It is no secret that since our very school days many of us start seeing studying as a kind of labour duty. So is there a way we can change our perception of it, and learn how to go about the educational process in a way that would bring us nothing but joy? Mila Semeshkina, founder and CEO of the international educational platform Lectera, gives us few clues on this.
1. Study what you love – love what you do
Even after finishing school and graduating from university, we still continue to study every day: we sign up for courses and attend workshops; we try to learn new languages and to master new skills at work. It has been scientifically proven that the effectiveness of the educational process depends significantly on how much you are enjoying it. As Confucius, the greatest and wisest of philosophers, once said, choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. So say you have always hated chemistry when at school – in this case, you would probably not want to do a job that is even remotely related to this subject. At the same time, if a person has been into music since early childhood and has always dreamt about becoming a conductor, no exams or tests, however difficult they may be, will ever stop them from pursuing their dream. The thing is, when you are doing something you do not really care about five minutes feel like an hour; but when you are truly enjoying the thing you are doing, hours fly by like it’s only been five minutes. There’s no doubt that skill is a very important thing to have, but passion is just as important. I know many people who are real professionals in their field, but their heart is just not in it – just like the one of the stereotypically unhappy accountants and grumpy HRs we so often hear about. It is crucially important that you are passionate about the things you are studying. Only if you feel like you are doing something you really want to do, will your occupation never feel tiresome and bothersome. Instead, it will keep you motivated and full of energy.
Unfortunately, many young people decide to do a degree in a subject their parents chose for them. Not many people know that studying psychology actually cost such actresses as Natalie Portman and Claire Danes several major roles, and that Brad Pitt was actually a journalism student, and it was only after getting his degree that he set off to conquer Hollywood. These are great examples of how it is never too late to change something in life and to start chasing your own dreams, and not your mother’s.
2. Set goals
Learning should never be abstract. Stop attending lectures just because you feel it’s your ‘duty’ to do so, this will never work! Instead, try seeing studying as a foundation of a great future career and a better future, and not as a sentence you are to be serving for several years. It’s also important to be constantly reminding yourself of the reasons you decided to go back to the ‘school desk’. Let’s say your dream is to move to Italy, so here is your main goal! Now all that is left to do is to learn Italian. This way you will see studying as not the goal, but as a road that will lead you to a happier future.
3. Adjust your learning schedule to your lifestyle
Our bodies and our brains were not made to be working constantly, without rest. If you keep putting all your energy into your studies and work on a daily basis, eventually you will burn out. For example, if you work until eight and still continue attending your evening classes (despite feeling tired, sleepy, hungry and angry), soon you will probably start asking yourself, ‘Why am I doing this?’. Chances that you will continue are extremely low. It won’t bring you any joy; you will have a hard time trying to pay attention, to stay motivated and to actually learn things, and instead of studying project management at night you will hear your inner voice telling you to go to sleep, to meet up with friends or to have a glass of wine.
It is important that your study timetable fits into your life flawlessly - helping you to avoid stress and exhaustion, and to achieve best results with minimal emotional and physical costs. That’s why the main trend of 2020 is bite-size learning : learning ‘in small portions’ at close intervals and at a time that is convenient for you. Using this method, you will be studying for 15-20 minutes while having your morning coffee or while on your run. It has been proved that learning a language for even 10 minutes a day is way more effective than taking two-hour-long classes a week. As for our Lectera courses, they are based on a similar principle, too. Our goal is to provide people with an opportunity to learn as much information as possible in the shortest time possible. We also try to help them to do it without any ‘fluff’ and without piling up unnecessary theoretical materials. Instead, we focus more on the practical component of the learning process.
4. Add some practice
Practice is not just something that helps us to improve the learning process and make it more fun – it changes our whole way of thinking, too. Incorporating acquired skills into our everyday lives while studying is one of the key principles of my Fast Education methodology. And it actually works!
It allows us to take the procrastination element out of the learning process, making us realize that the reason we are doing it is not to just ‘tick the box’ but to achieve some real practical results. And to start achieving them, you don’t really have to wait for the moment when you get a certificate or a diploma. As soon as you realize your studies are beginning to bear fruit, you will instantly feel your excitement and motivation to learn more increase considerably.
For example, developing your own computer game will help to make some progress in programming while also giving you more motivation to continue your classes. Talking to native speakers will help to make classes more immersive, while also helping you to make progress in language learning quicker, etc., etc.
5. Surround yourself with like-minded people
People that surround us are the ones that affect us directly: they either inspire us, motivating us to become better versions of ourselves, or they pull us down. According to a recent study, social environment is what determines academic success the most. So only incorporate into your networking those who have a similar mindset to yours and share your goals in life, and who are constantly trying to improve themselves and are willing to join you on your learning journey. Remember, your current social environment is a direct reflection of your future.