As I start this new chapter in my professional career I am thinking more about learning and how one learns. Learning in all its stages: the disseminating information then the retaining and applying that knowledge. The way we approach learning can make a big difference in how much we retain and how long we remember it.
I want to focus on one aspect today which is effective learning and by that I mean effort. Learning that comes easy, without much mental or physical exertion, tends to be less durable than learning that requires effort. When we put in effort to learn something, we engage our brains in a deeper way. We make connections between new information and what we already know, and we are more likely to remember it in the long run.
Think of learning like writing in sand versus carving in stone. When we learn something easily, it’s like writing in sand – it may be there for a little while, but it’s quickly washed away by the next wave. But when we put in effort to learn something, it’s like carving in stone – it may take more time and effort, but the results are lasting.
- Scrolling through social media
- Watching mindless TV shows
- Listening to music without paying attention to lyrics
Learning that requires effort:
- Studying for an exam
- Practicing a new instrument or sport
- Learning a new language or skill through active engagement and practice
Of course, putting in effort to learn something isn’t always easy. It can be frustrating, challenging, and even exhausting at times. When we truly understand something, when we can apply it in different contexts and explain it to others, we have a deeper and more durable knowledge that can serve us well in many areas of our lives.
So the next time you’re learning something new, make sure there is effort in the attainment and application. Don’t shy away from the challenge or give up too easily. Instead, engage your brain, and push yourself to learn deeply. Carve that stone and avoid the sand learning. You’ll be amazed at how much more you’ll retain and how much more confident you’ll feel in your newfound knowledge. And who knows, you may even discover a passion for learning that will serve you well for years to come.