Exercise: Learn Something New

Exercise: Learn Something New

It’s a great feeling when you start to see progress. When you’ve been practicing a new skill and you start to get the hang of it, or when you’ve been building something piece by piece and it starts to take shape.

It’s a feeling that we too often deprive ourselves of by not taking on new challenges. We get comfortable, maybe even lazy, in our routines, or we get stuck in a rut of busyness and mindless tasks and errands.

Sometimes we need a new purpose; something to focus on, something to enjoy improving at, something that lets us experience progress.

“Just as nothing great is created instantly, the same goes for the perfecting of our talents and aptitudes. We are always learning, always growing. It is right to accept challenges. This is how we progress to the next level of intellectual, physical, or moral development.”

Epictetus, A Manual For Living, p.74

Maybe you have ambitions of creating something great or maybe there’s something relatively straightforward that you always wanted to learn how to do. The scale of the project doesn’t matter – good goals make you want to take action right now. Good goals motivate you enough to enjoy the process of trying to achieve them, not just the outcome of actually achieving them.

Exercise

The exercise is simple – pick something you’d like to learn and take one small step towards learning it right now. The small step could be as simple as Googling the skill and making a plan.

Think about things you’d like to learn. Maybe it’s something that has always been burning inside you but that you’ve kept putting off, or it could be a totally new idea. It could be a skill, a new hobby, an intellectual or physical undertaking. It could relate to your interests, or your job, or your family.

Here are some simple ideas to get you thinking, but remember – pick something that gets you motivated to take one small step towards it right now.

You could learn:

  • CPR
  • To cook
  • To swim
  • Self-defence
  • Sign language
  • To do the splits
  • A new language
  • To do a handstand
  • Basic vehicle repairs
  • To play an instrument

You could take up:

  • Yoga
  • Dancing
  • Meditation
  • Gardening
  • Photography
  • Painting/Drawing

With so many Youtube tutorials, courses, instructors (and even those old things called books) available these days, it shouldn’t be difficult to find the resources you need to get started. There’s also a large Reddit community called IWantToLearn that connects people who want to learn with people that can teach.

Improve yourself, find purpose in your leisure. In fact, discover the true meaning of the word:

“When most of us hear the word “leisure,” we think of lounging around and doing nothing. In fact, this is a perversion of a sacred notion. In Greek, “leisure” is rendered as scholé—that is, school. Leisure historically meant simply freedom from the work needed to survive, freedom for intellectual or creative pursuits. It was learning and study and the pursuit of higher things.”

Ryan Holiday, Stillness is the Key

Oh, and one more thing – when you decide on the new skill you’re going to learn, don’t tell anyone at first.

As Derek Sivers explains in his “Keep your goals to yourself” TED talk, there’s a psychological nuance that means you’re less likely to achieve a goal that you go public with.

And think about it, how much fun would it be to secretly learn a new language and then surprise your friends one day by randomly starting to speak it?

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