Sunday, September 29, 2013

Lifelong Learning As a Process (not a means to an end)

This past week I found a website that has inspired a shift in my thought process about learning and how I spend my time. It all started 2 days ago when I was talking with a good friend about how we both need to get back into exercising regularly and eating well. Sometimes it can feel impossible to get into a routine when we are exhausted from a long day of work and we just want to 'relax'. I remembered reading an excellent article series several weeks prior about Habitual Mastery and how to create an environment of success for starting new habits. Before we got off the phone, I promised to send her the article when I got home.

When I went back to visit his site I found such a wealth of information about how to get more out of life by embracing lifelong learning and increasing day-to-day productivity. His work resonated with me profoundly. From a young age my parents instilled in me a love of learning and through my college career I have enjoyed and learned from EVERY single class I have taken, regardless of wether or not it pertained to my major. Yet, the information on his site takes this concept to a whole new level.

Just last year he decided he wanted to learn computer programming. So he did the entire 4 year MIT curriculum in 1 year without taking any classes. This year he has decided he won't speak English and is going to travel and learn 4 languages in 4 countries. To say this guy is inspiring is an understatement.

He writes about setting goals only as a way to structure the learning process and not as an end itself.

In a craving mindset, you pick the easiest possible route to your goal. From a process viewpoint, that is boring. Instead you want to pick one that meets your level of challenge.

I totally agree with this, and my own experience has shown that my favorite classes, where I learned the most, were the ones that challenged me the most. He also talks about his Goal of Learning Everything, that everything in life offers an opportunity for learning that helps build a framework of intelligence.

This information has my brain churning with possibilities and aspirations for the future. I have already been open to my friends and family about wanting to become a University Graduate, Registered Herbalist, certified yoga teacher and personal trainer. But I have always qualified it with saying I am probably crazy and it doesn't hurt to dream big. But, my horizons have expanded. I don't need to stress about cramming everything into a few years as I have my whole life to learn. If I wanted, I could take the equivalent of medical school curriculum and learn it though sites like OpenCulture or MIT Openourseware. I could take a course in Ayurvedic medicine or Permaculture. Or Memorize Chapters of Scripture. Or Learn New Languages. Or learn Ballet. Or write regularly on this blog. haha Anything is possible, and how exciting that I can spend my whole life learning new and interesting things, regardless of if they are 'directly' useful to my career. I want to live to the full potential that God planned for me and I want to help as many people as I can while I am here on this earth.

I know that my regular classes at school and my herbal classes need to be my main focus right now in terms of traditional classroom learning. But I am formulating some ideas about other aspects of my life that I want to improve and how I can use my time better. I want this to stick, so I will wait until I try out a few things before I talk about it here. I can be bad at sharing my goals with everyone and not following through.

Telling people about your goals feels productive. That feeling of productivity reduces the motivation to do something genuinely productive.

I am inspired to experiment, and restructure, and see where this process takes me. I am overwhelmed by a sense of expectation of the opportunities that God will provide for learning and growth as we head into a new year.

What are some things that you are interested in learning? Can you see a point in your life where craving the end result of your goals has kept you from enjoying the process of reaching those goals?

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