“Metacognition” is basically thinking . . . about thinking.
For example, how should we think about climate change? Clearly there are things we should think about, and things we shouldn’t. I don’t really care what those are, but you get the point. It’s basically the rules that govern the things we think about.
So what are the rules that govern . . . the rules themselves?
Mind blowing, I know.
Essentially, I’m talking about understanding how our mind works and then using it in an effective manner to achieve our goals.
Now, since everyone has different goals, just listing tips and tricks won’t do anything for anybody. It’s all about learning how to get to those tips and tricks on your own that differentiates those who succeed from those who don’t.
To distill our information, however, I’ve found that we need to follow two maxims:
- Understand stuff
- Remember stuff
When we go through life, we’re going to face problems.
For example, how to choose a career path.
We then look for information. We narrow our information pool to the 20% that will give us 80% of our benefit. Then we brute force read that 20%.
We find books like “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” & advice like do something that’s “Smart, Useful & Happy.”
This is where most people stop, however. They find good information, and then do nothing.
This is when we need to move into the next phase:
Knowing what is correct isn’t enough. Remembering is. We all know what the right food to eat is, but when it comes down to the moment we need to remember, we choose ice cream instead.
Remembering isn’t just the ability to bring back information when you need it. To reach that point, we need to hammer the information into our heads in the first place.
And while there may be effective methods of doing that instead of rote memorization, that doesn’t it make it less effortful.
So, remembering stuff—at the end of the day—is about feeling closely connected to the information that matters, so connected, in fact, that you wouldn’t be able to conceive any other way of doing it.
. . . until, of course, new information was released that voided what we knew.
In summary, metacognition is about:
- finding what’s important to you
- understanding how to think about it
- remembering how to think about it (connecting to the information)
- Repeat steps 1-3
Steps 1 and 4 are what enable us to use metacognition in the first place (2 and 3), and while it is a means of thinking about thinking, it’s required knowledge in order to enable “metacognition strategies”—tactics that allow us to understand things and remember them—and are thus separate from the two maxims. They could, in hindsight, be considered a form of thinking about metacognition i.e meta-metacognition.
Metacognition is important to understand because with it, we can find effectiveness in self-improvement. We will understand topics quickly and then just as quickly incorporate them into our lives.
If we can do this to all the areas of our lives that are important to us, we can quickly find ourselves living a life drastically improved from the life we started our journey from.
And if we can reach a point where the journey of self-improvement creates change that surprises our expectations, we may just find ourselves with the power to dream larger than we had ever hoped to dream.
What could be a greater gift for our weary anxiety-ridden souls?