One of the learning 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, for 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 are finally free to learn from a broader range of topics and maybe discover other interests.
The sad part is many young, and older adults unintentionally stopped learning as soon as they graduated and started working. You will see these people everywhere. They became too busy with life that they forgot to allocate 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 at 65 years old, who, on the very last month of his government work, is still trying to improve his software. Yes, he is a senior citizen programmer.
I work in a government institution where complacency is rampant. Sadly, many middle-aged men and women stopped learning something new after starting a family or securing their tenure. It seems like they have already started to wait for their retirement.
Why should you continue learning?
Before doing anything, it is essential to understand why you are doing it. In the case of continuous learning, as long as you are learning, 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 to begin?
There are so many things to learn. And just like any other endeavor, starting is the hardest thing to do. So, as a rule of thumb, you should first dedicate your time to the things that spark your interest.
Your interest may not necessarily be connected to your job or career. It can be about a hobby that you’ve always wanted to do or a skill that hopefully, one day, be another source of income.
When learning something new, it is crucial to start from a general topic before slowly narrowing it down to a niche.
For example, suppose you want to learn about the stock market. 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, which would mean that learning as little as 20% can produce 80% of the result.
There are four categories that I believe we should learn:
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.
There are also many continuous professional development seminars, training, and courses to help you improve. It is also advisable to take paid courses on top of the free because you are more likely to push yourself more if you paid for it.
Growth Mindset – proper mindset is crucial to anyone trying to succeed in life. You have to acknowledge that you don’t know everything and that other people are better than you in certain aspects of life.
It would be best to let go of the things you can’t control and focus on those that you can. Humility is part of the long process towards self-improvement, just like what Proverbs 16:18 said that pride goes before destruction. So if you want to move forward, stay grounded.
Financial Intelligence – this is about money matters. You need to know a little bit of many things about how money works to utilize it properly.
Many problems of working adults are that they don’t learn how to handle money properly, resulting in stresses that could have been avoided if they had increased their financial literacy.
Resilience is simply the ability to deal with and recover from difficulties. This is more of 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.
Another consideration of how we should learn is the common notion that we should work on our weaknesses. However, the reality is you should capitalize on your strength and let others supplement your weaknesses.
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.
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. Learning 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.
At different points of our lives, our interests will change, which is perfectly okay. The important thing is that you continue learning. Just keep moving forward. Happy learning!
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