Lifelong learning is a common passion for all readers and authors of this blog. While researching the materials for the new posts I found several very well written and refreshing articles on Open Colleges site. While reading I got an email. Opening the email I saw the name of one of the authors I enjoyed reading, and she offered to write for this blog. This article addresses some of the most basic and foundational skills of lifelong learning. We tend to ignore the basics trying to learn exciting advanced skills, and it takes a good writer to remind us of that.
Becoming a lifelong learner seems like a high aspiration, but it doesn’t need to be. It doesn’t have to overtake all of your other responsibilities, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Lifelong learning can become a part of your day to day if you’re looking for something to enrich your life, and it’s relatively easy to implement as a vital practice.
Why You Should Care About Lifelong Learning
People cite all sorts of reasons about why lifelong learning is important to them, but there are a few core elements of the process that will ring true for everyone. Lifelong learning is about becoming the best possible version of yourself that you can be. The more you know, the more you’re equipped to handle. It leads to greater levels of independence, as well as the satisfaction that comes with that independence.
1. Discover Your Personal Learning Style
Everyone has a different learning style. If the style you’re pursuing is counterintuitive to the way you absorb information, you’re going to find the process to be less than productive and more daunting than necessary. Figure out whether you’re a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner. Receive material in a manner that makes sense to you. It will be easier to absorb, and the process will be more engaging.
2. Choose Subjects That Interest You
There’s no point in learning about things you don’t care about. If you’ve been passionate about mechanical engineering or marine biology for the entirety of your life, birdwatching or welding aren’t going to satisfy that same need. Unless you’re attempting to become certified or obtain a higher degree that requires you to work on elective courses that don’t particularly feed into your interests, learn about things for which you have an innate passion. It will motivate you to keep going.
3. Schedule Your Learning Time
We all lead busy lives, and sometimes, this leads to things that aren’t imperative to our survival falling by the wayside. If you truly want to commit yourself to lifelong learning, you’re going to need to make an effort to plug it into your schedule. It needs to be as important as doing the laundry or mowing the lawn. Even if you can only set aside a few hours a week, you’re making more progress than you would have been otherwise.
4. Set Reasonable Goals
Even the easiest things in the world feel unachievable if you’re setting unreasonable goals. You won’t master a trade in a day, a month, or perhaps even a year. A combination of true patience and charting your goals will help you achieve your quest to learn without making things feel impossible. Progress is progress, no matter the speed or intensity at which it comes.
5. Find a Way to Apply Your Knowledge
You don’t want to forget the things you’ve learned, or feel as though you’ve wasted your time learning them. Applying the things you’ve learned is the ultimate reward of lifelong learning – it’s what you have to show for all of your efforts. Even long after you’ve become comfortable in your knowledge, you should find a way to apply it practically in your everyday life. Teaching or mentoring, as well as creating tutorials, can help you retain all of the things you’ve learned.
It’s important to remember that everyone learns in their own way and at their own pace. Don’t measure yourself against other learners – you don’t know where they face obstacles and how those obstacles are different from your own. Learning is something you should do for yourself, and no matter how you do it, it’s scintillating to know that you’re growing as a person.
About the author:
Sarah Davies is a self-established lifelong learner and a huge fan of self-development. Currently, she is supporting Open Colleges, Australia’s leading online educator. Feel free to connect with Sarah through her twitter: @sarah_davies_au.