When I started this weekly Learning Letter I didn’t have any goal besides using this as a container for all the learning tidbits and fodder I collected throughout the week.
This month I tried something different.
I’ve spent the last four weeks on one subject: happiness.
I did this because I thought having one topic would allow me to stay focused and dive beyond a collection of fun facts.
Focusing on one subject helped me write one of my all-time favorite articles, however, after four weeks, it suddenly occurred to me that I wasn’t an expert learner after all.
Learning shouldn’t be forced.
Focusing on one subject while ignoring others is not a natural extension of my curiosity.
I like to browse, peruse, and meander. I enjoy making mental notes and tucking them away for later.
I’m an intellectual grazer.
This grazing has helped me write online for the past decade without succumbing to boredom.
However, it hasn’t always been the most productive system.
Let me explain…
I did very well in school growing up.
Or rather, I should say: I did very well at taking tests growing up.
I could memorize a few facts, understand the problem-solving methods, and crank out an A+ one after another.
But did this equip me with the skills to be a life-long learner?
I don’t think so.
“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” Albert Einstein said that.
This has been the major flaw of my methods.
I find something interesting, I might write about it, then I move on.
I’ve read 70 books over the past three years and yet I probably couldn’t recall 10% of what I read if you asked me today.
Imagination comes from connecting the ideas you already have and creating new ones.
Which brings me back to this Learning Letter and slight adjustment I’m about to make.
I want to be a better learner.
I’m sure you do too.
For the foreseeable future, we will develop a modus operandi on how to best acquire knowledge, capture knowledge, organize knowledge, and draw new insights from said knowledge.
Each week we will focus on one small pocket of the overarching how-to-be-a-better-life-long-learner theme.
And we’ll have fun doing it.
How does that sound?
Oh, my friend Todd already told me where I should start: taking smart notes.
Until next week,
P.S. – Unrelated but still something I want to share: this month my wife and I finished paying off over $27k of debt in 442 days. I wrote about what I learned from the experience and what we’re going to do next.