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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 November 6, 2020

How Motor Learning Can Help You Learn Effectively

How Motor Learning Can Help You Learn Effectively

Practice makes perfect. It’s a cliché saying that gets pulled out time and time again. For many, they loath to hear it, but that saying has some truth to it. After all, this saying pops up the most when we are in the midst of motor learning.

While this saying is off, as perfection is impossible, the practice side of it is the only way for us to get closer to that level. And the only way a motor skill can get to that level is through motor learning. It’s through this concept where we can grow the various skills in our lives, but also to learn effectively by learning the right way.

What Is Motor Learning?

To present an example, it’s best to explain what the theory of motor learning is. For starters, it’s been described as such:[1]

“A set of internal processes associated with practice or experience leading to relatively permanent changes in the capability for skilled behavior.”

Our brain responds to sensory information to either practice or experience a certain skill that allows for growth of a motor task or the ability to produce a new motor skill. This happens because our central nervous system changes to allow this to happen in the first place.To see this at work, consider one of the first skills we learned as a human being: walking. While some think toddlers get up and start trying to walk, there are many complex processes at work.

The reason people started to learn to walk was because of motor learning.

At the base stage, we started to walk because months before even trying to take our first steps, we saw how important it was. We witnessed several people walking and understood how helpful it is to walk on two feet.

The 3 Stages of Motor Learning

There is more to motor learning than you might think. Over the years, the learning community has uncovered that there are three stages of motor learning:

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  • Cognitive
  • Associative
  • Autonomous

Each stage has its own requirements for further development and what each stage brings to the learning experience[2].

Motor learning for performance

    Cognitive Stage

    This base stage is where a lot of learning and context happens. At this stage, we’re not overly concerned about how to actually do the skill properly. Instead, we’re more concerned about why we should bother learning the skill.

    Once we’ve got a grasp of that, this stage also starts the trial and error process. You can call it practice, but at this stage, the idea is to at least try it out rather than nail it.

    This is also the stage where we are heavily reliant on guidance. We can have a coach or a teacher there, and their role is to provide a good learning environment. This means removing distractions and using visuals, as well as encouraging those trials and errors to guide the learning process.

    One example of this goes back to the walking example, but other instances are things like driving a car or riding a bike. Even when we are older, you can see this form of learning working.

    Associative Stage

    The second stage is where we’ve got some practice under our belt, and we have a good grasp of general concepts. We know what to do in order to perform this particular skill. The only problem is that we might not be able to do that skill all that well when compared to others.

    Indeed, we know what to do, but not “how to do it well.” It’s at this stage where the saying “Practice makes perfect” rings true. The more that we practice, the more we can refine and tighten the loose ends of that skill.

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    An example of this motor learning at work is seen in sports. Generally speaking, people can perform better the more that they practice. That’s because the more we practice something, the more we understand what input does to our bodies as well as where our current limits lie.

    Autonomous Stage

    At this stage, everything is more or less automatic and will stick in the long term. We can still improve, but you don’t need to tell yourself to go and do a certain task or assignment constantly. Your body has become adjusted to the idea of doing this.

    .

    An example of this learning is the skills that you use at work. When you get to work, you need very little persuasion to actually do your work. Whether that’s writing, lifting, operating a machine, or performing, there are a set of skills that we don’t think about and merely do.

    The Principles of Motor Learning

    The principles of motor learning are few and far between. Generally speaking, there is a consensus that the key to production of a new motor skill isn’t so much on the amount of time spent practicing, but the way that we practice.

    This idea was brought up in a 2016 study published on Science Alert, where scientists uncovered that making changes in your training can enhance your learning experience.[3]

    With this in mind, the core principles focus on the methodology of learning. Not only that, but ensuring they follow through the stages that I mentioned above, which are simple in concept.

    The core principle of this learning is to reinforce a skill so much that our execution of that skill is nothing but mindless consistency.

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    The study that I brought up is a new addition to that principle, as we now know that making alterations during our practice can cause new aspects of learning to grow and enrich our learning and mastery of a skill.

    How to Use Motor Learning Theory For Effective Learning

    The theory as we know it is to practice movement patterns until they become second nature and to experiment and make small changes in order to improve performance of a skill.

    How does all of that help with us being better at something? That study found something called memory reconsolidation.[4] One of the senior study author’s, Pablo A. Celnik, M.D. stated that:

    “What we found is if you practice a slightly modified version of a task you want to master, you actually learn more and faster than if you just keep practicing the exact same thing multiple times in a row.”

    Motor learning through memory reconsolidation

      Celnik also stressed why this is such a big deal:

      “Our results are important because little was known before about how reconsolidation works in relation to motor skill development. This shows how simple manipulations during training can lead to more rapid and larger motor skill gains because of reconsolidation.”

      In other words, by using memory reconsolidation, we can learn faster and ultimately gain the ability to perform a skill faster than by practicing something for several hours without making changes[5].

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      Why does this variation enhance practice? Because the act of recalling our memories isn’t a passive process.[6]

      Whether you are learning a new skill or recalling an event, the sheer act of recalling changes the memory itself. In essence, our memories become highly unreliable as we focus and subtly alter those memories in light of recent events.

      This is because our brain is more interested in the most useful version of the world and disregards useless details.

      Bottom Line

      In order to incorporate motor learning into your life, it’s a matter of mixing up your practice session slightly. Whatever skill it is you are trying to do, urge yourself to make subtle changes to how you perform.

      If you’re writing, try applying a new word you never used previously that you picked up.

      Are you practicing an instrument or playing a sport? Try to use a different muscle or a new movement to achieve the same sound. This can be something as simple as posture or body position.

      The idea with motor learning is to keep practicing, even if you are at the stage where your movements are automatic. This variation can very well bring you to the next level of that skill.

      More About Learning Faster

      Featured photo credit: Jordan Whitfield via unsplash.com

      Reference

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