How to learn anything in life without dreading it
Here's how I scarf down 15+ books a year with zero friction
People are sometimes amazed that I scarf down over 15 books a year. This is on top of podcasts, videos, and talking with people about a topic.
And when I talk to people to get them about reading books or learning something new, they talk about how hard it is to finish or start one book. They seem to struggle with the task of learning and growing.
Last week I posted about the importance of growing. A lot of you expressed a desire to grow but don't know how. In order to become the person God is calling you to be, you need to grow. And in order to grow you need to learn. (Ps. Think of Daniel. He was skilled in the knowledge and that was critical in his calling)
But I'm sure this is a problem that a lot of people have:
How do I grow without it feeling like a drudge?
I want to share a really critical tip on how to be a constant learner and constant growing. This principle applies to your walk with God, to your professional life, and to your development as a person.
I want you to read this slowly and really understand it. Here's the secret:
To be a ferocious learner that never gets bored, always follow the temporary momentum of your present interest.
Let me explain:
The best way to ensure that you actually learn something is to capitalize on the short time period you are interested in the topic.
Interest in a topic comes and goes. As well as the lessons that God wants to teach us any given week.
I think it is wise to
recognize where your interests/passions for learning lie any given week and
ride that interest and learn in that short time window.
When the window dies to move on
Why People Stop Learning
People stop learning about something because they are often trying to learn outside of that window. A common use case I hear is
someone gets piqued interest about something (could be professional, discipleship, something at church)
they say to themselves "oh that's interesting. Let me get a book and read it in 6 months’ time after I'm done with my other commitments"
They buy the book, 6 months pass, they lose interest
They pick up the book, and it's a dread
They stop reading the book and never learn what they were supposed to learn.
They never grew! (Sad!)
Sound familiar? Is that you?
Okay so here's how you would change it if you used the principle I talk about:
You get interested in a topic (something your friend says, a real need, something someone says at church)
You say to yourself, "Oh that's interesting."
KEY PRINCIPLE: Stop what you're doing and engage in active learning while your interest is high
You actually learn and grow
What a difference! What's the secret? Ride the momentum of your learning.
Here's some practice advice in your life:
If you feel God trying to teach you a specific lesson this season, drop what you're doing and engage in that lesson
If you feel a need to grow in a specific area of your life (professional, life skill, etc), drop what you're doing and engage in that lesson.
Make it a 2-3 week sprint or a seasonal thing.
PRO TIP: Don't feel guilty about abandoning books
I feel that people constantly tell me, "Oh but I didn't finish this yet!"
Listen, books are a means to an end, not an end in themselves. Unless you are reading your friend's book (like mine!) and they would take it personally (I wouldn't...), use it for its useful life. Glean what you need to learn. Because the lessons that stick are the ones in the context of when you need to learn it most. PS you can always restart books and lessons.
Remember: RIDE THE INTEREST.
I hope this was helpful!
You were made for greatness,
I love this post. It's a total call-out and enabler for those who want to level up.
You made a few points that I wanted to expand on.
"People are sometimes amazed that I scarf down over 15 books a year." Maybe it's the foodie in me, but the operative word here is SCARF. People have no problem eating donuts, pizza, cakes, and other junk food, but won't consume the healthier stuff; and it's the same way I feel about info. People have no problem consuming Netflix, they know the score of all the past sports games...but they wont' make space for the helpful/eternally good info.
I also read somewhere that, similar to "riding the interest" you should only learn for what you need now.
A writer called it "just in time" learning versus "just in case" learning. It helps you narrow down the focus and get rid of the overwhelm. And when you learn what you can use right away, it'll reinforce your wanting to learn. If you learn "just in case" stuff, you'll have to learn it again, anyway, and it feels more costly and become a deterrant.
Keep writing, Brother. Love this stuff.
Great article, Phil!
After I am still waiting for my profession in God's plan it seems that he guides me from theme to theme. I.E. Iast week I read a book about the Blood of Jesus, this week about the Courts of Heaven. Last month about Casting out Demons and about the meaning of my dreams and so on. I guess he wants that I am prepared for all situations. The more I know the more relaxed I become. And at the same time I can crucify my flesh, humble myself...badabing badaboom