How to Educate Yourself & Unleash Your Creativity

When I was in elementary school me and my classmates were assigned to read a book called Goodnight Mister Tom.

As I’m researching this article the book actually looks pretty good but at that point in time I had no intention of actually reading it.

To tell you the truth, I went out of my way to find a way to pass the assignment without having to crack the thing open.

This was my standard practice for all educational material that came my way that didn’t spark an immediate interest.

I usually found ways to effortlessly pass these assignments by skimming the most important sections and make it seem like I had put in more time and effort than I actually had.

Little did I know how much I was damaging my creativity and limiting my understanding of the world.

Knowledge + Information = Idea

“Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.”
– Thomas Huxley (Tweet that)

how-to-educate-yourselfNurturing our minds with new knowledge and information is crucial for our creativity.

An idea or insight happens when you take your current knowledge and combine it with new information.

This simple formula shows that it’s impossible to create an idea from nothing. Knowledge about glass, the ability of lenses to break light and knowledge about how the eye works lead to the invention of glasses.

All ideas have emerged when someone combined their current knowledge with new information.

This is why it’s so important to gather a variety of different types of knowledge. The more knowledge you have, the more building blocks you have to combine your new information with.

You need knowledge to grow your mind.

How to Educate Yourself Every Day

The following three small habits are very helpful when you want to become a better self educator:

1. Always look stuff up. If you come across a word or reference that you don’t understand – look it up. If you have a smartphone this is super easy to do. Have a dictionary and encyclopedia ready to go. I like Dictionary.com and Wikipedia Mobile. Make it routine to learn a new word and reference every day.

2. Set aside 15 Holy Minutes. Ideally the same time every day. No matter how hard pressed you are for time you can always find 15 minutes. Make this the time you spend on your self education every day. Find an enjoyable way of learning (examples coming up) and get to work on yourself.

3. Reflect in your journal. Help your brain retain what you’ve learned by repeating it. Write down your biggest lessons and meaningful quotes in your journal every night. Go back once a week and review what you’ve written.

5 Awesome Mediums to Get You Started

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of great resources to get you going:

1. Blogs. Some of the smartest and most inspiring people out there regularly post their best work and ideas on their blogs for the world to see. For free. If you like my work, you absolutely have to check out:

  • Ramit Sethi will teach you to be rich and have a rich life.
  • James Clear shows how you can master your life by mastering your habits.
  • Leo Babauta is the king of simplicity and minimalism. Simple as that.
  • Tyler Tervooren shares scientific strategies for winning at life and work.
  • Derek Sivers writes about entrepreneurship, philosophy and a bunch of other interesting stuff.

I read tons of blogs but these are the only ones I never miss a post from. If you haven’t already, now’s the time to get a feedly account and start regularly reading awesome blogs. Make sure you add the five above. You won’t be disappointed.

2. Online Courses. The reality used to be that college courses were only available to people who could afford to attend colleges. Nowadays you can take these courses online, for free. How sweet is that? Here are three resources you need to check out:

  • Khan Academy has free world-class education available to anyone anywhere. Their subjects include math, biology, physics, chemistry and much more.
  • Coursera partners up with top universities and organizations worldwide to offer courses for anyone to take. Whatever you’re interested in, there’s a good chance you’ll find a course here.
  • Udemy is the largest destination in the world for online courses with over 16,000 courses and more than 3 million students.

3. Talks. The finest minds in the world regularly present their best ideas on talks and seminars that are readily available to you in formats ranging from a couple of minutes to several hours. Here are my favorites:

  • TED talks is where the world’s finest experts share their ideas in short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less).
  • 99U features inspiring talks from experts to help you be more productive, better organized and a kick-ass leader.
  • Talks at Google shares the recordings of guest speakers at Google. Some of the world’s greatest authors, musicians, innovators, and speakers of all stripes share their stories and ideas.

4. Audiobooks. This resource might just be the number one way I learn new stuff. Thanks to audiobooks I always finish at least two books every month even if I for some reason get off track from my reading habit.

There are several different services to use from but I’ve only tried Audible and since I’m very happy with it that’s what I’ll recommend here. You can use Audible on your iPhone, Android or mp3-player and choose from more than 150,000 titles.

5. Podcasts. An awesome alternative to audiobooks. No matter what you’re into, there’s very likely an expert talking about the subject right now on a podcast. You just need to tune in and listen. Here are my top 3:

  • Stuff you should know is an entertaining and educational podcast where hosts Chuck and Josh dissect a new topic in each episode.
  • This is your life is Michael Hyatt’s show dedicated to intentional leadership. In his own words, Michael’s goal is to “help you live with more passion, work with greater focus, and lead with extraordinary influence”.
  • The School of Greatness helps you find out what makes great people great. Lewis Howes interviews the most brilliant business minds, world class athletes and influential celebrities in the world.

Final Words…

“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.”
– Jim Rohn

The information is out there. And most of it is free, too. It’s crazy how much you can learn and grow your mind once you get into the habit.

But it doesn’t matter how many resources are available if you don’t put them to use.

So, how do you plan on educating yourself, growing your mind and unleashing your creativity?

What resource will you add to your daily routine?

Footnotes

Image courtesy of khunaspix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net