How to Develop a Habit of Learning

Imagine you could go to bed every night as a slightly improved version of yourself than when you woke up.

Wouldn’t it be amazing?

I guarantee you’ll fall asleep like a baby.

And the good news?

It’s not a hard thing to do.

You just need to make a teeny-tiny improvement each day. And you do this by developing a habit of learning.

Because there’s really no better way to create an improved version of ourselves than by learning.

If you spend 20 minutes finding out more about yourself, you inch closer to self-discovery.

If you take on one challenge and complete it daily, you’re moving closer to your ideal self.

If you spend 30 minutes researching self-help books and reading, you’re a little closer to reaching your full potential than in the morning

Every time you learn something, your old self (as you woke up) dies, and a new, improved version is born.

So it makes sense that we develop a habit of learning.

Below are seven ways how you can develop a habit of learning so you can fall asleep with deep satisfaction and an improved version each night.

7 Ways to Develop a Habit of Learning

1. Learn from Your AAR

I first heard about an AAR (an After Action Report/Review) while reading Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins.

Here’s how Wiki explains:

An after action review (AAR) is a structured review or de-brief (debriefing) process for analyzing what happened, why it happened, and how it can be done better by the participants and those responsible for the project or event.

When David Goggins was on a 2-year stint, travelling across the state to promote and recruit potential SEALs in minority communities (schools, colleges, and universities), he regularly completed an AAR and submitted it to the top brass.

When he failed at his attempts to break the world record of 4,000+ pull-ups in 24 hours, he diligently and meticulously wrote an AAR (all things that went well and didn’t go well) in preparation of a follow-up, in which he subsequently succeeded with 4,030 pull-ups in 17 hours.

Writing down everything you did allows you to see whether you’re doing the right things in the right way, or whether there’s a better way of doing things.

2. Learn from Your Failures

When David Goggins failed his attempts at the world record of 4,000+ pull-ups, he didn’t fill his AAR with self-pity or blame.

It was an honest assessment of his performance and an essential step in preparing for the next attempt so he could avoid making the same mistakes, such as using the wrong venue.

Learning from failures enabled him to be better prepared and increased the likelihood of success.

What’s remarkable about him is that he didn’t stop trying after one failure.

He’d go back again and again, almost like punishing himself.

Except that he wasn’t punishing himself. He was at war with himself.

He used every challenging opportunity to callous his mind and defy the odds!

He has proven time and time again that our failures are the best place to learn and strengthen our minds.

♣ If you’re looking for utterly and seriously life-changing inspiration, I thoroughly recommend Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins. See for yourself just how many 5-star reviews the book has garnered on Amazon.

3. Learn from Your Success

Besides our failures, we can also learn from our successes.

I still vividly remember when I first saw a few pennies in my Google AdSense account.

I was in awe and could see what every blogger says happening: writing about the topics close to my heart and making money while doing so.

It was such a little amount of money but enough to give me momentum, which has laid the foundation to accomplish a new goal: publishing 100 blog posts every day.

Now I’m on a race to publish 200 blog posts before my next AAR.

4. Learn from Books

To these successful people, reading books is as natural as eating and sleeping.

They consider reading a key contributor to success.

I’m currently reading Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell.

Thanks to this book, I just figured out the murky thoughts I’ve had for a long time: why I do what I do.

It was an unexpected discovery about myself (from an unexpected place).

It feels like the fog has finally lifted. I can see and understand some parts of myself so clearly now.

My ill-informed and misplaced opinion about the book (long before reading it!) has nearly ruined the chance of epiphany (I’ve now finished the book; you can read my review here).

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5. Learn from Your Thoughts

Some say we have between 60,000 and 80,000 thoughts a day. 

I can’t find scientific evidence for the claim. I doubt the actual number could be that excessive.

Still, we all know how busy we can get with countless unwelcome thoughts throughout the day.

I realised this more acutely in the early days of my meditation.

I didn’t expect I’d have such a hard time with meditation.

The more I thought about emptying my mind, the harder it was. It seemed impossible!

Although I got better with more practice, I remember being shocked that I couldn’t control my thoughts.

Our thoughts are rarely about the present time.

They are mostly about past events that we can’t change or future worries that may never happen.

Our thoughts can say a lot about us, whether we’re staying in the present moment or letting our past or future torment us.

And just as we can train our mind with meditation to focus on the NOW, we can train our mind to have selective memories.

Or turn unhelpful thoughts to practical aspects of our life goals, such as our relationships, finances, career, or personal growth.

6. Learn from Your Environments

If you grew up in a socially and economically disadvantaged environment like me, it’s that much harder to fix bad habits you picked up during your childhood or bad mentality imposed by people around you.

Imagine the effect of being told, “You aren’t good enough; you’ll not amount to anything”, every day of your life.

The toxic environment kills us—our soul and spirit.

We can’t do anything about the environments we grew up in, but we can choose to leave them behind and start afresh.

I can hardly remember my childhood, except for being unhappy. Growing up, all I could think about was leaving.

My childhood memory goes as far as the day I left home, because that’s when I felt alive.

That’s when I was ready to live.

In a toxic environment, even the positive affirmations have very little chance to impact you because they’ll be drowned out.

Leave the toxic environment behind.

You’ll start breathing and believing in yourself.

7. Learn from Your Habits

Many people complain about a lack of time.

I used to be one of them.

Then I spent 5 days logging and rating my daily activities. It was shocking. I spent way too much time doing things that didn’t matter one bit or doing very little of important things.

Try rating yourself the way I did and see what you can learn from the result.

Are you spending way too much time watching TV or surfing the net?

Would you rather chase your goal while doing something meaningful toward it?

Final Thoughts

Developing a habit of learning every day ensures you’re growing.

You’re a little better informed than in the morning.

You’re a little wiser than when you woke up.

Each night, you go to bed with satisfaction and look forward to a restful and deep sleep—a reward for a day well spent.

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