DAY 17: Build Your Vocabulary - Learn a New Word and Use It
Take note: your vocabulary can be an extremely powerful asset, or your worst enemy.
The way you express yourself – verbally — tends to define who you are and where you’re from. Kind of like how you can tell what part of the country, or world, someone grew up in just based from their accent. Or how you assume an intelligence level from a person’s ability (or lack of) to read, write, and/or speak.
IT MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE, for lack of better words.
Here are 3 reasons why you should work on improving your vocabulary:
1) You will feel smarter, and come across as more intelligent.
- Can you think of someone who’s “well spoken” that you wouldn’t consider smart? I can’t.
2) You will become more persuasive in every conversation.
- Ever met a gifted salesperson who didn’t have a special way with words? I haven’t.
3) You will dramatically increase your academic and future career success.
- Do you think CEO’s got to where they are with sub-par communication skills? I don’t.
Honestly, do yourself a favor and take this seriously – it’s one of the best investments you can make in yourself. Here’s several tactics that have worked for us:
The Word of the Day
Highly recommend just subscribing to the “Word of the Day” from Dictionary.com — it’s short, simple, and sweet… while you may not recall all words (actually, you won’t, so don’t pressure yourself), some of them will stick. Over time, that will grow into 1–2 new words a week, or 50–100 new words per year.
A trick: try to use the selected word in a conversation throughout the day, even if you have to force it. For me, if I can use it at least 3 times (extremely manageable and easy), there’s a good chance I just locked that word up for later use.
Look Up What You Don’t Know
Seriously, I can’t stress this enough. Typically when we come across a word we don’t know in a book, article, or even hearing it, we can deduce its meaning through context… right? So then we don’t take the time to actually look up the definition. This is a bad habit to get into! Look up what the word actually means (actually, a decent amount of time you’ll find it was used incorrectly, wonder how that happened?).
A trick: if I come across a word I don’t know, I will add it to my “Definition Diary” (for me, it’s in my personal journal, but you can make something similar in Evernote or a Word Document). Every week, I’ll go back through the list and write (type) the definitions of newly added words, and briefly go through words from the past. Give it a shot, you’ll notice your vocabulary sky rocketing!
Start Reading and Writing on a Regular Basis
Even if it’s only reading for 20 minutes or writing a brief paragraph in a personal journal every day, this little effort greatly enhances your retention of new words.
A trick: most shy away from reading and writing habitually because they view it as a chore, or if you’re like me, you don’t want to get started on something without being able to reach a benchmark before finishing. For reading, this is usually designated as a chapter, and in writing maybe a page. This can be discouraging when you might read slower (me, deliberately) or can’t think of what to write about, because it will take “forever”. That’s why I recommend setting a time limit on it, like 20 minutes. This way you’re not putting too much pressure on yourself to speed through something and eventually it will become a habit for you.
We took a minor hiatus from this series, but now we’re back. Be on the lookout for new challenges over the next few weeks — you can also follow the updated series of posts here.
Also, be sure to print out and hang up your Challenge Checklist so you can keep track. You’ll get a sneak peak at what’s to come, but can get further details with the post associated with each day.
Remember, legends are constantly improving themselves, so it’s up to you to work hard in accomplishing each daily task to help you become the legend on your campus.
Good Luck!Follow @tlegendc
Have any unique words in mind that most people don’t know? Do you know of any commonly misused words? We would love to hear about them in the comments below!