This last week I immersed myself in the art of learning. When I drove to work, I listened to a podcast about current events, changing your mindset; I even started learning a new language. Instead of watching the latest Netflix fiction series, I chose documentaries or YouTube channels people recommended I watch. I stayed clear of my normal fantasy novels and started reading a couple non-fiction books that have been sitting on my bookshelves for a year or two.
Here are 5 things I learnt about the art of learning:
1. IT'S HARD TO BREAK A HABIT/LIFESTYLE
For some people, making a decision to do something different is easy. A friend of mine would call it your strength of character.
Are you really willing to make the change you know would be beneficial for you?
During the week, I found myself slipping back to surfing the social media platforms, not out of necessity - I have a writing group and other obligations that require me to check these things - but I found myself aimlessly wondering through feeds just because that's what I normally do. I also had to stop myself from sitting down and watching movies at the end of the day. I will admit, I slipped twice.
What's that old myth? Twenty one days to create a habit, three days to break it? Has anyone else heard of that? It doesn't feel entirely plausible. I think if it took just three days to break it, it wasn't a habit in the first place. It makes more sense for it to take at least twenty one days of conscious and consistent effort for someone to create a new habit, but far longer to break one, good or bad.
I had a search to see what other people said about breaking habits and found Judson Brewer's TED talk about mindfully thinking or curiously being aware in order to help change our behaviour.
I think if I'm brave enough to continue working on my strength of character, those changes will continue to come easier and easier as time goes by. All I have to do is continue to persist.
2. FEEDING YOURSELF REAL INFORMATION IS LIBERATING
For majority of my adult life and as a teenager, I've enjoyed the wonders of that which is fiction. Creativity and imagination was what I lived off and still thoroughly enjoy. But I've also missed out on a lot of things. Things I wish I would have had the courage or foresight to learn. It's so much easier to get lost in my own mind or that of a good fiction story.
Sometimes starting something new takes a little effort. Sometimes the podcast you listen to is really interesting but is so full of mini ads that it just becomes annoying. Sometimes you realise the YouTube vlog you're watching is on current issues and most of the information goes over your head because you've come into it at the middle of the story. But I found that once I started, it was kind of fun. I wanted to keep listening to the podcast instead of turning my car off and going to work; knowing I'd be waiting until the end of my shift to continue the podcast.
There's so much information on the internet right now and it's really easy to search for something that might interest you. There are things I've explored this week I never would have thought to learn, purely because I didn't think it would have interested me. If you find someone whose engaging and talks on a variety of subjects, who knows what you'll learn.
3. THERE'S MORE TIME IN THE DAY THAN WE REALISE
At the Omega Writers Conference last year, David Rawlings, author of the Christy Award winning book, The Baggage Handler talked about what he does during his drives to work. He dictates his stories to himself, recording them on an app on his phone.
An acquaintance of mine told me her sister takes a thirty minute train ride to work everyday. That's a whole hour per day. She's read more than six books already this year.
Do you listen to music in the shower? Watch tv in the morning, afternoon and/or night?
I'm not saying you need to pack in every moment of everyday and feed yourself a mass amount of new information. I'm definitely not saying that. Everyone needs downtime. Everyone needs the time to recharge. You need to be conscious of your limitations, prioritise and remind yourself to have fun with it. There are diverse learning platforms these days. Books, podcasts, YouTube channels, documentaries, audio books, blogs. Why not try something new today and see where it leads you.
4. LEARNING IS TIRING
This is where the downtime and recharging comes in. Everyone knows the brain is like a muscle. When you exercise, I guarantee those muscles you worked are going to hurt the next day. They get tired.
I went to sleep far earlier than I usually do the last few days. It could have something to do with changing things up this week, but that doesn't mean I'm going to stop. Doing something different isn't always going to be easy. It takes effort. It takes discipline. And it takes practice.
If it takes effort, you know it's going to be rewarding. But you need to remember to go easy on yourself if things don't turn out the way you hoped.
Recharge and try again.
5. THERE'S ALWAYS MORE TO LEARN
Information is so easy to come by these days and there's so much of it. Is all information true? No. Most of the information out there is just personal opinion unless it's back up with facts. But isn't that the beauty of learning? To figure out what is and isn't true? Society is constantly learning and discovering new things everyday, so there will never be a lack of information to learn.
There are some great YouTube channels like Joe Rogan or Philip Defranco that discuss a diverse number of topics from politics to celebrities to science and sports. If you're unsure of what might interest you, watching a channel like these that gives you a wide variety of topics allows you to discover interesting topics you wouldn't have even known about.
I thoroughly enjoyed this last week, learning about a few different topics, understanding politics a bit more, especially what's happening within the United States at the moment. I can't say I completely understand it all and I was never really interested in politics before either, but this last week has really encouraged me to pursue some of those topics I wouldn't normally want to learn because they're out of my comfort zone. And after a couple of days not listening to podcasts or watching documentaries and YouTube channels, I'm starting to miss it.
So, what about you? Is there something you've been interested in learning but haven't made the time or put it in the someday category? Why not try and put it in the tomorrow category and find a podcast on the subject to listen to while you drive to work. Let me know what you're going to start learning about tomorrow in the comments below.