Humans are learning machines. It's what we do. From day 1 we begin a constant cycle of taking an action, receiving feedback, modifying our behavior, and trying again.

Eating keeps us alive, so we keep doing it. Touching hot things hurts, so we avoid repeating that action. This continues for our entire lives, and our brain never stops the process of trying to keep us alive through the memories of our trials and errors.

A few thousand years ago we learned a technique to advance this process and thereby speed up the progress of our fellow human. We called it writing and it was a hit. People now had the power to preserve the things they learned and allow others to gain knowledge without having to experience the learning loop themselves. Movable type took this technology to scale, and later, the internet has made the sharing of knowledge ubiquitous.

The Fall

Somewhere along the path of life most people develop a couple of traits that may have suited us well at some point in history, but are usually limiting in modern life. These are resistance to change and the loathing of learning.

This is where we fall, and some never get back up. Our peers, society, entertainment, and experience make everyone resistant to change in some ways. Of course, the irony is that change is constant, but we still do our best to maintain some sort of status-quo or routine in our lives.

We are taught that we are supposed to hate school. In our defense, school has done a pretty good job of being a loathsome place to be. We stop reading books when we are stopped being forced to read books. We choose mindless television sitcoms over opportunities to better our understanding of the world. The decision to avoid learning doesn't happen all at once, but it does happen many times a day.

Start Small

Developing a learning lifestyle isn't as easy as unplugging the television and subscribing to Audible, although that is a good idea. Start small. Trade out the morning show on your commute for an audiobook on a subject you'd like to learn more about. Subscribe to podcasts instead of music apps. Read a book over watching a rerun of that sitcom you've seen over and over. You will quickly discover that learning comes natural and is fun. The rewards will quickly have you looking for other opportunities to optimize your life.

Information is the most valuable resource amongst humankind and we live in a time when it is more accessible to a larger audience than ever before. Finding good books, audiobooks, podcasts, blogs, and other content is easier than it has been in recorded history. Pick a subject and dive in.

Set Goals

Want to get a better job? Want to start a business? Want more customers for your business? Want to learn how to cook French continental cuisine?

Whatever new superpowers you would like to possess, start by setting a goal. There are many articles claiming the average CEO reads 50-60 books a year. I wouldn't suggest a simple metric like number of books matters, but if you read 5-6 quality books a month for a year, you will be more knowledgable for sure.

Set goals that matter to you then find and consume content that helps you reach that goal. You're not going to learn how to build an email list sitting on your couch watching Seinfeld, so set a goal, do the work, and learn some things along the way.

Don't Stop

Once you replace a habit with a learning activity, don't stop. When that podcast runs out, don't go back to the morning DJ, find a new podcast. After you complete the audiobook, get a new one. Habits form over time, and a learning lifestyle requires us to replace meaningless time with learning activities.

Lastly, don't be afraid learning will dampen your relaxation time. Hanging out, watching TV, listening to music, and recharging are all important activities. Do them in moderation, at the right time and place.