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How to Never Stop Growing and Learning

How to Never Stop Growing and Learning

It was Gandhi who said, “Learn as if you were to live forever.” Why do you think he recommended this? It’s because human beings are not meant to stop growing and learning, even though our time on earth is limited. Part of finding and sustaining happiness in your life is opening yourself up to new things as you get older, though it’s not always easy to do this.

Life happens. Stress abounds and our responsibilities, typically financial, lead us to de-prioritize our own intellectual growth. Steps to change, however, are quite possible. These steps will help point you in the right direction of having a lifestyle that helps you unlock your unlimited potential.

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1. Surround Yourself with Achievers

We become who we hang around, so why not use this truth to your advantage? As you get older, find individuals who are growing and learning, and share your life with them. As they experience and accomplish new things, you’ll be inspired to do the same.

2. Turn Off the TV

Yikes. This can be a hard one, but TV pretty much numbs our minds and prevents us from producing like we can when our minds are at their peak. A way to ease into a television-free lifestyle is to ban TV from your weekdays and save it for the weekend. You can use the freed-up time to read and learn something completely new while still keeping up with your favorite shows at the end of the week.

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3. Find a Mentor

This can be a bit tricky since we sometimes like to rely on our friends to fill this role. A good mentor, however, is someone who is on a different level than you, though there are exceptions. You want a mentor who knows you well enough to call you out when they see you slipping into mediocrity, and you also want a mentor who isn’t afraid to push you to achieve more.

I had a mentor just like this in college. I knew he wasn’t just another friend because whenever we would hang out, he would spend the entire time evaluating and motivating me. Parents, older siblings and teachers are usually the best mentors, and they’re usually the most willing to accept your help if you ask for it.

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4. Be a Mentor

Nothing beats learning by teaching. When I was in school, I often tutored other students in order to help them and learn the material even better myself. Seek out opportunities to be a mentor for someone younger and hungry to learn. They’ll often inspire you to achieve more yourself, and taking on a tangible responsibility like this keeps you from decelerating your growth.

5. Focus on One Thing at a Time

Being “okay” at a lot of things isn’t as impressive as being the master of one. Let’s say you want to learn a language. It would be catastrophic (unless you’re that good) if you tried to learn two or three at the same time! Instead, focus on mastering each subject before you try something new.

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6. Stick to Subjects You Already Know

Let’s say you’ve managed to master the Spanish language. Awesome! But instead of trying to learn a topic that is completely unrelated, consider learning about Spanish history. You now know the language, so this the next natural step to gaining an even deeper understanding of the subject. It’s also a lot easier to learn more about a subject you already have an interest in.

7. Meet Interesting People

This is pretty easy in your 20’s, before you’ve really settled down. Once you have a spouse and kids, you won’t have as much free time to spend conversing with new people. Still, it’s worth the effort, and you don’t have to go to a bar to talk to strangers. Put yourself out there by talking to the myriad of people you run into, and maintaining this habit of curiosity will keep your mind open and receptive to the perspectives of others.

8. Create Something

One of my lifelong mottos has always been, “When in doubt, create something.” Sometimes our minds are just burnt out on taking in new information, and we need to express everything we’ve learned through our own “works of art.” For you, that can be a multitude of things like a novel, painting or skyscraper.

Whatever it is that’s begging to come out of that head of yours, know that pacing yourself in life is key to always staying interested in learning. Once you’ve exhausted your mental creativity, your inner self will be begging for you to learn something new.

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

1. Connecting them with each other

Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

2. Connect with their emotions

Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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3. Keep going back to the beginning

Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

4. Link to your audience’s motivation

After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

5. Entertain them

While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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6. Appeal to loyalty

Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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