Blog post on DIY Learning

Guide to Learning to Learn

Research by The Aha! Project has identified ten points of leverage for people who have taken responsibility for learning and growth into their own hands.

1. Set your goals and write them down. Learning goals, career goals, life goals. People who write their goals are 15% more likely to attain them.

2. Take ten or fifteen minutes each day to reflect on what you’ve learned. If you don’t reflect, your learning will disappear. You must write something… it will help in future reflection.

3. Experience is the best teacher and it accounts for most of what you learn, so to learn more, engage in more experiences.

4. Doing the same thing over and over is the future employment of robots. Worse, you don’t learn from it. You only learn when you step into “UnfamiliarLand.” You experiment and explore the boundaries and soon settle in, wise in the ways of what was once wilderness. The more daring you are, the further you venture. Studies say the sweet spot is to take on some challenges and risks but never bet the farm.

Picasso said “I learn the things I do not know how to do in order to do them.”

5. Deliberately practice what Pablo Picasso was talking about. Focus on exercising and figuring out the hard parts. Practice what you are clumsy about. Canny learners love to break routines and push the envelope in all aspects of their lives just to see what response comes back.

6. Talk. Conversions are the stem cells of learning. Share your thoughts, your challenges, and your findings with your colleagues. Talk about them. Work out loud for all to see. Transparency alerts others when to help or work with you.

7. Socialize. Network actively. Don’t be afraid of “lurking” because you learn from other people sharing their experiences. Treat others with respect. Hear them out. Open the door to productive relationships. Be a polite guest. Write off jerks.

8. Set up your personal radar to help you sift meaningful information from the river of news called the internet. Select your sources, tune your filters, subscribe to mentors, keep your ear to the ground, and incubate good ideas. Test them early and often. Be alert to missing jigsaw puzzle pieces your mind needs to construct a useful pattern.

You learn the definition of a new word, a word you’d never encountered before, and damned if you don’t see it in the newspaper and a magazine the very next day. It had been hiding in plain sight. Know what you need to experience/learn — answers will emerge from the flow and appear in your daily activity.

9. In my lifetime, scientists have “proven” that you really can’t learn much after thirty. Those old neurons have done their last dance and now is the time to defend the status quo and pray that one’s skill set is a good fit with what’s ahead. Now the pendulum has swung in the totally opposite direction.

Neuroscientists have found that the brain is “plastic;” it’s malleable. It’s continuously rewiring itself. You can become more intelligent. You can reprogram the paths on your life’s journey. Isn’t that uplifting?

For you to benefit from this, you truly have to believe you can change and have the stick-to-itiveness to rebuff setbacks.

10. An old but apt saying: If you really want to learn something, teach it. That’s the heart of learning out loud. Curation will help you keep professional skills sharp, improve critical thinking, earn professional recognition, build reputation, and grow personal networks. (See earlier post on Litmos Blog on curation.)

Share your learning with others in a language they can understand. You reflect, lighting up those neural circuits, as you ponder which words to choose.

Two people learn faster than one. Find a study-buddy or team to tackle deep learning.


The Aha! Project helps people learn to learn.


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