2016: A Year of Learning to Learn

The past two years have been interesting for me. I got married to my high school sweetheart, saw the ocean for the first time, bought a house, lost 30 pounds, and read over 100 non-fiction books in less than 8 months.

What spurred this change? One night browsing the internet I stumbled upon a TEDx talk that changed my life. Tia Lopez became quite the meme thanks to his “Here In My Garage” advertisement that popped up on YouTube in early 2015. As pretentious and annoying as the ad was, I decided to look more into his site and way of thinking. I didn’t buy into his 67 Steps Program, or buy any of his affiliate products, but was inspired by the idea of reading “a book a day”.

The idea behind this (I encourage you to watch the video in the link above) is that you can be mentored by anyone who has reached the top of any field you aspire to be in, and learn their habits and lifestyle to emulate them. For example, Sam Walton (founder of Wal-Mart) wrote a book about how he founded his 482 billion dollar company, and you can get it on Amazon for a penny. Why hasn’t every business owner in the world read the book written by one of the greatest businessmen in American history?

Pairing books with the ocean of information available through the internet, I decided to start learning. I started with Brian Tracy’s and Dale Carnegie’s self-help books on success, which helped me decide to move into a programming career. In the past two years, I’ve spent $2600 on books, and subscribed to learning sites such as edX, Coursera, and Pluralsight. On top of this, if I was interested in a subject, I bought a book about it.

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The hardest part of moving this year: moving my books.

Although I bought more than 400 books, I was only able to finish 107 of them, which completed my goal of 100 books read by the end of 2016. You can see the books I have read (along with some one or two sentence reviews) on my Goodreads profile. I was actually able to take 3 months off from reading, as I read 65 books over the spring/summer months and was way ahead of schedule. The rest of these will be moved into next year’s goals.

reading
2016 Reading Challenge status as of this blog post.

Having surpassed my goals this year, I know I could do more in 12 months. I’ve spent the month of December narrowing down what I’d like to do in 2017. Taking inspiration from Scott Young’s MIT Challenge and John Washam’s Google Interview University, I’ve decided to follow their example and focus solely on Computer Science over the next year, and chase my goal of having a full-time programming job by the end of 2017. I’ll post the plan whenever I get it narrowed down.

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