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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