Learning is Like Showering: Don’t Stop Doing It

“Of course motivation is not permanent. But then, neither is bathing; but it is something you should do on a regular basis.” -Zig Ziglar

Imagine asking a colleague if they’d like to join you for lunch and having them respond with “No thanks. I had lunch last month.”

That would be confusing, right?

Imagine someone telling you they don’t take showers anymore because they did a project 5 years ago where they took showers every single day.

That would seem odd, right?

In both cases, an important insight seems to be missing: some things are valuable not because of the amount of times we’ve done them in the past, but because of the way our lives are transformed by our refusal to stop doing them in the present. The value of eating and showering is a matter of hygiene, not history.

The same should be considered true of feeding your mind with a steady diet of ideas.

In Why Reading about Big Ideas Is Necessary for Success, I wrote:

All problems are knowledge problems and all solutions are knowledge solutions. This is why a steady diet of philosophical thinking and philosophical reading is so important. If you’re not regularly consuming content that exposes you to challenging concepts, you risk becoming a virtual solipsist: someone who believes in the existence of other minds, but who lives as if his or her own mind is the sole source of creative solutions. If you want to be a successful professional, refuse to settle at your current level of intellectual development. Study your butt off and never stop challenging yourself to become a better thinker. If you’re content with the books you’ve already read, your career is already dead.

Learning isn’t just an accomplishment, it’s a practice.

Pursue knowledge in the same way you brush your teeth or change your clothes. Instead of taking pride in how much you’ve done it in the past, try to remember how much you’re going to stink if you don’t keep doing it regularly.

Personal growth is an infinite game and the only way to “win” is to playfully keep the process alive.