“Formal eduction will make you a living. Self-education will make you a fortune.”
I recently happened upon this inspiring quote (thanks to the daily Rockstar Finance newsletter that awaits my inbox every weekday morning). When I read the quote, it instantly lit a fire in me and set a positive tone for the day. It captures the significance and importance of self improvement in a compact, simple phrase.
It is such a simple statement on the surface, but loaded with wisdom and truths as you peel back the layers on it. I love it.
Self-education is synonymous with self discovery. The more we learn, the more we discover about ourselves. As the journey unfolds, we become richer. Guaranteed. I’m not talking strictly about monetary or material wealth, and I don’t think Jim Rohn was either.
As we set goals for ourselves, a thirst for knowledge and an ability to persist are key to ensuring that they are either met, brought closer to reality, or simply used as stepping stones for uncovering an improved version of what you ultimately wish to accomplish.
A thirst for knowledge and knack for persistence lie at the center of self-education, no matter what it is you wish to learn or achieve.
Upon further reflection, the concept of self-education has some key components that are worth touching upon. At the dawn of a new year, keeping these ideas in mind may help to bring your goals for the new year that much closer to reality.
Passive vs. Active Acceptance
The idea of passive acceptance is akin to going through life on auto-pilot. Indicators of passive acceptance are the victim mentality, feeling trapped, and a general feeling of helplessness. You go through the motions each day, because that is simply what must be done in order to stay afloat.
When in the mode of passive acceptance, it is easy to become bitter and angry at the outside world. There is a tendency to construct alibis and blame factors outside of your control for your position in life. As a side effect, you may take out your frustrations on those closest to you – damaging the most important relationships in your life.
When passive acceptance is allowed space to occupy your mentality, it limits capacity to change the things you don’t like about yourself or your life. You complain and fall victim to a persistent negative mindset. You attempt to address your shortcomings through bandaid or misdirected solutions, such as self-medication or running on the hedonic treadmill.
Active acceptance requires putting in the ongoing effort to intentionally build the pillars of your life. You know what it is you are working towards and building. As you work to get there, you grow personally and intellectually. You have a greater purpose.
With active acceptance, you are able to identify areas of your life that you wish to improve, and work steadfastly to improve them. By the same token, you are able to identify areas of your life that you wish to minimize or eliminate, and work steadfastly to remove them.
To live in a mode of passive acceptance is to diminish the value of self-education almost entirely. Similar to the idea of fixed vs. growth mindsets. Living with active acceptance is to embrace the wealth of information all around you in order to build a better life.
For me, active acceptance manifests in different forms. I became a self-taught expert with personal finance so that I could leverage my spending power and employment situation to build a stronger foundation for the future, and to open up more avenues of opportunity. I write on this blog to hone my desire to be creative and express myself. I have made strides to improving my patience and acknowledgement of the process required to achieve any significant end.
Go Down the Rabbit Hole
I used to live primarily in a mode of passive acceptance. I was bored, unfulfilled, and lonely. I wasn’t saving any of my hard-earned money, and I wasn’t gaining any happiness from the possessions I spent it on. I felt trapped within my job. I thought that it was simply the way things were supposed to be, and I should keep at it for decades until I could retire and collect social security. I didn’t acknowledge my individual capability to build a better life for myself where I am responsible for drawing the boundaries.
As I became more dissatisfied with the reality I had set for myself, I turned to the internet. I discovered a web of people doing awesome things with their lives, and using their position as a means for building the life they wanted. All it took was for me to find one person living remarkably. It was my foot in the door to a new way of approaching life and thinking about things.
I found an opening and went down the rabbit hole, discovering a world of new people and perspectives that I would never have been able to comprehend on my own. I found blogs and books centered around topics I didn’t know I was interested in, or even existed. When I found them, they instantly spoke to me. I became consumed by them.
When you see people doing what you previously thought was unthinkable, an amazing thing happens. You start believing you can do it yourself. The negative mindset is flipped on its head. Rather than underselling your potential, you start tapping into it. As this progression continues, you are able to implement more and more positive change in your life.
If you choose to actively engage in your life and stop living on autopilot, you will probably find that you are chasing new ideas and ambitions that were previously rejected by your own limiting beliefs. To get closer to these things, you must choose to go down the rabbit hole and explore parts of yourself that you never knew existed.
Find your rabbit hole, and don’t be afraid to dive in.
Seek Dividends in the Information Market
We live in the age of information, and it turns out that information is only going to become more and more prevalent in our lives. Constant connectivity means we always a swipe or click away from anything we wish to nourish our minds with. There is both good news and bad news here.
Bad news first: the internet is filled with crap. Not only is it filled with crap, it largely runs on it. Most social networks are littered with clickbait — and people discussing the clickbait, arguing to no avail. Your various social media feeds are probably not going to add much value to your life, until you meet and connect with people who have the ability to motivate and inspire you.
Which leads to the good news: even though the internet is filled with crap, there are lots of nuggets hidden in there that make it all worthwhile. Finding them is a choice, not an accident. The people who motivate and inspire me tend to be vocal, and the things they choose to put on social media are largely positive and helpful to a significant degree.
Being a swipe or a click away from time-wasting bullshit means we are also a swipe or click away from information on topics we wish to become experts in, and the people who are already experts. The opportunities for learning and empowerment are endless.
You can choose to passively allocate time to the bullshit, or actively allocate time to researching the information and people who can immeasurably improve your life. The choice is yours, but if not made with intent, it will default to the passive path.
That BuzzFeed article with an intentionally catchy headline is calling for you to click on it. A survey telling you which Game of Thrones character you are may seem tempting. You can scroll your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds for hours and never reach the end. With all of these things, there is minimal return on the time invested. Before you know it, hours have disappeared from your life and you can’t get them back.
Become a strict gatekeeper of the information you choose to consume. It is all too easy to allow the mind to lose focus and run wild in the fields of internet bullshit.
There is no question that self-education is the key to riches of all kinds — personal, intellectual, and even monetary. A life with maximum satisfaction and fulfillment is difficult to realize without taking initiative to achieve more than the system grants. You will get satisfaction and fulfillment equal to the level of effort put in to realize what it means to you at an individual level.
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