This elk horn entitled Denim-n-Doodads was made by Mary Ellen Beads.

Learn Anything Today?

This elk horn entitled Denim-n-Doodads was made by Mary Ellen Beads.

2017, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Denim-n-Doodads

The sheer pace of change – from social media channels to apps and devices – forces learning opportunities on each of us.

  • Trade your phone? Your new device is a built-in learning opportunity.
  • Move? Find your new, convenient route to work, to the store, to resume life as usual.
  • Change gyms? A different exercise class will stretch other muscles.

Some learning opportunities come easier than others. Somehow, we get past self-doubt and excuses. Determination or necessity or something else pushes us out of the comfort zone.

The learning zone is a strange and wonderful place. It can be off-putting and uncomfortable. In his book “The Charge,” Brendon Burchard writes about the drive for competence, one of the 10 drives states we need to feel alive.

Activator #1 in the drive for competence is to access and direct your desire to learn. He discusses short-term (60-day) challenges during which you force yourself to learn, try new things and improve dramatically in a short time span.  

It may seem daunting to discuss a 60-day challenge. After all, there are lots of other things happening in your world, right? On Facebook or Instagram, I notice artists who draw a new image every day, cooks who make a new dish each day for 60 days, writers who commit to publishing 500-words-per-day for 60 days. These are learning challenges.

Whatever learning challenge you choose, it’s important to push yourself. According to Burchard, you’ll thank yourself in the end. He maintains simply viewing yourself as a successful learner can help one “feel more competent and, in the end, alive and accomplished.”

The reasons are your own. In some ways, you must be a planner to make your learning challenge reality. The comfort zone beckons many out of the learning curve. It’s easier to do nothing, more convenient to watch tv, simpler to wing it. Competence development takes strategy.

Here are ten tiny ways to up your learning quotient while you psyche yourself up for the big challenge:

  1. Drive to the store via a less familiar route (or, to work, to school, to your Mom’s)
  2. Order a dish you’ve never tried
  3. Tour an iconic attraction in your home town
  4. Converse with a stranger
  5. Type on a new keyboard
  6. Play a new board game
  7. Read a familiar book passage aloud
  8. Color or paint on a blank sheet of paper
  9. Start an idea book, a book of wonder, a collection of things to stimulate your curious associations
  10. Relentlessly question. Get curious by asking how, what, when, where and why

Ten ways in which you can up your courage.

Ten steps toward something bigger.

What will you do to challenge yourself?

Will you learn anything today?