Why You Should Never Stop Learning

In Western society, we often think of “learning” in very narrow terms: it’s what we do in school, and once we’ve got our college degree, the learning phase is over – it’s time to work.

Of course, things aren’t really that black and white: we carry on learning after we’ve left school, and not just in our careers but in every aspect of our lives. And learning often doesn’t equate to taking qualifications or passing exams. Approached the right way, learning isn’t a process of ticking boxes on a curriculum or course outline – it’s about exploration, growth and enrichment.

Learning Adds Depth to Your Life

For me, the primary reason to keep learning new things is because I enjoy it. It’s not quite the same enjoyment that I get from watching a movie, and there are always frustrating and even miserable moments in learning anything new … but I’m happier in the long run.

If you take the time to consciously learn new things, you’ll find that you live life more deeply. Instead of chasing quick entertainment that fails to satisfy, you’ll have the pure pleasure of those aha! moments when something finally clicks. The more you learn, the more you’ll be able to make connections between pieces of knowledge – and the more creative you’ll become.

Learning Keeps You From Getting Bored

One of the reasons that I left my day job last year was because I was bored. The first month was fairly novel: it was my first experience of “real” work (I’d had a few student jobs) and I was learning a lot of new things, some of them stretching me beyond my comfort zone. But after that, the routine was the same day in and day out.

A huge advantage to working for myself is having the opportunity to learn all sorts of new things: both hard skills (including some CSS and PHP) and soft skills (like knowing how to interact well with clients). Each week, I’m learning new things – and this keeps me interested, motivated and happy.

Can you go on a training course at work to learn something that you’re interested in? Can you study in your free time, perhaps by joining an evening class or discussion group?

Learning Keeps You Healthy

Studies have shown that our mental facilities are best protected when we use them. Older folk who carry on learning and who stay mentally active are much less likely to suffer from illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease.

Taking the time to learn about nutrition will let you know how to eat well, and learning how to prepare and cook foods ensures that you can take charge of exactly what’s going into your body. Learning a new sport or exercise is a great way to take this even further. And learning about good time management habits can prevent you from developing stress-related illnesses.

Learning Puts You on the Fast Track to Success

The final reason to continue with life-long learning is because that’s what successful people do. If you settle back and decide that you’ve learnt everything you need to know about running a business, about succeeding in your career or about managing and motivating your team … you’ll lose out to competitors who have a passion for learning.

In your personal life, you’ll want to keep learning too. That might mean learning how to bring up your kids well. It could involve learning skills that let you maintain your house without having to pay for or rely on outside help. Learning about personal finance and money management – something which we’re rarely taught in school – can turn your life around.

What have you learnt this week? What benefits has learning brought you in your life so far? What do you want to learn during the next year?

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  • http://jwseo.wordpress.com Josh

    This is so very true. I can’t count number of my friends who ‘gave up’ learning after we all graduated from school. Yes, they’re making pretty decent money, but that decent money won’t be decent 5 years from today. Everyone keep saying they’re sick of learning, but I have found out that REAL learning starts AFTER you graduate from college! I now read many of business/management book, stay in touch with current news/economy and I’m even learning from traveling to new places. Trust me, it’s WAY BETTER than hitting bars/clubs weekend after weekend. Learn to live life more widely. Great post my friend!

  • http://positivelypresent.com Positively Present

    Love learning and I loved this post! Thanks!

  • http://www.davidturnbull.com David Turnbull

    And this is the exact reason I bought myself a Kindle 2. So much older content is in the public domain, so it’s like thousands of years of knowledge, for free. Pretty crazy stuff.

  • http://www.LikeSoup.com Jim Campbell

    Other than things that I picked up (stuck to me) along the way, I stopped learning for decades. Boy the wonderful things I missed out on (growth, wisdom, new perspectives). It’s never too late to get back on that horse though and I have. I’m now a dry sponge and enjoying the heck out of it, feeling great and living the abundant life. I’m so grateful. If you’re on “Pick The Brain” then you’re on the horse already. Tell a friend (www.LikeSoup.com). Peace!!!

  • Becca

    Thanks for the post. It reminds me of my life right now. I’m an attorney who quit my job at the prosecutor’s office, went to Africa with my husband, he worked in a hospital and I worked in a legal clinic. Now that we are home, I have decided to start a writing career. I have been thinking about it for awhile and decided that I wanted to learn more about creative writing not just legal writing. I actually entered a contest to win a job as a good mood blogger. You can view my profile and vote at http://www.sam-e.com/job/profile/564.
    P.S. Smile-Knowledge is golden

  • http://www.knowledgereform.com/ Jason Cooper

    Good post once again, Ali!

    General learning is good up to a point, but learning about yourself is the most important knowledge you will acquire in life.

    Through this self-learning towards knowledge of self one can realise their potential and be successful with anything life throws at you, as well as it being beneficial for your own personal growth.

    I have written a post discussing the need for self-knowledge towards successful living:

    http://www.knowledgereform.com/2009/09/14/self-knowledge-is-power-knowledge-of-self-towards-successful-living/

    In conclusion: once should never stop learning in life, because if one says he knows everything then he is already six-feet under.

  • http://www.77successtraits.com Mark Foo | 77SuccessTraits.com

    Hi Ali,

    “Great post. We can’t be too afraid of making the wrong move or choice in life. If it happens to be a mistake, we just have to learn from it and move on. We have to learn how to take things in stride. If we’re so afraid of taking the leap, we’ll never amount to anything in life.”

    I absolutely agree with you on the above statement. It’s puzzling how some people deem non-academic education as a complete waste of time and money, especially when it comes to attending workshops or seminars.

    The only education they could come to terms with is academic education. To me, that’s extremely narrow-minded.

    Most people have a mistaken view that the only way to the top of the corporate ladder is to upgrade themselves by acquiring an additional or higher academic qualification.

    Although an additional or higher academic qualification may be good, it does not guarantee you the success or higher income you’re after.

    Increasing your income has got nothing to do with academic qualifications, experience, luck, age and/or seniority in the company.

    It’s all about creating value.

    If you can’t provide the value your client or company desires, what good would it be even if you hold a Harvard MBA?

    If you’d watched the reality show, The Apprentice, does Donald Trump always hire the candidate with the highest academic qualification or the most number of qualifications? No, he doesn’t. Period.

    And in order to provide real value in the real world, there are many different skills one needs to acquire, such as selling skill, communication skill, presentation skill, marketing skill, public speaking skill, etc. Whatever it is, you need to commit yourself to learn it.

    Cheers~

    Mark

  • http://www.77successtraits.com Mark Foo | 77SuccessTraits.com

    I’m sorry, I made a mistake in the statement I wanted to quote in my earlier comment. It should be this:

    “In Western society, we often think of “learning” in very narrow terms: it’s what we do in school, and once we’ve got our college degree, the learning phase is over – it’s time to work.”

    So sorry about it.

    Cheers~

    Mark

  • Lynn Morton

    I look forward to your post! Thank-you for keeping me inspired and on track!

  • http://takeonlifenow.com/blog/ Mark Lewis

    I think Gandhiji said it best, “Live as if your were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

  • http://blog.self-improvement-saga.com Nea | Self Improvement Saga

    What a wonderful post. I took my daughter out of school for a while in order to homeschool her. I was able to help her to understand what it really means to learn. It’s so much more than books and tests. She learned math in grocery stores and history on road trips. It was marvelous. She has a new found appreciation for knowledge. Learning can and should be fun. Thanks for reminding us.

  • http://www.PerkyWinners.com/ KeithB

    Great post, Ali.

    I have been blessed to be curious about life since I was a child and retain a childlike enthusiasm to learn.

    Have you ever watched a young child crouch down and stare into a garden border, for example? That is how I like to be. I don’t think you necessarily need to travel to learn, or even to go to college, just have that curiousity for life where you are. Having a childlike interest will keep you young.

    Henry Ford said: “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” Many of the greatest figures in history were self-taught: Winston Churchill certainly was.

    I had a discussion on this very subject on another site recently and we came to the conclusion you start learning with your first breath and stop with your last.

    Indeed, the older I get, the easier I learn. And I realise how little I know.

  • http://aim,.com khadejah

    thisstory has changed my life frome where i come from the rich in popular you can make anything change.

  • http://www.mypromdresses.co.uk/ prom gowns

    Learning Adds Depth to Your Life,it’s very ture!

  • http://www.guyfarmer.com Guy Farmer

    Great thoughts Ali. Learning is as vital a process as eating. If we stop learning we stop living. If our goal in life is to become self-actualized then it’s beneficial to keep learning about ourselves and the world around us. Learning is also a wonderful source of essential nutrients for the mind and soul. It feels good and it makes us more attractive on top of it all.

  • Miquan

    This is a great post and using this post helped me out a little on my research paper thanks for the useful informaiton.

  • http://moyomamora.com/ @MoyoMamora

    This year my reading goal was increased to 3 books per month. Like you said, reading keeps the mind young. Henry Ford once said “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”
    While watching the show Game of Thrones, Tyrion Lannister was asked by a warrior why he read so much and his response was “just like a sword needs a wet stone, the mind needs books”. A wet stone is used to sharpen swords, so reading books keeps your mind sharp (in case you needed to know the relevance).

  • the_scribbler

    You don’t name any sources here to back up what you’ve written so glibbly. Not that what you said is unbelievable….but rather that it would be *more* believable when backed up with scientific studies.

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  • PnP goes global

    we should never stop learning – about people, our selves, our world, our potential, everything!