“Learn as if you were to live forever.” These words of Mahatma Gandhi are even more true today then when he first spoke them, especially as the rate of change in our world increases.

John Milton Fogg, in his book “The Greatest Networker in the World” says that the formula for a successful career lies in asking yourself the following questions for each activity you do:

Did you have fun?

Did you learn something?

Did you accomplish something?

Let’s look at why these questions are important. If you are not having fun you will either quit or burnout at some point. And we all know that success is a marathon, not a sprint. If you are not learning, your competitors will eventually outclass you. And if you are not accomplishing something, then you likely won’t be bringing home the bacon. We wouldn’t want to lack for bacon…

However, for many of us, finding time for learning can be difficult. A full time job, family, and friends, while all great things, can leave very little time and mental energy at the end of the day. So how do we get around our busy schedules? The key is to enter into situations that require you to learn in order to complete the task. So do the following:

At work, get yourself assigned to tasks that will force you to learn in order to accomplish them, but where the consequences of failing will motivate you to succeed. In his TED Talk, Tim Urban shares how he uses scary deadlines to overcome procrastination. Having a deadline with consequences will ensure that you stick to your new “learning” activity. Additionally, you have three more benefits in play.

1) Time efficiency: You are taking care of work and learning at the same time, keeping your free time free. Plus, if you are having fun at the same time, then according to Fogg you are being a success.

2) By learning at work you are utilising experiential learning methodology, which is one of the best ways to acquire new skills. As you might have heard your personal trainer say, to get better at pull-ups, do pull-ups.

3) Learning any new skill broadens your mental horizons. Creativity is the brain’s ability to connect seemingly random pieces of information in new ways to create insight. The classic example is Steve jobs studying calligraphy and consequently transforming the computer industry.

So keep learning, get stuff done, have fun, and keep that precious free time free.


Greatest Networker in the World free audiobook:

Tim Urban’s Ted Talk:

Short video on experiential Learning: