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.
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.
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.
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.
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.