If you are on this website it means something special. That you, like me, very much enjoy learning. Learning about physics. Learning about the mind. Learning about anything, really. It is this passion that drives us onto new projects and ultimately towards a level of living that includes a plethora of enriched experiences.
However, this path has its own special hurdles, challenges, that we face on a daily basis. Problem areas that can make continuous learning difficult.
So here are four of those challenges and how to handle them with joyous determination.
Mistake after Mistake
To learn deeply takes practice. It takes more than just a bit of reading. With every endeavor comes the “test.”
And with tests come wrong answers, mistakes.
While every person makes mistakes those continually pushing the envelope for knowledge are especially susceptible.
Mistakes are most likely to be made when you first set out on any project, try to learn a new skill, or familiarize yourself with difficult and new topics. Passionate learners are doing this all the time! They will no doubt fail more than most.
How to Handle?
Embrace the mistake lifestyle. See mistakes for what they really are: The best kinds of learning opportunities. Success does not favor those who never make mistakes but those who use them to further enhance later experiences.
Learn to be ready for the inevitable mistakes and to be aware of them.
When fitness specialists design a program to get someone into shape they have to take into consideration three main areas:
Intensity relates to how hard you workout within a given time. If you are working your maximal levels it is a very intense workout. Frequency describes how often you are working out.
Finally, a workout’s Volume is how much of the workout there is. If you are at the gym for 2.5 hours it most likely has very high volume (or you are chatting it up too much).
A general rule of thumb is that you can have a high level of two areas but you can’t keep up all three for very long unless you are a highly trained athlete with years of experience under your belt. You can workout with a high intensity for a long time but you’ll have to tone down the frequency.
You can train often and hard but you’ll have to make it short in order to recover.
How does this apply to an enduring learner? It has everything to do with it.
Typically, someone who is involved in learning something new already has other engagements they have to worry about: Work, kids, working out, etc.
You are most likely going to run into energy problems quite a bit.
How to Handle?
Design your “learning” program to keep yourself energized.
Take into consideration how often you will be giving your time to your new project, how much time it will take, and how hard you are going to work.
Planning it out ahead of time will help you ensure you don’t crash and burn and just give up on something rewarding.
How Deep Do I Go?
I’ve always thought of myself as an 80 percenter. I like to throw myself passionately into a sport or activity until I reach about an 80 percent proficiency level. To go beyond that requires an obsession and degree of specialization that doesn’t appeal to me.
~Yvon Chouinard, Let My People Go Surfing
Every topic, activity, or skill has its own gradient of proficiency.
On the one hand you have those who know nothing about it and on the other those who know every single minute detail.
To be an expert at something requires years of dedication. However, more likely than not, you are not interested in that kind of level. The kind of level you are interested is more like how Yvon describes; enough skill to incorporate in daily life without taking over the entire picture.
This can be a massive problem for passionate learners. You have a tendency to keep going and going because learning is such an exciting thing for you. This can hinder your efforts to learn about other things, though, and the extra attention to the one topic may not even bear any fruit.
How to Handle?
Learn to let go. Take a moment to think about what you are wanting to get out of what you are doing. Eventually, the law of diminishing returns will have a profound effect on what you are doing and drain you from other activities.
While constant learning is a great thing in itself, save your obsession for the things you really, really want to be an expert in.
Where Do I Go From Here?
Perhaps the most difficult challenge any person must face but it goes doubly so for those constantly moving forward.
Such is the life of someone who strives to learn about so many different things.
Depending on how seriously you take it this question could have life changing consequences. You may take it so seriously you feel like moving to an entirely new destination.
Or the problem may be smaller; as in, “which book should I read now?”
In any case, it’s an important question. The projects you involve yourself in determine the path your life will take.
How to Handle?
Take the time necessary according to the decision.
Changing books is no big deal. Physical activities may be more strenuous, pricy even. Uprooting completely is a decision worth much consideration.
As you gain awareness of your feelings you will be better able to answer this questions as you continue along from project to project.
These are problems for every person but those who find themselves interested in continual learning will face them more often and to a higher degree.
One must recognize them as eventual problems and be ready.
- Embrace a lifestyle the involves a lot of mistakes.
- Plan out your activities. Intensity, Frequency, and Volume.
- Move between activities with little regret and with just the right amount of proficiency.
- Take your next step seriously.
These simple suggestions will save you lots of trouble and help streamline your learning ability, allowing you to learn even more! Which is something every passionate learner craves.