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10 Things I Learned in 2020

My name is Jim Kwik, the founder of Kwik Brain Universe, author of the best-selling book LIMITLESS and host of the #1 brain performance podcast, Kwik Brain. I am a world leading expert in speed-reading, memory improvement, brain performance, and accelerated learning. After a childhood brain injury left me learning-challenged, I made it my life’s mission to create strategies to dramatically enhance mental performance. Once I was able to turn my own learning challenges around, I dedicated my life to helping people like you unleash your true genius and brainpower to learn anything faster and live a life of greater power, productivity, and purpose.

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What has 2020 taught us?

There is no way we could have known or prepared for the year we’ve had. We are experiencing a unique moment in history. And with the New Year ahead, I wanted to share some of the learning and re-learning this year has brought. 

In this episode, I want to reflect on this past year. I discuss the significance of kindness, the impact of giving, the value of novelty, and so much more. As we look back, I hope you realize you are the greatest project you’ll ever work on. 

Sleep easy knowing that you can handle whatever this new year throws at you. And as always, may your days be filled with lots of life, lots of love, lots of laughter, and lots of learning.

Happy New Year!

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"Eventually, your little choices are going to become habits that affect the bigger decisions that you make in your life."


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  • We are experiencing a unique moment in history that has disrupted nearly every area of our lives. When there is a lot to process — work, family, health, the world, life in general — our brains can easily become overwhelmed.
  • We’ve received an influx of emails from our community around the world ranging from fear, anxiety, and uncertainty to hope and positivity.
  • As your brain coach, I am very concerned with the pressure of an overstressed brain and the impact that it could have on your health, productivity, performance, and peace of mind.
  • As a result, I’d like to share 10 things that I learned and relearned in 2020. I hope that these will serve as reminders and help you to better navigate this new year.

If you are one of our students, use this as an opportunity to practice your memory tools. Memorize the 10 things as if you were going to teach someone else and give a TED Talk about it. Use one of the following methods:

  • Location method
  • Chainlinking
  • The body method
  • Your home list
  • Your sun list


  • The power of kindness
    1. We all know people who are personally struggling and suffering from something. The truth is, none of us really know how much someone is hurting. You could be standing by or walking right past someone who feels completely broken, possibly facing the greatest battle of their lives and never know it.
    2. Adversity and challenges allow us to feel more empathy and helps us realize that kindness is a superpower. So be kind always.
    3. Kindness is free, so we should be sprinkling that stuff everywhere.
  • The importance of being kind to ourselves
    1. Studies on self-compassion have shown that if you want performance, peace of mind, and the ability to follow through, there needs to be less hatred and beating yourself up and more of being accepting and kind to yourself.
    2. You are only human and we are facing interesting times. If you did not work out or eat the best food today, it’s ok.
    3. By choosing to be kind to yourself you become more likely to follow through.
    4. Remember that part of being kind to yourself is: self-love and self-care is not selfish. Fall in love with the person in the mirror who has been through so much but is still standing. Radical self-love and self-care are important.
    5. Part of self-love and self-care includes placing borders and boundaries around what is important to you. Be sure that when you are saying yes to someone or something that you aren’t saying no to yourself.
    6. You do not have to fix everything that is broken. You do not have to make every single person happy. You desire and deserve time to recover, refresh, and rejoice!
  • It’s ok to ask for help
    1. Some people view emotional and mental pain as less traumatic than physical pain. I think it is more common that people are going through mental and emotional pain than physical.
    2. It is just as hard or harder to bear when facing something mental or emotional. It is typically easier to say “my stomach hurts” than it is to say “my heart hurts” or “my spirit is broken.”
    3. The frequent attempt to deny or suppress internal pain can create future burden and further increase the heaviness.
    4. Nobody is an island. Together everyone achieves more. Asking for help in challenging times is a sign of strength because it takes courage.
    5. Get the help you need because if you want to fly and soar in the new year, you need help to be able to let go of what weighs you down. It’s not all yours to carry.
  • We have the ability to adapt
    1. I’m completely inspired and amazed by how we have been able to adapt during this time. So many of you have adapted to remote work, remote learning, cocooning, and choosing not to cling to what was, as opposed to embracing what is.
    2. Humans are the ultimate adaptation machines. With challenge, comes change.
    3. If your environment is not challenging enough for you, remember to challenge yourself.
    4. If you are afraid of change that comes from challenge, try this mental experiment:
    5. What if I told you 1, 2, 5, or 10 years from now, life would be exactly the same. There was no change, no transformation, and no progress. Would that make you happy?
    6. Using these questions is very important because it uses something we can control. Control the controllable.
    7. Part of what you control is what you are concentrating on at any given time.
    8. Don’t fear change, be an agent to drive it to where you want to go. Don’t make it overwhelming.
    9. In my book, Limitless, I talk about “S3”, which equals “small, simple steps”. What’s the tiniest thing you could do right now to make positive progress?
    10. Eventually, your little choices are going to become habits that affect the bigger decisions that you make in your life. Adaptation is key.
  • The power of gratitude
    1. Maybe 2020 was not the year that we got all we wanted; maybe this was the year that we appreciated everything that we have.
    2. You’ve heard me say this before that Einstein and Leonardo Da Vinci used to do thought experiments and you have the same power.
    3. If you want to feel rich try this thought experiment:
    4. Count all the things you have in your life that money can’t buy.
    5. What if the only things you had tomorrow were the only things you expressed gratitude for today?
    6. Take a breath and do this exercise.
    7. Remember that what you appreciate in your life, appreciates —  it grows.
    8. If you are grateful for what you have then you will have more of it.
    9. You do not have to wait for a greater life to be grateful. Be grateful and you will have a greater life.
  • The power of giving
    1. When you feel like there is enough then you have an abundance mentality that allows you to give to others.
    2. You don’t give to get, you give because it’s just who you are.
    3. Chronic stress shrinks the brain, chronic fear suppresses our nervous system, but contribution can be the antidote to fear.
    4. The service of others is like the ultimate purpose. Everything in nature gives.
    5. It’s not just about me, it’s about we. When you give, you teach your nervous system that there is enough.
    6. So many people have stepped up in 2020 to support the people around them.
    7. We donated much of our proceeds from the book to women’s Alzheimer’s research, in memory of my grandmother, and education for children.
    8. You learn to earn so you can return.
  • The power of a growth mindset
    1. Our minds just like our spirits were built to explore, play, and learn. We are wired for growth.
    2. Your brain grows, neuroplasticity, through novelty and nutrition. Check out one of our recent episodes about how food affects the brain.  
    3. So many people are concerned about what they are going to eat between Christmas and New Years’ when they should be thinking about what they will eat between New Years’ and Christmas.
    4. Try something new every single day. Embrace novelty.
    5. Life could get extremely boring if we stay within the limits of what we already know. We grow by stretching ourselves.
    6. As you are going on this path of growth, do not compare yourself to anyone but your best self. It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress.
  • Practice building grit
    1. You are going to face adversity and difficulty in life. I’m so impressed by not only your ability to adapt but your ability to persevere.
    2. One of the most important keys to achievement is having the drive and discipline to do what you know you are supposed to do, especially when you don’t feel like doing it.
    3. Your ability and willingness to do difficult things actually makes your life easier. If you just do the easy things, life gets really hard. It’s easy to procrastinate and go into unconscious habits.
    4. It’s not about being fearless, it’s about moving forward despite your fears. Often the treasure we seek is hidden in the work that we are avoiding.
    5. Sometimes what you are most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free. Intelligent, consistent action cures most everything, especially the fear itself.
    6. When you do what others won’t you can live how others can’t. Work hard, stay humble.
  • Adopt harmony
    1. Life is less about balance and more about harmony.
    2. It’s like an orchestra where not every instrument gets the same amount of playing time but they come together and create this incredible art.
    3. Life is persistence and patience, execution and empathy, sacrifice and service, it’s fortitude and faith, it’s hustle and humility, it’s grit and it’s grace.
    4. Remember to seek harmony around the things that matter most and create your own art.
  • The importance of dreams
    1. It’s so important to encourage dreaming with our loved ones and our teams. This is not the time to shrink.
    2. We are wired to think big and dream big. That’s how transformation, invention, and innovation happens.
    3. The future belongs to the creators and what’s limitless is our ability to create.
    4. Creating the life you want can be scary but regret is scarier.
    5. One day, you will take your final breaths, and no one else’s opinions or your fears will matter. What will matter is how you loved, how you learned, and how you lived.
    6. Let your dreams be bigger than your fear. Let your actions be louder than your words. Let your faith be stronger than your feelings.
    7. Do not downgrade your dreams to fit this current situation, upgrade your mindset, motivation, and methods to meet your destiny.
  • Bonus: The value of togetherness
    1. How do you become limitless in a limited world? We do it together.


  • Realize that there is a version of yourself that you haven’t met yet. Keep showing up until you are introduced.
  • Be too optimistic to scare. Be too positive to doubt. Be too determined to be defeated.
  • Remember, you are the greatest project you will ever work on. Make time, take time, create magic.
  • May you sleep easy tonight knowing that you can handle whatever this year throws at you. May you wake up each day with your mind energized and inspired. May you move in the direction of your dreams. May you discover beauty in those small moments. May you laugh, may you love, and may you always learn.
  • Wishing you lots of life, lots of love, lots of laughter, and lots of learning. Happy New Year!


  • Take a screenshot of this episode, tag me on social media (@JimKwik), and share your greatest “aha!” moment from this episode with us.
  • Share one lesson that you have learned or relearned in 2020.
  • Get my book, Limitless, here.


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