Illustration by Christian Leborg


How to master lifelong self-learning

If you want more meaningful work, you need skills to make it work. This is what you need to direct your learning.

You want to get better at what you do. In your current job, you do not feel that you can use all your resources or that people need you to do so. This has made you want to redesign your work, it has made you want to do things differently, or it has made you want to establish something. If you want to design your work, you must take full responsibility for your education and your career. It has to contain a purpose, autonomy and mastery.
It is possible to change your career and your life by doing something that fulfils your purpose and values. You do not have time to take a regular education, or you can not find any relevant courses. You have to teach yourself. Self-learning gives you the freedom to build your curriculum, decide when to study, and what the skills will solve. With this freedom comes a great responsibility. If you have the competence, or an attitude that your competence is malleable, you may succeed.
How myths become barriers to learning
There are many assumptions about learning. One of these myths is that some people are born with specific talents. Another is that there are individual learning styles that suit you better than others. A third is that you have to wait for the inspiration to come to you. You may think that only those who are intuitively skilled in an area can succeed. Several examples have shown that those who consistently improve their skills are more likely to succeed than the ‘talented’.
It is a myth that one is more open to learning something if the learning is aimed at one type of intelligence, for example musical, kinesthetic or logical. A more sensible approach is that it is not the form of learning that matters, but how the style fits the subject you are learning. It is quite possible that you learn better by observing and imitating processes you have seen. However, it is not necessarily the best learning for all types of skills.
Many people believe that inspiration or motivation to perform a specific task is an ether-like state that floats around in the atmosphere and randomly enters your body. Motivation is not something you have or do not have, but something you can gain. Through their long careers, creative professionals have experienced the need to be in front of a laptop, in front of drawing paper or a piano. By being there and patiently working your way through ‘The resistance’, you will eventually become motivated.
Personalise the knowledge
When you read, watch and listen to information or instructions, you need to change the data into something you would have written, said or done yourself. Knowledge must belong to you, so you must make it into your way of doing things. By shaping the knowledge into something that is yours, you own the knowledge, and will instruct yourself and others about what you have just learned. Teaching something you have just learned will speed up the entrance of the knowledge into long-term memory.
Self-learning is what unlocks our potential in every aspect of life.–Peter Hollins
The content does not have to be done with text, but can be sketches. By creating illustrations of ideas, you as the creator of these interpretations will look at the content from different perspectives. Symbols or icons make you learn it differently and thus strengthen your new knowledge. Visual thinking is a set of tools for interpreting and conveying content using a combination of images and text. The visual messages can be easier to interpret and convey because they are based on archetypes.
Your long-term memory will absorb visualisation, such as maps of knowledge, models of the subject, or visual stories of ideas, which will make communication and understanding faster. Emotions and visual information are processed by the same part of the brain and create lasting memories for the student. An important aspect of being able to read and learn faster is to train mindfulness and improve your focus to get a better working memory.
By turning knowledge of something into a strange and surreal inner image, make you remember it and learn it. If you connect new knowledge with existing knowledge, you get a new perspective on the new content. The easiest way to do this is to write a story using your current experience as an analogy to make new knowledge more understandable. You can also tell stories as examples of ideas. These stories allow you to combine making the knowledge your own, envisioning and visualising it in your own way. Often as a surreal vision and connecting the new competence to your existing skills.
Turn experiments for learning into something physical
If you interpret physically new information, it will create learning because you interpret the new ideas by using your body. You will intuitively feel whether the approach is right. When you communicate information, you use the skills faster. Creating something physical can be a kind of individual experiment, where the impressions of the object act as feedback. When you create something, the content you edit, and the feeling of what you get, is an answer to whether the idea works as you expected.
Pain or defeat
If you learn together with other people, their reactions will give you a new relationship with the subject. Collaboration makes the participants’ perspectives available to others. “Productive failure” is when a group of people solve a problem together without guidance, their collective skills to understand something will become essential learning. Persevering individuals see difficulties as a challenge and commit to achieving their goals regardless of obstacles. Limit efforts to what you can control, see the negative as temporary, and do not let unwanted events define you.
To learn is hard–it is human to postpone it. We would rather do something nice than struggle with something we do not master. The easiest way to avoid work is to procrastinate. The best way to defeat laziness is to experience the discomfort you get if you neglect your work. To maintain your focus, set goals you can achieve within a short time frame. Set an alarm for twenty-five minutes, and work focused through that period of twenty something minutes.

Exercise: Execute disciplines of learning