The Zeno’s Paradox of Memory Skills For Learning Fast

feature image for relating zeno paradox to memory skillsCreating a Memory Palace network can feel a lot like advanced math.

Here’s what I mean:

You can never know all the variables.

Let’s say you’re learning a language. Or you’re developing your pool of professional terms before sitting for a certification exam.

You know that you need to use mnemonics, so you use the tools taught on this blog.

You chart a course based on a predetermined number of Magnetic Stations.

You use associations correctly.

You use active recall sufficiently.

And as you do, you move from coordinate to coordinate in your Memory Palace Network with a developed understanding of where you’re going based on the “equations” you used to construct the journey and place your words along the way.

Yet, it still feels like you can never reach the goal.

Don’t worry. It’s normal.

And the message about Zeno’s Paradox in this nifty video is related, especially when it comes to matters like fluency or mastering the terminology of a subject area. Give it a watch and then we’ll chat further:

One of the things that fascinates me about this video is how the theory manages to be both utterly convoluted and completely elegant at the same time.

The idea that an arrow can never reach its target (even though arrows do reach their targets) reminds me a lot of Memory Palaces.

Memory Skills Are A Bit Like Zeno’s Paradox

To manage this feeling that we can never remember enough, we need to adjust our thinking.

The 80/20 rule is useful.

It’s also helpful to understand that no professional knows everything. Experts are known more for understanding who to consult than somehow being the ultimate source of all knowledge.

And so when you’re using memory skills to learn and remember more, you really can learn more than enough to be competitive.

In fact, you can exceed all expectations, even if you’re always going to be far from complete.

Don’t Overcomplicate Your Thinking About Memory Skills

Many people tell me that my approach is too complex and involves too many steps.

If the target is fluency, people often complain that they’ll never reach it because they’re spending too much time on “pre-memorization” activities.

Or that they have to spend too much time on setting things up in order to use a technique like the Memory Palace.

This is letting your thoughts dictate the program instead of being guided by taking action and following simple steps.

In reality, if you’re using the Magnetic Memory Method Worksheets to figure out all of your Memory Palaces…

…and you identify a journey within each one you identify, you’ve really spent only between 1-5 hours.

If you don’t have these powerful Memory Palace creation worksheets, please let me send them your way today:

Magnetic Memory Method Free Memory Improvement Course

To be clear, the Memory Palace technique works so well because it draws upon information that is already in your memory. 

And that’s why the Zeno’s paradox is interesting in relation to memory skills, but not definitive. You always already have more resources than you need.

So I suggest we all think about it like this instead:

The journey is the goal. The goal is the journey.

When we are memorizing a language or learning the terminology of a profession, using a Memory Palace for Anatomy or studying for a degree, we sometimes forget that now is all we have. Having goals is great and they are a key component of success.

But goals are only stations along the way and we need to settle ourselves into the present moment and really enjoy what’s going on.

This is one reason I don’t like rote learning. There’s very little to enjoy about repeating the same word over and over again – unless you happen to love the sound of it.

What I do really enjoy is using a dedicated Memory Palace to place words I don’t know using vibrant, silly and fun imagery.  These visualization exercises help make sure I always laugh when memorizing a new word or phrase because my mnemonics are truly multi-sensory.

Every moment of it is fun.

So yes, Zeno’s Paradox is puzzling and fascinating to think about. But let’s not treat the use of Memory Palaces to build fluency as if the goal both can and cannot ever be reached.

In reality, arrows do reach targets. Not only that, but if you think about the tortoise and the hare, it’s the careful and deliberate learner who wins the race every time.

If you are memorizing the vocabulary of a new language or the terminology of your profession, then you have successfully strung the goal and the journey together. One word at a time.


Right freakin’ now.

As we speak.

In Zeno’s present.

And being present to what you can learn in the here and now is what the Magnetic Memory Method Masterclass is all about.

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