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Published on July 21, 2020

How to Become an Intentional Learner for Never-Ending Growth

How to Become an Intentional Learner for Never-Ending Growth

We human beings are learning machines. We learn through observation. We learn through listening. We learn through watching. We even learn when we’re helping others learn.

Some of what we learn slips in without notice, like when a friend shares a story that you can’t stop thinking about. Some of what we learn is passive, like when we watch the news or when we’re listening to an audiobook while out on a run.

But when we’re intentional about what we’re trying to learn, there’s a purpose behind it, which means we want to soak more of it up and internalize it—so that we can apply the concepts in our lives.

Intentional learning is essentially goal-directed learning—learning for a specific purpose. It isn’t accidental—it’s deliberate.

Having a deliberate approach—especially when it comes to learning—is crucial if you’re the type of person who’s dedicated to a constant and never-ending pursuit of personal growth.

In this article, you’ll learn 7 tips on how to become an intentional learner so that you can make your intentional learning efforts as impactful and effective as possible—no matter what you want to learn.

How Do I Become an Intentional Learner?

Intentional learning is what happens when you focus on learning specific things for specific purposes.

Here are some examples that may prompt you to become an intentional learner:

  • If you want to learn how to start an online business, you might Google about it and read several articles.
  • If you want to surprise your spouse for your upcoming anniversary by cooking her favorite dish for dinner, you might enroll in a cooking class that’s specifically tailored toward teaching you how to cook the type of dish or cuisine she loves.
  • If you want to learn a new language, you might get some learning software, like Rosetta Stone, to help you learn it.
  • If you want to deepen your knowledge about Personal Development[1], you might read two or three best-selling books about it or listen to some Self-Improvement podcasts.[2]

Now that we’ve set the context, let’s dive into the specific tips on how to become an intentional learner. Learning these tips will help you make your intentional learning efforts as impactful and effective as possible—no matter what you want to learn.

Let’s get into it.

1. Set a Learning Goal

The most powerful way to start with intentional learning is to actually begin with intention. In other words, clarify the results you seek to achieve with what you plan to learn and it’ll be easier to retain and apply that knowledge over the long run.

Use the following questions to help you drill down and clarify your learning goal:

  • What’s the goal (desired result/outcome) you seek to achieve?
  • Why do you want to achieve it?
  • What kind of problem are you trying to solve with what you want to learn?
  • What do you need to learn to solve your problem or achieve your learning goal?
  • What’s the most effective and efficient way to learn it?
  • How will you know when you have accomplished your learning goal?

2. Have a Deep Desire

When I was around 19 years old, I decided to get myself in shape. At the time, I was what you might call “skinny-fat.” I was totally out of shape and living an incredibly unhealthy lifestyle. I rarely ever had any energy. I didn’t feel good about what I saw in the mirror every morning, and I was ready for change.

I’d tried to learn about health and fitness in the past but always half-heartedly. I’d look up some workouts and try them at the gym, but I never really committed myself.

I tried to eat healthier, but I’d inevitably give up and end up at the drive-thru.

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And then one day, it just hit me: do I really want to spend the rest of my life like this?

I knew the answer was “No”.

I remember standing in front of the mirror, looking at my soft, chubby body in disgust.

At that moment, I told myself that enough was enough. I was sick of feeling this way. Sick of feeling unhealthy. Sick of not feeling good about myself physically. I was sick to my stomach.

And then I imagined how it would feel if I could turn myself around—if I could learn about exercise, nutrition, and eating healthy foods—and then apply those learnings in the gym and kitchen. How phenomenal would I feel?

I thought about all of the ways that learning how to get into shape (and then actually doing what it takes to get there) would positively impact my life. Thinking about how great it would make me feel, I’d given birth to a deep desire to make this a reality in my own life.

On that day, I began my transformation—and I haven’t looked back since.

That very same day, I spent ten hours reading and learning about diets, nutrition, and exercise. I put plans together—and actually followed them. And soon after, the results I’d imagined had become a reality. I felt healthier and more lively. I had that lean, muscular physique I’d dreamt about.

I built a new version of myself. And it felt incredible. It was a pivotal point in my life. And it all began with a deep desire.

So, what’s a deep desire of your own that you can fulfill through intentional learning?

Find it and ignite it.

3. Strategize and Organize

Rather than learning haphazardly, first, figure out a strategy and structure that’s best suited to your learning needs.

Look at your responses to the questions from the first two tips, and design a learning approach that will help you get the knowledge you need as quickly and effectively as possible.

Some people might benefit from reading full books, while others might benefit from reviewing a bunch of book summaries on a related topic.

Some people can learn what they need by watching tutorials on YouTube, while others need to get a coach.

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Whichever strategy you choose, organize it in a way that works best for you.

Also, keep in mind that sometimes it’s helpful to let off the gas and relax a bit: we can sometimes fall into tunnel vision when we’re learning new things, but it’s important to keep in mind that learning happens while we’re daydreaming or doing seemingly unrelated things.

Give yourself time to digest your learnings like a good meal. Let your mind wander and wonder about what you’re learning from time to time.

That said, remember that your strategy and structure for intentional learning must be organized and executed around a learning priority that you want to achieve.

It should also be something that you genuinely desire to learn. Not just because your teacher told you to, or because your boss told you to—but because YOU told you to, and because you want to.

And finally, throughout your intentional learning process, be sure to monitor your methods to be sure that they’re helping you achieve your learning goals and needs.

4. Review It to Retain It

After we’ve learned something new, we’ve got a 24 -hour window of time to capitalize on retaining that new knowledge.

This 24-hour window is called the “forgetting curve.” Basically, what it means is this: unless you review the material you’ve just learned, you’ll forget most of it after the first 24 hours—and you’ll continue to lose more over the days that follow. This leaves you with a fraction of what you learned initially.

As someone who’s interested in becoming an intentional learner, you’d probably prefer to avoid that if you can, am I right?

So how?

Let’s say you’ve just read a book. You can probably recall much of what you read the next day. But what about the next month? How about a year from now?

Next year, you’ll probably still remember enough about the book to vaguely tell someone about it. But would you remember all the key concepts?

Of course not. In reality, you’d end up forgetting more than 80% of the material you read.

Compare this to one of your favorite songs—one that you can easily remember word-for-word.

Why is it so easy to remember the lyrics to your favorite song, and so difficult to remember the big ideas from a book you’ve read?

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If you like a song, you probably listen to it repeatedly—this is a form of reviewing.

If you apply the same methodology to that book you’ve just read, you’d be able to remember more of that, too. Of course, it would be silly to re-read a book as often as you repeat your favorite song.

But could there be another way to review the concepts from the book?

Yes! Here’s just one way: take notes about the book as you read it, and then review those notes within a 24-hour window.

If you do that, you’ll lock-in much more of the material. Come back a week later for further review, and you’ll lock-in even more.

Reviewing doesn’t have to be rote. You can read or learn about something, and then draw pictures to help you retain the material. You can repeat what you’ve learned back to yourself in your own words. You can look over your notes.

It’s not about boring yourself to death, it’s about connecting the dots and looking at what you’ve learned from different angles.

5. Apply What You Learn

Contrary to popular belief, knowledge is NOT power.

Knowledge is POTENTIAL power.

That is to say, that whatever you learn—intentionally or passively—is useless unless you apply it.

The key to becoming an intentional learner is to take what you’ve learned and put it to use to achieve a goal—to fulfill a desired aim and ambition.

Knowledge is just like a muscle: if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.

Find a way to apply what you learn in your everyday life.

  • If you’ve learned about how eating more fiber is healthy, you might apply it by looking for the fiber content on the nutrition labels of your food.
  • If you’ve learned a new word, you can apply it by using it in conversations and writing it down.
  • If you’ve just learned a new marketing tactic for your business, you might apply it by testing it out on a segment of your business.

You can apply whatever you’re learning about within your daily life. In fact, the more intentional you are about doing this, the more of an intentional learner you’ll become.

Take immediate action on the things you learn and you’ll understand them better.[3] Applying what you learn helps you make new connections to things you’ve already learned as well—which further enhances your understanding.

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6. Revise and Reflect

Have you ever frantically reviewed something right before a test in hopes of keeping it fresh in your mind?

Hate to break it to you, but it’s not as effective as you think. When it comes to learning something, it’s not about freshness—it’s about depth. If you want to internalize information, the real key is in the quality of your reflection.

Take some time to think about the knowledge you’ve just learned. Digest it. Imagine how it works in different scenarios.

Think about it before bed. Think about it when you rise. Set aside some time to revise the material.

Personally, every Sunday, I sit down to review and reflect upon everything I’ve done and learned about over the week. Throughout the week, I’m checking things off and making notes about new ideas and things I’ve learned and would like to remember. All of this goes to my journal. I’ve even laid out the whole process in an episode of my podcast here.[4]

The bottom line is this: you want to engrave and embed the new knowledge in your mind. And regularly reflecting upon what you learn helps you do that.

You don’t need to practice every type of reflection I’ve mentioned above. You just need to practice some form of reflection to take what you’ve learned and make it stick.

7. Teach What You Learn

We’re saving the best—yes, the best—tip for last.

The most effective method for becoming an intentional learner is to teach what you learn.

Teaching what you learn is potent and powerful because:

  • It requires you to thoughtfully organize information such that others can understand it as you teach it.
  • It allows you to gain useful feedback about whether what you’ve taught is actually sinking-in, by observing how someone else is interacting with it.
  • When you’re teaching something, you force your mind to find effective ways to describe the material, so that it can be absorbed by the learner.
  • You’ll come up with new metaphors and examples to illustrate what you are teaching.

And all of this combines together to help reinforce the concepts in your own mind.

It’s Time to Become an Intentional Learner

All good things must come to an end, and now, my fellow intentional learner, we’ve come to ours. But that doesn’t mean you have to stop.

Now it’s your turn to use this information for never-ending growth as an intentional learner. Take this new knowledge you’ve just read about and begin to apply it within your own life.

Use it, review it, apply it, and teach it to others. Knowledge, after all, is meant to be shared.

More Tips for Learning Effectively

Featured photo credit: Chris Benson via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Dean Bokhari
[2] Apple Podcasts Preview: Dean Bokhari’s Meaningful Show
[3] Dean Bokhari: Action Leads to Motivation
[4] Apple Podcasts: Dean Bokhari’s Meaningful Show

More by this author

Dean Bokhari

Author, Entrepreneur, Podcast & TV Host

14 Books About Building Better Habits That Will Change Your Life Why You’re Not Interested in Anything And Have No Motivation 40 Inspirational Quotes on Overcoming Challenges 9 Things Successful People Do To Always Get What They Want How to Become an Intentional Learner for Never-Ending Growth

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Last Updated on October 15, 2020

How to Use the Learning Style Quiz to Accelerate Your Learning

How to Use the Learning Style Quiz to Accelerate Your Learning

If you’ve ever taken a learning style quiz, you know that the idea is to find your most prominent learning style. The question then becomes: what do you do with that information?

A textbook definition of learning styles is:[1]

“Characteristic cognitive, effective, and psycho-social behaviors that serve as relatively stable indicators of how learners perceive, interact with, and respond to the learning environment.”

That’s a fancy way of saying that different individuals interact with their learning environment in different ways. You’ll often see learning styles in conjunction with higher education and other types of cognitive learning courses. The theory is that, if the teacher is aware of the various ways in which people perceive information, they can differentiate the instruction to meet those needs.

To the casual learner, understanding your learning style can help you find the best way to learn new information. There are seven different learning styles, and everybody uses a little of each one (on a sliding scale).

In this article we will talk about how many different learning styles there are (and what they mean), get you to try the learning style quiz, and find out how to use your specific learning style to improve your life.

The 7 Learning Styles

The following is an overview of the various learning styles[2]:

1. Visual / Spatial

A visual learner thinks in pictures. They prefer having illustrations, pictures, and other types of images to help form a mental image of what they are learning. Visual learners are typically spatial thinkers.

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2. Aural / Auditory-Musical

An aural learner learns through music and rhythm. While actual music isn’t necessarily required to reach an aural learner, it certainly is more effective.

3. Verbal / Linguistic

A verbal learner prefers using words, both in speech and in reading. A person with this learning style might prefer a good lecture or textbook to more visual and auditory styles.

4. Physical / Kinesthetic

A physical learner prefers using their body, hands, and sense of touch. A person with this learning style is more of a “hands-on” learner who prefers to learn by doing.

5. Logical / Mathematical

A logical learner prefers information to flow from one thought or idea to the next. A person with this learning style prefers mathematics, logic, and reasoning.

6. Social / Interpersonal

A social learner prefers to learn in groups or through social interaction. A person with this learning style usually prefers group-work and project-based learning.

7. Solitary / Intrapersonal

A solitary learner prefers to work alone. People with this learning style are great at teaching themselves and often prefer self-study and online courses to more traditional learning methods.

Did you see yourself in more than one learning style? If so, then you understand that no one person has just one learning style. Each of the above styles exist in everybody to a certain degree.

If you take a learning style quiz, you might see a certain style emerge as the strongest (and, thus, more preferred). However, that does not mean that person cannot learn in one of the other ways listed.

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Learning Styles and the Brain

Learning styles influence and guide the way you learn. They affect the way you internally represent your experiences, remember information, or even dictate the words you choose[3].

Learning style quiz: Dunn & Dunn learning styles brain map [Source: Kos, (2017)]

     

    Research suggests that each learning style makes use of a different part of the brain. Here is the breakdown for each learning style:

    • Visual: Visual learners use the occipital and parietal lobes at the back of the brain.
    • Aural: Aural content is mostly processed through the temporal lobes (especially the right temporal lobe for music).
    • Verbal: Verbal content is processed through the temporal and frontal lobes.
    • Kinesthetic: Kinesthetic learning is processed using the cerebellum and the motor cortex.
    • Logical: Logical learning is processed through the parietal lobes (specifically using the left side of the brain as it pertains to logical thinking).
    • Social: Social learning happens in the frontal and temporal lobes.

    How to Use the Learning Style Quiz to Improve Your Life

    Perhaps you didn’t realize that people had different learning styles before you read this article. Maybe you already knew about learning styles.

    Whatever the case, you can learn a lot about yourself just by taking a short learning styles quiz. But what do you do with the knowledge you get from the results?

    Here are some tips:

    Visual Learner

    If you’re a visual learner, focus on how you can make the material you’re learning more visually appealing[4].

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    1. Stay Organized

    If a learning style quiz tells you you’re a visual learner, focus on getting your material organized. Your brain will likely feel overwhelmed if your notes are chaotic.

    2. Use Color

    Try color coding information in order to help your mind visually separate each bit. For example, if you’re studying for a history test, highlight dates in yellow, people in blue, and places in pink. This technique will set important pieces of information off in your mind and make them easier to remember.

    3. Watch Videos

    Ditch the audio-books and podcasts and either read or watch videos and lectures online. Your strength is found in visual explanation — seeing the information in a book, diagram, or demonstration.

    Auditory Learner

    If you’re an auditory learner according to your learning style quiz, focus on using your ability to hear to take in information[5].

    1. Limit Distracting Noises

    Traffic outside your window, students speaking nearby, or music blaring from a speaker won’t help you while studying. You’re already prone to take in the sounds around you, so if you want to learn something specific, find a quiet place to work where you can limit distracting noises.

    2. Read Aloud

    If you’ve taken notes in class, try reading them aloud to yourself. You can even create jingles or rhymes to help you remember specific bits of information.

    3. Record Lectures

    Instead of just simply writing notes as your professor or boss speaks, record the lecture or conversation and listen back later. This will help solidify the information with aural cues. Also, try speaking with classmates or coworkers to help “fill in” the information.

    Kinesthetic Learners

    Your learning style quiz tells you that you’re a kinesthetic learner. Here are some study tips to help you[6].

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    1. Teach Someone

    After you’ve studied the target information, try teaching it to someone else. This dynamic activity will help turn on your ability to recall the information.

    2. Be Hands-on

    Using your hands to create something will help your brain work through specific problems. If you need to remember 20 vocabulary words, try drawing a map and placing the words in specific places. This is related to the idea of a memory palace, which you can learn about here.

    Bonus tip: Try chewing gum, as the movement may help activate learning centers in your brain.

    3. Take Breaks

    As a kinesthetic learner, your mind won’t like being in one static position for very long. Take time to get up and walk around or do another physical activity for a few minutes between study sessions.

    Also be aware that most of the learning styles can fit into one of those three categories. You are essentially going to be one of these three types of learning styles paired with an interpersonal or intrapersonal preference. In other words, you either like working with others or you don’t.

    If you’re ready to take your learning to the next level with your learning style, check out the video below for some more tips and tricks:

    Final Thoughts

    Have you taken the learning style quiz yet? If not, scroll down this page a bit and try the quiz now!

    If you spend just five to ten minutes on this quiz, it may give you insight into learning styles that will change your life.

    More on How to Use the Learning Style Quiz

    Featured photo credit: Eliabe Costa via unsplash.com

    Reference

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