Twelve Ways to be a Lifelong Learner
Alvin Toffler said “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn”.
This quote more or less summarizes the importance of continual learning in today’s ever changing times. The best way to approach the process of ongoing discovery is with zest and ardour. The career experts at the Middle East's #1 job site Bayt.com have twelve suggestions you can incorporate in your life to make continual learning work for you.
1. Read voraciously literature related to your career 77.9% of respondents to a Bayt.com poll indicated they read constantly and 69.6% indicated they believe reading is vital to career progress. Many books are absolute business classics in a general sense and others may be very specific to your chosen domain; consult book reviews and industry journals when uncertain and always aim to stay ahead of the curve in your career reading.
2. Develop interests and read in non-job related areas You would be surprised at the value you can derive both in your career and in your life in general from becoming better rounded in your knowledge and skills and/or becoming an expert in a matter you are passionate about even if it seems unrelated to your career. Most skills are transferable and you are sure to find some way to incorporate your learnings in your job at some point. Even if you don’t, by indulging your learning interests you will become a much more interesting and satisfied and fulfilled professional.
3. Write about your learnings or at least take notes and jot ideas Share your learnings through a blog or by writing articles or summary notes if you feel comfortable. If you are not comfortable sharing, do take and keep notes for yourself. Active reading involves jotting ideas and taking notes and involves a higher level of participation and learning; plus these notes and ideas may come in very handy later on.
4. Learn from video and audio not just reading There is plenty of choice available when it comes to medium of learning these days so by all means mix and match and don’t limit yourself. You may find your best cooking lessons come from a video channel and a new language is best acquired through audio means while on the treadmill at the gym. Take advantage of all means available to you to learn and vary the medium when you need a change or want to experiment.
5. Take courses and attend lectures/seminars/conferences when you can It’s great to sit back and listen to experts’ perspectives and join in healthy classroom discourse in a very structured dedicated environment every now and then. If you cannot physically attend courses, you may want to try online courses. A recent Bayt.com online education poll showed that 39.3% professionals in this region say they would consider pursuing an online course if given a chance.
6. Join online and offline groups related to your interests By joining a group you will fuel your interests, challenge and reinforce your learnings, and keep the flame alive. It can be a general book club you join or a group specific to your area of interest eg. an Engineering Society, sewing circle, stargazers club, accounting forum etc. Whatever format your group takes it is bound to result in synergies that improve and augment your learnings.
7. Join discussions in your area of interest; ask questions Try not to be a passive learner all the time; ask and answer questions, participate in discussions and aim to truly understand and aid in the defining of best practice. Take advantage of the energies and synergies around you always and aim to find and contribute to innovations and solutions.
8. Teach someone; no better way to learn than by teaching Its proven that teaching is often the best way to learn as we learn from our students’ burning questions as well as from preparing to be the best teachers we can be. If you have no student or mentee perhaps you can organize a learning circle for people with similar interests who respect your knowledge and rotate topics you cover every week.
9. Don’t be shy to implement, practice and experiment with your learning How wonderful if you can bring your learnings to bear in your life and in your career. Don’t be afraid to try to innovate using your newly acquired state-of-the-art technical skills or experiment with that new management technique at work; similarly next time you are at the French or Chinese restaurant downtown don’t hesitate to place the order in your budding French or Chinese.
10. Find a mentor/coach in your field of interest if you can A coach can be a invaluable source of knowledge and resource as well as a sounding board and advisor. Pick someone who has sufficient quality time for you and who shares your interests and whose opinions and ideas you really respect and value.
11. Set milestones and reward yourself on reaching them Set smart goals you can easily achieve and reward yourself when you do, to make the journey even more satisfying and rewarding. Whether you choose to take a test at regular intervals or an exotic holiday in the native land of your newly acquire language or implement a new project or task or function or process in the workplace, make sure you are regularly assessing your new skills and tweaking your approach visavis the road ahead accordingly.
12. Enjoy the process of learning and treat it as a lifelong journey Learning can be fun and immensely satisfying especially when you have the luxury of choosing and controlling the pace and setting and subject matter and dynamic. Enjoy the journey and celebrate every learning and every implementation of your learnings along the way.
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