I know. I’ve been there.
And the more important the information – be it a name, a mathematical formula or a word – the higher that feeling of having no power over your memory becomes.
But you don’t have to suffer from this powerlessness. You can learn how to increase memory power.
And the good news is that a meaningful transformation can occur almost overnight using these three simple steps.
1. Determine what “memory power” means to you.
Go ahead and get out a piece of paper or something to write on. Then, without thinking about it too much, write down everything that comes to mind related to your personal concept of memory power.
If you like, you can also create a mind map. Mind maps are great because they free you from many aspects of linear thinking and let you see different connections that normally go unnoticed.
Make sure that you spend 5-10 minutes on this exercise before taking a break. Then come back to it, assess what you’ve written and add any more details that come to mind.
In particular, search your writing and/or mind mapping for three kinds of information that can be placed into different categories. These categories are “fears,” “opportunities” and “strengths.” (I’ve adapted terms from a coach named Dan Sullivan for use in your world of memory improvement, but if you’re an entrepreneur, check out his teaching sometime soon.)
Next, on another sheet of paper, put a headline on top that says something like “how to increase memory power.”
Beneath that, create three columns, one for each category. For example, when I completed the prose version of this exercise, I wrote:
Memory power means the ability to recall anything I’ve studied at any time and under any condition. Relaxation is always part of the process of memory power. It also means learning and memorizing information that will actually make a difference to the quality of my daily life. True memory power exists when I’m able to share the processes and results of how to increase memory power with others.
The mind map version (because I think it’s important to do both) looks like this:
I’ve give you this handwritten image because that’s exactly how I suggest you write out your mind map. It takes just a few seconds. But in case you can’t read my handwriting or interpret my short form, here’s the list of what “memory power” means to me. It’s the ability to:
* Memorize Facts
* Memorize Math & numbers
* Helping others do the same
* Feel great
* Recall anything
* Experience no stress during the memorization using relaxation
Next, on the three column sheet, map everything onto the three categories. Scroll to the Further Resources section of this post to download a worksheet if you prefer that to free writing on a blank page. 🙂
Again, this isn’t rocket science. Just a simple sheet of paper will do. So you can make out what I’ve written, here’s the words in type (and in more normal English):
Not being able to concentrate
Not being relaxed
Not being able to recall
Ability to teach others
Writing books about memory
45 mins for memorzing vocabulary
45 mins for practicing recall
Writing an email to a reader
Drafting a new book
This Memory Power Exercise Eliminates All Fear
In sum, this exercise helps not only define what memory power means to you and how to improve it. The exercise also identified your fears. With awareness of these, you can eliminate them one at a time from your life before proceeding to the next exercise.
Some people may think this first step towards memory improvement is too involved. However, this should take no more than 5 minutes to complete. You might want to revisit it every so often to see where you stand, however.
In other words, your personal definition of memory power is not a “set it and forget it” thing. It’s living, breathing and subject to change as your memory power evolves into something much better.
2. Set a specific goal and study memory techniques.
Every body has heard of SMART goals. To quote from the Wikipedia entry, SMART goals are:
Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
Assignable – specify who will do it.
Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.
On the final note, it is often suggested that you add a deadline.
However, the extent to which deadlines matter (or any of the SMART goal conditions matter) is entirely up to you. In truth, even just writing out a simple learning goal is better than nothing. The more you can specify the conditions of the goal within a formal learning cycle, the better.
I also suggest that you always include research when setting goals. Although adding research means adding an additional step to your goals, it also means you’ll be able to proceed towards your goal on an informed basis.
What does research mean when it comes to learning how to increase memory power? As we’ve seen in the previous exercise, it means starting by researching yourself and your memory improvement needs. But the next step is to do some research into memory improvement techniques themselves.
Brace yourself, because there are a lot of mnemonic strategies – and many are taught in different ways by different people. This can lead to the impression that there are literally thousands of memory techniques. But as in card magic where there appears to be a zillion tricks, the reality is that magicians are presenting variations on a small set of themes.
To help you navigate the vast world of memory training, I’ve created the Memory Training Consumer Awareness Guide so that you can make an informed decision when choosing a memory training that’s right for you. Please take some time to go through it in either its Mp3 or PDF format and feel free to let me know if you have any questions at any time.
I’ve also unearthed some of my favorite Memory Palace books for you. The more of them you read, the more informed you’ll be when using mnemonics.
After you’ve researched memory techniques and started using them, it’s important to keep practicing. It’s kind of like the way a musician approaches an instrument or an actor approaches the craft. No matter how good you get, you keep playing and performing. It’s not just that the skills need to be maintained – it’s that they need to become a way of life.
And just as actors are called actors and musicians are called musicians, there is a name for people who take up memory techniques as a lifelong practice. They’re called mnemonists, though you can also just use the term Memorizer. No matter what you call them, these are some the most Magnetic people on the planet because they’ve taken the natural abilities of their minds – normal abilities that everyone has – and sharpened them.
How? Certainly by spending time in self-analysis, doing research and setting goals. So if you’re ready to join their ranks, here’s another exercise.
Determine Exactly What You Want To Memorize
List the most impactful information you could commit to memory down on the a piece of paper.
For me, the most important things are foreign language vocabulary, grammar principles, names and faces, facts about art and poetry (which includes the ability to memorize quotes, jokes and even entire speeches). For you, it might be math, programming languages and passwords. There are all kinds of needs, and better you can identify what your memory requirements are, the better the memory training you can seek.
My advice is that you concentrate on the memory needs that are going to help you the most right now. If memorizing poetry and all the things that go along with it (quotes, jokes, etc.) have no value to you, then save that for later.
Focus on what will get you through school as an A+ student, get you a better job or whatever will bring you immediate pleasure first. Know what motivates you and then look for the memory training that will help you most directly. This will quickly boost your existing motivation even higher because you’ll suddenly see and feel just how quickly you can achieve your goals through memory improvement.
Obviously, there are a lot of memory trainings to recommend, but I think you’re best off doing some research of your own. And in addition to my consumer awareness guide, you can readily visit the Magnetic Memory Method resources section too. Or you can just dive straight into the Magnetic Memory Method Masterclass.
But because research is such an important part of self-development, do make sure to do some – you’ll learn what research is best by simply doing it, but in brief, here are some tricks of the trade I’ve learned over the years as a student, graduate student and research professor.
Get. Off. The. Internet.
Look, the Internet is awesome. No one is denying that.
This point is also important: So little of all the print material in the world has yet to appear online. There are books, magazines and articles, audio programs and even old videocassettes that still work that are not and probably never will be online.
If you want the fullest possible range of knowledge, go to libraries, used bookstores and for older trainings, go to the Internet, but look at Ebay or Abebooks for old memory training materials. You’ll be amazed by what’s kicking around.
Here’s another way to get off the Internet with a simple visualization and memory exercise:
When Online, Use The Internet Intelligently
Most people run to Google and pop in a bunch of words. However, there are specific search terms you can add in order to radically narrow and improve your searching. Try, for example:
More search parameters exist, but these are the ones I typically use.
* If you have access to a university library, read journal articles, dissertations and even entire books exclusive to these services. Some public libraries can grant you access to these as well, so ask a librarian. People who don’t physically go to libraries and many people who do don’t realize what a powerful resource a trained librarian can be. They literally search and organize material to be searched and found for a living.
* Read outside of the memory improvement genre. Not only do memory techniques appear all over the place in different kinds of books and personal development trainings, but such resources contain all kinds of techniques that you can build onto your approach to memory.
This is one of the many aspects that makes the Magnetic Memory Method unique. Relaxation, mindset and scientifically verified methods for generating greater happiness have been included. Of all the books I recommend on a regular basis, 59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman is probably one of the best. The simple technique of writing down 10 good things that happened to you every day is worth more than a billion dollars, and I’ll probably repeat that simple lesson a billion times if I live long enough to do it. It’s been that valuable to me and I know it will be that valuable for you too.
And it’s ideas that you’ll come across when you read outside of the memory improvement genre. But don’t just rest on the ideas – act on them. You’ll never experience flight by reading about airplanes, not even if you have the best possible reading strategies. At some point you’ve actually for to get on one and actually get into the sky.
This is totally an aside, but in writing this, I’m reminded of the poet Ezra Pound. When investigators brought him home from Italy to America to stand trial for treason, he strolled the aisle and whistled as the plane loped the sky over the ocean. This was used as evidence of his mental instability at his trial, but even though he would spend the next 12 years locked up in a mental hospital, the truth is that he was just happy. It was the first time he had ever flown.
As with the other exercises, all of this should be fun. Even just 10-15 minutes a week can expand your expertise of the world of memory in rapid order while making you a better researcher overall.
Making research part of your memory improvement goals also serves as several memory exercises at once because you’re expanding your knowledge of the field. Working memory processes information and you’re feeding yourself details about ideas and books that you can recall later from long term memory. If you want, you can even use a Memory Palace to memorize the titles of books and articles you’ve read for revisiting later or for your overall knowledge of memory techniques and memory improvement strategies.
3. Create A Personal Memory Power Improvement Program
Now it’s time to implement what you’ve been learning. But implementation without a plan is a dangerous business.
Because if you’re working and not getting results, you wind up frustrated. Frustration leads to inactivity. Inactivity leads to abandoning goals. Abandoned goals lead to more frustration, and before you know it, you’re far from where you could be.
By sticking with and finishing what you started, on the other hand, you’ll improve your concentration and memory at the same time. Although it might sound a bit controversial, there’s a way you might improve your IQ too simply by sticking with the program.
Worse, you might never wind up coming back. And that would be a tragedy because success with memory techniques is always just around the corner. (Even if you’re already accomplished, the next level also awaits if you regularly implement, experiment and make modifications according to your carefully defined goals.)
As is clear to those who follow the Magnetic Memory Method, the Memory Palace is the be-all and end-all to your success with memory improvement. This doesn’t mean that it’s the only way, and this recent correspondence with a reader of How to Learn and Memorize Russian Vocabulary shows that.
However, for most people, a well-designed Memory Palace is easy to create and even easier to use. Everything you need is available in the free Memory Palace Mastery video series (click the registration link at the top of the page). It’s never to late to develop this simple skill.
Although the explanation is detailed and will take a little time to learn, the reason I go into such depth is because I want to ensure your success. I’ve seen it time and time again that most people experience the highest levels of success when they get the Memory Palace part of the memory improvement equation right the first time. Please don’t miss this special memory improvement opportunity available to you now for free.
Once you’ve got a Memory Palace prepared, it’s actually time to build another one even before you start using the first one. I know this probably sounds crazy (and in fact some people have told me that it is crazy), but the reality is that you need more than one Memory Palace and multiple Memory Palace construction is in and of itself an extraordinary memory development exercise. If you’re building Memory Palaces in a fully informed manner, each one should take approximately 5-10 minutes each.
Later, with a couple of Memory Palaces under your belt using the Magnetic Memory Method free video training and worksheets you get when you subscribe, pick something that fits one of your goals as described above. There’s no point practicing memory techniques by memorizing a shopping list (the typical, boring exercise that most memory trainings start with) – unless you absolutely love shopping and this ability will improve your life immediately and/or bring you enormous joy.
Otherwise, pick something that interests you fiercely and will improve your life. Many people who are learning a language and have struggled a bit with the process will get an immediate boost from doing this.
If you’re a businessperson, you might opt for learning to use Memory Palaces for names and faces or numbers first and practicing these will be of the greatest benefit. If you’re a student, you might want to practice with a list of important facts that are bound to show up on a quiz or a test. The more aligned your practice is with your goals and ambitions, the more you’ll be able to lock them onto your opportunities and eliminate your fears.
It’s really that simple and really that fun. And the impact will move forward through time as you grow in life as an individual, as a learner and as a Memorizer (or mnemonist) if you prefer.
In sum, increasing your memory power is easy and fun to do. That doesn’t mean it’s not without effort, however, though as I always like to say, even chocolate and sex require effort – and they’re both fantastic, as are advanced memory abilities.
Don’t get scared off by the word “advanced.” It really means “forward,” as in moving forward. And as long as you’re moving forward, you truly are advanced. And that forward movement is the most important thing in the world. Without a doubt.
Download this worksheet so you can fill out your own Memory Power fears, strengths and opportunities sheet and start making massive improvements to your memory
Pure Genius by Dan Sullivan
Previous episode of the Magnetic Memory Podcast: Want Unlimited Memory? Get This Book!
Magnetic Memory Method article on Tony Buzan, a master of memory and deep thinker of how to make world class mind maps
Fabulous list post on Year Planning Mind Maps from mindmappingsoftwareblog.com
All of Richard Wiseman’s books on his blog. Hint: The link to Night School points to Amazon.co.uk. If you replace the “co.uk” with “com” without changing any other part of the address, you’ll find this book on the U.S. store. This trick works for other Amazon stores around the world too. It’s magic. 😉