Putting your Learning on Autopilot

I once read a book called “The Automatic Millionaire.” It was one of those books that had one solid idea and about 100 pages of filler. The idea was “if you make wealth-building automatic, then you won’t be able to mess it up.”

And that’s powerful, because us humans are great at messing things up. We do well on our goals, until we lose willpower, get sick, or have an emergency. As soon as the circumstances change, it all goes out the window.

The book encourages several approaches to automatic wealth-building, like setting up recurring automatic transfers to move money into savings accounts, for example. The theory is that a system that doesn’t depend on you, is a lot less likely to fail. Sounds pretty good.

But why stop at building wealth?

Many people officially retire from learning when they graduate college. Oh, they may pick up a factoid here and there, but by-and-large they’re coasting. How do we force ourselves to keep learning and growing outside of a formal school environment. Is there a way to put our learning and personal growth on autopilot too? I think so.

It’s about baking opportunities to learn into your routine, and making them unavoidable. For me this means audiobooks on my bike ride into work each day. I reserve a bunch of books from the library (using Overdrive), and I listen to each one as it becomes available (and I have to hurry, or they will expire!).

If you don’t commute like I do, then do you have an email routine? You could be getting daily emails from Highbrow, teaching you anything from data-science to smartphone photography in a series of bite-sized chunks sent right to your inbox. If weekly is more your pace, you could be getting anything from global economic policy updates to weekly animated Excel tips, all in your inbox from a variety of sites.

Bake it into your morning run. Bake it into your breakfast routine. Whenever you choose to do it, put it on autopilot, and it’ll be less likely to fail.