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How I Learn

“This is all really interesting, Alan,” you might be saying, “but when and how exactly are you doing all of this?” Great question.

There are a few key rhythms, habits, and principles at the heart of how I like to continue to learn and grow, no matter how busy I am or what season or phase of life I find myself in. Here is that that looks like right now:

A Weekly Rhythm

If it doesn’t really have time in my schedule, it’s not really going to happen. At the moment, I am making a pretty bold leap and setting aside three whole days different things you see in my learning plan: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Saturday is off-limits for tech and for making too many plans or intentions, but still is a big piece of how I expect that my Alt*Div explorations to be tended, and perhaps how more time for music, playing in nature, and reading might happen.

Obviously this varies, week to week, but here is a glimpse of what that looks like:


While Friday is a great all-purpose day for checking in on important relationships, projects, reading, etc. related to my learning goals–and Saturday and Sunday are important for supporting my desire to live into my Alt*Div and my intentions for how I want to be in the world–almost all of the rest of my learning takes the form of projects or work (for example, meetings with my Open Master’s collaborators or my film team), which make up the rest of my work week and the occasional evening event. I am incredibly fortunate that I’ve been able to create a life in which I can so closely align my work projects with my learning goals in this way.

Also, I am also trying to resist the urge to fully book evenings (and my time, in general). My goal is to keep my time 70% booked or less, so that I make more time for regular phone calls to family and friends who I live far aware from.

Seasonal Rhythms

In addition to the above, there are also certain habits that I like to keep each year. I’ve come to expect late December and late August each year to be times in which I can revisit my learning goals, step back from the day-to-day to get some more perspective, check in on what I’ve learned, and write or update things (like this website or blog posts).

These parts of the year also tend to be good moments (July, August, and December) for specific adventures or trainings. This year, I’m especially hoping to find the time and money (inshallah) for:

  • A meditation retreat
  • A Theater of the Oppressed training
  • A Courage and Renewal retreat
  • A Yes! Jam
  • A walking pilgrimage in the British Isles

Social Accountability

Throughout this site I have listed people who are important and close to me that I have explicitly asked (or who have asked me) to be part of different my learning plans in different ways. Some of them take on very active roles; like my partner, and Marien Baerveldt, who very much support my Alt*Div learning and my ongoing quest to live a life in balance. Others play more intermittent roles, like people I can check in with for advice or guidance on which courses to sign up for, or to reflect with. Others are collaborators, learning and growing alongside me on projects.

I am eternally grateful to every person who has inspired, supported, or been part of my learning!

This Site

This site is a great way to organize my learning goals, provide a guide post for how I want to focus my time whenever I have choices to make about how I spend my day, or about bigger choices like what projects I choose to work on, and to also communicate my learning in a way that keeps me accountable and lets me see how I have evolved over time.

For example, you can make a suggestion!

Plus a Healthy Dose of Humble Flexibility

But, I am fully aware that this site does not, nor could it ever, capture every moment that I am learning, or every possible way I might learn. Every day I discover and say yes to new possibilities that are not in this plan. And every year I don’t do things that are on this plan.

Not all learning is intentional, and not all learning is captured, nor could I hope for this site to do that. It doesn’t have to; all maps are metaphors.


Part of learning in this way means acknowledging that learning overlaps in surprising ways all of the time, and learning is not confined to things that look like learning at most schools. I do learn through books and courses, but, as you can see in this plan, my philosophy is that the world is my classroom.

Learning is an ongoing practice and worldview, not a thing that happens in certain locations (e.g. schools) or activities (e.g. reading, online courses) or with certain people (e.g. specified experts, versus the person I just met on the bus). In my view, every encounter, every moment, and every day lived is an opportunity for learning.