How would you like permission to skip school for the rest of your life as a student?
Or how about the ability to quit your job and do whatever you like for the rest of your career?
Well … I’m not sure I can help you with that.
But what I can do is give you some tips on how to live an interesting life. Here are six of them:
1. Be The Driver Of Your Education
There are two main forms of education:
* External Driven
* Self Driven
The first is the kind of education where you show up when you’re told and sit where you’re told. You even eat when you’re told.
Sounds kind of like prison, doesn’t it?
Prison? It Might Even Be Worse!
Not only do you have all kinds of pressures on your time. You’ve got people telling you what to learn.
Think about that:
What. To. Learn.
Oh no, no, no.
No and a thousand times no. That’s not the path to an interesting life.
What you want instead is to …
Be The Boss And Manager Of Your Own Intelligence
Let me tell you a story:
I dropped out of high school in Grade 12.
There’s a lot of detail surrounding this decision and some of it ain’t pretty.
But sticking to the facts (and just the facts), I thought school was such a drag that I decided to stay home and read Collier’s Encyclopedia.
Each morning I would leave home. But instead of getting the battered yellow school bus into town, I would hike up into the mountains. For months I experienced the Fall transform into Winter and then Spring from up above the highway where I would wait for my mom’s car to pass by.
It sounds like something out of Hitchcock’s Psycho, I know, but as I was watching the highway waiting for mom to go to work, I was listening and learning.
No, not listening to Heavy Metal. Not pop. Not even soft rock.
Over the course of the year, I got virtually a Ph.D. in Canadian culture, history, politics, literature and the arts. I also heard interviews with important people from around the world.
True, a bear might have mauled me while I was up there, and I did have a few close encounters with moose and deer. But the danger was worth it.
And after a few hours of Morningside, I would head down the mountain and make hot chocolate. With a steaming cup beside me on the coffee table, I would sit in the same rocking chair I was nursed in and read the Encyclopedia.
It was like being nursed all over again, this time by the knowledge my parents had invested in when they ordered the Encylopedia one volume at a time.
These days we have Wikipedia, but back then, if you wanted to know about the world, it cost a lot of money. I remember my mom talking about saving for the Encyclopedia year after year. She cut dozens of coupons from the newspaper so she could save more and complete the set.
It took about three years and after that, she kept up with the yearly updates for at least another three.
And this was all before I was old enough to read anything more complicated than Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. (Come to think of it, that story is rather complex …)
It was a lot of fun reading through Collier’s Encyclopedia.
When I finally did return to complete high school, I knew so much about the world that …
School Was EVEN MORE Boring!
But that was fine. Because I knew about all kinds of books I wanted to read.
So whenever I could, I would still skip school and take out a notebook I’d kept and look for all the books I’d learned about in Collier’s.
I would go to the Kamloops Public Library and check them out. While everyone else was spending weeks struggling through A Separate Peace by John Knowles, I was reading:
* The Stranger by Albert Camus
* Demian by Herman Hesse
* The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
* Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevski
… and much, much more.
The point of all this is that I was practicing, without even realizing it, the art of self-driven education.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that anyone quit school, skip school or do anything like that …
But I am suggesting that you won’t get nearly as intelligent as you deserve to be if you learn only what you’re told.
So What Can You Do?
If you’re told to read a Shakespeare play, read the play and follow it up by reading another.
Or look up a book about Shakespeare and read a play by one of his contemporaries (I recommend the zany John Webster).
If you find math difficult and boring, find a book on mathematics that has mostly words. See if you can tackle the idea of math from another angle. Khan Academy has math courses you can take as well, something I couldn’t enjoy. But you can.
And when you find an author or an online teacher you like, stick with them. You can learn a lot by seeing how people develop over time.
You’ll also learn a lot about successful people, which brings us to …
2. Reverse-Engineer People You Admire
(Just So Long As They Aren’t Creepy Weirdos Or Serial Killers)
The world is filled with people who have either lived or are living exciting lives.
That doesn’t mean they led easy lives. There’s no such thing and living without challenges would probably be even more tedious than high school.
What you want to look for when studying the biographies of other lives are:
* How they explained their desires, goals and wishes
* What actions they took to do great things
* How they coped with suffering
* What they did to keep themselves expanding
* How they dealt with their historical circumstances
* Who they knew and what they did with their friendships and relationships
There’s so much more to pay attention to, but these are a good start.
Why Do This?
Because life starts to get serious when you act and think about who you are and what you want to do.
And to truly develop a unique profile and create the space needed in your mind to become whoever it is you’re going to become …
You Need The Ability To Think And Feel The Ideals And Sorrows Of Others And Dream Up Your Preferred Version Of The World So You Can Make It Real
When you study others, you’ll experience a diversity of ideas that will train you to pay attention to what everyone around you is doing.
It will also help you get past the negative habit so many have of rejecting differences.
Remember, there are no differences as such. Everything is part of the world. And as long as that is true, everything in the world is part of you. And that means everything and everyone applies to you and your life.
If you don’t like reading or care to develop a re-reading strategy, you can also watch biographies. And for a super-interesting exercise, you can pick a single actor and watch as many films starring that person as possible in chronological order.
You can choose actors who are good at portraying different characteristics and actors who just seem to be playing themselves over and over.
Either way, you’ll notice patterns of consistency and difference. And like a wine expert, you’ll start experiencing all kinds of different shades of flavor you never noticed before.
Next, move from hanging out with books and movies to …
3. Toss Social Inertia From Your Life Forever
Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, it’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing the same people all the time.
That’s no way to revolutionize your life and keep it revolutionizing.
So as you’re finding interesting biographies and adapting ideas to your life, HUNT for advanced people with whom you can share an environment. (But not in a creepy way …)
Find the people who have the characteristics you want and enter their circles. Don’t be creepy about it. Just identify someone and ask if you can have 20 minutes of their time to ask some questions. Then ask them who else you should talk to continue your education.
Do this and you’ll have an unending stream of new contacts and interesting people around you. As a result, you’ll experience SO MUCH MORE in your life. And you’ll always have interesting things to say to the new people you continue to meet.
Plus, if you visit these people in their homes, you instantly have more Memory Palaces. You can also meet them in cafes or restaurants you’ve never visited to increase your awareness of your city and its offerings.
All this will help you develop …
4. The Most Important Skills In The World
Communication, for example. There’s no point in being more interesting if you’re no good at speaking. At some point, you’ve got to learn to control how words come out of your mouth. You get that practice by … (gasp!) speaking with people.
You can also attend Toastmasters meetings, start a podcast, speak your mind on YouTube and develop yourself as a writer.
To get good at writing, start with the high school newspaper, writing letters to the editor, regularly updating a blog or just by posting on Facebook to explore your ideas.
By studying all those successful people and learning to communicate with them, you’ll also be orienting on success.
This will help ensure that your life isn’t controlled by external circumstances. You won’t fall prey to the strange idea that certain times are good and particular periods of history are bad.
Here’s the only thing about time you need to now:
Times Change …
Your job is to adjust.
To be flexible.
To be adaptive.
To be agile, aware and if necessary, defensive.
Above all, you want to develop awareness of everything around you that you possibly can.
Because at the end of the day …
The way you succeed has little to do with the ways of the world. It has to do with how you react to the way the world changes.
And you always want to ask …
What advantage can I take of the present state of change?
It’s a compelling question and the best way to prepare for the times when you’ll need to ask it is to …
5. Live Like A Scientist
You can measure everything down to what you do to be productive and make good use of your timeTOR’s Post, to measuring your testosterone levels.
Measuring your activities will help you see where you’re strong and where you need to improve. The best part is that, because you’re studying so many other people, you’ll see how you can do more of what works, and how you can do things differently.
Track everything in a journal, diary, Google Spreadsheet, in Evernote or whatever you prefer. Use whatever tool makes it easy for you to see where you are, where you’ve been and where you’re going.
By doing this, you can develop processes and systems for your life.
For example, I have systems that tick along no matter what happens on CNN:
* Writing every day
* Putting out a weekly podcast
* Emailing Magnetic Memory Method members 1-2 hours a day
* Theatre group once a week (when in season)
* Other regular courses
* Monday and Friday mornings at the gym
And the best part of all this activity and tracking is that …
It’s Easy To See The Holes In The System
For example, my activities are all fine and dandy, but looking them over, it’s clear to me that I’m missing out on music. Now I know that I’ve got to schedule more time for my memorize Bach on bass habit. Popping Bach into my memory used to be a huge part of my week, and now it’s faded almost to nil.
The important point here is that you want to develop “sticktoitiveness.”
The ability to stick to it is pure gold. So many of us (including me) get so distracted by the next bright shiny object that we need systems to keep ourselves on track.
Sticking with the program is important because without consistency, we never wind up doing anything long enough to see results.
And at the end of the day …
It’s All About The Results
That’s why it’s so important to stop and check in with yourself and your stats.
And stop searching for the easy path. That’s one of the quickest ways to fail. In reality, finishing a course you’ve started or completing a project from beginning to end IS the easiest way to get from point A-Z.
Success happens when you bring precise implementation to the game. I’m talking about dedicated practice, which is as true to memory development as it is to any task.
Stick with whatever you’re doing. Experiment with it. Study every angle and explore every corner.
Do that and you won’t need memory techniques. The stones will be set and the things you’ve learned will be impossible to forget.
Finally, there is one point that rules supreme:
6. Have Confidence In Yourself
Not only do you need to have confidence in yourself. You need to have confidence in the things you’re doing. This is why, for example, completing courses and finishing books you’ve started is so critical.
We live in memory. We thrive or fail by what we’ve done in the past. The more good things we’ve done, the more positive experiences we have to build upon.
That said, if you have weaknesses in your past, perhaps even terrible experiences …
Cut Out The Woo-Woo
One of the fastest ways to undercut your own confidence is to follow nonsense beliefs.
I was very fortunate to have read Why People Believe Weird Things early in my undergraduate university career. This incredible book by Michael Shermer helps you cut through the nonsense and develop critical thinking skills.
What are some of the pseudoscientific nonsense beliefs I had to cut out of my life? The so-called “Law of Attraction,” for starters, and the “creative visualization” it teaches.
To be fair, this line of belief comes with a few ideas worth exploring. But those good ideas are found in more scientifically valid literature too. We discussed some of those sources recently:
As I mentioned in this presentation, the “Law of Action” creates attraction naturally. No beliefs needed.
There Is No Reason To Let The Darkness Control Your Future
If you just make the shifts needed to put yourself in alignment with others, your unique desires and the habits and patterns needed to achieve success, all the pieces will fall together.
You’ll see the patterns you noted in the lives of others emerge in your own life. You won’t let yourself get bullied out of accomplishing your dreams. You’ll be a transformer. An influencer. A true human being who cannot help but live an interesting life.