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Last Updated on November 5, 2019

10 Ways to Find Learning Motivation (Even After You’ve Graduated)

10 Ways to Find Learning Motivation (Even After You’ve Graduated)

As human beings, we have a built-in desire to learn and expand our knowledge to grow and develop. The type of learning can be different between people. Some people love to hear about what other people are doing—the gossips— others love reading books about nature and some enjoy reading the news. We all have it and it is built in.

Like all learning, some of the knowledge gained is useful and some less useful. Gossiping and commenting on the latest news is not going to develop you very much as a person, and in all likelihood is going to make you angry, sad or happy, depending on your viewpoint.

While other knowledge, such as learning a new skill or a new language, can help you to grow intellectually and give you skills that can lead to better career prospects and an increase in your income.

The difficulty for many people is finding the learning motivation after we have finished our formal education. For example, I did not enjoy learning languages when I was at school. Now, many years after I left school, I find it hard to motivate myself to learn the language of the country I find myself living in, even though to do so would greatly improve my income growth potential and enable me to make new friends.

We are living in rapidly changing times. The work we do today is at risk of being replaced by automation and AI. If we want to continue to grow and develop, we need to make sure we are learning new skills faster than automation, and AI can keep up.

So, here are a number of ways that can help motivate you to continue to learn after you have graduated from school.

1. You Get to Choose What You Learn

When we were at school, we had little choice about what we learned. We all learned to the same thing.

In my case, the basic subjects were maths, languages (English, Latin and French) and science. It did not matter that I hated maths, I still had to learn it.

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Today, I can choose what I want to learn. That makes learning new things a lot of fun. Over the last twelve months, I have learned about neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), social media marketing and meditation. All of these subjects have been fascinating and have been enjoyable to learn.

2. Remind Yourself of the Outcome

One of the things I have chosen to learn this year is Korean. I live in Korea and do have what I describe as ‘survival Korean’, but I wanted to take my ability to communicate in Korean to fluency.

I do not enjoy learning languages, largely because it is a slow process. So on the days I am not ‘in the mood’ to learn, I remind myself of why I am learning it.

I visualize being able to walk into a shop or restaurant and having a full conversation with the staff. Or riding in a taxi and discussing the latest news with the driver. Doing this very quickly gets me back ‘in the mood’ and I am soon learning more verbs, nouns and conjugations.

3. Make Your “Why” for Learning Emotionally Strong

Learning something new so you can win an argument in your office is not likely to be a strong reason to learn something new. Sure, that brief moment of victory may give some satisfaction but it will not last.

But if your reason for learning is so you develop a new skill that will make your work better or more efficient, you are always going to have a strong incentive to continue learning.

Before beginning a new learning project, think about why you want to learn that particular subject and make sure the reason why is strong and connected to some form of emotional need.

When your reasons are connected to an emotion such as happiness, love or fulfilment, you are always going to find the motivation to sit down and learn.

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4. Have a Goal

My goal for learning Korean is to do a TED-like presentation in Korean in June next year. Every time I sit down to study Korean, I remind myself of my goal and I imagine introducing myself in Korean to the audience.

But not only that, I also want to speak the language so well that if someone was listening to me on the radio or on a podcast, they would not be able to tell I was a non-native Korean speaker. This goal not only gives me a time pressure (speaking fluently by June next year), it also gives me some excitement because I can imagine how I will feel when I sit down after giving my talk.

5. Mix up How You Learn

When I was at university, there was only one way to learn and study — read the textbooks. My degree was in law and if you have never sat down to read a land law textbook, you have never discovered how intensely boring a textbook can be.

Today, we have so many different ways to learn. We can begin with Wikipedia to get a basic understanding of a subject, we can then do a search on Amazon to find books on the subject, and we can go to YouTube and watch videos on the subject. All three of these avenues of learning I’ve used recently when I learned about neuro-linguistic programming.

It was fun and enjoyable. I could choose which way I wanted to learn depending on my mood.

6. Join Online Groups

Discussion groups are a great way to maintain your motivation when learning. Facebook, Quora and WhatsApp all have user groups you can join to get involved in discussion groups and have your questions answered.

You can even post a question on Twitter and with the right hashtags, attract other people from all over the world to answer your questions or get involved in a discussion.

If you find your motivation is waning, post a question in one of these groups and see what happens. You will soon find your motivation again.

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7. Set a Fixed Time Each Day to Study

This one has really worked for me. Earlier this year, I decided to begin waking up at 5 AM (to join Robin Sharma’s 5 AM Club[1]). The question I had was: what would I do between 5 AM and 6 AM? The answer for me was to use that time to study Korean.

Now, six months into the journey, I love waking up at 5 AM, and sitting down with my morning coffee and learning Korean. I begin with doing my self-introduction while walking around my living room imagining presenting in front of an audience. I then spend twenty minutes learning new verbs and I finish off watching a video from my favourite Korean teacher (Korean Unnie[2]) on YouTube. Six months in and when I wake up, I know exactly what I am going to do and I have no difficulties with motivation.

8. Create Mini Goals

A few months ago, I set the goal of being able to ask a taxi driver to drop me off in front of the subway station. This was something I regularly found myself wanting to do but did not know exactly how to do it. So I asked a Korean friend of mine how to say the sentence and I then spent a couple of study sessions practising it.

The next time I was in a taxi, I used the phrase to ask the taxi driver to drop me off in front of the subway station and he understood me perfectly. WOW! The feeling of pride I had was fantastic. This gave me more motivation to continue to find other phrases I wanted to learn to use in my everyday life.

Setting mini-goals that you can use to check your progress is a sure way to keep you motivated to continue your learning journey.

9. Seek Different Ways to Learn

Whenever you find your motivation disappearing, change the way you learn.

Last year, I decided I wanted to learn how to use Adobe InDesign and I began my learning on YouTube with one of my favourite Adobe experts, Terry White. Terry White has put together a series of videos called “How To Get Started With… ” and these videos are fantastic to get you started. Once I had completed that video, I enrolled in an online course on Skillshare that took my understanding of InDesign to the next level and once that was completed I gave myself a project to develop a workbook in InDesign.

While I was creating the workbook, there were a few more things I needed to learn, so I searched Google for ways to learn how to do them.

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By the end of three months, I was proficient in using InDesign and it is now one of my favourite Adobe tools. By mixing up the way I learned, I found myself motivated and eager to learn more.

10. Give Yourself Mini-Rewards

This is a great way to keep yourself motivated. When you have successfully completed a new area of learning, reward yourself. The reward could be a night out with your friends to celebrate successfully mastering a new area, or it could be buying yourself a new toy.

Having these mini-rewards taps into the “pleasure/pain” part of your brain and your brain soon begins to understand that when you successfully study, something pleasurable happens. When your brain understands this, all you need to do is remind yourself of what reward will come whenever you feel a lack of motivation and your motivation will soon return.

Final Thoughts

Learning something new can be difficult. In the rush of initial excitement, it is easy to be motivated to learn; but over time, that initial excitement recedes and you need to find other ways to motivate yourself.

These ten tips will help to make sure when you have gone through the initial enthusiasm and learning more becomes difficult, you have the means to get motivated to continue your journey and expand your knowledge.

More Resources About Boosting Motivation

Featured photo credit: Lonely Planet via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Robin Sharma: Be Wise, Early Rise
[2] YouTube: Korean Unnie 한국언니

More by this author

Carl Pullein

Dedicated to helping people to achieve their maximum potential through better time management and productivity.

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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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