Derek Sivers

Monthly self-expansion project


Here’s an idea: Every month, pick something you hate or know nothing about, and get to know it well. Spend a few hours per week, for an entire month, just learning about that subject. Why?

The idea is inspired by a very successful friend of mine who is regrettably closed-minded. She hates everything that isn’t European, sophisticated, and familiar. Culture of India? Hates it. Chinese opera? Hates it. West African music? Hates it. Any mention of any of these things, and she completely shuts down. Appreciating them is not an option. I tried to play her my favorite Indian music, and West African music, but nope. Just a few seconds into it, she asks me to shut it off.

It made me realize that some of the greatest joys in my life are the things I used to hate, or know nothing about, and now have grown to love. Read my post “Loving what I used to hate” for my story about that.

So I thought: Instead of letting it happen accidently or randomly, why not be deliberate about it? Some ideas of things to study for a month would be…

If it’s learning a skill, read Josh Kaufman’s First 20 Hours and use that approach.

While you might lean towards things you’ve always wanted to learn about, I think it’s more interesting to ask yourself, “What do I have absolutely no interest in?” or “What sounds repulsive to me?”, then aim to understand one of those things. Start with a kind of music you hate, or a part of the world that sounds unappealing to you. That’s where the real self-expansion happens.

Whenever we learn about something, we learn to appreciate it. So it’s most rewarding if it’s something you previously had no appreciation for.

I like this idea a lot, and plan to do it soon.

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