You might feel like you’re an old and the young kids these days are just better than you. You might feel like the young person trying to play in a mature man’s world. I want to dispel this notion right now and say that you can compete with anyone if you approach it correctly. Asking yourself “how fast can I learn?” and honing your ability to learn quickly can change everything.

Asking myself how fast can I learn?

In grade school science class we had this teacher who would let us use notecards on our exams. At the time I was fascinated by this. The teacher is going to let us basically cheat on the exam by bringing in a notecard. Perfect!

As grade schoolers, we dove on every opportunity to “cheat the system”. I can use a notecard? Perfect, I don’t have to study. What I didn’t realize was that I spent 2 days typing up a notecard on the computer in size 8 font. Digging up every imaginable piece of information that could potentially be on this exam and squeezing it into that tiny little space really tricked my brain as a 7th grader.

Instead of “cheating” on anything, he cheated me. As I sat down for the exam, I busted out this beautiful notecard full of equations and notes from the entire semester. Every last drop of knowledge was on there. The exam got handed out and with our heads down we began pouring over the questions.

The crazy part? I didn’t look at my notecard once. I inadvertently studied so hard making my notecard that I learned absolutely everything the night before the exam.

This blew me away. At that moment, I realized that I could learn anything I wanted extremely quickly if I tried. I might have to trick my brain into thinking it wasn’t “work”, but I could do it. There was a level of excitement I had while making this notecard that I hadn’t experienced before.

What If You Could Learn Any Skill On-Demand?

If you knew that you could teach yourself anything very quickly, how much would that change your life? You might learn how to roll with the punches better. You might stop worrying about things.

You would no longer be scared about applying for a job that’s out of reach. You might even quit your job today if you knew you could learn the related skills for starting your own business.

If you think about things with the mindest of “How fast can I learn?”, you quickly become unstoppable. The barriers to success are no longer dependent on other people. It’s just you holding yourself back. You can learn things as needed. There is no longer the feeling or need to know things before you start. And feeling like you need to know what you’re doing before you start is usually the reason why people don’t even try at all. Teach yourself to learn things as fast as possible and you will not be afraid to fail anymore.

But isn’t that just procrastination?

I think procrastination is putting things off because you don’t want to do them. If I’m confident I can handle everything the night before a project is due, I don’t think putting it off is procrastination, just poor time estimating. I could have squeezed in more projects instead. Putting something off because you’re not confident or afraid is bad.

Introducing some sort of excitement to your work can change everything. If you’re writing software, figure out how you can open source it. Just the fact that you’re able to share some of your work on Github can make you write better code than if it was never going to be shared.

For me, this is all about external motivators. I have a hard time justifying my time when it only affects me. Everything I do should have a higher purpose. It should help teach other programmers. It should help make people’s lives easier. It should put smiles on people’s faces.

In college, I lost sight of that. After all the years of schooling, I began to think that everything was just for grades. For a GPA that employers probably will not care about. It became hard for me to justify spending 18 hours perfecting a solution for something I knew the teacher would barely look at while grading.

When you find yourself in a situation where the excitement has warn off, start challenging yourself to learn things faster. I began to start making up challenges for myself in programming classes. How quickly can I write a solution? Being confident, I’d never give myself more than a couple days to tackle assignments.

I learned more in college because of the challenges I made up than I did because of the assignments in general.


If you step back and truly look at things, nothing is that hard. Sure, certain things are harder than others, but if you’re smart about the way you learn then you have nothing to worry about.

Just remember to think “how fast can I learn?”.

Keep this in mind and you can shed all kinds of wasted hours and frustration. It’s amazing.

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