a free virtual workshop for self-directed learners

“I felt very accomplished during this workshop. It is encouraging to know that there are other people like me out there who have the same problems with procrastination and getting things done. Knowing that I am not alone was a motivator for me.”

– Odessa, 16 years old. Virginia, USA. Launchpad 2017

Kick-start your self-directed learning

LET’S FACE IT: getting things done as a self-directed learner can be hard. You get inspired, you start working on something, and then… you get distracted, lose focus, or give up.

When you’re casually exploring new interests, this “dabbling” approach is the right one. But when you really want to make something happen—to finish a big project, complete an ambitious goal—a new approach is warranted.

IF YOU WERE IN SCHOOL, you might have someone else to motivate you. Someone to hold you accountable. Someone who wouldn’t let you quit. But as a self-directed learner, you’ve got to to provide these things for yourself. Your world is rich with freedom and opportunities waiting to be seized. That’s what this workshop is all about.

For three weeks, Unschool Adventures director Blake Boles will guide you through the process of getting stuff done as a self-directed learner. This will include:

  • setting extremely clear and accomplishable goals for yourself
  • navigating your first dip in enthusiasm (and second, and third…)
  • creating accountability mechanisms to help you do what you say you’ll do
  • eliminating the distractions that keep you from your most important work
  • recruiting a support group who will inspire you to keep working when things get hard

THIS WORKSHOP IS NOT FOR EVERYONE. We designed it for young self-directed learners who are ready to get focused, work hard, and make something big happen in their lives. If this is you—then welcome to Launchpad!


Launchpad is a 19-day workshop. You may begin anytime!


This is an email-based workshop. Join from anywhere!


Launchpad is designed for ages 14-21, but there is no formal age restriction.


$100 $25 FREE
We previously charged for Launchpad; now it’s a gift.

Ready to Start?

Register anytime—the workshop begins the next day!

(If you’re flexible, we recommend registering on a Sunday to begin the course on Monday.)

“Launchpad gave me a great framework to use for goal setting and achievement. I’m a very indecisive person and I think that the strategies presented by the program really worked for me.”

– Abby, age 20. Rhode Island, USA. Launchpad 2017

“My daughter got so much out of Launchpad—she delved deep into it despite us being on an epic family trip through Europe—and came away with a lot of clarity about herself, and her dreams, and new decision making skills. Thanks for creating this opportunity!”

– Nicole, parent. Launchpad 2017

How it Works

Launchpad is a 19-day, email-based virtual workshop. Join from anywhere in the world with only a smartphone.

Daily Email Lessons

Each morning you’ll receive an email from U.A. director Blake Boles that explains a new part of the Launchpad process: how to choose manageable goals, stay on track, manage distractions, avoid procrastination, and much more. You’ll also receive links to recommended articles, videos, and chapters from Blake’s book The Art of Self-Directed Learning (included with the workshop) to go deeper into the material.

Practical Challenges

Launchpad is about doing, not just thinking. Each email includes a new practical challenge where you’ll put the day’s lesson to use. Most challenges involve writing, and some also involve drawing or taking a photograph. (Don’t worry, no artistic skills required!) Each challenge requires 30-60 minutes. If you fall behind, don’t worry—you can always review the previous emails and catch up. But to get the most out of the workshop, we suggest that you complete each by the day’s end!

Instagram Sharing

The best part about Launchpad is: You’re not alone! You can join our international community of self-directed young people by sharing the results of your daily challenges on Instagram using the hashtag #UAlaunchpad. (Click here to browse all previous posts.) Sharing on Instagram isn’t just fun—it serves as an important way to keep yourself accountable, find inspiration from other workshop members, and to inspire others yourself.

The Final Challenge

In the first two weeks, you’ll focus on one small goal to complete by the end of the workshop. Then, in the final few days, you’ll choose a bigger, more ambitious goal that you want to complete in the next few months and take your first step toward completing it. You’ll leave Launchpad with clear intentions, a burst of motivated energy, and a new toolkit for following your dreams—ready to get stuff done as a self-directed learner.

Lesson Previews

Week 1

Day 1: Brainstorming, Round 1
Day 2: Brainstorming, Round 2
Day 3: Getting Specific
Day 4: Building a Support Team
Day 5: Getting a Second Opinion
Day 6: Committing
Day 7: Sharing your Commitment (mellow day)

Week 2

Day 8: The Launchpad Principles
Day 9: Resistance and Distraction
Day 10: Social Accountability, Round One
Day 11: Procrastination
Day 12: Deep Work vs. Shallow Work
Day 13: Social Accountability, Round Two
Day 14: And Now for Something Totally Different (mellow day)

Week 3

Day 15: Perfectionism
Day 16: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose
Day 17: Wrapping Up and Restarting
Day 18: Pre-Mortem
Day 19: Victory, Recap, and The Next Step

Example Emails

Excerpts from the beginning of two actual Launchpad emails

“[My son] really appreciated the course. He was motivated to do each daily objective and the process helped him get a perspective of how to unravel his passions, goals and barriers and plan a way forward. Enlisting support persons was also a very valuable experience. I completed the recommended reading and video selections and thought the content was very good and extremely useful.”

– Deanne, parent. Launchpad 2017

Behind the Scenes

Blake Boles

Blake is the creator of Launchpad, the founder of Unschool Adventures, and the author of three books about self-directed learning for teens and young adults—most recently The Art of Self-Directed Learning. As someone who has faced the challenges of staying productive as a self-directed learner (and self-employed person) for most of his adult life—and someone who works regularly with young people struggling with self-motivation—Blake brought together his all-time favorite research, readings, and practical advice to create Launchpad (read more).

Margie Sanderson

Margie is a lifelong autodidact, long-time member of the Not Back to School Camp community, and a former staff member of the Philadelphia Free School. As a young adult possessing a depth of experience supporting other self-directed learners, Margie helped Blake develop the email lessons and served as Community Manager for the first Launchpad Live workshop.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much time does the workshop take?

Expect to spend between 30-60 minutes on each day’s challenge, whenever it works with your schedule. Days 7 and 14 are “mellow” days with less time-consuming challenges.

What if I already have a specific goal in mind?

The first week of Launchpad focuses on generating lots of ideas for a goal, following certain goal-setting guidelines, refining your ideas, choosing the the best one, and committing to it. This is a vital part of the Launchpad process, and it’s one that your should embrace to get the full experience! If you come into the workshop already committed to a certain goal (and not willing to consider alternatives), Launchpad might not be for you.

What’s included with the workshop?

Launchpad includes a new email lesson each day (19 total) and a digital copy of The Art of Self-Directed Learning by Blake Boles (in PDF, Kindle, and epub formats so that you may read it on any device). Please note that personal support (e.g., one-on-one emails) is not offered.

What equipment do I need?

All you need is a smartphone that is capable of running Instagram.

Do I have to do all the challenges?

To get the most out of the workshop, we encourage you to do everything—especially by posting Instagram photos—but fundamentally it’s up to you.

I live outside North America, can I still join?

Yes, we’d love to have you! You may join from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. The daily emails are sent around 1:00am Pacific Standard Time / 4:00am Eastern Standard Time.

How do I setup my Instagram?

If you’re new to Instagram, it’s easy to sign up (click here). If you already have an account, you can use that one, or if you want to create a second Instagram account just for this course, that’s also easy (click here).

Ready to Start?

Register anytime—the workshop begins the next day!

(If you’re flexible, we recommend registering on a Sunday to begin the course on Monday.)

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