Curiosity is your greatest strength: it pushes you to be a better version of yourself repeatedly. At the end of the day, humans are adapatable machines and the key to being the ultimate learning machine is taking full advantage of that. Every path to your goals includes learning and studying.
1: Your memory is easily influenced
Your brain is smart.
It is smarter than you think: I promise.
Here’s a really cool study that was done by Matthew Walker’s team: he wanted to understand if you gave the brain instructions, if the brain would take them to heart (pun intended).
So, he put words on flashcards in front of people with either the instruction REMEMBER! Or FORGET!
He used a control of having people trying to memorize these words normally with no special instruction.
And what he found I’ll never forget:
The words with remember had an increased retention of 20% after sleep.
The words with forget were completely, utterly forgotten after sleep.
The control had average retention for both groups of words.
Your brain is smarter than you think: take advantage of this.
You’ll become smarter for it.
2: Your brain can only handle chunks. Make It Smaller!
Your brain can only handle 7-10 digits of numbers naturally.
But don’t be sad, there are ways to use this 🙂
Just like I talk about in goals: if you break it into chunks, you will be more likely to remember it. If I take 355-7827 and try to remember 355 and 7827 separately, I’ll increase my retention.
Don’t be afraid of making something smaller: it’s to your advantage. But how do people like the author of Moonwalking with Einstein remember numbers hundreds of digits long?
3: Visualization Matters
If you were obsessed about memory like me, you’d know that people exist who can’t forget anything. So, what makes them different?
Instead of words, they hear words and colors and objects: listening becomes an experience. So, how does this help us?
When you try to remember something, visualize it using incredibly vivid colors and feelings. Research has been done and silly or sexy images work the best! By putting something into an image, it becomes much easier for your brain to access. Sometimes, these have been called memory markers.
Here’s an example:
I want to memorize Capitals of five states:
So, this is how I would go about this:
I see my friend Mel, looking ridiculously ripped who I imagine could be an Olympic runner, running through Seattle, Washington (my home).
I see my wife wearing the brightest shirt I’ve ever seen (highlighter yellow) that says, “Boise, Idaho“.
I see Jane Austin sitting at a texas shaped table eating barbeque.
For kansas, I imagine a drag racing car running a track in the shape of kansas with a sponsor titled, “Topeka!”
Next, I see the redhaired kid from Anne (the musical) wearing a sombrero with the word “Annapolis” dancing around my friend Mary.
Once you start doing like the above, it becomes faster. At first, it takes a bit of time. But once you build a habit, this becomes a really powerful skill for learning anything you want.
A good way to build a strong habit of this is to pick a number of items you want to memorize and do it every day. This is essential the method used by memory champions in the united states. And I would emphasize all of them started out as normal. Several of them often had terrible memories!
4: The Memory Palace
A memory palace can take this idea to the next level.
Think of a place you know really well: For myself, my house serves as a good example. Each object in my house can represent a different memory or object. Or I can use the images I make to place them in places around my visualization of my house.
I drive up to my garage and see Mel running around the house wearing his olympian shirt (Washington, Olympia).
In my garage, I see my wife complaining how hot it is wearing that crazy Boise shirt.
Next, I open the door to my house and see Jane Austen waving a rib at me from my dining room. She’s put here texas-sized table on top of my dinner table.
In the living room, I see a a tiny drag race car on the couch with the word topeka written on the side.
Lastly, I sit down in the recliner in my living room and see Anne dancing around my friend Mary.
This idea can be applied in a variety of circumstances: if you want to learn medical terms, programming functions, or even just a list of facts you need to memorize.
5: Sleep and prioritize what you love
I cannot emphasize this enough: Get as much sleep as possible. If will give you focus, better health, clarity, and can help you solve problems. It is your partner on your learning journey.
Find topics you are genuinely interested in.
If you do this, it will spur you to want to want to learn more! And you will be able to learn more quickly, which will lead you to achieving your goals faster.
Remember this: learning is the path to every goal you might want to achieve.
ALL of them!
So, become your own best friend and learn how to learn better!