Many years ago I took a course which asked us to define the key roles we have in life and one of the roles I identified was “Lifelong Learner.” That role isn’t unique to just me—we are all lifelong learners or at least we should be. I believe the moment you stop learning is the moment you stop growing, and when you stop growing, you risk a life of stagnation and withering. So when you look at it, learning is an essential aspect of both our personal and professional growth and development and is needed in order to turn who we are today into who we want to be tomorrow.
When I talk about continuous learning or lifelong learning, I’m not suggesting everyone go back to school for a new degree. Rather what I have found is that continuous learning is more about a mindset and a habit that is acted upon each every day. Learning is an active process. When it comes to learning you will never reach a point where you know it all, despite what some say, and you will never live long enough to exhaust all the amazing possibilities of life.
So you how do you become a lifelong learner? I am glad you asked.
Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous and lifelong learning:
- Be curious: What do you wonder about? Curiosity is one of the foundation blocks of learning, no matter what your age. Look around, ask “why” and then set out to discover what it’s all about.
- Create a development plan: Maybe you are one of the lucky ones with a boss who recognizes the great potential just waiting to leap out of you, and has helped you create a development plan. If not, create one on your own. Focus on the goals you want to achieve and the skills you want to develop. Identify the activities and resources needed to accomplish these goals and skills and write them down in a development plan.
- Always have a book: Strive to have a book that you are reading through even if it takes you a year or a week to read. There are many advantages to reading, check out the link below to discover 26 of them and begin your reading adventure today. http://www.persistenceunlimited.com/2007/12/the-26-major-advantages-to-reading-more-books-and-why-3-in-4-people-are-being-shut-out-of-success/
- Utilize the resources available to you: I love all the possibilities the Internet provides for lifelong learning. Use the web to find new material and inspiration. If your job offers training sessions, fully take advantage of those opportunities. They are a great way to grow both professionally and personally.
- Keep a “to learn” list: As a lifetime learner, train yourself to always have something new or different to discover. Invest in your mind, body and soul every day and create an ongoing list of topics, languages, skills, books, etc. you would like to explore.
- Be willing to teach or mentor others: I think sometimes we forget how much we know. Maybe we know something so well we do it automatically. Be willing to give others a hand and teach them what you know. Plus something magical happens when you teach someone something—you begin to understand it better yourself and deepen your mastery of that subject.
- Learn something new each day: Approach life with a beginner’s mindset and look constantly for one new tidbit or a new way to expand your expertise or knowledge. Be open to learning and at the end of the day reflect on what you learned or sometimes maybe even relearned. Journal, meditate or contemplate the ideas you have learned to help ingrain the lessons learned. Then you can decide how to put it into practice.
- Find a job that encourages learning: Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you. Pick a career that encourages lifelong learning and allows you the freedom to grow.
I hope these tips convinced you to make continuous learning not only your new habit, but also a priority in your life. If you choose to adopt this mindset and begin to practice these behaviors, you will put yourself on the road to becoming a successful and passionate lifelong learner.
Enjoy your journey!
As an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Trainer with The Village Business Institute (www.thevbi.org), Dawn Kaiser lives her passion–to energize, encourage and equip others to achieve their highest visions and live their strongest lives. She draws on more than 10 years of experience in the Human Resource/Organizational Development field, a Bachelors of Business Administration from the University of MN Duluth and a Masters of Education from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is also a certified HR Professional.