Having long been the curious type who always wanted to learn more about the world and most of what’s in it, I vowed many years ago to make an effort to gain some new knowledge every day, no matter how small the lesson.
Some may see this as trying to be a know-it-all, but it is really about keeping yourself well informed about life in general. It’s important to realize that learning doesn’t stop when we leave school but continues throughout life.
Over the years I’ve come to realize the value of having an open mind and being a good listener with a willingness to learn.
Scientist and Doctors believe that keeping your brain stimulated can lead to a longer life, which is a pretty good benefit. Longer life aside, it is always nice to learn something new as the benefits are numerous.
As we continue to learn we continue to build upon our skills which help position us for success in both our business and personal lives.
10 Ways to Never Stop Learning
1. Enroll in continuing education courses.
Again, the learning experience is a life-long one and obtaining a degree after high school has created some of the most successful careers in history. Enrolling in a college and obtaining a Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctoral degree provides tremendous opportunity for establishing a highly successful career. This is one sure way to ensure that you never stop learning.
2. Visit your local library or bookstore.
Has there ever been a library or bookstore that was not absolutely jammed packed with knowledge?
By reading materials on a subject that you would like to know more about, you expand your knowledge with every page. It’s the most fundamental way of learning and provides for what I have always called the great escape, as the world around you temporarily fades into the background. There is something about reading that is transformative.
3. Visit a museum.
This is one of the most enjoyable ways to keep learning. Museums are loaded with all sorts of items, each with their own story.
I live an hour north of Washington DC where the city is just loaded with museums. I recall visiting one day with the intent of visiting a couple of museums, beginning with the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History. As it turned out, that was the only stop that day and I spent some 8 hours or more seeing only a fraction of what is housed there.
4. Visit a foreign country.
During your visit to a foreign country you will be exposed to some of the customs and ways of others, providing a unique learning experience. Learning how others live can be a great experience. If you remain in a foreign country for an extended period of time you will be forced to learn the local way of life and likely go through the phases of culture shock.
5. Ask Questions
Want to know more about something? Simply ask.
Asking questions can lead to quite an education on your topic of interest, particularly when people see that you are really interested. By nature, most people are quite helpful and are willing to help you learn more by sharing their knowledge.
6. Try something new.
Doing something that you have never done before is a learning experience that can be both fun and educational. A new hobby, exercise routine or a sport you’ve never played can give you a new outlook on life and expose you to new networking opportunities.
7. Visit the elderly.
Visiting folks who are in the sunset years of life can be very rewarding. They love to tell the stories of the “good ole days” and share their life experiences. You can learn some valuable and little known lessons from them. There is also that glimmer in their eyes that comes because someone took the time to visit with them, creating a really positive experience for both of you.
This also provides a glimpse into our future, where we will someday replace them and hope that someone will spend a little time with us as well.
8. Watch TV.
Many see TV as a waste of time, but I’m not talking about those mindless programs with the influential and phony laugh tracks.
Watching educational programming can teach us a lot about life. There are a number of educational networks where you can learn about history, animals, travel and a host of crafts that truly enhance your living and learning experience. Most of these are in high definition, another one of those great escapes.
9. Online research.
If you are reading this then I likely don’t have to tell you about the wealth of information online and easily accessible to the world. You name the topic and there is more than likely something online about it posted somewhere.
Using search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing you can find just about anything imaginable.
Word of caution. Consider the source of the information you find and verify it’s validity. Many rely on Wikipedia entries, most of which are reliable sources, but these are open source documents that can be updated by anyone. A good practice is one used in the medical profession, get a second opinion.
10. Ride the technology wave.
As new technologies are developed and released, learn all that you can about them by reading or actually using them. Subscribe to a good tech magazine for the latest in the industry so that you are always in-tune with today’s advancements.
Just think of the cell phones of yesteryear, those huge bags and pouches that were tethered to your vehicle. There were no apps because they had but one purpose, make a call. But today they have advanced to hand-held computers performing all sorts of tasks with high speed performance.
Nearly 70% of U S households now have broadband service allowing people to jump on the internet in a matter of seconds. There was a time not so long ago when the few homes that had access were on, gulp, dial-up.
I use these two examples to point out how critical it is to continually learn about the world we live in and how quickly we can be left behind if we fail to do so.
No matter where you live today, you’ll have to compete on a global stage because technology has shrank the world as we once knew it.
Learning the lessons of life take a lifetime and allowing periods of time to pass us by without learning something new is not the best use of the time we have, in my humble opinion. You don’t have to take on a college course every week, but simply develop the mindset and purpose of learning something every day, no matter how small the lesson. This can be done by reading a single chapter from a book.
If we fail to continually learn, our current knowledge base will someday be overrun by the normal progressions of life, leaving us on the wrong side of opportunity. The people who have “kept up with the times” will be better positioned by far.
One last example:
As the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries played out, many management and labor jobs made for good earning potential and exceptional to modest standards of living. But as these industries introduced automation and modernized, many were left with the single skill they had used to earn a living for decades, making them unemployable without some form of retraining.
Might the transition for many have been a little easier had they continually learned new skills?
We cannot say for sure, but continual learning never hurts your cause.