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Last Updated on September 2, 2019

Going Back to School at 40 Helps Create a New Golden Age: Here’s How

Going Back to School at 40 Helps Create a New Golden Age: Here’s How

When most people think of learning, they assume it is young people in their teens and 20’s who are the most able to learn and absorb new information.

You don’t often think of going back to school at 40.

But what if I told you that actually, some of the best students aren’t young people, but those who are older?

What if being older, isn’t an obstacle but a massive advantage? Not just in the classroom, but outside of it too.

Whether you’re thinking about going back to school or not. This article is going to explain to you how going back to school at 40, helps you create a golden age in 6 fundamental ways.

To make your life easier, I’ve created specific exercises for you to follow for each one, so I will be coaching you every step of the way to success. Ready?

1. Turn Back Time & Delay the Ageing Process

Let’s start with the facts.

You don’t have the same energy you used to. You have so much more going on. You’re already beginning to see grey hairs, wrinkles and signs of wear and tear.

Between juggling work, family, health, personal growth and everything else you do – why would you want to add more to your plate? Why would you want to add homework, assignments & extra reading on top of that?

You’ve already got the qualifications you needed and life is about way more than passing as test as a spotty teenager now.

Most people would assume this kind of added pressure would increase their stress levels and wrinkles.

What if I told you going back to school at 40 wouldn’t be even more draining, but would actually help you to slow down and even delay the ageing process?

Researchers based primarily at UCL in London carried out a study investigating how educational attainment effected pieces of DNA called telomere length. These telomere work to protect the edges of our chromosomes and diminish as we age.[1]

In their research, they found that lower educational attainment was associated with shorter telomere length. Now it doesn’t necessarily mean that education is directly causing biological ageing, but what it does tell us is that it is one indicator.

Taking this further, neuroscientists at Ruhr-University Bochum found that, similar to young people, learning in older people also resulted in a surge of brain activity.[2]

This helped to improve things like perception & broader brain activity, and these benefits did not diminish over time as a person ages.

In other words, even if you are older, it is still not too late to go back to school and create a new golden age. You can still reap many rewards, one of them being ageing.

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What you should do now:

  1. Create a table of 3 columns, and on the left, write out a list of 20-30 topics or subjects that genuinely interest you.
  2. In the middle, write a short summary of why it interests you.
  3. And on the right, do some googling and write down the names of places or courses you find interesting.

2. Skyrocket Your Motivation

If you were anything like me, education was something you may not have understood the total importance of when you were younger.

Looking back now, can you honestly say you made the most of it?

Can you honestly say you learned to the best of your ability?

Are you OK with that potential remaining untapped – even now, decades later?

Going back to school at the age of 40+ means you have an advantage many other students do not have. Perhaps the most powerful advantage of all: choice.

Because you are choosing to go back to school, it inevitably means your focus and willpower have increased. Especially for those of you who dread the thought of learning again, and aren’t sure you can handle the challenge, I want you to remember this:

The simple truth is that you are not the same student you were before. The key reason things will be different is because you will get to learn not have to learn.

In many academic institutions, course, programmes I’ve been on, the people who are the most committed and engaged are often those who are a little bit older than average.

Gone are the days of doing things for the sake of it. Forget what you may have been like before.

This time, you have a chance to return as someone who really appreciates what they are doing, and understands the consequence of doing so. In doing so, you’ll be returning with a heightened sense of self motivation you may not have experienced ever before.

And you know what makes this even better? I regularly find with my coaching clients that this is a powerful way to open up great reserves of self motivation they never knew they had. The motivation gained from one area, boosts their motivation in all other areas too.

Just imagine what you could do with that extra confidence and self motivation in other areas of your life.

What you should do now:

  1. Write down and visualize in your mind your answer to this question: “If you experienced a powerful increase in motivation and confidence, how would it affect other areas of you life?”
  2. For each answer or point, expand on it by answering “Why is that important? What becomes possible for you as a consequence?”
  3. End by answering – “How do you feel now, after completing this exercise? Why?”
  4. Enjoy being a legendary motivated beast like none before. Send your answers to me on social media.

3. Use School to Remould & Expand Your Brain

When you think about your brain, what form do you imagine it takes?

Is it hard and fixed like concrete? Set in its path and unchangeable? Or is it more like jelly – lacking any structure or clear focus?

How you answer this question is going to determine whether the years ahead or golden, or grey.

I want you to understand your brain can change shape, just like blu tack. It isn’t fixed but soft, reusable and able to be shaped to serve to any purpose that you choose.

Going back to school at 40 will shake open the doors to a golden age in your life.

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But don’t take my word for it.

Let’s imagine for a moment that you decide to become a master at life drawing and oil painting later in life.

What kind of soft or hard skills are required for to improve in this area?

I’d imagine they’d be things like:

  • Creativity – to create pieces that are unique and inspiring
  • Spatial awareness – to be able to notice patterns in objects, people, places
  • Fine motor skills – so you can create detailed and enthralling pieces of art
  • Concentration – due to the long hours of deliberate practice
  • Oil painting/sketching – learning how different mediums work and when to use them
  • Analytical skills – learning how to improve every time you create something

Now let’s say you spend 1 hour per day practicing these skills and currently you have a very low rank in each of those skills.

We all know it’s true that the more you practice something, the better you get. But beneath the surface (of your skull) there are some interesting and exciting things happening in your brain.

Each time you practice shading in mid tones in your life drawing, or spend hours in flow focused on one task – the neural pathways and networks in your brain are busy firing and communicating with one another.

As you continue to develop your art skills, more of your brain’s processing power is dedicated towards those brain cells. In time, your brain learns to adapt. That’s why you get quicker, better, and more creative. Your brain is working to create more efficient pathways, even new neurons when needed.

Knowing this, how motivated are you now? Can you imagine what that would do for your confidence?

Going back to school presents you with new opportunities to learn and develop, and the most exciting part is all of those skills will be immediately transferable.

It’s not just a class or a school anymore, its training for the next golden age of your life.

What you should do now:

  1. Think back to a time you really sucked at something, or if you’re currently suck at something.
  2. Can you remember what your period of progression was?
  3. Notice where and how you got faster at that area. How did that make you feel? How did it affect your overall performance?

4. Become An Inspiration to Everyone You Know

How many people do you know who even entertain the idea of going back to school at 40, let alone take action?

Understandably, not very many.

Our lives very quickly get shackled down and dampened under the weight of our commitments and responsibilities. Some are forced upon us through circumstance, and others are self selected.

Anyone could go back to school, learn new skills, grow as a person and become happier, smarter and more fulfilled. But not everybody will.

It is not ideas alone that fuel the world, it is people that take action. And there are very, very, few of those. Dreams come free, hustle?

That’s sold separately.

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One of the oldest marathon runners in the world, and a person I hugely respect is a man called Fauja Singh.

There are tens of thousands of people who run in marathons around the world every year. Even those who participate in ultra marathons, and other extreme endurance events.

Clearly, they all require a high level of mental strength and grit. But there are two things that set Fauja Singh apart for me, from everyone else.

The first is the fact that even at aged 106, he is still running and participating in marathons.

I’m going to pause for a moment, very dramatically, to allow that fact to sink in: while most of us were sleeping, watching Netflix and eating cookies, this guy was running 26+ miles at the age of 100.

The second part, I love even more, as it goes to show it is never too late.

Now you might assume that Fauja had been running for years, and been a professional athlete for many years in order to be able to achieve this wonderful feat.

That’s the thing – he wasn’t. He started running seriously at the age of 89.

Again, let us stop and pause in admiration of this incredible man.

The key takeaway here is that he is a person with the same raw elements like the rest of us. He didn’t have some special gene, or talent, or resource.

It is never too late to pick up something new, and in doing so, you have the unique opportunity to become an inspiration to the people around you. (Here’s more proof by the way.)

As Fauja continues to run in races, he is now regularly joined too by the rest of his family and friends. Not only did he usher in a new age for himself of health, confidence and growth, but he brought others along with him too.

This could be your chance to do the same. We are social creatures and there is nothing like the praise, recognition and admiration of those we respect, to really boost our self esteem.

What you should do now:

  1. On the page you’ve been reflecting on this article, find a space and draw a circle with the word “People” inside.
  2. Create a spider diagram of 10 people who are the closest to you, that you care about
  3. Next to each of their names, write down how you going back to school could be an immensely powerful and positive thing for them. What would it mean for them to see you succeed at this? Why?

5. Trigger an Avalanche of New Opportunities

Going back to school by the way, doesn’t need to mean a classroom or academic environment. All it means is focusing your mind on self improvement in a particular area. After all, there are many types of intelligences out there for you to master.

Fauja Singh went “back to school” on the race track. In doing so, he triggered an avalanche of new opportunities for himself –sponsorship deals with companies, media requests and features, speaking requests, and more.

Developing yourself in a new area will mean you open the gates to opportunities that were closed off to you.

Like a secret mission being unlocked in a video game, you’ll be able to take advantage of what the other people around you can’t. A special all access pass to a whole new world.

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As an artist that might be being commissioned for unique pieces of work, or holding your own exhibition one day.

As a business owner that might mean being able to employ your friends and family, and build a closer knit world where you can spend even more quality time with them every day.

You can’t be what you can’t see.

Once you unlock a level of mastery in this new subject or area, there could be a whole world of incredible opportunity waiting for you.

Are you willing to take it?

What you should do now:

  1. Thinking of the subject or area you might go back to school for, write down a list of people who are already successful at it.
  2. For each of these people, create a list of opportunities they benefit from
  3. Now write down and reflect on how having those same opportunities would benefit you. What would it mean?

6. Develop Powerful Levels of Organization & Efficiency

As I mentioned before, going back to school aged 40 or more will be hard.

It’s likely you already have a lot of things going on. From ensuring bills are paid on time, savings are put aside for the future, and your family/friends are well looked after.

If this is a challenge you are going to take on, it will come with more pressure and potential stress. This means you will need to be even more organised and efficient than you already are.

Now you might be dissuaded but actually, this isn’t a bad thing by any means. In fact, the opposite is true: it’s a great thing.

If you can learn the skill of managing your time effectively enough to make this happen, you will be even better for it.

This is a chance to release a higher level of organisation and efficacy in your life. The successful, growth oriented person realizes that in the realm of uncertainty lies opportunity.

You can’t grow and win as much reward in a comfortable, certain place, as you can in an uncertain, uncomfortable place.

What you should do now:

Now that you understand why you are doing it. It’s time to take small steps forwards:

  1. Run the numbers. Sit down, get organized and create a clear idea of what you want to commit to and what that will cost. Not just in terms of money, but also time. There is no reward without sacrifice. So I want you to go into this as clear on what they may be.
  2. Consider alternatives. Are there any tasters you can try? Are there some part time courses? Something small you can do to test it out first? Maybe a free online course on a site like Teachable, Udemy etc. Is there someone you can speak to?
  3. Discuss it, get support and stay organised. Once you do take the leap, bring people with you. You are the sum of the support you enlist. Make sure you take care of yourself, and you stay organized.

Final Thoughts

Going back to school at 40 or above may seem like a big challenge, but it’s definitely possible.

All it takes is your courage to take the first step and get out of your comfort zone. There’re many ways you can start learning again to invest in something that will make you an expert. It’s really never too late!

More Resources About Continuous Learning

Featured photo credit: Jason Strull via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Keshav Bhatt

Writer, Social Entrepreneur, Accredited Life Coach & NLP Practitioner

How to Make Changes in Life To Be the Best Version of You Going Back to School at 40 Helps Create a New Golden Age: Here’s How 11 Secrets to Becoming Successful at Anything You Can Imagine 10 Popular Myths About Right Brain Left Brain Debunked

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

5 Proven Memorization Techniques to Make the Most of Your Memory

5 Proven Memorization Techniques to Make the Most of Your Memory

Do you forget stuff every now and then? Are you trying to enhance your memory but not sure how?

All you need is the right memorization techniques to make the most of your memory.

The human brain is fascinating. More specifically, the vast interconnections within our mind. Mendel Kaelen compares the human brain to a hill covered in snow,

“Think of the brain as a hill covered in snow, and thoughts as sleds gliding down that hill. As one sled after another goes down the hill a small number of main trails will appear in the snow. And every time a new sled goes down, it will be drawn into preexisting trails, almost like a magnet. In time it becomes more and more difficulty to glide down the hill on any other path or in a different direction.”

The intent of Kaelen’s discussion is to think of new ways to temporarily flatten the snow. Kaelen remarked,

“The deeply worn trails disappear, and suddenly the sled can go in other directions, exploring new landscapes and, literally, creating new pathways.”

The idea here is to temporarily rewire your brain, or as Michael Pollan remarked in How to Change Your Mind,

“The power to shake the snow globe, disrupting unhealthy patterns of thought and creating a space of flexibility-entropy-in which more salubrious patterns and narratives have an opportunity to coalesce as the snow slowly settles.”

So, how can we rewire our brain allowing deeply worn connections to disappear and new connections to form? The answer is quite simple. We must change the way we store information in our mind.

    Let’s examine 5 specific memorization techniques that will change the way you think and remember information.

    1. Build a Memory Palace

      What is it?

      The method of loci[1] (aka memory palace) is a method of memory enhancement using visualizations with the use of spatial memory. It uses familiar information about your environment to quickly recall information. It is a method that was discussed by Cicero in an ancient dialogue called De Oratore.

      How to use it?

      Ron White discusses in How to Memorize Fast and Easily: Build a Memory Palace, that it’s essentially a room or building that you have memorized and you use locations in the room to store data. Ron informs us,

      “You memorize locations in a room and then you later go back to those locations to retrieve the data that you want to remember.”

      Example

      An easy 5-step example, in the form of a Wiki, can be found at Artofmemory.com. Let’s examine the the steps:

      • Step 1. Choose a place that you know well. For example, your house or office.
      • Step 2. Plan the route and pick specific locations in your route. For example, your front door, bathroom kitchen, etc.
      • Step 3. Decide what you want to memorize. For example, geography, list of items, answers for a test, etc.
      • Step 4. Place one or two items, with a mental image, and place them in your memory palace. Exaggerate your images. For example, use nudity or crazy images forcing it to stick in your mind.
      • Step 5. Make the image into a mnemonic.

      You can learn more about this technique here: How to Build a Memory Palace to Remember More of Everything

      2. Mnemonic

        What is it?

        A mnemonic is a memory device that aids in retention and/or retrieval of information. Mnemonic systems are techniques consciously used to improve memory by helping us use information already stored in long-term memory to make memorization easier.[2]

        How to use it?

        Mnemonics make use of retrieval cues to encode information in our brain allowing for efficient storage and retrieval of the information. The trick is to learn how to easily create mnemonics. If you find that you struggle with creating your own, try the following website: Mnemonic Generator.

        Example

        I recently came across a video using mnemonics to memorize countries. Memorizing Countries using Mnemonics is a video created as an introduction to a class for using memory techniques to learn the names of countries on maps.

        I actively search for videos that provide enormous educational value, yet receive very little exposure. At the time of this writing, this video has received less than 4k views. Let’s examine the video.

        Goal: Create a mnemonic to memorize the countries in the Caribbean (just the countries you need to learn).

        Step 1. Looking at a map – write out each country (for which five were chosen).

        Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico.

        Step 2. Write the first letter of each country vertically.

        C

        J

        H

        D

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        P

        Step 3. Create a sentence or phrase.

        Cubs

        Just

        Hate

        Doing

        Push-ups

        Cubs just hate doing push-ups. (Cuba Jamaica Haiti Dominican Republic Puerto Rico)

        3. Mnemonic Peg System

          What is it?

          According to Artofmemory.com, a mnemonic peg system is a technique for memorizing lists and it works by memorizing a list of words that are easy to associate with the numbers they represent.[3] These objects are the pegs of the system.

          How to use it?

          The trick is to create a Number Rhyme System with each number having a rhyming mnemonic keyword.

          Example

          Let’s look at an example of a Number Rhyme System:[4]

          0 = hero

          1 = gun

          2 = shoe

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          3 = tree

          4 = door

          5 = hive

          6 = sticks

          7 = heaven

          8 = gate

          9 = line

          Another technique like the Peg system is the Number Shape System.[5] Here you are assigning mnemonic images based on the shape of the number. Watch the following video for an example of this system: Number Shape System for Memorizing Numbers.

          4. Chunking

            What is it?

            Chunking is a way to remember large bits of information by chunking them into smaller pieces of information. We are more likely to then remember the information when we put the small pieces back together to see the entire picture.

            How to use it?

            In the video Chunking – A Learning Technique, we can see that there are several ways to chunk information.

            Example

            Let’s examine a simple example using a nine-digit number.

            Step 1. What is the number you are trying to remember?

            081127882

            Step 2. Cut the number into smaller pieces through chunking.

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            081 – 127 – 882

            Let’s look at one more example from the same video.

            “Piano teachers will first demonstrate an entire song to students. They will then ask their students to practice one measure at a time. Once the part has been learned and the neural connections in the brain have been built, then students go on to the next measure. After all chunks have been played separately, they are combined until the entire piece is connected.”

            5. Transfer of Learning

              What is it?

              Transfer of learning is a way to learn something in one area and apply it in another. Authors of Thinking at Every Desk, Derek and Laura Cabrera inform us about the transfer of learning,

              “If a student has a high transfer skills, she can learn one thing and then teach herself 10, 50, or 100 additional things.”

              How to use it?

              There are two specific ways to use it:

              1. Vertical Transfer (aka Far Transfer). Think of learning something in grade school and applying it another grade or later in life.
              2. Horizontal Transfer (aka Near Transfer). Think of learning a concept in history and applying it in math.

              Example

              I provide a detailed step-by-step example for this technique in this article:

              Learn How to Learn: How to Understand and Connect Difficult Ideas Easily

              The Bottom Line

              The key to using the techniques discussed here is to remember that we must actively think about information.

              We cannot simply drill information into our brain through rote memorization. We must change the way we think about memorization. We must find a way to “shake the snow-globe” in our mind or flatten the snow so that we can create new learning paths.

              Or as Derek and Laura Cabrera point out, we must insert “Thinking” into the equation,

              “Information X Thinking = Knowledge”

              More About Enhancing Memories

              Featured photo credit: Nong Vang via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] Remember Everything: Memory Palaces and the Method of Loci
              [2] The Learning Center Exchange: 9 Types of Mnemonics for Better Memory
              [3] Art of Memory: Mnemonic Peg System
              [4] Art of Memory: Number Rhyme System
              [5] Art of Memory: Number Shape System

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