Sorry to say it, but 2011 is over. Gone. Forever. Time to look forward my friend. If you are interested in becoming a better person over the next year, then you need to pay attention to your ability to learn.
That’s right. To be a better person you need to be a better learner.
And learning is about being there. Here are 12 things to improve on in order to be there.
1) Go To Bed Earlier
Of the many functions of sleep, the most important may be what it does to your brain.
Think of sleep as the housekeeper of your mind. As you drift around in dreamland, your brain is rewiring. Strengthening certain connections, shedding others.
It cleans up for the next day of potential learning.
Make sure you get enough. Give that housekeeper time to get things done.
2) Read Classical Philosophy
While science has come a long way in describing our world, many of the foundations of science can be found in reading the works of ancient philosophy.
Reading ancient ideas of scientific thinking may seem like wasting your time, but many ideas and questions around back then are still around.
Basic questions about the human condition.
Understanding these ideas will allow you to connect with even modern answers, as these have roots going way back.
3) Quit Complaining
When was the last time you encountered a problem worth mentioning?
One that really took you by surprise and forced you to muster up every ounce of imagination to solve it?
Probably not very often. Most problems we face can be summed up as “First World Problems.” Things like forgetting our iPad or not being put on ground floor at the hotel.
When you think of it as something you should never have to deal with and complain about it, this is saying a lot about your mental toughness.
4) Train For Something
So many people have the goal of wanting to “get fit.” Sometimes activity is heralded for its ability to improve brain functions.
Let’s get real, though. To really enhance learning, you need to train for something, and don’t make it a marathon.
Train for something different. Badminton championships. Olympic weightlifting. Just don’t choose running.
You’ll be glad you did.
5) Jump Into Tough Situations
To learn how to swim you have to eventually get in the water.
Throw yourself into the situations you dread the most. Public speaking. Big social gatherings. Whatever your weakness is, take it on by running right into it.
Prepare all you want, until you actually get in the arena you have no idea what it’s really about.
6) Train Your Weakness
Just like number five, you should be worried about bringing up your weak areas.
A man is only as good as his weakest link in the chain, so work your butt off to make sure that every link is as strong as the next.
Are you intelligent but procrastinate? Then work on getting things done.
Do you get things done but find that the quality of your work is lacking? Take some time to plan things out and really evaluate your work at the expense of punctuality. You may see your quality get better.
7) Spend Some Time Alone
I’ve always been a firm believer that alone time is the great mirror of your soul.
It shows you what you really think about, what is important to you, and how you are evaluating your life.
You have no one around to bullshit to or to tell you that you are a wonderful human being. You have to decide that on your own.
And that can be very, very difficult.
8 ) You’re Not Intelligent, You Work Hard
Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide, explains an interesting phenomenon when teaching children.
Those who think they are hard workers tend to take on challenges better than those who believe themselves to be naturally more intelligent.
It has to do with the mindset of each child. A hard worker knows there will be setbacks, but they will work through them. However, the naturally intelligent only wants to save face. They will become frustrated at something that challenges them as they have been set up to view intelligence as something you are born with.
Be the hard worker.
9) Learn Everything About Emotions
Emotions have such a profound impact upon our experience from day to day. They can unlock better learning, or hinder it completely.
They can make our lives wonderful, or leave us numb in the corner.
Learn about this vast area of the human experience.
You may see how you can use this information as a necessary tool.
10) Learn How To Value
To value something is to see how important it is. It takes a wise judgement to see what is truly valuable and what is not.
Get that wise judgment.
You will find yourself wasting less time and energy on things that are of little significance.
11) Really Challenge Yourself
Go all in on something. So often it is so easy to back out.
Lay all your cards on the table and see what you can do. Don’t turn back. To really learn something on a deep level is to understand all of the ins and outs. To have gone as close to the edge as possible without falling off.
Make a decision and stick to it to the very end. Learn something.
12) Finish Things
When you start something, keep at it until it is done.
Get into the habit of accomplishing even the smallest of goals.
You will see the big ones start to appear on the horizon.