Getting Started

Your First Steps to Become a Prolific Learner

There is no detailed recipe to follow that will give guaranteed results. Being a prolific learner is a state of mind. It is a state of confidence, satisfaction, and motivation. It is also a state of continual growth and change. We don’t simply flip a switch and become a prolific learner. We have to learn how to make our learning enjoyable and effective. We unlearn bad habits we’ve picked up. We acquire good habits. This is an individual journey for each of us. It is something that we need to work on for ourselves on a consistent basis. It is something we keep improving at. It is like riding a bike. We slowly acquire more and more skill as we spend more time riding. Each new learning project we work on improves our ability to learn the next project.

  • Start becoming familiar with the principles and anti-principles of learning. Don’t sit down and try to memorize them. Just slowly become familiar with them. Think about how they have affected your learning in the past. The first time you look through the material on this site, chances are that a few of the principles (or anti-principles) will jump out at you. If just one or two things catch your attention and you remember them, that is a good start. It will start giving you ideas about what did or didn’t work in the past. It will start giving you ideas about how you can grow. The important thing about these principles is to make them a way of thinking about learning. They will start to guide how you make decisions and approach things. You will find your learning becoming more enjoyable and effective.

  • Start dreaming about what things you would like to be able to do. This might be things you’ve tried and failed at in the past. There’s a good chance it wasn’t due to you not having talent but rather having approached it in a frustrating and ineffective manner. There might be things you’ve not tried. Start making a list of things you’d like to be able to do.

  • For your first few learning projects, start small. Look at the time and effort it will likely take to see results. Pick something that will give some results within days or weeks, not within months or years. Practice applying the principles of good learning and practice avoiding the anti-principles. For example, learning to cook Chinese meals is something you could start acquiring skills rapidly in contrast to learning to speak Chinese which will take months to years. A big part of your first projects will be simply learning how to learn in a way that works well for you. Each project you work on will help you grow and learn more about learning.

  • Remember that prolific learning is about learning in ways that are enjoyable and effective. You need to be able to take pride in what you do and be satisfied with it. In one sense, prolific learning is more like play or a hobby. It should be something enjoyable that you keep wanting to go back to.

  • Choose what level of progress suits you. Simply dabbling for a time might be fine. Maybe you want to make it into a minor hobby. Maybe you want to make it into a serious hobby. Maybe you want to master it. It’s about your interests and priorities. Don’t feel pressure to go beyond what you want to. Don’t give up in frustration but rather learn to adapt to overcome frustration. Ideally, your stopping point should be a “this was fun, but it’s time for something else” type of attitude and not a “I’ll never get this!” type of attitude.

  • Over time, go back and re-read material on this site and other places about learning. Keep developing your learning skills. It’s not a matter of memorizing some recipes and technical words. It’s about acquiring a mindset of confidence, optimism, motivation, and satisfaction. The first projects you do are as much about learning how to learn as what you are actually working on.