I was 25 at the time and had just broken off from a 9 1/2 year relationship that left me heartbroken, confused and lost.
I came out of the relationship not knowing anything, partially because I had been sheltered most of my life and partially because I had been trapped in a relationship that didn’t allow me to do much other than stay home and cook.
I didn’t know how to set up the internet.
I didn’t know how to book a flight.
I didn’t know how to buy things online.
I found myself incapable of even doing the basics.
Is it even possible to get any smarter?
It is, and I’ve done it. This is what helped me and will hopefully help you too.
1. Always ask ‘why’ to everything
If someone buys you coffee, ask why.
If a friend shows up at your door, ask why.
If you see the ocean and it’s green, ask why.
The more you ask questions, the sharper your mind and the more obvious people’s intentions become. By asking ‘why’, you allow yourself to see and understand the world better for what it is, and over time, you’ll pick up on things you might not have noticed before.
2. Read this, read that, read everything!
Reading isn’t just for fun or for school. It’s to absorb all sorts of unique perspective and insight to create your own.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more things you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
~ Dr. Seuss
3. When you want to learn something, ask others
Most of the things you want to learn or do is something that someone else has already succeeded in. In this case:
- Interview them and understand why they’ve succeeded
- Ask them what they think is a waste of time to learn and their recommendations
- Ask them specific questions you have as you learn on your own
Most people are friendly and are willing to help as long as you show that you’ve put in the initial effort.
4. Teach others what you’ve learned
The best way to learn is to actually teach what you’ve learned.
Teaching others requires you to clarify your thoughts and to understand the basics thoroughly before teaching. It also really helps you remember the knowledge you’ve learned because you’re putting it into practice.
5. Brainstorm 10 ideas everyday
James Clear suggests brainstorming 10 ideas daily as a way to help writers come up with new topics.
That advice applies just as well to people who aren’t writers.
If you want to grow your business, brainstorm 10 business ideas.
If you want to write an amazing post, brainstorm 10 writing topics.
If you want to become a better chef, brainstorm 10 recipes.
The idea behind brainstorming ideas daily is to exercise your creativity. Creativity is like a muscle — you have to keep working it out if you want to see improvements.
6. Write down important things you’ve learned
Most of what we learn this year, we’ll forget if we don’t put it in practice.
Write down the important things you’ve learned that you want to remember and refer back to it early and often. As you keep looking back on the notes you’ve taken, you’ll find it easier to remember the things you’ve written.
7. Watch educational videos instead of TV
It’s still entertainment, but at least you’re learning something.
8. Surround yourself with smarter people
The people you surround yourself with determines who you’ll become.
Surrounding yourself with people smarter than you helps improve your thinking, build stronger ambitions and deepen your knowledge.
9. Try yourself before asking for help
Knowledge has to be earned, not given. Before asking for help, you must first attempt it yourself.
If you constantly rely on others for help, you’ll never learn to do things on your own. You’ll never know how things work. And you’ll never have the ambition to do more.
As Albert Einstein once said: “Learning is experience. Everything else is just information.”
10. Try something new
Maybe it’s listening to podcasts for the very first time.
Maybe it’s traveling to a city you haven’t yet seen.
Maybe it’s trying a new blend of coffee.
Whatever it is, trying new things give you more perspective and understanding into topics you didn’t understand before. And it’s only by trying new things that you’ll discover what it is that you’re most passionate about.
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