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Pausing for a Sense of Wonder Can Boost Learning and Goal Achievement

SK Camille
7 min readAug 1, 2021

Feeling a sense of wonder about learning or pursuing a goal is a way of celebrating in advance — and it can help you get there, too.

Outside my house there’s a long, steep set of stairs to the top of a hill. Up there, you can sit at a picnic table and look out on a beautiful view: green hills, little white houses, and beyond them, the ocean.

When I moved here six months ago, I was so out of shape I couldn’t walk up those stairs without stopping to rest. I avoided them, because it was unpleasant.

But a couple days ago, I realized I was quick-stepping up them all the way to the top. A lot of strenuous walking and Pilates had paid off.

You often hear people say nobody ever really changes, but they do. Those changes might not, in most cases, go deep into who we are.

But they do happen, and when they do, it’s a minor miracle — bringing good things into our reach that had been impossible before.

Any major undertaking will change you through the effort and effects on your life. It will affect those around you as well, because they’ll experience the changed you in their world.

Learning something new, specifically, means you’re creating lots of positive changes:

  • Change in the contents of your brain, obviously — with positive impacts on cognitive function.
  • Change in your identity — e.g., learn to play the guitar, and now you’re a guitarist.
  • Change in your potentials — learn a new language, and now you can talk to millions more people (maybe fall in love with one of them, a person you never could have met before). Learn some math, and now you can be an engineer, a physicist, a mathematician, a math teacher, etc. etc. And so on.
  • Change in your activities — you’ll become able to do things you couldn’t do before, and you probably will do them. Your changed identity will lead you to opportunities you might not have imagined before you started.
  • Change in your opinions, possibly — based on your new knowledge and broader scope of experience.

The role of desire

SK Camille

I cover general-interest professional topics in clear, actionable briefs. I also write about change, growth, and faith with warmth and optimism.