Last Updated on: September 20, 2023
One of the mottos I live by was commonly attributed to Albert Einstein. He said that once we stop learning, we start dying, and I know this to be true — well, in the intellectual sense.
Learning never stops after graduation. In fact, it is the best time to explore more learning opportunities because you are no longer bound by the curriculum and your instructors. You can learn from a broader range of topics and discover other interests.
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The Sad Truth of People Giving Up On Learning
The sad part is that many young and older adults unintentionally stopped learning when they graduated and started working.
You will see these people everywhere. They became so busy with life that they forgot to devote time to learning something new. They would instead waste their precious time mindlessly scrolling on social media.
On the other hand, some older people want to test the bounds of their interests. For example, I have a retiring workmate, 65 years old, who, in the very last month of his government work, is still trying to improve his software. Yes, he is a senior citizen programmer.
I used to work in a government institution where complacency was rampant. Sadly, many middle-aged men and women stopped learning something new after starting a family or securing their tenure.
They seem to have already started waiting for retirement as early as their 30s.
Why Should You Continue Learning?
Before doing anything, it is essential to understand why you want to learn. In the case of continuous learning, as long as you are adding knowledge, you will never be left out.
Progress and innovation happen everywhere, so we need to upgrade ourselves constantly.
Imagine the people and organizations who refused to adapt to the rise of computers, automation, and the Internet. They all went extinct.
Also, there is the self-satisfaction of learning something you never thought possible or doing something you thought you couldn’t.
Where Should You Begin Learning?
There are many things to learn and improve on, so learning never stops. And just like any other endeavor, starting is the hardest thing to do.
As a rule of thumb, you should first dedicate your time to the things that spark your interest and has a genuine desire to improve.
Your interest may not necessarily be connected to your current job or career. It can be about a hobby you’ve always wanted to do or a skill that hopefully will one day be another source of income.
When learning something new, starting from a general topic before slowly narrowing it down to a niche is crucial.
For example, you want to learn about the stock market and investing. In that case, you will first study what the stock market is and how it functions before going deep into the financial ratios of fundamental analysis or trading indicators of technical analysis.
What Should We Learn?
The idea is to move from a broader topic and slowly narrow it down.
General topic > less general topic > specific topic > more specific topic > mastery.
You also don’t need to go very deep or specialize. You can apply the 80-20 Rule or the Pareto Principle, meaning that learning as little as 20% can produce 80% of the result.
There are four categories that I believe we should learn:
1. Professional Knowledge
We need to have the knowledge that allows us to improve our work or our primary source of income.
Whatever your profession may be, it will take years of formal and informal learning to gain the necessary skills to be at par with the best.
Many continuous professional development seminars, training, and courses also help you improve. Taking paid classes on top of the free ones is also advisable because you are more likely to push yourself more if you pay.
2. Growth Mindset
A proper mindset is crucial to anyone trying to succeed in life. It would be best to acknowledge that you don’t know everything and that other people are better than you in certain aspects of life.
Let go of the things you can’t control and focus on those you can and where you’re strong.
Humility is also part of the long process towards self-improvement, just like Proverbs 16:18 says that pride goes before destruction. So if you want to move forward, stay grounded.
3. Financial Intelligence
Financial Intelligence is about money matters. You need to know how money works to utilize it properly.
Many problems for working adults are that they don’t learn how to handle money properly, resulting in stress that could have been avoided if they had increased their financial literacy.
Resilience is the ability to deal with and recover from difficulties.
This is more experiential learning and will require practice. Life is hard, but just hard enough so that we can learn from it.
How Should We Learn?
Unlike how we were taught in school, out-of-the-classroom learning should be adapted to your specific intelligence.
According to Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, each person has unique intelligence and therefore learns in various ways, so your learning style can be different from others. But as long as it is effective, do it.
If you learn best through reading, then read. If you focus better by listening, then find a podcast. If you are more of a visual learner, you can watch videos. If you prefer experiential learning, then act and immerse.
Another consideration of how we should learn is the common notion that we should work on our weaknesses. However, you should capitalize on your strength and let others supplement your weaknesses.
Continuous learning is like entering through a door. Inside that door are many more doors pointing to different branches of knowledge. Opening another door will only reveal more doors. It never ends.
Never think as if you know everything because if you do, learning becomes difficult.
Instead, have the humility to accept that there are still so many things to learn. You need to allocate the time.
Our interests will change at different points in our lives, which is perfectly okay. The important thing is that you continue learning. Just keep moving forward. Happy learning!