10 easy ways to learn something new each day
Learning is very much a mental process that leads to lasting change in knowledge, behaviour or both. It's an amazing thing that many of us neglect, out of lack of time or lack of money. When we consider learning the thing to consider is it's a process. It’s not an outcome; it’s the action. It’s what you have to keep doing to keep growing.
Now you don't need to suddenly sign up for a university degree course, we can look at lots of ways of bringing learning into our lives with small steps. Each one opens our horizons and our opportunity for growth.
These opportunities to learn something new are all around us. You just have to be looking for them. Here are a few of the favourite tips I've picked up over the years;
Become reconnected with your inner child: Children love to play, to experiment and figure out new things. As adults, we loose this gift and can tend to dismiss something that’s unfamiliar or we can assume we already know all there is to know about it. Can you remember your childhood? Think about how you would approach things. Explore the unfamiliar from all of the different angles. Ask questions. Try it out. Find out what other people think about it. Find out what you really think about it.
Treat mistakes as opportunities for learning. Stop beating yourself up for each minor mistake. Making mistakes is often the best way to learn. Instead take some time out to really understand what went well and what didn't. See each mistake as another step taken in the right direction and an opportunity for growth.
Break up your daily routine, whatever that is. We can do simple things like taking a different route to work, going for a walk at lunchtime. Eating lunch with someone in a different department, speaking to someone rather than emailing —whatever is needed to break up the routine. If you do the same things every day, you’ll miss the chance for unexpected encounters and amazing discoveries, and you’ll lose out on the critical “day dreaming” time that helps you generate new ideas and make mental connections.
Use your phone for something useful. Download an app that gives you a daily reminder, prompt, question or tip. Depending on your preferences, you might be motivated by something like a fun learning game or you might need a more linear planning tool. Find what works for you, and use it to hold yourself accountable.
Listen to an audio book, a podcast , watch a video, subscribe to a newsletter, or read something that challenges you or focuses on a topic outside your area of expertise. Go for variety, and look for those that don’t necessarily validate your point of view. Then make it a point to keep your mind open. Plan to identify one thing you can take away from them each time.
Work on the basics. If you want to learn something that’s complex or requires advanced knowledge, don’t get overwhelmed by diving right into the tough stuff. Learn the basics before you try to master the more advanced material. The details need something to hang onto.
Use your current skills and interests as inspiration for new ideas. If you love to cook? Try a recipe in a completely new area or using a new piece of equipment. If you love to knit, try crocheting. If you love fixing cars, why not try restoring one or building model. If you adore writing, try your hand at a different genre, e.g. poetry, crime fiction, factual writing, something you don’t normally do. Get inspired thinking about where you can go next.
Get active. Learning is a mental process, and some studies suggests there are even more brain benefits to physical activity than previously thought. Get your brain ready for new learning by staying active, whether that’s by going for a walk, working out in the gym or dancing around your kitchen. The key is to finding activities you enjoy and will stick with.
Phone a friend. Or a mentor. Or an expert. Or someone who simply thinks differently than you do. And always be willing to return the favour. You can learn something new by teaching and advising others just as you do through your own development. I read somewhere about having 3 go to people. Who are yours?
Learn how you think to make it easier for you to learn. We all think and operate differently. Some of us prefer to see things visually in pictures or in words. Others prefer to listen and prefer learning via auditory methods, and some prefer to walk things through or by doing. Some people think-do-think and others do-think-do. Or it could be a mixture of things. It takes time to be unconsciously competent in a topic, but we can help this by learning in a way we prefer. (We discuss this in module one of the paid group the Mojo Academy.) You may think you are rubbish with computers, but learning in a different way makes you brilliant at them. Learning doesn’t have to be like it was in school. Find out what really engages you, and then use that knowledge to your advantage.
Keeping an open and active mind for new learning is essential for you to be able to create the future of your dreams. What will new thing will you learn today?