Learning doesn’t just end in school. Lifelong learning is the pursuit of continuing to grow your knowledge, skills and mind throughout your life.
Lifelong learning can take many forms, from enrolling in a new course to simply regularly reading about new topics in your spare time. However you want to explore it, though, there are a number of traits that are always useful in your efforts to grow.
The first step of lifelong learning is deciding what you actually want to learn! Depending on whether you are seeking lifelong learning opportunities to grow your professional life or you are looking for a new hobby, your curiosity will take different forms.
A good place to start is to think about areas of your industry that interest you or new industries you could see yourself enjoying. Look into what form job opportunities take in these industries and explore news and trends surrounding them.
If you are looking to learn a new skill or update your knowledge for fun, dedicate time to finding classes in your area, to researching different ways of learning and to finding hobbies you didn’t even know were out there!
Once you have found some new learning opportunities, you might find they look nothing like the ones you have in mind.
Of course, you can still stick to what you originally wanted to learn but it may be the case that the most enriching, enjoyable and career-boosting opportunities are actually the ones you have only now stumbled across. It may even be the case that you are stumbling across very different ones than you imagined because these are, in fact, the most relevant ones to the topic you're pursuing or to your industry.
It is important to be open-minded to a range of lifelong learning paths because a wider perspective on what your future could look like gives you greater options and greater end choice.
Committed and focused
Picking up a new skill takes hard work and continuous practice. Attending a class helps to keep you on track but if you are learning on your own in your free time, it’s all up to you to keep up your progression.
Commitment is required to ensure you continue to grow your new skill with regular, self-motivated training and focus is needed for you to be able to see how you will get to your end goal.
One way of committing to learning is getting organised! Make a realistic and practical plan of when you will work on developing your knowledge will see you be more likely to stick to it.
Make a schedule that fits around your current day-to-day life. It is okay if you can only dedicate small amounts of time to learning. It is more important to have a plan you can actually stick to within your busy lifestyle than one that is making you feel stressed and that you are unlikely to upkeep long-term.
Driven by progress
When you adopt a new hobby or take a new course, you want to see that you are making progress. Being progress-driven - that is, observing your improvement motivates you to continue - you are less likely to give up.
This raises the question of what to do if you are not seeing any progress. Remember that even small improvements are big wins because you still know more than you did before! If you truly feel that a new lifelong learning opportunity is not for you, however, there is no shame in accepting this and finding a new one, as long as you have given it your best effort.
Being a lifelong learner means you gain new skills and knowledge over the course of your adulthood. To continue this over the decades, you have to be on the lookout for the next thing you can learn!
In the meantime, reflect on what you have already learned. Consider how you can use these new skills in your life. Maybe they are useful in your job or will help you get a new one, or maybe you can find a new hobby that is related to them. Expand your learning with a career-boosting course at Notting Hill College, and attend virtual lessons at times to suit you.