Some 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.
But when we stop learning, we stop growing.
I’ve said before, I don’t think that business school teaches you everything you need to know 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 school.
With constant information, resources, and knowledge at our fingertips, we have the ability to give ourselves our own version of an education. 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?
Of all the expenditures I’ve made in my life, books have had by far the most tangible return on investment.
- They’ve played a pivotal role in my seven-year journey from blog to book deal.
- I can trace back how I developed my habit of writing 1,000 words a day to a specific text: The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. This is just one of the many benefits I’ve derived from my books.
- They’ve served as 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. And if you don’t have time for a whole book, try reading news or industry articles online—it works just as well.
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 Godin’s AltMBA first. It’s expensive for an online course, but less expensive than business school and probably has a more significant ROI. Here’s what else you can do:
- Visit one of these 62 web sites that will make you smarter.
- Find the best online courses for what you want to learn, or check out these options hand-picked by career experts.
There’s no shortage of worthwhile opportunities to learn from the internet.
3. Build or Make Something
While consumption causes us to learn, creation gives us the opportunity for a practical application of whatever we’ve learned. The internet rewards creators far more than it rewards consumers. I will probably 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—it doesn’t even matter what you create.
The internet has given us access to the thoughts and ideas of some of society’s greatest minds—use it:
- Subscribe to newsletters like Peter Diamandis’ Abundance insider, Kevin Rose’s journal, and many others.
- Follow your heroes and role models on social media. You’ll learn what books they read, what news they think is important, and much more.
As Benjamin P. Hardy said, surround yourself with people who hold you to a higher standard—even if you don’t know them personally.
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, video, lecture, or channel for virtually any subject you might be interested in, so go out and find it.
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.
This article was originally published on Medium. It has been republished here with permission.