10 Things I’ve Learned in Under 6 Months That Have Changed My Life — part one

I graduated from college on a dry, clear, and unseasonably mild day in May of 2017, with the wind of four undergraduate years in my sails. My eyes wide with wonder, this was it, this was what I’d been waiting for. 17 years of formal education led up to this day. I’d studied in two countries, spent thousands of hours in classrooms, and taken a plethora of exams.

French, Philosophy, Theology and Math. English, Statistics… Criminalistics. 17 years of education, four years of preparation for the “real world”. Was I excited? Yes! Did I know it all? I sure thought so! Was I wrong…? Absolutely.

As of this year, the average cost of attaining a pretty piece of decorated paper inscribed “Bachelor’s” stands at $25,588 per year for public colleges, and $73,970 for a year at a private institution, add to that four years of your life, and you’ve got a degree.

For your $100,000, you are then entitled to: fight tooth & nail for an entry-level position, accumulate interest on loans you have no ability to pay off for 20 years, and study for a Master’s in order to get any real shot at being taken seriously in the workforce as an employee.

So with all that in mind, it begs the question: Is College Really Worth It?

Not only do you have the real, financial cost of attending a four-year institution, but most overlooked is the opportunity cost associated with how else you could spend one-hundred grand and four years of your life.

Since graduating in May, I have spent the best part of 4 months building a business, working on myself, and implementing daily habits, routines, and themes into my life in order to better position myself for future success.

If Henry Hartman is correct in saying “success always comes when preparation meets opportunity”, then it pays to be prepared. In the last 4 months, I’ve been experimenting with a bunch of techniques, tools, or tidbits, and tried to add new strings to my bow that I wasn’t able to in school.

The experimentation is an ongoing process, and recently I’ve been thinking about the things that have stuck. In less than 6 months, I’ve learned and applied things that now help me every day — and I’ve come up with a list. I’m turning the list into a series of articles like the one you’re reading now, partly to practice my writing, partly to get over the fear of putting my thoughts out there, and partly to save this from being the longest first article ever. (So that’s why there’s only one item on the list in this article) Without further ado, here is number one:

10 Things That Have Changed My Life

1Learning How To Speed Read — We live in the information age. More information is created and transmitted every day than has been produced in the history mankind to date. Not only is there an incredible abundance of information, but now it also has quality. There are hundreds of fantastic books written by leaders in their field, all containing a wealth of advice and wisdom from some of the world’s greatest in business, science, and athletics (to name a few). If we remember only 10% of what we read, then surely volume is important, and to be able to read and retain at a faster rate allows one to learn more, quicker.

What if you could read a full book every week? You’d be able to get into the minds of peak performers and learn about their strategies for success at a rate of 52 every year. The barrier to entry of learning truly valuable information would be drastically lowered. Learning how to improve your reading speed is a fundamental skill that should be taught in every school every-where. One thing that amazed me: to improve your reading speed by 30% right now, start using a pencil or pen (with the cap on) as a pacer and use it to guide your eyes as you read. The faster you move the pen, the faster you’ll read — and you won’t suffer from back-reading as much either (re-reading previously read words which slows reading speed). Something as simple as that can save a lot of time the next time you’re reading.

I’m trying to read one book every two weeks, may not seem a lot, but it’s something that would probably have taken me a month or two only six months ago. Incremental gains compound over time!

For a 10-minute exercise on using the PX Method to improve your reading speed. Click Here, courtesy of Tim Ferriss. For some incredibly useful information on improving your reading speed and comprehension, Click Here to hear brain coach Jim Kwik’s podcast series Kwik Brain.

This is the first of a 10-part collection of articles made from my list: 10 Things I’ve Learned in Under 6 Months That Have Changed My Life. To read the next one — Click Here! I’ll meet you there.




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Joseph A. Smith

Toronto-based Management Consultant. Strategy, Transformation, Systems Thinking & Design. Aspiring; Thinking; Writing.