Lifelong learning is not just a business term; it is a need in today’s contemporary workplace. With continued technological development, the nature of employment will continue to change in the future years, and many of the skills we now possess may adapt or become outdated. This implies that everyone must commit to lifelong learning and continually upgrade their skill sets in order to remain current and competitive.
To begin, we must debunk harmful myths regarding lifelong learning, such as the following: (1) only “bright” individuals can continue learning, and (2) the older a person grows, the more difficult it is to acquire new abilities.
These statements are untrue.
To paraphrase Buddha, “what you believe becomes,” and your perspective of your own abilities dictates what you can and cannot do. Once you’ve made the deliberate choice to be a lifelong learner, all that remains is to cultivate the appropriate mindset and learning habits.
Here are 8 behaviors that may help you continue learning and growing throughout your life.
1. Accept your status as a novice.
One of the most difficult aspects of adult learning is the pain associated with not being excellent at anything when you’re just getting started. However, effective lifelong learners are those who have developed an appreciation for being novices. They approach learning a new skill with the realistic understanding that they would struggle at first. To be a successful lifelong learner, you must adopt a beginner’s mentality. Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki said in Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice, “There are many possibilities in the beginner’s mind.” There are few in the expert’s mind.”
2. Acquire knowledge from errors and failures
Another mental trap that many individuals fall into is mistaking errors and failures for indicators of a person’s intellect or skills. However, cognitive psychologists have shown that making errors helps us learn if we have a growth mindset, which is the idea that one’s intellect is malleable and can be enhanced through effort. Effective lifelong learners have a growth attitude and see errors and failures as chances to develop and achieve better, not as indicators that they are not excellent at anything.
3. Ask questions
Successful lifelong learners have a childlike mentality – they are not hesitant to ask questions while they are seeking knowledge. Many individuals dread being labeled as “stupid” or inept for inquiring. However, it is a sign of intelligence, as they recognize that there is always more to learn, bigger things to find, and more methods to improve.
4. Be prepared to unlearn what you already know.
In today’s rapidly changing environment, what worked ten years ago may not function in the workplace ten years from now. This is why successful lifelong learners see learning as a continuous process of unlearning in order to make room for new information. They are willing to question their own ideas and views and to consider the possibility that there are other, more effective ways to accomplish tasks.
5. Be patient with your personal growth.
With adult obligations in the way, many individuals feel they just do not have the time to devote to education. If they have anything to learn, they want to learn it quickly and get upset if they do not. However, effective lifelong learners understand that self-development is an investment, and that, like with money, patience is your most valuable asset for long-term outcomes.
As Cal Newport notes in his book So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Count More Than Passion in the Search for Work You Love, “it takes time to become proficient at anything.” Lifelong learners understand that incremental learning is preferable than no learning at all.
6. Put what you’ve learned into practice and application
Adult learners learn best when they understand how to apply their information and abilities in real life, according to Malcolm Knowles’ five principles of adult learning.
Because they apply what they learn in real-world circumstances, lifelong learners become more interested in their learning. This manner, they may get immediate feedback on what works and what might be improved.
7. Avoid confining yourself to what you already know.
Due to the fast shift in the kinds of skills required in the job market, lifelong learners seek to expand their areas of competence. They are always anticipating what will be needed in their possible future job and developing abilities that are applicable across a range of sectors and professions. This manner, they are more receptive to new possibilities and more equipped to pivot their careers if required.
8.Evaluate yourself and seek feedback
Continuous learners have a high sense of self-awareness. No matter how excellent they are at something, they are always searching for ways to improve. They challenge their own beliefs and biases and seek input from others.