“An accomplishment is to get a Diploma or a Phd. A tragedy is to cease learning after accomplishing either.”
For most people, the path commonly taken is to learn one or two skill sets in their formal education and have their lives and careers be shaped by it until retirement. This was certainly the case for previous generations, where the time they lived in was much more straight-forward, much more secure and stable. In today’s world, however, the rapid growth of technology and ever-changing needs of industries have compelled a reassessment of our skill sets. And one of the solutions that many turn towards is ‘lifelong learning’.
But before we jump into its advantages and how to get into ‘lifelong learning’, we should begin by explaining what it is.
So what is ‘lifelong learning’?
Simply put, ‘lifelong learning’ is the act of learning outside of a formal education. It can be an informal or formal practice such as watching youtube tutorials at home or attending workshops and classes. At their best, a ‘lifelong learner’ constantly seeks to learn and evolve by gaining new knowledge and adopting new skills, no matter what age they are.
How does ‘lifelong learning’ help my work and employability?
As we take into consideration the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence and automation, one can argue that ‘Lifelong learning’ is now more crucial than ever. And instead of feeling fearful of being ‘outdated’ or ‘expendable’, here are some of the advantages of being a lifelong learner:
Employers will always see a broad skillset as an advantage. This will put you forward as an individual that is curious, resilient and adaptable. In difficult situations, ‘lifelong learning’ will give you an upper hand in problem solving as you will be able to have multiple solutions in your arsenal. And if you are self-employed, ‘lifelong learning’ will develop you into a ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of skills and talents and save you from outsourcing.
Being a lifelong learner keeps you relevant in your workplace and the job market. With the internet and automation, today’s jobs can be made irrelevant or even obsolete so it is important to keep up with the times. The extreme but useful way of looking at this is to have an ‘adapt or die’ mentality.
3) Personal fulfillment
This is perhaps the best outcome and attitude to have when you try to become a lifelong learner. Nothing beats personal fulfillment as it views learning as a personal development instead of a means of survival. Learning as a means to enrich your life will also positively affect your work-life and develop your confidence. This is arguably a more sustainable form of ‘lifelong learning’ as it creates a habit out of learning, getting out of one’s comfort zone and instilling a genuine curiosity.
So how do I start becoming a ‘lifelong learner’?
Luckily with the internet, resources have never been made more accessible and more diverse. The only question is how to properly start. Here are some tips:
1) Identify your interests…and gaps
The easiest way to start is to simply ask yourself what you want to know more in life or for your work. Ask yourself what skill you have not been given the opportunity to learn in your formal education. Aside from asking yourself your personal interest, you can also ask yourself what gaps you are missing. What skill can you learn to make your skillset more rounder and complete?
2) Be systematic and set goals
The best system of learning is to be organized and to learn progressively from A to Z. There is a reason why we use syllabuses in formal education. From time to time, chart your progress and see how far you’ve come and how much you’ve achieved. Set very clear goals and avoid mindless and aimless learning.
3) Never stop Learning
From its very name, to be a lifelong learner is to constantly learn and evolve. To be a lifelong learner is to be an optimist who believes that there is always a better version of ourselves that we can create. ‘Lifelong learning’ also creates humility, reminding us how the more we know, the more we don’t know. Thus always giving us a reason to never stop learning.