Day 11 of the 40-Day Challenge

In the name of Allah, most gracious and most merciful,

Thanks to Allah I have managed to succeed on the eleventh day of the 40-day challenge. I was nearly highly engaged on average throughout my day. In this post, I will share the challenges I faced, how I overcame them, a strange observation, and a newly proposed solution for engagement, the key takeaways from these things, and some useful information that I learned.

1. Normal Challenges and How I overcame them

As usual, I have faced some usual challenges and handled them as usual from the techniques I previously mentioned throughout the previous posts in the 40-day challenge. When I am disengaged from reading, I go to watch a video in a course about the same topic. Still, disengaged? Let us go and try to make our hands dirty by directly practicing.

Another thing is that I really wanted to sleep towards the end of the day before finishing the learning hours I have to do. Since I removed restrictions from my sleep, I simply went to sleep and after 2.5 hours I woke up much more refreshed without an alarm. I continued as usual more engaged throughout my learning and using the usual techniques when disengaged to keep myself engaged and interested.

2. Strange Observation and a New Proposed Solution

However, something strange happened to me. After I woke up, learned for a while, and then went to eat because I was hungry, came back to continue learning as usual, I wanted to sleep again. So I simply went to sleep. The strange thing is that as soon as I was in bed, I found myself don’t want to sleep. But did why that happen? I was just feeling very sleepy! I kept thinking while I was in bed about how to optimize my learning. But then I discovered if I just don’t want to sleep unless I am learning then that means that the problem wasn’t that I wanted to sleep, but it was a clear problem of disengagement. My mind felt that what it was doing was boring so it may have preferred to trick me into sleeping instead.

I was studying for the exam I have talked about previously in more than one post. Although I developed two systems to learn, after implementing each of them, none of them proved to be really engaging to me. Not all the video courses are engaging, the book I used for preparing for the exam was not elaborative as I wanted, the theoretical reference although good but needed much time to read all this which could make me late for studying for the exam. Something is missing, then the following justification came to my mind.

I thought, what do you want to do? I want to prepare for the exam. Do you want to just pass it or to really understand the theories, and how to implement them as well? Yes, sure I want both. Great, but these resources don’t keep me engaged at all. Even when I jump between them in a random manner on feeling bored didn’t prove to be so useful. Then I thought, you know these resources are prepared by humans. Although they might be experts, and very clever but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will represent and explain the information in the most suitable way for everyone. Since it is made by humans, then there should be always deficiencies and problems. That’s one of the reasons for the usefulness of learning from multiple resources so that you can check other resources if you didn’t understand something from one of them.

I continued thinking. If I am disengaged in that way, then that means that I am far from effective and efficient learning. Why shouldn’t I take a different approach? Let us experiment. If I already have good slides that contain guidelines for studying for the exam, I have a course, a book, another theoretical book, practice exams, and hands-on workshops. How could I use all of these resources to make my learning more engaging and fruitful?

The good thing is that the course, book, and practice exams are divided by the sections that the exam will cover so I decided to take a better engaging approach:

  1. Read from the slides “The big picture”
  2. Whenever you want to understand something, go to the theoretical book or search online if you didn’t find it in the book or if you didn’t understand it from the book but don’t go into too much details to avoid digressing from your main objective
  3. After finishing the slides no go to either the exam-preparation book or the course to study how to use the technology. If you found something you didn’t understand then do the same as step 2
  4. Practice some hands-on to understand the big picture and how everything fits together
  5. Jump into the practice exams for that section

And that’s it. What is new about this approach?

  • Understanding the big picture first without entering into details
  • Whenever I want to understand something instead of just continuing watch the course’s videos or reading any of the books, just stop and go search for it. You have a question so go to search for an answer immediately and feed your curiosity to be more engaged
  • I didn’t specify an exact resource. I said “read from the theoretical book, or search online”. I also said “go to either the exam-preparation book or the course to study how to use the technology”. I left the options open to me since my goal is not just to read the book or take the course, but my goal is to understand what I want to understand from whatever accredited, engaging, and good resource I have. I am driven by curiosity and understanding rather than driven by finishing something linearly although it maybe dull or boring which will make me even more disengaged or hate what I am learning because I don’t understand what am I doing? However, I still have accredited resources to learn from, and let searching online through blogs and articles be my last option because I see that books give me much better context and holistic understanding. I am learning from the source, and not from someone’s summary that may probably miss something that I need.
  • Hands-on practice, and jumping into practice exams on each part of the exam instead of postponing these to the end make the learning even more engaging and directly puts me into the correct context in which I will finally be tested in which are the practice exams. Getting my mind accustomed to the exam’s environment is really great and may greatly reduce the exam’s stress. Exam taking is a skill in itself. Directly start doing what you finally want to do, and put yourself in context.

3. Results of Immediately Applying the Proposed Solution

After deciding on this new plan, I surprisingly found in the first slides the prerequisites they expect me to know before reading the slides. And surprise! I was missing some of them. What on earth was I doing to myself? Here are the prerequisites in front of me, and I just started without understanding them. Immediately I went to read in the theoretical book and found what I exactly wanted.

I read about one and a half small chapters that gave me what I was missing. I became engaged again, I didn’t want to sleep, and I was happy. Finally, the time ended for this task and I have successfully finished today’s challenge.

But still, I didn’t test the usefulness of this new plan since I didn’t finish it yet, but the start of it seems really promising. So let me experiment and see what will happen.

4. Key Takeaways

  • Have more than one accredited resource to learn from so that you could jump to another resource if you didn’t understand a certain topic from your main resource but try to follow up with one main resource to see the whole picture, and let the other resources be complementary to fill in the gaps in your understanding. Keep in mind that maybe by even jumping to other resources you won’t still understand it. If that happened after trying different resources, you could simply wait for a week or so and continue learning as usual while knowing that you have still something missing. After a week or so go to relearn what you missed and see if it made sense. Maybe it needed revisiting and repetition for you to make sense of it. Multiple exposure over spaced time intervals is really great for learning so experiment and see the results with yourself.
  • Books, courses, and other learning resources are made by humans like us which means that there is still room for improvement. If you didn’t understand something don’t say that you are stupid, but instead say maybe this author didn’t explain the idea in the most suitable way for me, so let me search for another resource to fill in this gap. The author designed the book or course according to his point of view of what you should learn and in what sequence. Definitely this sequence is great and very useful and I don’t think it is necessary to be the best thing. Maybe he assumes that you know something that you don’t know. Therefore, if you missed something again, think how you can complement the gaps in your understanding and be responsible for your learning. Learning doesn’t come from spoon-feeding, and comes from many trials and errors until you understand something.
  • Even if you understood something, there are levels of understanding. Rereading the same book, or looking for other resources after you finish the book you were reading could help you reach deeper levels of understanding which will make you appreciate what you learn more, and be able to use it in different contexts. In other words, your competency and expertise are increasing but don’t forget to try to apply what you learn, if possible, to even make more sense of it.
  • Doing the same thing over and over again won’t necessarily produce different results. If you found yourself disengaged, or hate what you are learning, try to experiment with more engaging and useful techniques and remember your end goal and try to put yourself in context as soon as possible to receive feedback on your correct and wrong actions to take corrective actions and thus move more accurately, and efficiently towards your goal or objective.

5. Useful Pieces of Information

Most of these pieces of information are taken from The Magic of Thinking Big book.

  • Smile big, smile until your teeth show. Harness the power of smile even when you don’t feel like it. Handle complex situations with smile. Absorb ones’ anger with your kindness, and remember that people are your mirrors. If you were kind to them, they usually will be kind to you as well. If you smiled to them, they will usually smile to you.
  • Action cures fear. Isolate your fear and then take constructive action. In action, doing nothing about the situation, strengthens fear and destroys confidence.
  • Make a supreme effort to put only positive thoughts in your memory bank. Don’t let negative thoughts grow into mental monsters. Simply refuse to recall unpleasant events or situations.
  • Put people in proper perspective. Remember people are much more like than they are different. Get a balanced view of the other fellow. He is just another human being like you. And develop an understanding attitude
  • Practice doing what you know is right. Avoid cheating, and doing bad things. This prevents a poisonous guilt confidence from developing. Doing what is right is a very practical rule for success.
  • Be initiative. Sit in the front and don’t shy away.
  • Our actions affect our attitudes and vice versa. If you are angry, then smile. If you are not motivated, and you are fearful then act as if you are motivated and not fearful. Fake it till you make it.
  • Walk 25% faster. Usually fast-walking could be a proof that you care more about your time, and that you have something important that you want to do. How you look is very important although it is definitely not everything., but again our actions affect our attitude.

Finally

Thank you. I hope this post has been beneficial to you. I would appreciate any comments if anyone needed more clarifications or if anyone has seen something wrong in what I have written in order to modify it, and I would also appreciate any possible enhancements or suggestions. We are humans, and errors are expected from us, but we could also minimize those errors by learning from our mistakes and by seeking to improve what we do.

Allah bless our master Muhammad and his family.

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