This blog post was written for Mental Blank, an education company in Australia.
We’ve all had that class. That boring, soul-sucking, “Why am I learning this?” class. There you are with your big goals and dreams watching life slip by on the words of another boring lecture. The teacher says you’re going to use the information at some point in life, but you know that’s not true. So you check out.
Like millions, I was floored by Ashton Kutcher’s speech at the 2013 Teen Choice Awards. I re-watched it and discovered three tips for achieving dreams even when stuck in a boring class. Watch it now.
Ashton Kutcher Tip #1: Create Opportunity For Yourself
I believe opportunity looks a lot like hard work.
In the speech, Kutcher shares how he worked hard at numerous jobs before becoming an actor and makes the equally important point that he never considered a job beneath him.
If you think a class is boring and has nothing to teach you, you think the class is beneath you.
Kutcher finds this attitude to be self-defeating because when you’re caught up in thinking something is beneath you, you miss the opportunities that may present themselves. Each job provided Kutcher the opportunity that led to another job and eventually to Hollywood fame.
How do you fix it? Take what you want to do and work on it in class. Want to be the next John Green and don’t see how you can do that in physics class? Try writing the most literary and eloquent lab report your teacher has ever seen. I did this once in economics class. Got an essay question so I (the future screenwriter) turned in a short screenplay. Got an ‘A’.
Ashton Kutcher Tip #2: A New Kind of Sexy
Kutcher has a very different definition of “sexy”:
The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart, and being thoughtful, and being generous.
Sexy has to do with the decisions you make and the actions you take.
So in your boring class what are you doing to increase your sexy quotient?
This could look like making sure you pass a class so you don’t have to waste your time repeating it. Kutcher would say that’s being smart.
It could be engaging in class discussions and sharing your ideas and questions (better you talking than the monotone teacher, right?). That’s being thoughtful.
It could also mean offering to help a classmate learn something you already know and they’re struggling with.
Ashton Kutcher Tip #3: Build a Life
Build a life. Don’t live one, build one.
Downer places like Snoozing 101 are the perfect place to turn your daydreaming into life planning. Take whatever the class is giving you, or is remotely interesting to you – free time, an idea, an activity, whatever – and challenge yourself to do something meaningful/creative with it.
I want to learn how to write better and create fun stories people can enjoy and learn from. So when I’m sitting in a boring class, I don’t just take notes. I turn them into ideas for blog articles, meme captions, or smartphone apps.
I do this because I know the teacher isn’t responsible for my success in life. I am. So I take what the teacher gives me, even if it’s just a little, and I think, “How does this help me build my life?”
So this week, when sitting in your boring class ask yourself, “What can I do to build opportunity, increase my sexy factor and build a life worth living?”
Tell us how you’re going to start achieving your dreams in the comments below!