Many people, at some point in their life, get an itch to “learn something new.” It may come from boredom, necessity, or curiosity.
Maybe it’s an annual prompt that starts with the flurry of excitement and enthusiasm of a new year. Or perhaps it’s a mid-year urge that builds in order to become more competitive for a career change. It could be a sudden, inexplicable curiosity to start a hobby (hello, knitting! *facepalm*).
It could be wonderfully specific or annoyingly vague.
If you’re in the “vague” camp and looking for something new to learn, then the list below is a good starting point. The 52 suggestions are grouped by level of difficulty so you can pick how much time and money you want to invest in your learning efforts.
Pick one that seems doable for you and begin. If one doesn’t work, try another. If you need specific instructions, check out google or YouTube or ask a friend.
List of 52 Ways to Learn Something New
- Find a nearby hiking trail and go for a hike
- Identify a new skill you’d like to learn for a hobby you already have
- Identify a small change you’ve thought about doing but have just never done and set an appointment to do it – for example, get a library card or use a reusable bag for your groceries
- Find a Little Free Library in your community and swap an old book for a new one
- Drive around your community taking roads less traveled – without your GPS navigating!
- Pick a game you want to learn to play and have some friends over to try it out
- Listen to a podcast on a topic of interest
- Watch a foreign-language film
- Learn how to use a power-tool
- Read nutrition labels on food items in your pantry or refrigerator
- Find five new-to-you social media sources that provide perspective on a topic of interest to you
- Take an exercise class
- Watch the “Extra Features” of your favorite movie
- Sign up for an email newsletter from a local college, university, or non-profit that hosts classes or guest lectures
- Read a book set in another country
- Pick a dance you’ve always wanted to learn and start practicing
- Try a restaurant featuring cuisine with which you are unfamiliar – order something new-to-you
- Complete a puzzle
- Spend a month learning a new hobby – take a class or buy a kit and do some trial-and-error
- Pick a time and outdoor location to sit every day for two weeks and listen to nature. Jot down what you hear, see, notice – pay attention to specifics and patterns. (Discovered this idea in Unseen City by Nathanael Johnson.)
- Attend a class from a local resource (REI, craft store, library, parks and recreation, etc.)
- Take a class from an online resource
- Pick a language you’d like to learn and find a good podcast or app to kick-start your effort
- Volunteer to help a local organization set up for a special event
- Find a local soup-kitchen or meal-provider and sign up to prepare the food or serve the food
- Find two historic spots in your state that you’ve not visited before and go
- Plant something & care for it
- Spend a day navigating your city with public transportation
- Join a book club
- Pick a new-to-you recipe and make it
- Attend a local government meeting
- Pick a skill you have and write down thorough instructions for someone else to learn how to do it
- Learn how to make a modest home repair
- Learn how to make a modest car repair
- Create a Rube Goldberg machine (get ideas here!)
- Participate in a month-long challenge from your social media platform of choice
- Attend an orchestra performance
- Attend a live theater performance
- Find a piece of art that you like and try to replicate it
- Sign up for music lessons
- Commit to hosting an exchange student or befriending a refugee family for a year. Sign up through a local university or a local, reputable non-profit.
- Make a 6-month to one-year commitment to volunteer with one organization
- Serve on the Board of a local non-profit
- Talk to a teacher at a local public school and find ways to support him or her
- Commit to training in martial arts
- Volunteer to coach a kids’ sports team
- Teach or tutor
- Pick a poem, speech, or favorite chapter and memorize it
- Take a class at a local community college or university
- Pick a DIY project that you’ve been wanting to do and complete it
- Identify a bad habit that you’d like to break and break it
- Adopt a rescue pet
- Pick a topic of interest and read a book that affirms what you think you know about that topic, a book that serves primarily as informational, and a book that challenges what you think you know or agree with about that topic
You’ll notice that I’ve not elaborated much on how you learn through these activities. For example, the first one on the easy list is to take a hike (and I mean that in the nicest way possible). It is entirely possible to not learn a blessed thing when you take said hike.
Learning requires active participation. You don’t have to chant a mantra of questions with each step you take, but you do need to activate your brain. How do you feel? Why? What do you notice that is unusual? If you have apps and gadgets connected use them to generate questions and curiosity.
(If you’re not sure where to start for engaging your brain, consider choosing one or two of the questions from this list of 40 Questions for a Lifelong Learner.)
You don’t need to come away with an epiphany. Some of these will simply be opportunities to exercise your brain’s critical thinking or knowledge-building muscles. Some of these will add an experiential element to thoughts or ideas you think you already know about. Depending on what you pick and when you complete it you may make some interesting connections. Congratulations – you learned something new.
Two final reminders:
- Learning is not a competition.
- Learning can be uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad or not worthwhile. Keep going.
Let me know in the comments what you’re learning! Got any other ideas for ways to learn something new?