘inspired to write music. People wonder where it came from and how fortunate we are: ‘It must be amazing to have all those ideas.’
One of my favorite teachers said something that’s stuck with me—one it’s of the truest things I’ve learned about creativity in general:
‘No one sits down and is motivated by Heaven. You’ve got to sit down when you’re not motivated by God and compose anyway.” If we wait to feel motivated, we’re probably never going to do that. The same is true of studying.
Segments of 30 minutes
A quick period like this is a great way to approach learning. If you start by restricting yourself to a half-hour MAXIMUM, learning, particularly at the beginning, will be much less daunting. So, short bursts are potentially going to contribute to longevity. What’s going on for 30 minutes? The Simpsons Episode? Or is it your favorite soap?
When you mastered this, you can build up to an hour or more. The initial short burst will really help you with your confidence and feeling that you can take things on.
What are you going to learn?
Quantum Physics, guy. Just kidding. Learn something that will make you happy. Get ready for increased trust, happiness, and general endorphins with the feeling of achievement you’re going to get. That thing you’ve always wanted to learn—how to make the perfect omelet, or how the supply chain works. Anything mad, something! But I guarantee that this will lead you to a different idea, and a different idea—maybe even a whole subject field.
We all sat on YouTube and watched ten videos in a row because of the treacherous ‘Suggested For You’ columns. Yet, we are looking for an educational counterpart. Anything that leads is going to lead to something else.
Where are you supposed to start?
In reality, YouTube isn’t a bad place to start by feeling off-putting when you pick up a book (or even the idea of finding one).
YouTube is a powerhouse of knowledge, and if you don’t automatically go back to cat videos, it might be the ideal way to fulfill your hunger for knowledge. If you watch videos in the right area, they’re probably going to lead you to similar articles and books anyway. In this vein, another potential way to start (depending on the topic) is to read fiction novels in your chosen subject field.
Some time ago, I had to study some historical events for a writing project—a way out of my normal interest and comfort zone. Feeling daunted by where to begin (how do you make a dent in a subject you don’t know anything about?), I ended up reading several fictional novels and watching movies on the subject.
These tools turned out to provide a lot of valuable knowledge, and while the information had to be taken with a pinch of salt, they definitely helped. Most importantly, though, I was given a base to build on without feeling too much like ‘work.’ Goal Settings for Practicing ‘Freestyle.’
The setting of goals is a crucial part of learning.
But the way we think about ‘goals’ in this context may not be what we normally think about when we use the term. For example, it can not work towards any specific accolade or qualification. We’re probably all familiar with the goals of SMART (Sizeable, Manageable, Achievable, Practical, Timebound).
Although, in our own way, we want all of these things to be our priorities, taking such a dogmatic approach could be really out-of-the-box and have the opposite impact when it comes to freestyle learning. Try to think more philosophically of your ambitions.
Plan to achieve a specified point of development, which may or may not require physical action, or be in particular timebound.’ What we want to prevent are objectives that are open-ended:
- Learn more about psychology
- Get to the point where I can speak French fluently
- Take the music theory of grade 5
The kind of goals that you need to set are those that are built to keep you motivated, easily attainable, and easily changed as you complete them:
Finish chapter one of the Psychology text, and summarize it in the memoir notes.
- Learn at least ten new sentences a day in French.
- Practice one question for each feature in the syllabus of music theory.
By splitting your goals into those that you can hit more quickly, particularly at the beginning of your effort, you’re getting a more immediate sense of accomplishment.
This is going to keep you going. Again, it is only after you have a well-established routine that you can start expanding the goalposts. Learning in your work or your company
Tying the current search for information to work or company can be a perfect way to inspire yourself.
Studying things that make business life simpler, or putting you on a promotional line, would make learning a method that also links to those adult-type obligations that we mentioned earlier—like getting more money. Take time to figure out what’s needed to get ahead of your work, or sit down and plan a route that could take your company to the next level.
Unfortunately, life is rarely as easy as video games like The Sims, where skill level and being in a good mood ensures your promotion.
No, there are all sorts of variables in the real world that can hinder advancement, most usually just a lack of open positions. There is true, to a certain extent, a pyramid of influence in the flattest of businesses.
So the motivation for learning should be driven solely by something else—fulfilling the childlike desire to progress personally, regardless of whether it would lead to immediate success. Your learning has already begun!
Reading this (technically) counts as beginning on your new learning route.
What was that—ten minutes? At least, at least! So well done, you deserve a break. Check your cell, get a cup, and Tweet your newfound excitement! As long as you promise to leap from this, the future of knowledge and personal fulfillment is waiting for you. If there’s one lesson out of this blog, it’s that learning doesn’t always mean books.
If this isn’t your deal, opt for something more realistic or adventurous. Just make sure the goals take you to a little ‘hoorays’ on a regular basis. Yoga, cooking, carpentry, skydiving—the possibilities are as endless as the imagination.