There’s no official definition for lifelong learning, but it can be described as the voluntary pursuit of knowledge with the aim of personal development. It’s how you grow and improve as a human being.
When we talk about lifelong learning, we usually refer to that which takes place outside of educational institutes, although it doesn’t have to be the case. Technically speaking, we’re all lifelong learners. We have a natural curiosity that pushes us to discover more about the world and ourselves, be it through experimentation, socialization or study.
But being proactive about your learning and making it a self-initiated process takes you much further. In fact, you can argue that it’s the key to success in today’s society, where knowledge truly is power.
So, how can you be a lifelong learner? It’s all about adopting the right habits.
The first step is to define your aim. You need to be aware of the why before you can determine the how.
Identify Your Interests and Goals
Lifelong learning is not about anyone else and what they want – it’s about you. There’s no selfishness in that. Being of more value to yourself makes you more valuable to others.
Take a moment to think about what brings meaning to your life. What are you passionate about? What can you happily do today, tomorrow, and far beyond? For most people, their career is an ideal starting point.
After identifying what brings you the most fulfilment, you can determine what it is that you want to achieve with it. Then it’s a matter of creating actionable steps towards that goal. If you want to start a business, for instance, then taking management courses or working to earn enough capital could be on the agenda.
In our busy modern lives, fitting in a new goal can be challenging. But unless you make the necessary time, it’s not going to happen. Work on a structure that fits into your routine.
Let’s say you want to learn a new language. Can you make time to study two hours per day? Perhaps you’re really busy and 30 minutes is more realistic. Some progress is better than none.
The final and most important step is to build the self-motivation required for you to achieve your goal. This comes down to committing and avoiding excuses. It might be a good idea to reward yourself for reaching certain milestones. Keeping track of your progress will also help. Maybe you can partner up with someone to hold each other accountable.
Lifelong Learning Habits
Those who value lifelong learning, which are by no coincidence some of the most successful people in the world, have certain habits in common. Here are some that you can try to implement in your life.
Reading: Whatever hurdles you currently face, there’s definitely a book out there that will help you ease over them. Reading is an excellent way to train your brain while exposing yourself to valuable lessons. It doesn’t take more than one good piece of literature to change your life for the better.
Further Education: This is particularly important if your lifelong learning goal relates to your career. Participating in courses is a structured and effective way to learn valuable skills while also receiving formal recognition of your expertise. These days, you don’t have to head back to school to further your education – you can do it online instead.
Let’s say you’re a nurse who’s looking to improve their abilities as a leader and move up the career ladder. In that case, taking nursing leadership programs is the way forward. Online nursing leadership courses offered by Baylor University provide exactly that, allowing you to obtain your certifications from the comfort of home.
Self-Care: It’s not easy to learn when you’re constantly tired, distracted and unmotivated. That’s why you need to take care of your body and mind. This includes staying fit, eating healthily, and getting enough sleep. Cutting out bad habits makes space for more good habits.
Lifelong Learning Examples
It’s worth noting at this point that lifelong learning isn’t limited to career-related initiatives. It can involve just about anything. Following are some examples of lifelong learning.
- Skills Development: Writing, cooking, negotiation, public speaking… etc. Think about the skills that would provide the most utility in your daily life.
- Study: Outside of a formal education, you can learn online through blogs, podcasts, e-books and more. It doesn’t have to be career-related. Perhaps there’s a topic of interest that you want to learn more about.
- Activities: There are many activities worth investing time into, such as martial arts, yoga, Pilates and meditation. Consider a certain sport or simply your overall fitness.
- Technologies: Keeping up with the rapid evolution of technology has its perks. For instance, familiarizing yourself with the latest office software can make for a useful addition to your curriculum vitae.
Benefits of Lifelong Learning
At this point, the following information should go without saying. But it helps to be more aware of what you can gain from taking a proactive approach to lifelong learning.
By pursuing what brings you the most meaning and fulfilment, you can live a prosperous life in which you’re always driven to keep moving forward. Doing what inspires you keeps you in the driver’s seat and helps you confidently get through difficult times.
Of course, your career will likely benefit the most when you participate in lifelong learning. Over time, you might find yourself in a position where you enjoy what you do even more. There is also financial gain that can open up new avenues and help you achieve the lifestyle you’ve always wanted.
Knowing what you want and where you want to go in life is predicated on knowing yourself. When you know yourself, you can be confident in what you do, which will always bring a great sense of accomplishment.
As you can see, lifelong learning is incredibly beneficial to the life of anyone who is interested in personal development. Start incorporating these principles into your life today and you’ll quickly reap the rewards.