“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” Learning doesn’t just end the moment you receive your formal degree — that’s when it starts. I find that the more I learn, the clearer my thinking gets, the more money I make, and the more fulfilled I am with my life. This is why I’ve established a few daily learning habits to help me acquire as much wisdom as possible.
1. Prioritize Self-Education
I’m not here to bash the formal education system, but I’m here to promote self-education. Self-education will change your life. Learning doesn’t stop when you’re done with college or university — that’s when it starts. You have the power to self-educate by learning from experts through their books, courses, podcasts, and videos. You’re a human being — you can take control over your own life. You decide how great you become. Especially with information being so freely available on the internet, you can learn any skill at any moment of the day.
Whether through YouTube videos, blog posts, free courses, books, email newsletters, or podcasts — there’s a wealth of knowledge available at your fingertips. There are no excuses anymore. Becoming a learning machine starts when you realize you don’t need an expensive formal education to master skills, gain wisdom, and become more knowledgeable. You can self-educate. We all can.
2. 1 Hour of Entertainment → 1 Hour of Learning
Studies have shown the average individual spends 3 hours watching TV (Netflix included) and nearly 2.5 hours on social media each day. I’m not implying you need to ban all entertainment from your life. You don’t have to live like a Spartan, you know. Life isn’t much fun that way. But, do you really need 5+ hours of entertainment each day? Personally, I don’t think so. Two or three hours, for me, is more than enough.
So, what if you traded one hour of Netflix or social media for one hour of reading, listening to a podcast, or any other form of learning? This one change in your daily routine will make an enormous difference in your personal- and professional development. Just to put it in numbers, one hour of daily reading amounts to roughly 45–55 books per year.
The choice is yours; do you want to binge-watch every Netflix series, or do you want to become wiser, more skilled, and set yourself up for a better future?
3. Stop Judging People, Open Your Mind Instead
It’s my personal belief that we can learn from everyone. Whether the janitor or the highly successful CEO — the criminal or the monk, we can learn from every human. Most people, however, let their ego, beliefs, and judgment get in the way of having an open mind and learning from others. They label a spiritual person as a weirdo. They label a successful entrepreneur as a workaholic. They label a wealthy investor as probably a jerk.
Fast judgment is a sign of a closed mind. A closed mind is a sign of fixed beliefs. And fixed beliefs are a sign of someone who doesn’t learn. What if you swapped your judgment for curiosity? What if you started asking about other people’s thoughts, habits, and daily life? What if you opened your mind instead of quickly jumping to conclusions? This doesn’t mean you have to agree with everyone— but it means you have to at least keep an open mind. And you can’t have an open mind if you’ve already made up your mind about someone.
All in all, drop your ego, judgment, and beliefs so you can open your mind and learn from other people. Train your brain to be curious.
4. Read Books. Read Some More.
Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. By reading books, you can gain the wisdom someone spent a lifetime acquiring (through trial and error) in just a few days or weeks. Reading books is the biggest life hack there is. No wonder the average millionaire reads more than 24 books a year for learning purposes.
Honestly, books have taught me more about entrepreneurship, marketing, and investing than my formal business education ever did. If you want to make reading a stronger daily habit, here’s what I suggest:
- Schedule it in your calendar app or productivity planner
- Make it part of your morning- or evening routine
- Sign up for an audiobook service to ‘read’ on the go
- Transform ‘dead time’ into learning time (e.g., a daily 1-hour commute can be used to listen to audiobooks)
- Read multiple books at the same time to keep it fresh (for me, variety is essential in reading)
- Put your books someplace they stand out in your living environment
5. Learn About Topics You’ve Rejected
If there’s one thing that will make you wise, it’s learning about topics you’ve rejected — topics you think are weird or potentially BS. Rejecting a topic without learning about it is a mistake. It’s a decision based on your current beliefs — and you can never upgrade your beliefs if you’re not willing to bend your beliefs. If all you do is stay in your bubble, you will only make incremental improvements. But if you study subjects outside of your own bubble, you’ll make giant leaps in your understanding of the world.
All in all, learn about topics you’ve rejected. Challenge your beliefs. It’s the ultimate form of wisdom.