I wrote a post a few weeks ago entitled, One year of experience 10 times (https://edbrownweb.wordpress.com/2016/06/14/one-year-of-experience-10-times/), that I’d like to expand on.
I think many would agree that in its most basic sense, experience means doing things. And that time passes. That seems fairly straightforward. Objectively, I experience the world around me as time passes. In that sense we all “experience” things. But the point I was making in my earlier blog post was that experience also has a subjective side to it; what I actually take away and learn from the experience and that I can then apply to future situations. It’s this subjective sense that I’d like to briefly explore here.
I haven’t seen the research on this yet (although I’m sure there is some), but from my own experience I claim that there are at least three things you need to do in order to cultivate your experiences; in other words learn and benefit from them.
- Prepare your mindset. Tell yourself that you are going to learn something new today. You may want to even say it out loud. Research does show that self-talk affects our behavior.
- Hunt – Look for signs in your everyday life for learnable situations.
- Be present – Actively focus on what is happening around you and what you are doing in the present moment. Are you experiencing something that can increase your knowledge and skills? Heighten your focus on these things.
- Harvest – Actively collect and store your experiences. You can do this by making notes of the things you seen and done during the day. Some like to keep a journal. I draw mind maps of important meetings, lectures or encounters.
- Use it or lose it – Look for opportunities to practice what you have learned. Give a lecture, write an essay or tell a friend. The key is to act on what you learn. Make it part of yourself.
The key take away here is: Be aware that you must do something with your experiences in order to benefit from them. You must experience your experiences. Otherwise, experience just happen to you without you learning much.
And remember, enjoy :-).