For the first twenty-two years or so of our lives, our main “job” is learning. The bulk of our time is spent in classrooms acquiring new knowledge. And then, once we graduate, the education phase of our lives is done, and now it’s time to go out into the world?
Just because you’ve finished your formal education, doesn’t mean that your education is over!
Here are some tips from wamda for developing the habit of lifelong learning:
- Read tons of books related to your career.
Many believe reading is vital to career progress. Dive in to some business classics or titles specific to your chosen field; consult book reviews and industry journals and always aim to stay ahead of the curve in your career reading.
- Develop new interests in non-job related areas.
You may be surprised at the value you can derive from being well-rounded or becoming an expert in something you are passionate about, even if it seems unrelated to your career. Many skills are transferable; you’re likely to find some way to incorporate this learning into your job at some point. Take up a new language, or even cooking lessons. Even if you can’t apply it to your work, following new interests will help you become a much more passionate, and interesting, professional.
- Write about what you learn, or at least take notes and jot down ideas.
Share your learning through a blog or by writing articles or summary notes if you feel comfortable. Active reading involves jotting down ideas, taking notes and a higher level of participation; plus these notes and ideas may come in handy later on.
- Take new courses and attend lectures/seminars/conferences whenever you can.
Sometimes it’s great to get out and listen to an expert’s perspective and join in a debate. If you can’t physically attend courses, try an online course.
- Join online and offline groups related to your interests.
By joining a group you will fuel your interests, challenge and reinforce your learning, and have the opportunity to ask questions and hear other people’s perspectives. It might be a book club you join or a group specific to your area of interest, like a Real Estate Council. Whatever kind of group you choose; this is a great way to supplement your learning.
- Teach someone.
Teaching is often the best way to learn. Mentoring is a great way to pass on your knowledge and help someone develop professionally. Think of the mentors you’ve had and the importance they have played in your career.
- Find a mentor in your field of interest.
On the flipside, you are never too old or too advanced in your career to have a mentor. At any stage in your career, a mentor can help you gain perspective, inspire you and help you think outside the box. A mentor can help you look at situations in new ways and ask hard questions to help you solve problems.
- Always ask questions.
Don’t just be a passive learner, push yourself to ask and answer questions; participate in discussions and aim to understand best practices. Always strive to learn more, push concepts and assumptions, and take advantage of experts and tools around you by drawing as much of the knowledge you can from them.
- Set milestones along the journey.
Learning is a lifelong journey. To make the adventure more meaningful, test your new skills and tie success to rewards. Whether you choose to take a holiday in a place that speaks the new language you’re learning or implement a new project or process at work that uses a new skillset, make sure you are regularly assessing your newfound knowledge and always keep learning.