I’ve been a Memorizer for almost 15 years. I’ve turned my passion into a method (the Magnetic Memory Method) and have built a lot of Memory Palaces using it – more than 180 at last count.
That means I’ve made a ton of mistakes.
But even though I’ve failed a lot, I’ve learned a lot thanks to getting things wrong. And the truth is that you can’t really get it wrong. Taking action is always right, so long as you learn from your mistakes.
Some of you reading this may be aspiring Memorizers. Or maybe you’re already on the path and looking for inspiration from a fellow mnemonist. Others might never use these techniques themselves, but still care about them because they have young students at home and know the science behind mnemonics and the great things they can help achieve.
That means that everyone should care about the power of these techniques. And if you are interested in using them, not just to memorize information, but to also increase the quality of your mind, then here’s what I’ve learned so far as both a Memorizer, Memory Palace fanatic and Muse of Mnemonics:
1. Memorize every day. Even weekends. I know you’re busy – I am too! But no matter what happens, each and every day I memorize something, even if only for the exercise. Usually I have some project on the go, however, and adding one more memorized item from that list is a must. Memorizing daily makes it a routine. It’s not something that requires thought. It’s just done. And when you take memorizing up as a daily habit, it gets so much easier. If you find it intimidating, trust me. After a week you’ll wonder why you ever thought using your imagination in this way was a big deal. It’s just like describing something interesting you’ve seen to a friend. Except in this case, you talk to yourself and enable your mind to recall just about anything you wish.
2. Keep a journal of what you’ve memorized for two reasons. First, you want to test the accuracy of your memorized information. Second, you want to see your progress. Just as an artist keeps a sketchbook for studies used to create a masterpiece, the artist also keeps that book in order to chart progress over time. This practice makes memorizing a larger conversation with yourself over time. You’ll learn a lot about who you really are and just how much discipline you really have.
3. Keep your Memory Palaces and associative-imagery streamlined. In the beginning, Memorizers tend to be very flowery. They throw in everything in the world and then add God’s kitchen sink. It’s overkills. It creates cognitive overload. It’s counterproductive. The truth is that if you are creating your associative-correctly (large, bright, vibrant, colorful, packed with action), you don’t need a whole lot. You don’t need mental jargon. Just the minimum. After a while, it’ll be like Memory Zen. A lot of power packed into a very small space.
4. Memorize with a purpose in mind. There doesn’t always have to be a goal, but you should rarely practice just to practice. This is because you can get all the practice you need by memorizing particular pieces of information that are connected to a territory of knowledge you want to master. Plus, when you always work on large projects to get your practice, you are also practicing the art of completing large projects. Neat, isn’t it?
5. You can always create new Memory Palaces. A lot of people suffer from what I call “Memory Palace Scarcity.” This means that they worry that they’ll run out of stations. Inside of individual Memory Palaces, this is true. But in the world? It’s never true. There are billions of buildings in the world: restaurants, theatres, homes, churches, police stations … Many of them open their doors to you. Sure, some charge a few, but you always get to double your investment, if not quadruple it, simply by turning that place into a Memory Palace. Leave no building un-memorized. And don’t forget that there are always neat new ways to get stuff memorized too.
6. Fear is the mindkiller. Most people don’t memorize because they’re afraid it won’t work. Mission accomplished. Nothing you don’t actively try will never work. And if you have tried, you’ll never get better if you don’t continue. I think many people who have tasted the power of memory improvement come to fear success because of the responsibility it creates. Just imagine all the cool things you’ll be able to accomplish with advanced memory skills. It’s understandably overwhelming. But the fear of success is irrational. So many positive things await you if only you’re willing to go where Memorizers dare.
7. Procrastination is not poison. One of the best things I have ever learned about procrastination came from Eckart Tolle. He points out that the worst thing about procrastination is that people don’t bother to enjoy it. Sounds weird, right? But it’s true. All of us drag our feet on certain things and spend the entire time fretting about it. You’ll get back in the game sooner, however, if you treat procrastination like the inevitable “problem” it is. Say hello, invite it in for tea, and then send it on its merry way. It’ll be back and you’ll be prepared with the warm cookies of acceptance it will need before journey off again.
8. Developing advanced memory skills can change your life. Time and time again I hear from people who have experienced the shock and awe of succeeding with memory skills. They often say that they wish they’d been taught these skills in school. I wish so too, but it’s never too late. People have passed professional exams, won contests, made huge strides in the language learning efforts and acted in plays and on the screen. And all of it happened because they took action and built confidence surrounding the quality of their memory abilities.
So if you haven’t already been building and using Memory Palaces …
Seriously. Shoot me a response back with your reasons for stalling on the miraculous.
Further Reading and Listening:
About the author: Anthony Metivier is the founder of the Magnetic Memory Method, a systematic, 21st Century approach to memorizing foreign language vocabulary, dreams, names, music, poetry and much more in ways that are easy, elegant, effective and fun.