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“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one learned in school.”

– Albert Einstein

Self-education refers to learning in its purest form. It is taking on the task of gaining knowledge and insight for the sake of one’s own benefit. In adulthood there’s no curriculum holding us accountable to learning and advancing ourselves in life or our careers. Whether we put in the time to become experts in our field is left up to us. Whether we ask ourselves what’s important in life and how to go about learning to develop ourselves in a way that will be truly satisfying is left up to us alone.

What Does “Success” Really Mean?

There is no static or uniform definition of “success.” We each have an absolutely unique understanding of what it would mean to have lived a successful life. We may want financial success, relationship success, spiritual success, success in making real developments in the field we work in, all of the above, or anything else we think is important to living happily in a way that makes us content.

The only way to define “success” objectively is the following:

  1. Setting a goal,
  2. Pursuit of that goal,
  3. Achievement of that goal.

If I succeed at something, it is because I had an idea of what I wanted to accomplish, I worked to make it happen, and ultimately, the goal I had in mind when I started came to fruition.

Why Self-Education Is The Key To Success

If I haven’t been clear enough, when I say “success,” I’m not only referring to financial success. Financial success is one aspect of living the lives we want. Nevertheless, successful living is about continuing to develop our capacity for creating the lives we dream about.

When we get out of school, whether we drop out of high school, finish college or end up with a PHD, its a huge mistake to think that our education is complete.

Formal education gives us the tools we need to become life-long learners, but continued learning gives us the tools to become life-long doers.

Start Asking The Right Questions

The real question we have to ask ourselves is whether we’re doing the learning that is required of us to achieve the successful lives we want?

What’s standing in between us and the achievement of any life-goals we have are:

  1. Knowledge
  2. The understanding we need to use the knowledge we have to adequately pursue our goal.

How you gain the necessary knowledge and understanding starts with asking yourself the right questions.

Self-education means to stop accepting who you already are and start living in a way that embodies who you want to become. 

Take a moment to look at your life.

Are you happy? Are you healthy? Do you have as much money as you want? Do you have fulfilling relationships? Are there aspects of yourself you would like to develop and work on? Are you satisfied with the quality of your life?

If the answer to any of these questions is no,  are you doing anything to push towards any of these goals?

If the answer to THAT is no, then you need to accept that nothing is ever going to change.

If the answer to that is yes, awesome. Is your strategy working?

If your strategy is working, keep pushing.

If your strategy isn’t working, why not? How can you alter your strategy to be more “successful?”

These types of questions are ultimately the only ones that let us see the gap in between who we are and who we want to be. And they’re the same questions that allow us to question how to fill that space.

Start Looking For Answers

Once you’ve narrowed in on what’s missing in your life, pursuit of filling those gaps is the next step.

Three important considerations here:

  1. Circumstances are irrelevant
  2. Books are your best friend
  3. Developing willpower is a huge part of self-education

Why Circumstances Are Irrelevant

What you have, where you are right now and what you’ve accomplished is of no importance. Life isn’t some race that has a finish line. The only end goals are those which you see a need for. It really doesn’t matter what resources you have access to.

It’s a beautiful thing to realize that you can improve and advance no matter where you currently stand. The only requirement is faith in yourself, and pursuit of what you think will enhance the quality of your life.

Why Books Are Your Best Friend

If you don’t give your mind new food to chew on and decide what’s important to digest or spit out then you can’t expect your thoughts or actions to change.

Every single question you have has been in answered in a book somewhere. Self-education is a two-step process that includes learning and acting on that knowledge to see what works for you. Learning requires you to open up your mind through the help of those who came before you.

Here’s a list of 100 books related to different self-help topics.

Why Developing Willpower Is So Important

Nobody holds a gun to your head to help you do the things you think are important.

It doesn’t matter how much you know if you don’t have the will necessary to actively pursue your goals.

Understand this: Good and bad only exist in relation to aim. Whatever helps you push towards any of your goals is GOOD. Whatever hinders you in light of your goals is BAD. Make use of that idea to motivate you.

We easily fool ourselves into justifications for being lazy and making excuses. We can’t lie to our goals. We either take action to pursue them or we let them die and accept who we are.

Like life, there is no linear aspect of self-education.

It comes with learning through reading, and experience through trying. Ultimately, you are responsible for your life. The road is windy, bumpy, and there are an infinite number of red lights and stop signs.

Self-education is about asking the right questions to pinpoint to what’s lacking in your life, understanding and learning about the different ways to fill the holes, and acting on that knowledge. 

So think about what it is your missing in life – what’s standing in between you as you are and what you imagine as a “successful” life for yourself.

Is there ANYTHING more important than educating yourself in a way that let’s you create that life?