The strive to continuously learn
In the movie Arrival, there’s a reference to the Sapir-Whorf theory of linguistics relativity. It states that “the structure of a language affects the speaker’s cognitive view”, which basically means that learning a new language can ‘re-wire’ your brain. The plot of the movie itself revolves around a linguist interacting with non-earth beings and decrypting their alien language. As she starts to understands, she starts to gain a special ability (won’t ruin the spoilers).
I find this theory true in not just learning a language, but with learning anything in general. There has been studies around this, especially on how the brain chemistry changes through the increase of myelin by practicing a new skill. The short-term benefits may not seem as significant (besides being able to do something new), but the view is this being advantageous in the long run.
Now to the practical side of learning a new skill. It’s definitely easier said that done as it requires time and effort to pick up something new. It takes patience, it takes practice, and more importantly it does not give you instant gratitude (note to those dopamine seeking millennials). What you don’t realize is that by going through a life cycle of learning itself, you are in return acquiring various other complimentary skills — such as building habits and focusing on a single task/goal.
You can always start with something easy (e.g. excel shortcuts), and build up to more difficult and challenging skills (e.g. new language). It can also create a new habit in the process that can compound to exponential results — this is a reference to Atomic Habits.
Perhaps you might tell yourself, “I don’t have time to learn anything new”. The fact is, you do. Below is an excerpt of an interview with Jack Ma where he talks about on what you do after work is what determines your future:
“You finish work at 6pm, and go to bed at 12 midnight.
How do you spend these six hours?
The importance of the activities you do between 6pm and 12 midnight are beyond your imagination. Too many people believe that your career is determined by the 8 hours of hard work and effort you put in at the office, and your future and career progression depend on the boss and the company.
But the reality is that for most people is that you’re are on your own…”
On a final note, my only wish is for this post to be a spark (small or big) for you to get started on what you’ve always wanted to learn :)