Give Yourself an Informal Education that Kicks the Crap out of Your Formal One

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Many people don’t read a single book after they complete their formal education. In his wealth attraction seminar, Dan Kennedy said that 80% of the books purchased on Amazon are not for personal consumption but as gifts.

I couldn’t tell you very much about my formal education other than that I got two pieces of paper and in exchange for them a bill that shows up every month. That’s not to say there wasn’t value in my formal education. But when we stop learning we stop growing.

I’ve said before that business school teaches you nothing about running a business. And a formal education doesn’t necessarily teach you much about how to navigate the real world. I was looking at my bookshelf this morning and realized that in the last few years, I’ve read more books than I did in the entirety of my formal education.

With the information, resources, and knowledge at our fingertips, we have the ability to give ourselves an informal education that kicks the crap at out of our formal one. As Seth Godin has said in several podcast interviews, “anyone listening to this has more resources than the king of France did 200 years ago.”

So where do we begin?

1. Read

Of all the investments I’ve made in my informal education, books have had by far the most tangible return on investment.

  • They’ve played a pivotal role in my 7-year journey from blog to book deal.
  • I can trace back how I developed my habit of writing 1000 words a day to a specific book: The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. This is just one of the many benefits I’ve derived from my books.
  • They’ve served an ongoing source of inspiration for my own work. If you want to be a prolific writer, become a voracious reader.

Every book you read adds to the foundation of your informal education.

2. Take an Online Course

One of my friends didn’t know a thing about writing code. He had an app that he wanted to build, but couldn’t afford to hire anyone. So he took a course on OneMonth, and by the end of the month, he had taught himself python.

As somebody who actually got an MBA, when I’m asked about whether people should consider one, I always tell them to check out Seth’s AltMBA first. It’s expensive for an online course but less expensive than business school and probably has a more significant ROI. It’s also more relevant to the world today.

There’s no shortage of worthwhile opportunities to learn from the internet. And it beats the heck out of the temporary thrill of stupid memes and cat videos.

3. Build or Make Something

While consumption causes us to learn, creation gives us the opportunity for a practical application of whatever we have learned. The internet rewards creators far more than it rewards consumers. I probably will gain more out of writing this than you will from reading it. Build something, make something and give people a reason to find you interesting.

4. Connect

The internet has given us access to the thoughts and ideas of some society’s greatest minds.

  • Subscribe to newsletters like Peter Diamandis’ Abundance insider, Kevin Rose’s journal, and others.
  • Follow your heroes and role models on twitter. You’ll learn what books they read, what news they think is important, and much more.
  • Bonus: Follow Chris Sacca on twitter and you’ll get to learn about all the stupidest things that Donald Trump says.

As Benjamin P. Hardy said, surround yourself with people who hold you to a higher standard.

5. Listen and Watch

Listen to podcasts. Watch TED talks. Between iTunes and Youtube, you have a fountain of knowledge that could last you a lifetime. There’s probably a podcast or Youtube channel for virtually any subject you might be interested in.

School might be where your formal education ends, but it shouldn’t be the place where learning does. Make a commitment to lifelong learning and you’ll give yourself an informal education that kicks the crap out of your formal one.

Before You Go…

If doing the best work of your life is important to you, you’ll love my free guide: “Optimizing Productivity & Creativity.

The tactics I’ve packed into this guide allowed me to write over 1 million words in the last 2 years. What could it do for your life’s work? Don’t miss it.

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