“Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes. ” – Peter Drucker
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever” – . Mahatma Gandhi
“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” – Albert Einstein
In our previous articles, we talked about the importance and value of being a life-long learner. Lifelong learning has more benefits than the education we receive at school because it is often more practical and useful. In this short article, we are going to discuss specific strategies that will help us engage in life-long learning effectively. Truth be told it does not matter how old you are – but how can we constantly motivate ourselves to learn forever?
So here are the main habits that you should strive to develop to be a life-long learner.
Read Every Day
If you are facing a problem or some dilemma, I can assure you that there is at least one enjoyable book that discusses that problem and offers useful tips on how to deal with that problem. Reading is a perfect strategy for opening new horizons, gaining more knowledge, and improving your life. Moreover, when you read new books, you are giving yourself the opportunity to connect with people who have already achieved success. You can learn about their experiences and hear their words of wisdom.
Unbelievably, but when you are reading fiction, you are also learning. You are developing your imagination and learning about the worlds that you have truly little knowledge of before. Lifelong learners just love reading and they spend a lot of time reading books. People as successful as Bill Gates know that reading is a habit that can be life changing. On his personal blog Gates often publishes various reviews of the books that he thinks are life changing. So, if you want to make your first steps in online learning, think about a topic that interests you, go to a local library or bookstore and pick up any book that seems interesting to you.
Take a Class
Nowadays one can find many online courses that could match one’s interests and suit one’s needs. The good news is that many of these courses are free. These courses are excellent opportunities for you to connect with other people. You can also meet like-minded people and such encounters can change your life in many ways. After the pandemic, the number of online courses has gone up and now there is no shortage of things on offer. These courses are essential for those wanting to embrace life-long learning.
Take Care of Your Health
This advice may sound a little strange. But unbelievably, good health is an important prerequisite for many things including happiness and the ability to learn. If you are not healthy, all your attention will be focused on your ailments and not on learning. It is understood that as human beings we must move. We were designed to move. And sedentary lifestyle, which unfortunately becomes increasingly widespread, is harmful both to our physical and mental health.
Lifelong learners have a clear understanding that you have only one body in your life. And you must nurture and take care of it properly. That means eliminating any harmful habits such as smoking, drinking, or drinking too much caffeine. You need to train, at least 30 minutes a day, eat healthy food and stay hydrated.
Leave Your Comfort Zone
Yes, there is nothing scarier than stepping into the unknown, into something that you have not seen or experienced before. Yes, your comfort zone feels safe and familiar. Yes, it may be difficult to find the right motivation to leave this zone. But if you stay in this comfort zone, you are very unlikely to achieve success. You are also unlikely to fully immerse yourself in new experiences and find new connections.
Your comfort zone is a special frame of mind, a psychological state in which a person feels calm and at ease because they are not facing difficulties. When people are in their comfort zones, they are engaging in familiar activities. That gives them the illusion of being in control of their lives. People like staying in their comfort zones because they do not have unpleasant feelings such as anxiety and stress. Even if you want to stay in your comfort zone, consider this fact. Staying in a comfort zone may mean that you soon will get tired of your job and your familiar lifestyle. It may soon start to seem unsatisfactory and unfulfilling to you. That can lead you to a state known as “burn-out.”
Staying in your comfort zone can also lead you to feelings of frustration. Because you understand that you can do more and achieving more, but you are simply afraid.
But this is what people do if they want to engage in lifelong learning. They always embrace new opportunities. That often also means embracing uncomfortable situations because many of them lead to success. So instead of avoiding them and trying to push them away, challenge yourself and get ready to overcome more challenges. Resist the temptation of staying in your comfort zone. Embrace your fear of uncertainty.
Do Not Fear Failure
Treat your failures as opportunities to gain experience.
Those people engaging in life-long learning have a clear understanding of the fact that mistakes are a part of our life. They are inevitable. And moreover, they are often essential for our learning. They give us valuable lessons that we otherwise would have never learnt before. Learning the hard way. So instead of getting upset about the thing that did not work out, try to analyse what went wrong. Try to think of them as opportunities to gain experience. Such a positive outlook will give you more motivation and another boost.
Expand the Sources of Your Learning
As I have mentioned above, the Internet remains one of the most accessible sources of information and learning that can be used by anyone. However, you should not limit yourself only to online sources. In fact, there are so many other sources of information that can help you expand your learning base. If you are working for an organization, find out whether there are professional development sessions that you can attend.
Also, think about if you are acquainted with people who possess valuable knowledge and skills whom you can reach. If you do, write them an email, and ask if they would like to meet with you for a cup of coffee. During a friendly chat, you can ask them questions and they can share insights about their area of expertise. Such a way of learning is engaging and extremely beneficial. Finally, you can learn a lot by doing volunteer work. Many people are resistant to the idea of working “for free.” But although volunteering indeed entails no remuneration, there are other things that get, and they can be far more valuable in the long term.
When you do volunteer you are not only helping the community, which is a good thing per se. You are also meeting new people and exposing yourself to new experiences and situations. Engaging in volunteering also helps you to develop a learning mindset, which makes you more open to the idea of learning. Finally, you get a sense of purpose and belonging which is also important especially if you are lacking motivation.
So, as we have seen, a person who is committed to lifelong learning is trying to make the most of any opportunities to gain experience something new. Such a person is always curious. It is also important that life-long learning is not possible without good health. So please remember that your body is your temple and you have only one body to live in. So, take care of it, and avoid harmful habits like smoking and drinking. Being healthy and being a lifelong learner – is what will make your life more exciting, fulfilling, and interesting. By being a life-long learner, you will be an inspiring example for other people around you. Please check out our latest Shiminly articles for more expert advice on how to organize your learning and more tips on how to be successful in your professional life.
Russ Gadzhiev obtained his PhD in history and politics from University of Melbourne. He also holds a master’s degree in International Relations from Moscow State University of International Relations, a top-ranking diplomatic school. Russ is a strong education professional with a history of working in the higher education sector of Australia and effectively communicates with learners from diverse cultural backgrounds. He is enthusiastic about teaching and mentoring, writing, curriculum development, research, information management and public speaking. He is fluent in Russian, English, Spanish and Portuguese.