Maybe it was because in my 20s and 30s I thought I knew everything. Or perhaps it was tied to stage of life, when I was raising three babies and burning a candle at three ends, when “busy” was an idol or a god. Or maybe the “tyranny of the urgent” blinded me to more important things.
Whatever it was, somewhere along the way, I forgot to keep learning on purpose. Subconsciously I consigned learning to academic exercise confined to a classroom, picking up anything I needed to know with just enough knowledge to be dangerous (like when I accidentally deleted my blog).
I have more to say about that in an upcoming post at The Art of Simple, but for now let’s consider the benefits of being a life-long learner; a few I can think of:
1. It has the potential to save you money. Thanks to You Tube and the entire internet, you can learn how to do just about anything from making a perfect pie crust to replacing the brakes on your car. Learning how to do for yourself what you’ve historically paid for or hired someone else to do can save you thousands of dollars over a lifetime. I make the pies; my husband changes the brakes.
2. It sharpens your mind. People are living longer, and if I have that good fortune, if there’s anything I can do to stave off diminished capacity, I need to! According to the Rush Memory and Aging Project, “increased cognitive activity in the elderly slowed their decline in cognitive function and decreased their risk of mild cognitive impariment. The study showed that cognitively active seniors were 2.6 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia than seniors with less cognitive activity.” (source)
3. It fosters a sense of accomplishment. Mastering a new skill boosts my confidence and makes me feel like I can tackle the next thing. It feeds natural-born curiosity and makes me feel better about myself.
4. It helps you remain relevant in a changing world. Oh, don’t we know this well in the virtual world? Facebook was in its infancy when I started blogging and Twitter hadn’t even been born! To earn credibility and respect in the workplace, no one can afford to adopt “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude.
5. Positions you to help others. The more you know, the better able you’re equipped to work with others who can benefit from your leadership, expertise and experience.
6. Can expand your marketability in the workplace. Piggy-backing on #4, we don’t have to look farther than our economy and unemployment statistics to see this as true. Competition is fierce; it serves you well to learn more about your industry than the next fella looking for a job.
7. Keeps you young. Who wants to be an old dog? Don’t be intimidated or scared to learn new tricks! It’s hard for me to admit this, but I’m preaching to myself on this one. For me, this is subtle; I’ve realized if I can’t figure out something by myself or right from the beginning, I’ll put it down, get by with the little I know, and presume I can’t learn more–without even trying alternative means of learning.
8. Maximizes use of what you already have. Here, I’m thinking technology, but you might have other ideas how it applies to you. I have an iPhone, a Macbook, digital camera and half a dozen remotes, and I know how to use all of them “enough”, but none of them completely.
9. Invites new friendships. Maybe it’s learning a new hobby; local home improvement, craft stores and gardening centers offer free workshops. Or community colleges offer continuing ed classes for adults. Free classes give you opportunity to learn in a group setting, and the social aspect is bonus.
10. Makes you a more well-rounded person. It’s easy to fall into the rut of not trying new things, but if you’re willing to open yourself to something new, you’ll find it makes you multi-dimensional. You’ll have something fresh to talk about. You’ll be challenged; or tapping into an existing passion will set a good foundation for reaching the next step.
So. It’s a new year. Let’s not make breakable resolutions. Let’s commit to learning something new. A few things I’m thinking about?
How to crochet baby blankets.
How to make a chocolate soufflé.
Maximizing use of my Macbook and iPhone.
Making and edit videos.
Learning about architectural style (interest really piqued while living in Germany)
Bird identification (I’m always wondering what I’m looking at….)
Menopause (whether or not I like it, I’m there; it would only serve me to learn much more about the common insanity raging inside my body…)
Geography refresher. ( Umm…I’m geographically impaired; this is fixable with rote memory.)
Your turn: What would you like to learn? Are you already committed to being a life-long learner? If so, I’m curious how it manifests itself in your life.
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2014 is going to be an interesting year and I’d love for us to travel together!
When I retired, I decided it was high time that I learn how to play the piano. I’ve taken lessons since then and am proud to say I am an advanced beginner. : ) It brings me so much pleasure and makes me wonder how on earth little children can learn it all.
Yes, absolutely! My whole life’s voyage seems to have been defined by my search for knowledge. As a homeschooling parent, I hope to produce life long learners of my own. Natural learning, as we tend to call it, revolves around interests, or what just crops up in your daily life. Of course, I can manipulate my kids lives so that all sorts of interesting things crop up! I think it’s the best way to learn, you’ll never earn anything unless you’re interested and want to aquire that knowledge. I’ve taught myself to blog, use HTML, understand SEO and social media in the last couple of years. Don’t people normally go to college for that 😉 Good luck with the souffles, I can’t do that!
I just bought two balls of yarn and my first knitting needles to learn how to knit! A dishcloth to start but then hats and mitts and scarves. =)
And I am with you on learning how to maximize my iPhone and Macbook, I know I don’t use them the way they could be used and I want to change that this year!
Post any tips, tutorials, or helpful bits, please. =)
Life long learning is an intergral part of my life. I love learning. These days, I am doing a lot of intentional training with women shepherds in our chrch and area. Every session, I am sure I learn more than they do. Such a blessing! There sems to be a common element in the comments… adults only learn what is helpful or beneficial to them. It is true and can make all the difference to us in sticking with a new learning experience.
I had this SAME uncomfortable realization exactly one year ago! I realized that while I had always been an extremely good student (i.e. making straight A’s), I had somehow managed to come away not really know how to learn for its own sake.
I wrote about my resolution to learn more last year: http://unpunctuatedlife.com/2013/01/learning-for-learnings-sake/
But to be honest, I’m still on the journey. Sometimes I would just really rather watch The Vampire Diaries. I also have a tendency to think that if I can just find the right tool, the one that really works for me, THEN I will finally learn fill-in-the-blank. But it comes down to me a lot more than it comes down to the tool.
Good luck with the things you want to learn! I’m glad to know I am not the only one experiencing this.
Fantastic post! I took up bird watching very unintentionally last year and I absolutely love it. Don’t laugh but I bought a youth birding guide and it was a great first step. It explained birding in easy to understand terms and didn’t attempt to make me into a master birder. I also bought a bird book for my state/region so the number of birds to watch for wasn’t overwhelming and later bought a US guide. It is SO fun and you’ll be amazed how much more observant you’ll be outside. We vacationed in another state (5 states over) and I found myself itching to know what all the new birds were!
Question/favor, I am in my late 30s and I have a serious fear of going through menopause. Women talk about it like it is a horrible curse and a terrible time of life. Might you offer me any words to allay my fears?
I agree with you about learning. I am in my mid-fifties and still desire to learn something new. It’s like a new adventure. I have had some that failed (trying to learn Spanish and golf), but I am not giving up. I agree that it keeps us young.
Life gets busy some times and it can be hard to fit in learning. It is so beneficial.
I would love to learn how to cook better, more dance moves, do sign language better than I can now and more. I still keep learning with my current job. As a medical assistant I must do CEU-continuing education units. That helps me keep abreast of the latest medical information.
Have a blessed 2014~ God Bless! 🙂
What pattern for crocheting will you learn? I love making a granny square with no hole in the center (magic center). I recently finished a crocheted afghan for my sister and she wanted a scalloped edge, so I just searched youtube and found the one I liked and learned from a youtube video. I do want to make hexagonal afghans, too. Maybe this month I’ll try a couple of hexagons to see what I like.