So here you are, ready to set off on your self-monetization journey.
You realize that you don’t know everything you’ll need to know if you’re going to be successful. So now what?
Option 1: Give up in despair. It’s a surprisingly common option.
Option 2: Learn what you need to know. That’s the option we’re going to discuss here.
Why you don’t know how to learn
In our society, there’s a pretty clear distinction between times of your life where you’re being educated, and times of you life where you’re not. Almost all “education” happens in the first 24 years of your life, and thereafter you’re off the hook; you don’t ever have to learn or study ever again.
…unless, of course, you actually want to succeed in life. Because
- (a) school doesn’t teach you everything you need to know (or, in some cases, hardly anything you need to know) and
(b) the world is changing much too quickly for stuff you learned when you were 24 to actually be helpful for more than 5 years or so.
Which means you need to study.
Now of all the faults of the US school system (and they are legion), one of the biggest is that it gives you almost no training in how to study. It gives you lots of training in how to prepare for a test. But very little training in how to learn something you actually care about, for yourself, in a way that actually imparts useful information into your brain that you could then apply to a real problem.
So the bad news is, you probably have no idea how to study.
The good news is, you probably have no idea how to study. Which means the thing you’re thinking of when I say “study” (probably involving lots of coffee, a long night before a test, and using highlights, flash cards or other tools to memorize a bunch of unrelated facts) is not what studying is really about.
It should be noted that my method requires actual effort, and (depending on what you’re studying) can be a lot of work. But remember that this isn’t for a test on a subject that you never cared about anyway and only took because it’s on the list of requirements. This is for something that you care about, and that you need to be able to meet your goals and follow your dreams. Which makes it worth at least some effort.
How to Study
So being in your situation, there are 3 things you need to do:
- Figure out what you need to learn I realize this sounds dumb. But it’s a very important step, and it’s one you don’t learn how to do. In school they tell you what you “need” to learn, and you “learn” it. But here you have to figure out, first and foremost, what it is you’re trying to study.
- Figure out the best way to learn it This depends on many things: your learning style(s), what you’re trying to learn, and why you’re trying to learn it. In some cases you may want to read a book and take notes; in others, you may want to jump right in and try it over and over until you get it.
- Arrange to do that Again, in school, they schedule lectures, labs, and tests, and take attendance to make sure you’re actually keeping to the schedule. Here, you’re the one in charge of it. If you need practice time, make sure you have time set aside for it. If you need a book, make sure you buy it or check it out. Figure out how to get your studying done.
So that’s the essence of it; after that, you just need to do it.
In future posts, I’ll talk more in detail about each of those steps, and discuss various study techniques and tools.