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Have you ever read something, or seen a video, that inspires you to make some serious changes in your life, only to find yourself still doing what you’ve always done?

Often, if we aren’t putting a great technique or new idea into practice, it is because we have not yet learned the concept properly. When we understand the how and the why of any principle, it becomes much easier to learn.

Nobel Prize-winning Physicist, Dr. Richard Feynman, developed a simple technique that can be used to help anyone learn, and put into practice, even the most difficult concepts.

[Related: Study Less, Study Smart]

Step #1: Have a Concept in Mind

What is a concept you know you should follow, but you have a really hard time doing? Start by clearly defining what you would like to work on to improve your life.

Step #2: Explain in Simple Language

Either write down how this concept works or pretend to give a lecture. Explain it as though you are a teaching a class of third graders. Be sure to use vocabulary that a young child would grasp. This forces you to understand the concept at its core.

Step #3: Look for Gaps in Knowledge

Look for words or phrases that you may be able to use correctly in a sentence, but still do not understand completely. If you cannot explain it simply to your imaginary class, then you do not yet fully understand that concept.

Step #4: Fill in the Gap

After you have determined where your knowledge gap is, research that concept thoroughly. Look for books, articles, or reputable videos that add to your knowledge and make the concept clear.

Step #5: Repeat the Process

Repeat this process over and over again, looking for more knowledge gaps. Eventually, you will be able to explain every nuance of your concept to your imaginary third grade class without falling back onto complex vocabulary as a way of bypassing simple, direct explanation.

[Related: The Power of Habit]

Using the Feynman Technique can help us conquer areas of our life that we have struggled to improve. The process is simple, though it may require some time to do the research required to fill in our knowledge gaps. However, any time spent mastering a new concept is well worth the results that will manifest in our lives.

Talk About It
  1. What is your initial reaction to this topic? What jumped out at you?
  2. What are some concepts you know you should adopt but have struggled to put into practice? Why are these important to you?
  3. Have you had success in starting new habits in the past? What habits? Were you able to keep those habits long term?
  4. Why is it important to be able to explain a concept to a third grader? What is the Feynman Technique really getting at by saying we should be able to do this?
  5. What is an area you would like to try this model on? Why is growing in that area important to you?
  6. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.
Written content for this topic by Jamie Casperson.