What’s the difference between a young adult and a seasoned senior besides age? Their wisdom and experience. These are two things you can’t think up and have. You have to live, experiment, and learn throughout your whole life in order to reach new levels of knowledge and expertise. The best time to start learning useful new things is yesterday. The second best time is today.
This post is part of a 14 part series on How to Be a Better Person. I’ve also super-duper fancied this group of posts up into an Amazon Kindle book. Check it out: Forget Perfect, Just Be Better: 101 Simple Ways to Grow in Relationships, at Work, in Life, and Through God.
1) What’s a Library?
I can’t figure out why people aren’t as excited about learning new things as me. I like to believe they’re excited, but maybe not with the way things are taught now-a-days. Or is it that we’re just moving so fast we don’t think we have time to learn something new? Maybe it’s the lack of a personal “educational fund” to buy books, training, or tickets to seminars? Or maybe it’s a lack of awareness of all the awesome stuff that’s out there?
Let’s face it. If you’re not motivated and looking for a new skill to learn and build, you’ll never lift a finger in that direction. It boils down to motivation. If we’re not excited about overcoming hurdles in our way, then why would we even bother learning how to do it? Sure, deep down we all know that there’s more to be had, but what’s wrong with what we have right now? Nothing. Nothing at all. Except everything. Everything you’re missing.
Just Be Better: Go to your local library’s website. Pick a random book. Check it out. Read for at least fifteen minutes. Or better yet, most libraries now have audiobooks available for free. You can be ‘reading’ while you drive to work, exercise, or mow the lawn. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be learning something. I learned a ton from almost 100 audiobooks in 2011. All free, thanks to my local library.
The growth is there for the taking. Be the reason.
2) Archive Party
I have this box of goodies I’ve kept since high school. It’s got little notes, ticket stubs, silly little knick-knacks, printed (!) pictures, and other assorted things from my earlier days. I don’t do it often, but it sure is nice to rummage through this box every once in a while. Especially the stuff that captures my thoughts and dreams from those days. Things have changed so much.
Being held back by your past is not a useful skill. However, reflecting on how you thought and planned for the future can be very useful. If you seek to learn from your past so that you can change your future, then you’re on the right track. How have you changed since high school? How about since five years ago? Three years ago? One year?
Just Be Better: Review your personal notes, papers, and filed away goodies from the last year for at least twenty minutes today. Find the good stuff you have tucked away in the box in the attic or closet. Don’t have anything? Try your super-old emails in the “Sent” folder in your email program. Start a new notebook or journal now so you’ll have something to use for next year.
Look back and learn so you can go forward and earn.
3) Google Flogged My Noggin
A little over a decade ago, I remember having to do some research in my school’s library. Yup, look up the books on the computer indexing system, find the book, and then skim through it until I found what I needed. Hardly fast, but it worked just fine. It’s so much easier today. It’s too easy, in fact.
It’s so easy now, I think people don’t even bother looking stuff up anymore. Okay, okay – I get it. Not everyone likes to go to the library or read books. Fair enough. It’s a fast world and we’re all about having our answers right now. It’s a good thing we have such a vast global resource available to us in the internet. But we need to use it more effectively to grow. There’s so much out there, it’s time to focus.
Just Be Better: Spend fifteen minutes “Google researching” a topic you’re interested in. Just put that topic in the search bar with the words “how do I…” or “10 tips about…” and see what you come up with. Write down at least three interesting facts on an index card.
Make it a point to keep looking. Find something you like, plant the seed, and make it grow.
4) Define Simplicity
I’ll admit I have no problem following along in a good technical book about learning, how the mind works, or advanced psychology. But sometimes, it’s too much and I have to take a break. I give a lot of credit to those who can deal with five-dollar words day in and day out. It’s very taxing.
But here’s the kicker. After writing hundreds of thousands of words for many websites, several books, and countless emails, I can tell you one fact most people won’t admit. Being simple is hard. Being simple is real hard. It’s something that only comes with experience. Now’s a good time to start.
Just Be Better: Go spend some time at WordNet. Look up three words you’ve had trouble with in the past. Digest the simplicity of the definitions you get there. Start using these words again.
Start making your life simpler and start making more sense.
5) Grow Yourself Locally
Books, websites, email newsletters, videos, tweets, and more. There’s no shortage of self-help or self-improvement gurus out there. And why not? It’s such a great field with infinite room for growth. People need help and we always have another level to achieve, no matter how far we’ve gone.
But sometimes the plain text, lifeless video, or boring emails just don’t cut it. There’s just something about learning from people who actually practice what they teach in the real world that makes all the difference. Granted, public speaking isn’t for everyone, but the ones that get it, get it good.
Just Be Better: Search for a local personal development or skills building seminar in your area. Plan to go. And then go. Take notes. Learn how to get to the next level in your life. Review your notes the following week. And then again a month later.
Real people are the secret sauce in growing.
6) Learning is Fun?
Now not all learning videos are boring. It takes a good team of writers, planners, technical folks, and enthusiastic actors to get a good thing going. There’s a lot of decent stuff out there. However, you can only get so much “decent stuff” before you’re tired of looking for learning all together.
So much of today’s education isn’t done with the human brain in mind. Most schools and teachers take the old-school methods that were designed to treat one kid the same as all others. But this doesn’t work. Multiple intelligences, differing personalities, unique learning styles, and varying growth phases all come into play. But they all have something in common. Well researched, well prepared, and well executed material hits home every time.
Just Be Better: Go to the VSauce YouTube channel. Pick any video. Seriously, it doesn’t matter which one you pick, they’re all fantastic. Be amazed while you learn brand new subjects in less than seven minutes.
Hit education where it hurts and start having fun learning.
7) A Learning Frame of Mind
Ever tried to pick up a textbook, flip to random page and just start reading? I think I have. The thing is, I don’t remember a thing I read. I wonder how many folks do this kind of studying for their school work or professional duties. All I know is it doesn’t work, and boy do I feel like I wasted my time when it happens.
Learning is like exercising, you’ve got to warm up before you can take off. The brain is an absolutely wonderful machine, but it needs to be eased into new material. Some of this easing and preparing can be done with relaxation and mental preparation techniques. You’re going to use your mind to learn, but you’ve got to use your mind to prepare, first.
Just Be Better: Practice getting into a learning frame of mind. It only takes about six minutes. Go check out my video on getting into the learning state. Practice it a few times and then get good at doing it on your own before big study sessions. Notice changes in your learning as you go forward.
To learn, you must learn how to prepare to learn.
8) Fire in the Belly
How many times did you put off doing homework as a kid because your friends wanted you to come out and play? Or maybe you had a new video game you couldn’t wait to put the smack down on. Either way, the last thing you were interested in was doing work. Especially learning.
And there’s the real problem with that scenario. Learning isn’t work, unless you make it work. If you’re a die-hard fan of mowing the lawn, then dog gone it you’re going to love mowing the lawn. Deep down, when you love to learn, you have a burning need to learn. A need that needs to be quenched. The same goes for everything you do or want to do. Find the motivation to turn work into play.
Just Be Better: Go figure out what motivates you to get stuff done. I’ve got a free Self-Motivation Quiz on my site that’ll help. Now start using that type of motivation to get stuff done.
Light that fire and take off. It’s time to want to learn and grow.
How to Be A Better Person by Using 8 Learning Tips
- What’s a Library?
- Archive Party
- Google Flogged My Noggin
- Define Simplicity
- Grow Yourself Locally
- Learning is Fun?
- A Learning Frame of Mind
- Fire in the Belly
Are you ready to get out there and learn so you can be a better person? I am and it’s time to go. Have a great day!
Want to get the whole series in a convenient ebook?
Check it out: Forget Perfect, Just Be Better: 101 Simple Ways to Grow in Relationships, at Work, in Life, and Through God