Do You Know Where You Are Going?
I remember once me and a friend of mine decided to go hitchhiking. Neither of us had ever hitchhiked before, and we thought it would be fun to go camping that way. We both lived in the dorms, and our college was about fifteen miles away from the coast. Between the college and the coast were several businesses, industrial and residential areas. But on the other side, it quickly turned into pretty much nothing. A few rolling hills here and there, and small pockets of residential neighborhoods, and then desert.
Our plan was to hitch hike east until we found a place that didn’t have very many houses, and then camp out. Of course we prepared ourselves with plenty of water, food that didn’t require cooking. And beer. Lots of beer. After about three hours of hitchhiking, we finally found a suitable place to camp. Or drink until we passed out. Our only requirement was that it was relatively flat, and that it was far enough away from any houses so nobody could see our campfire and call the cops.
I took this seminar once on a weird type of speed-reading. It was called photoreading, and it taught you how to read an entire book in about 3 or 4 minutes. You slowly flipped through all the pages, and let the information soak into your brain without consciously reading it. Of course, you weren’t reading it consciously; you were reading it with your unconscious mind. Then later you could dig into your unconscious memory and pull out any required information that you needed. This was particularly useful for studying, or reading a bunch of books to do a report on something.
One of the things we needed to learn was to state a clear purpose for reading a book.
“I want to read this book to learn specific skills to improve my public speaking.”
“I want to learn specific techniques to nineteenth century Spanish architecture into my building designs.”
“I want to improve my fluency with daily use of French verbs.”
That way when you photoread the book, the elements that addressed your particular needs would stick better, and be easier to retrieve later when you needed them.
A particularly useful skill that we learned was photoreading a bunch of books on one subject, and then allow your unconscious alone to figure out how to incorporate those skills into your daily life. You never had to go back and try to “activate” some of the information if you were going to take a test or write a report. The new skills and behaviors would kind of just “show up” wherever you needed them.
There were a few people at the seminar that were repeat participants, and had used this technique with wild success. One lady photoread a bunch of books on painting techniques, as she was a beginning painter. After that her friends started commenting that her paintings were looking much better, and assumed she was taking lessons, or learning some advanced technique from some master or something.
In reality, all she was doing was photoreading a bunch of books on painting techniques, and the new techniques were just showing up in her paintings. She merely continued to paint as she felt, and the results spoke for themselves.
But before we learned how to do any of this stuff the instructor told us the importance of setting your intention before reading a book. What most people do is they read a book with only a vague hope that it can help them some way. It’s no wonder they have trouble applying what they read. They don’t really know what they were after in the first place.
He told us a funny story to emphasize this point.
There used to be this airline that was really cheap. You didn’t need reservations, and the planes always had seats available. They had several flights a day, so you could pretty much hop on a flight whenever you wanted. They were more than willing to sell you a ticket. The only problem was you never knew where they were going. The reason the tickets were so cheap was that the airplanes navigation systems were messed up. The pilots didn’t know how to program the destination. They sort of fiddled around with the buttons, and hoped they ended up somewhere decent. Sometimes they did, but other times they ended up in the middle of nowhere, and the passengers were left stranded on some frozen cornfield.
Of course, the airplane is you, and the pilot is your goals and choices. If you sort only know where you are going, with some vague hope that it will turn out ok, then maybe you’ll be ok, or maybe you’ll end up stranded on some frozen cornfield. Which we can all agree would pretty much suck.
I learned a lot from that seminar. They do have a book you can get at Amazon, called “Photoreading,” or you can get the home study course from Learning Strategies Corporation. Or you can take the whole seminar, like I did. It cost about three or four hundred bucks, but it was well worth it. Once you take it, you can take it as many times as you want after that, for free. If you Google “Photoreading,” you’ll find lots of pages to help you.
And probably the coolest thing about my hitchhiking camping trip is that after we finally got to our spot, and camped out without any problems from the cops, we started hiking back towards the highway to see if we could hitch a ride home. And this guy in limo picked us up. No joke. He had just dropped off a client, and was driving his limo back to his shop, and picked us up along the way. That was a fun trip. You never know how you’re going to end up with you start out like this.