Knock-out. That’s how I could describe my state of health over the last few days. Last weekend a cold hit me so hard that I had no choice but laying down at home. It felt like somebody robbed every bit of energy of me, in an instant.

Without any premonition I hit rock bottom and find myself recovering over the last few days. With this sudden knock-out, I realized that going full-speed the whole time isn’t what you want. Sometimes you need to shift 5 gears down, especially when you are an active person always outside, doing sports and meeting friends.

Shifting my focus

So, there I was, unable to live the active life I’m used to. But instead of wanting to do all the stuff I do usually, I was surprised I found myself feeling ok with this situation. It’s like my subconsciousness longed for such a break. But in awareness of the upcoming exams, one of my thoughts was that I could use all the time to learn in order to manage my next exam.

After a few moments I knew this wasn’t what I wanted. Instead, I wanted to use the time to read books and focus on my recovery. To avoid putting pressure on myself and let my body take his time to recover fully.

I decided to try an experiment

Instead of using all the free time for learning for my exam in university, I consciously chose to put in as minimal effort as possible. I focused on effective learning instead of learning lots of hours. During my studying time I focused on what to learn, took breaks and refocused. I knew this exam involved a lot of stuff and three different sub-exams, which made me curious if this experiment has any chance to work out in the end.

Actually, I was surprised how the first exam yesterday turned out. In the beginning I was unsure about the possibility of getting a good grade in this one, but after a few mins of reading the tasks, I figured out that my minimal learning effort has paid off. And I realized that my personal knock-out robbed my will to learn with motivation for my exam in University.

Learning what I want instead of learning what I should

So, instead of learning motivated for university, I learned highly-motivated for myself. I pulled 2 books and read them in the last few days. I read China Study, an interesting book about the usual diet pattern in China in comparison to the one in the USA. And I recently finished Origin, the latest book of Dan Brown, which is also highly-recommendable!

The whole situation still feels kind of surreal. My personal knock-out due to the cold, feels like a recalibration to focus on things more fun for me. The best proof for this is a conversation I had yesterday after the exam. I asked 3 of my colleagues what they will do after they came home. And all had the same answer: “I will eat something and start learning.” I was surprised. I hadn’t imagined that somebody goes straight back to learning after writing an exam in the morning.

I declared that I won’t learn for the rest of the day. 2 of 3 looked at me like they never thought that it is possible to do something else on a Friday afternoon. The third guy laughed and told me that I haven’t his expectations, which is the reason I don’t need to learn that much. And I admitted that I don’t have his expectations toward learning, but rather to living my life. I guess you can imagine how he looked at me.

What did I learn from the past week?

The pareto-principle works! It describes that for 80% of the output of something, you only need 20% of the input of something else. Regarding my exam in this week, it functioned perfectly! I was amazed to see that with my very limited (but focused) learning I managed to answer at least 80% of the questions in the exam.

Another aspect I have learned during the last week is that sometimes a knock-out is all you need. A point where you hit rock bottom and focus on your health and the things that are truly important to you.

And finally, a cold isn’t the end, it can rather be the beginning to something new.

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