Learning on Borrowed Time

Education is such an important factor of long-term personal and financial growth. The more education a person has, the more likely they will have social and economic opportunities available to them. Their life will generally be improved all around.

I break down education into two distinct branches. Formal and informal. Formal is where we all start. The pipeline from grade school to high school and for some of us, college and beyond. It has been pretty standard since the beginning of the industrial age. Informal education is way more fun. We get an informal education when we pick up a hobby or find a passion. We try to learn as much as we can from any source we can find. When we have that fire to get creative and the means to pursue what interests us our informal education takes off.

I made it through school all the way to a completed Master’s degree. I learned a lot and I wouldn’t change a thing. I loved my path and the formal education has great value to me. However, my informal education didn’t start in earnest until after I graduated for the last time.

I will admit that up until about 6-7 years ago I wasn’t an enthusiastic reader. Now, I did read a lot. I had to read a lot to graduate and finish my course work, but you wouldn’t find me curled up with a book for hours on the weekend. I knew I was missing something. I knew reading would be good for me, but I didn’t know how much I was missing. I was missing out on a valuable education that would make me better.

Like we talk about so much on the FirdayRally one day I made the commitment. I made a New Year’s resolution to read one book a month for a year that wasn’t a textbook. It was and still is, the only New Year’s resolution I have ever made. I completed it. 12 books in 12 months and my eyes were opened. My informal education had begun.

From that first year, I have only increased my consumption. I don’t have a goal anymore but I read at least 1 book a month usually more. My favorite fiction genre is science fiction, but a science fiction that isn’t too crazy. More like a story with cool technology that humans could achieve in the next 100 years. My favorite non-fiction genres are the success and personal development categories.

I have come to love reading and consuming information. I wanted to do more. I was trying to become more efficient. The answer to my challenge showed up on my phone one day a few years ago. Audible.

(As a quick aside, audible now has a feature where you can gift a book to someone for free if they haven’t accepted a gift already. If you have an audible account and would like one of my books please let me know I would be glad to share. If you would just like to tell me your favorites and recommendations then subscribe and shoot me an email. We can talk about our interests. I am always looking for something new.)

So, I subscribed to audible. It has been one of the most beneficial actions of my life in the last 4 years. My consumption has skyrocketed. I can feel my brain soaking up the knowledge almost daily. It only fueled the fire. I am beginning to become a glutton for knowledge and the world of audiobooks has the capacity to provide more than I can absorb.

Secondly, there is another industry that is related but vastly different. Podcasts. I started to explore this world around the same time as I begun with audio books. The talent and volume of creation are truly mind blowing. I found myself drawn instantly to personal development channels. There were hundreds of channels that were interesting and thousands of hours of content to listen to. I almost had choice paralysis but I managed to focus up and dig into loads of episodes.

Some examples of channels I listen to are Tim Ferriss, Pat Flynn, Preston Pysh and Stig Brodersen, and Freakonomics Radio among many, many others.

I have worked myself into a pretty good system of audible books and podcasts to satisfy my appetite for knowledge. Each service fulfills a different need, but both are complementary to each other.

So, how to learn on borrowed time? It is simple and if you are already doing it you will think I am dumb for saying it because it is obvious to you. I carve out uninterrupted time every day on my commute to work. I listen to an audible book or podcast on both legs of the trip, every day. I also listen to them any other time I am alone in the car. It truly is free time to be put to use for our informal educations. I take advantage as often as I can.

I read a statistic recently that I have never heard but really liked. I also did NOT check the truth of this stat. It had more value for me as a statement that made me think than its value as a valid statistic. It said something to the effect of…

“80% of wealthy people listen to audio books on their commute, while only 12% of poor people do”

Now, of course, I am not saying that listening to audio books will make you wealthy. And we also have the correlation/causation issue, but it can make us reevaluate how we decide to spend that time in the car.

I have been doing it for a very long time and would not go back. I have even told my wife that I would get rid of our TV before I would give up my audible subscription. I am always trying to be better. Better in my career, better as a compassionate empathetic person, and better in my habits. Reading and listening to audio books is moving the needle for me in that direction. Reading as a habit is starting to push into the keystone habit space for me. I have no doubt that if I can become a better reader I will become a better person. I am going to give it a shot.

Again, if you have an audible account and want a free book, let me know. Also, let me know what books have influenced you. I am always looking to expand my library.




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