The Only Study Hack You’ll Ever Need: Purpose

If you hate studying, if you feel like you can’t concentrate, if you’re tired of being average, I’d like to tell you one thing:

It’s okay. I used to be like you. You can change.

The one thing I now know that’s brought me from where you were to where I am now is why I study. And it’s made all the difference.

(I sit on the floor a lot)

Here’s a timeline of my college history to illustrate.

2010, March:

Graduated with the 2nd best high school diploma. No idea what to do with my life, but since I was good at school, more school seemed to make sense. Wanted to make lots of money and study “something with business.”

(the school principal handing me one of the prizes)

Asked my uncle, who’s a partner at a big consulting company, what to do, he said: Get a degree in Industrial Engineering & Management. So I did.

2010, October:

Started school at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. Realized within 3 months that the workload was insane and that the glory days of breezing through school were over.

2011, March:

After working 50+ hrs a week the entire semester, I passed 8 exams with an average grade of B. Decided attending classes was useless (not mandatory in Germany).

(the nights at the library were long)

2011, October:

Same workload, just learned everything through self-study. End result? All B’s. Decided I’d now find the right mix.

2012, March:

After going only to the classes where it made sense (and postponing the 2 most difficult exams of the degree), I had the perfect hybrid system. End result: all B’s — AGAIN. WTF?!

2012, October:

I escape to the US for an exchange semester at UMASS Dartmouth, 1 hour south of Boston. I manage to arrange taking 2 math and 2 statistics classes, which would let me replace the 2 exams I was afraid of in Germany.

New England is awesome!

2012, November:

In spite of doing all the homework, keeping up with classes, and getting mostly As so far, I somehow have a TON of time on my hands to travel with other exchange students, go to parties, etc. Starting to wonder if the German system is messed up.

2012, December:

I start waking up at 5 AM, reading lots of blogs and books and working on my habits. Read The Alchemist. Pretty convinced consulting is NOT the right gig for me at this point.

(those 5 AM sunrises were magnificent)

2013, January:

I extend my stay through the Spring term, decide to travel more and find myself.

2013, May:

After returning home, I have been to 20 US states, Canada and Mexico. I throw out all of my stuff. I think college is BS and want to start a business, but have no idea how.

2014, February:

Having barely made it through my last exams, I still have my thesis ahead of me. Naturally, I decide to procrastinate with a 6-month internship and end up at BMW M in Munich.

(not the worst day at work)

2014, September:

A taste of the corporate world has shown me how comfortably you can breeze along and make money, but also that it’d bore me to death. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and write my entire thesis in 4 days.

2014, October:

Degree done! I decide to take a 1-year break to do my own thing. I start a blog, translating service and coaching people right away.

2015, June:

Freelancing is hard, but writing is fun. I know I want to work for myself long-term, but that I’ll have to build it on the side, because I’m not that great at being an entrepreneur. I apply to business school for a graduate degree in Mannheim, but get turned down.

2016, June:

After another year of freelancing and starting to see first results with an online business, I get accepted at Technical University of Munich for a Master’s degree in Management & Technology.

(let’s start over — again)

2017, February:

I work a lot. I spend most of my waking minutes on either school, writing, or making money on my own. I could not have more fun. My first semester’s gone well. I’ve taken more exams on the side than most of my fellow, full-time students and gotten better grades. Now that I know what I’m up to, it’s easy.

Here’s why I study:

  • The degree is free, yet I will make 50% more money for the same amount of work after I complete it.
  • Thanks to the work I’ve done over the past 2 years, I can now pay my own way through it, and don’t have to rely on my parents to pay for me. I still have more time to write than with a full-time job. It’s a fun challenge to study and work at the same time.
  • As long as I’m a student, I pay less taxes, less health insurance, less money for transportation, etc. It’s practical.

My college degree is a small puzzle piece that will feed into my dream: becoming a full-time writer.

It’s one part challenge, one part paranoia about money and one part practicality, and I’m okay with that.

It took me 5 years to figure all this out. But now that I know, doing whatever it takes has become easy.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. These things take time.

Just never stop digging. Eventually, you’ll hit the treasure chest with your hidden why inside.

Once you do, the right actions will naturally follow. And if the right action is studying, it will be the easiest thing in the world.