Plato said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”
The etymology of invention is “to find out, discovery”.
There is your answer.
When your life must necessarily depend on learning the thing, you will learn it.
Convince yourself that your life depends upon it.
Don’t treat it as a trivial thing.
Fully integrate the goal of learning with survival, with maintaining your well being.
Whenever I feel that my life depends on knowing and understanding a thing, I am fully absorbed, engaged, consumed with focused attention.
This takes some psychological work. It requires imagining your death, physical or ego death, imagining the shame, imagining the failure of embarrassment of not knowing this thing.
It takes practice, but once you learn to integrate the goal of learning with this feeling of existential annihilation, you can tap into endless sustained energy for motivated focus.
See Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s work on learning, specifically flow states.
With the right resistance, with the right existential threat, the right challenge, your entire faculties will rise to the occasion and learn the thing.
Because something is better than nothing.
And something constructive is better than something non-constructive.
Active rather than passive.
You don’t have to “achieve” anything. It’s great if you can.
But focused activity that’s coupled with resistance of any kind, especially if it’s in a creative vein, if it’s activity that’s unique to your existence, an expression of your being, no matter how trivial it seems, is satisfying on an existential level.
More satisfying than passively existing. Passively being. Going with the flow. No resistance. No focus.
You don’t have to “achieve” anything other than doing the thing.
This can be learning.
It can be creating.
It can be yearning, pushing, striving.
I just think that resistance is critical. Some existential tension must exist.
That’s what makes it engaging.
That’s what makes it worthwhile.