Learning can be addictive. This is a form of workaholicism, very similar to exercise addiction we can see in gyms. Unlike some Guilty pleasures we are often ashamed to enjoy, study addiction is considered good and it is being promoted – unless we discuss a hobby. Sometimes we enjoy studying very specific subjects, hobbies and need to transform the skills into career building skills. Let us discuss a way to combine study addiction, hobbies, and career.
“Kong fu panda” is not only a funny animation, it may occasionally get wise. A lazy panda needs to learn kong fu yet the only thing it is truly passionate about is food. So the wise master Shifu finds a way to channel the passion to food into the passion to kong fu until the panda learns everything the master can teach it. We all wish we had such masters, occasionally we do meet such rare people, but more often we need to be our own masters.
People are different. I thought I was Anna’s worst student. I could not remember any mental palace, lost my way in mindmaps, and created boring and violent visualizations. If I had a way to give up, I would give up. Unfortunately, I was married into memory training since Anna is my wife, trapped without rescue. So I had to develop my own methodology. I am good with code, so I used computer games instead of mental palaces, and UML data structures instead of mindmaps. Once I decided to do that, I mastered Anna’s methodology in no time. I felt that I was doing the opposite of what she told me, and she felt that I was following her device exactly: find out something I am passionate about and use it in a visual way.
We are talking a lot about knowing yourself, finding your personal style, building your own schedule, and yet it is quite seldom that people succeed doing this. This is simply not something we are typically taught to do. Some people remember nothing from history, yet remember every trivial football event during the last 100 years. How come they did not visualize the historic events as football games? Many people love cooking and hate chemistry. For me, these two skills are equivalent to each other. Why not use cooking to remember chemical processes? There are several syllabuses of superlearning training available. We do not give it much thought, since we know the basic processes and can devise a new training schedule in no time. Why do students ask about trivial contradictions between the schedules that have no consequences to learning results?
Quite frankly, we are not taught to think independently when we learn. Not until advanced degree. If I have a chance to work with people who have Ph.D., I usually choose to do so. Not because they are smarter, but because they build their own learning strategy. During the first degree, we merely remember information and train skills of solving the same challenges time after time. In second-degree, we learn how much we do not know and learn to question everything we are taught. Only in Ph.D. we are taught to find our own way and generate guidelines for others. This does not happen because we want to, but because otherwise we cannot provide new results and write unique research papers. There are people who do not need Ph.D. to find their own way: entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs question anyone and anything because they think there is a better way. And if there is a better way to do things, there surely is a better way to learn things.
Everything we do can teach us something. The question is: to which extent can we take what we learn in some area and use it in another. Any parent is a team leader of a small team. How many of parents can apply their skills to workplace leadership? We are all addicted to studying something: sports, music, art. Can we transfer this addiction into studying for a career? Quite often all it takes is a small portion of creativity. Unfortunately, you cannot expect anyone to do this for you, simply because you know yourself better than anyone.
So try to find your addiction, something you are passionate about and instead of guilt about it, transfer this addiction into career-building skill. I know that this is easier said than done, but the risk is small and the revenue is immense. So why not try?