For the first part of our lives, we are forced to be learners – by parents, teachers, coaches, and other adults.
After that, we’re often on our own. But, being on your own doesn’t mean that continued learning is optional. The most important investment that you can make in yourself is lifelong learning. An essential understanding for success today is that education isn’t a phase of life, it’s a necessary regular pursuit in our highly competitive world.
Why should you be a lifelong learner?
You will earn more. In our fast-paced world, the cutting edge is always moving, and if we’re not moving with it, we will be left behind. Lifelong learners add knowledge and build skills that command more money.
You will have more freedom. When you build a range of skills, you are better able to navigate life on your terms. For example, learn everything you can about marketing online, and you can grow a business that is open for business 24/7, even when you’re occupied with leisure activities or other things that you like to do.
Lifelong learning is good for your brain. Henry Ford once said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” Science supports what Ford said. Psychologist Margie E. Lachman of Brandeis University specializes in aging. She says, “Education seems to be an elixir that can bring us a healthy body and mind throughout adulthood and even a longer life.”
You will be more satisfied with life. Lifelong learning adds purpose to your life and with purpose comes more satisfaction. Positive feelings come from growing in mastery of different areas of life.
What are the commitments that make us lifelong learners?
It’s ongoing – lifelong learning happens every day when we are committed to it.
It’s voluntary (usually) – there are professions that demand a certain amount of continuing education hour credits every year, but for the rest of us, we do it recognize how important it is.
It’s self-motivated – we do it because we are committed to getting better every day.
What are the obstacles to lifelong learning?
Time. You’re busy, I’m busy, we’re all busy. How do we find time for lifelong learning? The answer is that we make time for it. The key is that its ongoing – it may happen in a few minutes today and a longer period of time tomorrow. We make carve out a time over the weekend. The point is that we’re always working to move the ball down the field, maybe a yard today, and five yards tomorrow.
Money. The perception is that lifelong learning is expensive, but that’s not true. You don’t have to pay for expensive classes or seminars. For example, I am reading and rereading books on advertising. Some of them are books that I read many years ago. I’ve bought used books at a fraction of their full retail price and for incredibly less than they profited me. There’s also scads of good information in your local library and on the internet. Money should never be an obstacle to lifelong learning.
Location. You don’t have to be in a college classroom or a seminar hall in some exotic location. You can do your lifelong learning from right where you are, it doesn’t have to be in a formal educational setting.
What is the optimal lifelong learner mindset?
First, have a growth mentality. Always be ready to learn new things. Don’t be afraid to try new things and discover new vistas. When something new seems interesting, dive in.
Set learning goals? What would you like to learn and what do you need to learn. Set some learning goals that will enable you to build your personal knowledge base and your skills. Part of your goals should be reading that pertains to your business. Online and offline groups can be a great assist for lifelong learning. You may wish to investigate what groups are out there for you.
Resources for Lifelong Learners
These resources are recommended in How and Why to Become a Lifelong Learner” (which is very good).
Blinkist. Blinkist offers 15-minute summaries for non-fiction books. Subjects include business, philosophy, history, and many more. This is a paid service.
Coursera. Coursera is a free service that works with first-rate universities to present classes online. The subjects included are computer sciences, psychology, and languages.
Duolingo. This is my go-to site for learning languages. It’s free, it’s easy to use, and it’s fun.
Brainly.com. This site is similar to Quora. Ask a question and members of the community will share their expertise with you.
Khan Academy. This site is amazing (an overused adjective, but it genuinely fits here). There are over 4,000 videos that cover math, science, engineering, computing, arts and humanities, economics and finance, and much more.
Code Academy. Learn to code is an easy way to learn computer code through interactive exercises.
edX. Two great schools, Harvard University and MIT have teamed up to offer interactive and free online courses. Through this site you get access to the teaching of world-class professors that teach at Harvard and MIT.
Udacity. Udacity is similar to edX and Coursera with free courses and paid courses for a “nanodegree.”
CreativeLive. This site has free and paid courses.
TED. TED talks and lectures are legendary and you can find some of them on YouTube. This site has the most TED content, as you would expect.
iTunes U. You’ll find thousands of free podcast lectures on this platform.
What would you add to this listing of websites for lifelong learners?
I invite your comments and questions, and your likes and shares.