Thursday, August 4, 2011

Day #4 - Intellectual Goals

I have three earned degrees from three wonderful institutions of higher learning. But the most important knowledge that I have acquired was not acquired in any school. I appreciate my education and I gained significant knowledge from all of my professors and schools. But formal education is not the only way to gain knowledge or expand one’s intellect.

That perception is one of the barriers to expanding and reaching our intellectual goals. When we consider subject matter that we would like to access or even master, we are often discouraged because we have neither the time nor the money to go to school. But going to college or enrolling in a formal academic program represents a “how” and not a “what.” Put another way going to college is one way to accomplish an intellectual goal but it is not the only way to get there.

As long as we are alive we should maintain a list of subjects about which we would like to learn. There may be some language that we want to learn to speak – some technology we would like to master – some part of history we would like to learn about – some dish we would like to prepare. This list should not simply be in our heads. If it is, we will die with most of the list unaddressed. Rather, we should place our intellectual goals – the list of things that we want to know before we die – in our overall goals and after we make a commitment to them, and then we can decide how we are going to accomplish the goals.

Today there are unlimited ways to learn. There are online courses, there are books about everything, there are lectures and workshops, and there are people who are smart and who love sharing what they know. Even television has some shows that are great sources of knowledge about things that really matter. There is always an affordable way to gain knowledge of any subject. There are still libraries that lend books for free. I have fallen in love with Itunes University – free courses on every subject taught by real college professors all over the world. I have listened to lectures about philosophy, history, psychology, sociology, religions and communications all while walking on my treadmill in the morning. Not only am I expanding my intellect but also I am doing it while I am walking which accomplishes two separate goals during the same time period.

The key is to decide what you would like to know by a certain date that you do not know now. Then write it down, figure out a strategy for learning it and commit to a date for starting and finishing.

Tomorrow – Vocational Goals

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