We human beings are learning machines. We learn through observation. We learn through listening. We learn through watching. We even learn when we’re helping others learn. Some of what we learn slips in without notice, like when a friend shares a story that you can’t stop thinking about. Some of what we learn is passive, like when we watch the news or when we’re listening to an audiobook while out on a run. But when we’re intentional about what we’re trying to learn, there’s a purpose behind it, which means we want to soak more of it up and internalize it—so that we can apply the concepts in our lives.
Intentional learning is essentially goal-directed learning—learning for a specific purpose.
It isn’t accidental, it’s deliberate.
Having a deliberate approach—especially when it comes to learning—is crucial if you’re the type of person who’s dedicated to a constant and never-ending pursuit of personal growth
Here are some tips on how to become an intentional learner so that you can make your intentional learning efforts as impactful and effective as possible—no matter what you want to learn.
What is intentional learning?
Intentional learning is what happens when you focus on learning specific things for specific purposes.
Here are some examples that may prompt you to become an intentional learner:
- If you want to learn how to start an online business, you might Google about it and read several articles.
- If you want to surprise your spouse for your upcoming anniversary by cooking her favorite dish for dinner, you might enroll in a cooking class that’s specifically tailored towards teaching you how to cook the type of dish or cuisine she loves.
- If you want to learn a new language, you might get some learning software, like Rosetta Stone, to help you learn it.
- If you want to deepen your knowledge about Personal Development, you might read two or three best-selling books about it, or listen to some Self-Improvement podcasts.
How do I become an intentional learner?
Now that we know what intentional learning is, let’s talk about how you can become an intentional learner so that you can make your intentional learning efforts as impactful and effective as possible—no matter what you want to learn.
1. Set a Learning Goal
The most powerful way to start with intentional learning is to actually begin with intention. In other words: clarify the results you seek to achieve with what you plan to learn and it’ll be easier to retain and apply that knowledge over the long run.
Use the following questions to help you drill down and clarify your learning goal:
- What’s the goal (desired result/outcome) you seek to achieve?
- Why do you want to achieve it?
- What kind of problem are you trying to solve with what you want to learn?
- What do you need to learn in order to solve your problem or achieve your learning goal?
- What’s the most effective and efficient way to learn it?
- How will you know when you have successfully accomplished your learning goal?
2. Have a Deep Desire.
When I was around 19 years old, I made a definite decision to get myself in shape. At the time, I was what you might call “skinny-fat.” I was totally out of shape and living an incredibly unhealthy lifestyle. I rarely ever had any energy, I didn’t feel good about what I saw in the mirror every morning, and I was ready for a long-overdue change.
I’d tried to learn about health and fitness in the past, but always half-heartedly. I’d look up some workouts and try them at the gym, but I never really committed myself.
I tried to eat healthier, but I’d inevitably give up and end up at the drive-thru.
And then one day, it just hit me: do I really want to spend the rest of my life like this?
I knew the answer was No.
I remember standing in front of the mirror, looking at my soft, chubby body in disgust.
At that moment, I told myself that enough was enough. I was sick of feeling this way. Sick of feeling unhealthy. Sick of not feeling good about myself physically. I was sick to my stomach.
And then I imagined how it would feel if I could turn myself around: if I could learn about exercise, nutrition, and eating healthy foods—and then apply those learnings in the gym and kitchen— how phenomenal would I feel?
I thought about all of the ways that learning how to get into shape (and then actually doing what it takes to get there) would positively impact my life.
Thinking about how great it would make me feel, I’d given birth to a deep desire to make this a reality in my own life.
On that day, I began my transformation—and I haven’t looked back since.
That very same day, I spent ten hours reading and learning about diets, nutrition and exercise. I put plans together—and actually followed them. And soon after, the results I’d imagined had become a reality. I felt healthier and more lively. I had that lean, muscular physique I’d dreamt about. I built a new version of myself. And it felt incredible.
It was a pivotal point in my life. And it all began with a deep desire.
So, what’s a deep desire of your own that you can fulfill through intentional learning?
Find it and ignite it.
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