I remembered this peculiar reading hack that Naval Ravikant outlined in this Tim Ferris podcast:
We’re taught from a young age that books are something you finish… So…we get this contradiction where everyone I know is stuck on some book. So what do you do? You give up on reading books for a while.
[So] I came up with this hack where I started treating books as throwaway blog posts or as bite-sized Tweets or Facebook posts, and I felt no obligation to finish any book… At any given time, I’m reading somewhere between ten and twenty books. I’m flipping through them. So if the book is getting a little boring, I’ll skip ahead. Sometimes I’ll start reading a book in the middle because some paragraph caught my eye, and I’ll just continue from there. And I feel no obligation whatsoever to finish the book. So I treat books now as other people might treat throwaway, light pieces of information on the web.
I was thrilled when I heard about it! YES, OF COURSE! Who cares about finishing a book? You’re now a grown adult. There’s no teacher breathing down your neck if you don’t finish, no exam to punish you if you forgot anything within. Finally, I know that I can give myself permission to not finish a book, and treat them as they were, just imperfect containers of information, as tools to serve you, your curiosity and your goals.
I got to thinking about how this devil-may-care attitude is great for learning coding too. Everyone gets stuck somewhere along an online programming course. I did too many times. Even now. And the gamification makes it harder because you got to finish the course to get the certificate. It’s the same problem, isn’t it? They are all narratives that’s learning-related, that had destroyed how we can learn joyfully, and productively.
But it’s really really hard to shake it off because when you just start off, you don’t know enough of what makes a good course, whether whatever you’re learning is enough, so you keep going, lesson after lesson, even if it bores you to death, and you have no idea if anything you’re learning will help you reach your goals (if you have any, to start with). Yes, without a clear idea what you want to make from what you’re learning, it’s doubly easy to get discouraged. But even if you didn’t have any pragmatic goals, you can have the goal to fulfil your curiosity. And finishing a course in boredom isn’t satisfying your curiosity, for sure.
So, that’s what I’m going to do whenever I take an online coding class. Two simple things:
- Give myself permission to not have to finish any coding course.
- Follow my energy, my curiosity, instead.
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