Learning and unlearning career choice

As technological and scientific progress quickens, we constantly need to learn and unlearn new material. What should we learn? How should we unlearn? What remains unchanged?
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn” – Alvin Toffler.

When we need to unlearn and relearn it is psychologically much harder than learning in the first place. How do we cope with all the learning and time that we invested and now should scrape?
We feel that we are experts, and have huge sunken costs in everything we know. The illusion of knowledge prevents us from asking follow-up questions, trying to verify what we already know. And then suddenly all our knowledge breaks up as new questions surface…

Fortunately, I found a follow-up article.  According to the article, failing is not as bad as it seams.The premises are very simple:

  1. Our first choice is almost never optimal, and if the decision was very important it was probably a misguided choice.
  2. All our mistakes have a price tag, which is usually not as big as the learning opportunity our errors present.
  3. Taking no action is a terrible choice. Try to get all the information you can and use all the resources you can, and keep going.
  4. The earlier you realize and correct your mistake, the better your situation will eventually be.

So if we understand that some mistakes are inevitable, and try to relearn, we need to choose what to do…

Obviously some people think they know what other people should learn. math is always a popular choice. If you know math you can apply it in any field of knowledge, you will probably get a reasonable salary. Some things will probably change slower than others. Peter Druker said “The older professions are best suited to become second careers. Middle age is really the best time to switch to being the lawyer, the teacher, the priest, the doctor-I shocked you-and the social worker.” This was said almost 50 years ago, and is still almost true. High technologies are slowly entering into more conservative industries, and eventually will revolutionize them – but not just yet.

Technology is revolutionizing the way we live. So if you made a bad decision, unlearn and relearn. And if you cannot adapt fas enough, switch to more conservative industry.

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