How to Change Your Life: The Power of Experience

To change your life, you need to know what shapes it. Well, what does shape it?

The answer is actually, very, very simple, and there are just two major things. Humans are a product of their environment and their experiences. Last week, I wrote an article about how one’s environment plays an important role in life. An example of this is Sherman Alexie, a Native American author. As most Native Americans do, he lived on a reservation and many of his friends did not read very well. However, Sherman’s father loved books, and so Sherman was surrounded by books. Because of this, he read, and read, and read, and was able to read “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck… in third grade. If you want to check out the article I wrote, click here.

Now, what about one’s experiences? The most drastic example I can find is Revan — the main character from Lucasfilm’s 2001 video game hit, Knights of the Old Republic, and without a doubt one of the most beloved characters in all of the lore. Let me explain — Revan was a kind Jedi, who’s only goal was to help those in need. Eventually, when the Mandalorians began to invade the Republic, Revan and his allies went rogue in order to stop the chaos. However, in order to defeat the Mandalorians, Revan was forced to use darker military tactics, such as knowingly letting a Mandalorian offensive occur, killing many civilians in order to spur his troops. Soon, he fell to the dark side. But, his story isn’t over quite yet — he was later captured by the Jedi, his memories were erased, and he reverted to his kind ways. It was as if his experience of fighting a war was wiped from his system.

The Mandalorian Wars fundamentally changed Revan (although he was later changed back), and even though the experience was negative, this puts into perspective how powerful experiences can be. Harnessing them can be critical in order to become a better learner, more productive, and improve the quality of your work.

The best way to do this is to break down the word experience into two subcategories: daily experience and long-term experience.

Say for example, that everyday, you make a commitment to do x hours of work. That’s a daily experience. Over time, these will compound into long term experiences. Long term experience is where you really change, but you can’t have long term experience without daily experience. Note that there are exceptions: very jarring short term experience can change you fundamentally as well, such as a loved one dying or witnessing the horrors of war.

However, most events and experiences can’t be controlled by you, as you can’t control the actions of others. You can, however, put yourself in a place where your experiences are more likely to coincide with your goals. This is the key.

It can be as simple as turning off notifications for social media, or finding a study-buddy, or deleting that video game — it’s really based on what you’re trying to achieve.

What I did:

First, I did a little bit of self-reflection. What do I want to achieve? Where do I waste most of my time? How can this be nullified? Once I was satisfied, I got to work. I turned off Discord and YouTube notifications, as that is where I wasted most of my time. I found a friend who would keep me accountable to my actions. We meet every Friday to discuss what we’ve done, what we can do better, and how we can accomplish our goals. I’ve also started time-blocking my Google Calendar. Frankly, it’s bonkers. Just by formulating my day, and seeing what I need to do throughout, I have seen such amazing results. Already, I’ve been noticing that my short term experiences have been becoming more productive, and although it’s too early to reflect on long-term experiences, I know that if I stay the course, I’ll be better off.

What You Can Do:

As I said before, its important to self-reflect. It’s like looking at a map: you figure out your destination, and which road to take in order to get there. Implementation can be a bit more tricky. You should’ve thought of what you want to do during the self-reflection phase, but it can still be hard to take the steps. It’s important to remind yourself what your goals really are, and how far you’re willing to go to reach them. Once you’ve done this, your daily experiences will be more akin to your goals — after a while, they’ll compound into noticeable results. Cheers!

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