You may be one of those lucky folks for whom the beginning of September is like the beginning of any other month. But some of us, regardless of how long it’s been since graduation, feel the pull of fresh new notebooks and binders once September looms and ads appear for school supplies and dorm room enhancements.
Remember when we couldn’t wait for school to end? So much free time, no assignments, no deadlines or pressure. But wait… you’re working full time now and guess what: there are actually a lot of assignments with plenty of deadlines and pressure. And a whole lot less free time and energy than you imagined your post-school life would hold.
Learning doesn’t stop the second we leave school. Just because you’ve walked across a stage in a graduation cap and received a diploma doesn’t mean you know everything. Knowledge is not something we just acquire at one stage of our lives to be applied in the next stage of life. And it’s not limited to those with youth, degrees or diplomas. Learning is for everyone, regardless of age or education level.
learning new things keeps you sharp
That you’re drawn to learning new things says as much about you as what you’re drawn to learning. Lifelong learning keeps your mind sharp. In fact, there’s increasing hard science which points to lifelong learning as a way of slowing down or preventing physical and chemical changes in the brain that lead to dementia and even Alzheimer’s. Experts agree that higher levels of mental activity throughout life create better overall brain function. These are critical factors to our quality of life as we age and especially how well those of us who remain on the job well beyond retirement age function in our work communities. As you learn new things, you bring more to your workplace and home life. You’re more interesting. You become more engaged and productive. You process and communicate information more quickly and with greater accuracy. And it leads to general wellness as much as mental acuity, especially if you pursue physical activities like dance or tennis.
learning presents new challenges
Learning new things and skills challenges our minds at the same time as it pushes us out of our comfort zone. That’s a good thing and has unexpected benefits. The confidence and stimulation you gain from learning a new language or the piano will encourage you to change things up in other areas of your life. You might find yourself inadvertently speaking up in meetings, suggesting creative solutions you might not have previously considered, or relating to people in different ways. Your memory may improve. You may find yourself open to new situations and seeking out new people and networks. Widening your horizons and opening your mind to new experiences, especially if they’re social, is a happy by-product of lifelong learning.
learning increases your earning potential
Statistically, lifelong learners earn more because they keep their skills and knowledge up to date and are ready for the newest best thing, especially in technology, which changes at warp speed. Staying competitive in today’s market depends on your willingness to learn new things proactively. And if you’re interested in advancing in your organization, the independent thinking and leadership skills that come with constant learning can only help you achieve your goals. For those workers whose jobs have or may disappear or be replaced by advancing technologies, learning new skills is an economic imperative. It’s a way of fighting back and staying employable and relevant.
learning makes you a better employee
Lifelong learning hones your ability to relate to people and tasks. Experts connect it to an overall satisfaction with life and increased levels of happiness and satisfaction. What you choose to learn enhances your competitiveness and employability by adding to or refining existing skills. In fact, employers and hiring managers look for candidates who continually add to their toolbox of skills and knowledge. It assures them that you’re able to learn new skills – especially technical ones - and, more importantly, want to, and that you bring a lot to the organization beyond the basic skills and training necessary to do the job. Continual learning makes you competitive among candidates and can be the deciding factor in winning a role. And who couldn’t use an edge like that?
Being a life-long learner is an invaluable skill that will enrich your work life as well as your personal life. From making you a more productive employee to increasing your pay cheque, to yes, even making you happier there are numerous benefits. So what are you waiting for? Go learn something new!