Learning shouldn’t stop after you’ve received your degree or started your own business. Instead, reaching this stage in your life should motivate you to improve your professional and personal development through lifelong learning, especially in today’s ever-changing market.
Becoming a lifelong learner is a key factor to long-term success. In combination with hard work and dedication, lifelong learning will help you reach any goal you set for yourself.
What is Lifelong Learning?
Are you looking to master a new skill or widen your intellectual horizons? Do you want to increase your knowledge on various topics?
According to Collins Dictionary, lifelong learning is “the provision or use of both formal and informal learning opportunities, in order to foster the continuous development and improvement of the knowledge and skills needed for employment and personal fulfilment”.
This is what lifelong learning is all about: voluntary, self-motivated learning to achieve personal and professional growth. Especially, what makes it achievable for everyone is that the process depends entirely on your own needs and is regulated by you.
It’s recognising what you lack and what you want to improve, and there’s always room for improvement.
Why Should I Pursue Lifelong Learning?
Work is very demanding for an entrepreneur and business owner, so time is scarce. This requires a better approach to productivity which we’ve talked about on our blog. Often, one’s personal life gets pushed aside, especially in the early stages of development.
However, ongoing skill acquisition is a critical part of our modern economy. There is environmental pressure for constant, incremental change. That’s why lifelong learning must become a habit. To make it a habit, set realistic goals based on your individual skills and motivation.
So, how are you supposed to dedicate yourself to lifelong learning?
First, realise that unlike in school, lifelong learning allows you to control what you study and the pace at which you learn. This lifts the fear of falling behind the subject. There is no need to cram for assignments and stress over deadlines any more.
It also allows you to connect what you learn to your needs as an entrepreneur. Especially at the beginning of your journey when you’re still figuring things out, it can be helpful to learn what you need to know.
Later, once you’ve established a routine and gained stable footing, you can dive into topics outside your field of work. To become a successful entrepreneur and business owner, you need to broaden your horizons.
How do I get the Best Use out of Lifelong Learning?
“I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.”Confucius
The first impression that the term lifelong learning might evoke is what we’re used to from school, college, or even university. What you need to understand, however, is that lifelong learning doesn’t just end at memorisation.
It’s much more than that.
Instead, you must be able to utilise what you learn. It’s the ability to apply newly acquired skills to a new situation. Don’t just accumulate a mass of knowledge by memorising fact after fact, but filter out what is useful to your development.
When you find a topic worthy of study, immerse yourself in it. Find different approaches to it. Study it from different angles and create new experiences that anchor your knowledge of the subject matter. Doing so makes your brain more flexible when acquiring new ideas and concepts in the future.
Focus on the following:
1. Set realistic goals
This can have many forms. You can simply write down every skill you want to learn, and watch the list grow with time. If you want more structure to be able to track it, try planning them ahead of time.
Form objectives for every month and week that can be expandable. Set goals for every year to be accomplished. Monitoring these in a planner is the most realistic approach.
However, don’t just work to tick a box. If you notice your knowledge is still lacking, even though you’ve reached the goal you set for yourself, give the task more time. There is no shame in taking a more leisurely approach than previously planned.
2. Develop a community
Encourage your employees or friends and family to create a learning community, as well as sign up for groups online to help you stay motivated.
This affects your work ethic and will even help to push you in situations where you usually would just give up. If a problem arises that you have difficulties solving on your own, your learning community can help you find a solution.
That goes both ways. If the occasion to teach someone else a topic you’ve already learned arises, your skill level will grow as well. As a result, you will recognise gaps and improve what you know.
3. Make use of technology
While it is important to avoid distractions, because they often come in the form of technology and the internet, these are useful learning tools as well.
Most sources, like books, audiobooks, articles, and courses, are easy to find online. There are also a lot more varied options available. A quick online search saves a lot of time that would be wasted on tracking down a single book in the library.
Don’t be afraid to make use of technology; it makes lifelong learning much more accessible.
How can I Become a Lifelong Learner?
Usually, what leads us to lifelong learning is change or the need for it. It imposes itself on us, allowing us to reach for more demanding opportunities that our old selves could never even imagine achieving. By changing, you grow from who you were to who you are now or who you want to be.
Incidentally, this also gives us insight into our strengths but also, and most importantly, our weaknesses.
So how do you become a lifelong learner? By realising your weaknesses and constantly improving on them. Here’s how:
1. Focus On What You Want To Achieve
Continuous, deliberate learning is key.
Knowing what you want to achieve, you already have a reference point.
Let’s say you’re interested in social media marketing for your business. The first step would be to google and find out basic information about it. Consequently, you will find all kinds of knowledge, from business plans on how to adapt your business model to social media marketing to the best platforms for it. This will lead you down a rabbit hole of information.
This information comes in all forms: online courses, books, articles, and even videos.
A topic that might seem unapproachable at first will become clearer the more you immerse yourself in it. Strive to overcome mental barriers and push beyond your comfort zone. This will make you more confident in your approach to learning.
2. Learn Smarter
There are easy techniques you can utilise to become a lifelong learner.
Agile learning, for example, focuses on acquiring the most valuable information about what you’re learning. Studies have been conducted, showing how it is even more important than job performance. Agility is found in competent leaders and is related to career growth.
To develop learning agility, you have to know how to learn. There are simple ways in which you can approach this:
1. Seek out new and unfamiliar experiences
2. Improve your ability to approach new challenges
3. Internalise and reflect on what you’ve learned
4. Learn to adapt and apply knowledge through experiences
3.Take Courses To Hone Your Skills
There are many ways in which you can improve yourself. One is by taking courses that are available to you online.
Reading is the most well-established path to certain self-improvement. An online reading course like the daily stoic reading challenge would be a great opportunity to test that. The goal is to “Read to Lead”. In this 13-day course, you’ll learn great skills like dissecting a book properly, remembering and applying what you read, etc., along with reading books that will help you become successful.
Additionally, you could improve your reading skills by trying different techniques, like speed reading, skimming, or using study methods like the SQ3R system.
Another good source of information is taking courses on online platforms, like udemy, edx, Coursera, and many more. These online courses are plentiful and offer a wide variety of information and skills to learn. You’re able to study things you’re interested in that otherwise might be hard to find in such a compact form.
If you plan on improving yourself and become better at what you do, lifelong learning helps you. The goal is to increase your knowledge by gaining new perspectives. This will eliminate mediocrity in your business and improve problem-solving, as well as eliminate the chance of retrogression. However, the greatest achievement is that it guarantees success.