If you feel like I’m about to shake my pointer finger at you and give you a lecture about why you’re not doing enough to continue your education as an adult, then maybe your views on learning are ready for an upgrade.
You see, a lot of us immediately conjure up this image of chalkboards, desks, and stuffy classrooms when we think about the topic of learning. We return to that age when someone else dictated our schedule and there was homework and book reports and not enough recess. Even if you were “good at school,” it’s not necessarily a time to which you wish to return.
And that’s what needs to change. Learning should invoke feelings of limitless possibility, excitement, enthusiasm, and passion. Kid-on-Christmas-eve; not kid-memorizing-facts-for-test. And why does it matter? Why should you care?
Funny you should ask. I’ve got 9 very beneficial-to-you reasons right here:
Keep up with your fast-evolving industry. The times they are a-changin’. And if we don’t want to be left behind, we have to follow their lead — or better yet, stay ahead of it.
Achieve personal goals. If we’re truly honest with ourselves, none of us have reached the place in our lives where we no longer have hopes and dreams — even if they are way in the background. (I hope I never reach that place because that would mean I’m no longer growing.) And new goals require new knowledge.
Reap hidden benefits. Learning new skills almost always impacts our lives in other positive ways that weren’t part of the intention. You learn an instrument in order to satisfy your love of music, but it ends up bonding you with your child. You learn a computer program for a job, which you end up using for personal projects as well. You learn people skills for your retail job, which helps you better negotiate your own deals when you call up your credit card company or interact with the pest control guy. Who doesn’t love a good bonus?
Make more money. Sometimes new skills can straight up equal a promotion in your job. You up your value as an employee and it translates to dollars. The cool thing is, in some industries, the company will even pay for the education! If you’re self-employed, learning new skills is a must — it is literally the only way to survive.
Save time and energy. New technologies are appearing daily (in fact, it’s growing exponentially), and while it can feel overwhelming, there are many apps, programs, and systems that can automate time-consuming tasks and flat out make your daily life more productive.
Get a confidence boost. Adding to our own personal knowledge base feels good. It gives us value and a sense of self-worth. It reminds us we are in control of our destiny. And that’s an incredibly empowering feeling.
Expand your worldview. Learning opens doors we didn’t even know were there. We stretch our minds and literally change the pathways in our brains. (It’s called plasticity, and it’s really, really cool.) Our perspectives can open up as we start to see the same old situations in brand new ways, and we can even become more empathic towards others as these new perspectives emerge.
Create new and deeper relationships. If done in a group setting, learning can lead to strong bonds and new social relationships with other like-minded individuals, which can in turn lead to more in-depth and better learning — its circular. And collaboration with other can lead to greater rewards and better solutions to problems. It’s a win/win/win/win.
Battle the negative effects of aging. As humans age, reflexes slow, memory fails, and the brain actually physically shrinks. It’s not pleasant to think about, but there are proven things we can do to fight it, and there happens to be strong evidence that shows that lifelong learning and cognitive training reduces the decline and increases well-being in old age.
Even with all these amazing benefits to being a lifelong learner, we still encounter roadblocks. And one of the biggest and most common is time.
The good news is that there are ways around the ever-persistent ticking of the clock. Have you ever given thought to the fact that the system you use for learning is outdated? It’s not as effective or as efficient as it should be? Most of us blame time so much that we neglect to acknowledge there is something we could change within ourselves, something that we have complete control over.
Make some tweaks to your learning system. In the same way that we get a new smartphone from time-to-time, trade in our car for a newer one, or update our wardrobe as the times change — Your learning system needs an upgrade. Make an investment in YOURSELF that will continue to serve you for the rest of your life.
And whatever decision you make, don’t underestimate the power of expanding your knowledge.