How To Effectively Learn

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of controlling change and benefitting from it.


But even with these variables, there are so many nested variables within LEARNING and ACTING. I'm going to touch a bit more on learning. I told you why you should be learning, but… When should I be learning? What am I supposed to look for? Where is the best place to do this? How do I learn?


1. WHEN: 

What you'll often hear is "you should always be learning / you should always be on / pay attention all the time". And that's hard af when you're a student. If you're a student, or anyone who has to endure unnecessary things in life (i.e. - work a mindless 9-5 to make ends meet), do not always be learning. You should always be thinking about where you aspire to be, but you don't always have to be learning. Ignore the moments that have no place in fulfilling your vision.

What you need to do is pay careful attention to the times that are stepping stones to your vision. Times that are most important to you. Like building a portfolio / writing an exam / trying to understand a class you need to ace / making worthwhile connections. I allow you to stop going out at night to party with the 'friends' you think you have to be with. I allow you to spend more time on your craft than on your prelab that doesn't matter. I allow you to indulge in your future self. You'll know these times when you're in them.

And when you are in them, hone in on the details and remember as much as you can. This is what you're meant to do with your life, and you better make the most out of these important moments by AT LEAST remembering them.

Learn when it's your time to grow and shine.


Don't be stupid. Keep your brain cells focused on the times and things that matter, not the things you're forced to do (and will hopefully stop doing).


2. WHAT:

Maybe I should have told you what to look for first… but then I wouldn't have made the point that this is one of the moments you should be remembering.

When you're going through change (which is most of your life), look for your problems. Look for the stone walls in order to break them down. If you know you aren't sociable enough, (here's the ACT part of the equation) fix your social anxiety. If you know your current grade isn't high enough, (here's the ACT part of the equation) fix your mark by doing better. In general, if you aren't good enough to be where you know you should be, (here's the ACT part of the equation) get good enough.

"But I'm fine right now, I don't have any problems… The government isn't after me / I'm not in debt / People don't hate me / I'm passing my classes / I'm getting by / I'm getting by / I'm getting by"

That's your problem. You're just getting by.

Think about your vision, why aren't you there? You're not in med school yet? You're not making enough income yet? Your craft isn't good enough to attract significant attention yet? That's your problem.


Always be moving towards your vision and always be growing out of your problems. If you think you don't have any problems, that's your problem.



Anywhere you can be alone. Learn by yourself.

It's your life. You set the scene, you call the shots, and you choose the cuts.

When you have big important moments stored away in your memory, and you understand what your problems are… be alone. Go somewhere quiet and think about how you can improve yourself. Again, indulge in your future self. Be by yourself to really understand where you've been and where you're going in life. Because no one else knows your life better than you.

Do you know those nervous feelings you get when you're about to experience something new? That's primal. We've evolved to be scared of different things to survive. The same can be applied to your gut feelings, because, again, you've experienced what results in good change and not-so-good change. So be alone and believe in yourself.

I've followed Mike Cernovich for a little over a year and a half now, and his Gorilla Mindset Seminar really emphasizes and explains your internal growth. Because that's where all your learning occurs – inside your head (check him out). It isn't weird to talk to yourself. Who else knows you better?

I would even go so far as to say that your guidance councilors won't help in the ways you hope for. A lot of their academic information is already available to the public, and their predetermined minds typically have shallow vision for your future. Because it's your future and they don't know what you know. (Granted, their academic connections may be useful – depending on where you're headed).



4. HOW:

The best way to go about these steps and learn from your past is by seeing it.

Record your life.

Honestly, write your significant moments down on paper. Draw a visual representation of how you felt during a big event in your life. Look through the questions you got wrong and see where you bombed your test. Write down how people have criticized you / your work, and look back at them. If you can visualize where you want to be, you can easily visualize where you've been. Keep a journal or something.

For me, I see a lot of my internal problems on screen. In videos I put together.

MacSci Story:

The promotional short film for the 16th annual McMaster Science formal: Formaldehyde. A take on West Side Story as a McMaster science student.

I wrote, produced, directed, edited, and starred in this short video production. And for me, I could only create what I know… but I didn't know that at the time.

I thought I was writing a parody of West Side Story, but after acting it out, shooting the other actors, editing all the footage together, it was eerie to witness my life on screen. A heartbroken iSci who desperately wanted that special someone.

This sounds pretty lame right now, but I wrote about this before, and I'll say it again. First year was worst year, which was very attributable to being romantically rejected on many occasions.

Fortunately in fourth year, those internal problems subsided… but the theme and subject was still a very curious and sensitive one to me. And it definitely showed in MacSci Story.

In January of this year, I watched it all from start to finish. And after accepting that it truly held a lot of my personal outlooks on life, I started to understand some of my 'romantically rejected' problems. I was never good with girls.

And after starring myself for the first time ever, I finally started to understand what my problem was. I was a hung up hopeless romantic who had no confidence in being my own person. (This meta-analysis actually reminded me a lot of 500 Days of Summer – a movie I watched in first year that supposedly made me feel better at the time).

My written-down script and character traits helped made me visualize my problem and what I needed to prioritize.

I understood what my problem was (and that I needed to BREAK THIS WALL), and thankfully I could REMEMBER THE STEPPING STONES to becoming a doormat (I needed to change these stepping stones). I knew I needed to change, and I gave myself a lot of ALONE TIME to reflect and learn. Obviously I'm not a playboy or anything right now, but I'm definitely happier alone than ever before.