When comparing the most successful people in the world, it becomes clear that one of the most common characteristics they share is a passion for learning. Almost all of them are committed to continually deepening their knowledge and understanding of the world.
If you want the same thing for your life, here are four realistic steps toward lifelong learning that you can take.
1. Figure out what you genuinely want to learn.
It is wonderful to have an overall love for learning, but if you really want to transform that love into a lifelong habit, you need to figure out which subjects you genuinely want to learn about.
Consider what things and subjects are most important to you. That may be leadership, adult education, scientific progress, foreign languages or workplace health and safety. Are there specific outcomes you would like to see from your learning?
For example, do you want to be able to lead your team at work effectively? Connect better with the studies your children are pursuing? Be prepared to converse on the history of Brazil? Obtain an international diploma in occupational health and safety?
By taking some time to determine your passions and desired outcomes, you can efficiently chart a learning path for yourself. That being said, your focus can change over time; it doesn’t mean that what you are going to spend your life studying is set in stone. It merely gives a path and a direction to your learning.
While no one can deny it’s helpful and essential to read broadly, to avoid getting overwhelmed, you should have a plan for specific subjects.
2. Set goals in line with your objectives
Once you have figured out the subjects you want to pursue, it is time to establish a series of goals that will continually push you toward a more in-depth knowledge of your chosen topic.
An excellent way to do this is by creating reading objectives for yourself. This could mean things like:
- Investing in training to improve your skills in the workplace, expand your career prospects or achieve a professional goal.
- Setting an overall goal of reading 25 books in one year, 10 of which will be closely related to the subjects you have the most passion for.
- Joining discussion groups, either physical or virtual, to discuss the issues you want to learn about.
- Getting friends, teammates and colleagues to join you in your goals.
- Taking an online course to deepen your knowledge of a particular subject knowledge.
Goals allow you to put your desires into action. Focus on creating a learning plan that enables you to make real progress on your wishes.
3. Be open to different mediums to learn with and from
Regarding learning resources available, we have never lived in a more fruitful time. No matter what your subject of interest is, from morality to mussels to the Chinese language, there are thousands of resources across a vast number of mediums for you to utilize.
The beauty of the number of options is that they allow you to learn in a way that works for your personal circumstances and learning style. If you travel a lot or have a daily commute, you should consider listening to audiobooks or podcasts.
If you are more of a visual learner, then you should make use of the millions of videos on YouTube, online video classes or smartphone apps. If you love to read, then there is the old-school method of picking up one of the millions of books at your disposal.
Whether you have a full-time job or in between jobs, you can take advantage of online courses so you can continue your education without sacrificing your performance at work or your daily productivity. With e-learning, you can attend classes and do coursework according to your preferred pace and schedule.
Mixing and matching these mediums is the best way to learn and to get the most out of every day. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks on your way to work, read a book over lunch, and then watch a few online videos to unwind at the end of every day.
In other words, if you want to develop a habit of lifelong learning, you must be open to filling in the minutes and hours of your day. Rather than immediately hopping on Facebook when you’re bored, watch some educational videos. Bring your Kindle to the doctor’s office and read another chapter, instead of the latest celebrity gossip. Remember that even 10 minutes of learning is better than none.
4. Schedule time to learn.
Finally, the most successful people in the world make daily learning a priority. But our lives are busy and hectic, so if you are not intentional about scheduling specific periods for learning, there’s a good chance that it will remain a fantasy. Don’t choose short-term gains over a long-term loss.
Instead, make a serious effort to schedule time every day for learning. Even if it is just 15 minutes, having scheduled time will make it a habit. Decide when and where you’re going to do it, whether that’s at your desk over lunch or on the train on the way to work or in bed at the end of the day. Schedule the time on your calendar like you would with any work meeting and stick to it.
Learning is essential for growth and success. And should you choose to study a constructive topic such as workplace safety, your quest for learning will not only benefit you or your business but also the community and the environment. After all, meaningful learning impacts not just the student but also the people around her.
Those who continuously learn over the course of their lives set themselves up for growth, while those who abandon learning will stagnate. If you want to achieve great things, make yourself a lifelong learner. You won’t regret it.
Author Bio: Dave Newgass is the owner and Managing Director of Wise Global Training Ltd. in the UK. Dave’s goal is to ensure that clients are not only happy with the IOSH and NEBOSH online courses they purchase from Wise Global Training Ltd., but are also happy with the total experience.