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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.

More by this author

Jon Negroni

An author and blogger who shares about lifestyle advice

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Last Updated on August 4, 2020

The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life

The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here’s how to master the Gentle Art of Saying No:

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1. Value Your Time

Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”

2. Know Your Priorities

Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time?

For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.

3. Practice Saying No

Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.

4. Don’t Apologize

A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.

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5. Stop Being Nice

Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets.

Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.

6. Say No to Your Boss

Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no,” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning.

But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.

7. Pre-Empting

It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting,

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“Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”

8. Get Back to You

Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them:

“After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.”

At least you gave it some consideration.

9. Maybe Later

If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say,

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“This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].”

Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.

10. It’s Not You, It’s Me

This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often, the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time.

Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

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Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

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