Most people associate learning with their school years or what’s called a “formal education”: elementary, high school and typically ending with their college or university days. But learning doesn’t have to end once you graduate and get your diploma. Here’s a fact: Learning doesn’t stop once you’ve stepped out of school and earned your bachelor’s degree. Learning is a continuous, lifelong process. In fact, people who are lifelong learners are shown to be more successful in life.
What is lifelong learning?
Lifelong learning is a form of self-motivated learning that is centered on one’s personal development. This usually refers to learning that occurs outside the confines of a formal educational institution (i.e. a school or university). This means that lifelong learning is an ongoing and everyday process meant to happen in our daily lives, regardless of our age or stage in life.
What are the characteristics of a lifelong learner?
Here are some of the most common characteristics of lifelong learners:
- They set goals
Lifelong learners always set goals for themselves. They know what they want to learn, what they have to do to learn it, and what the learning process is going to look like. Of course with every goal achieve comes a reward. It’s important, after all, to acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishments as well.
- They attend different courses
Whether online or on-site, lifelong learners love taking courses that can enhance their skill sets and provide opportunities to connect them with like-minded individuals they can learn from. They love looking for lifelong learning programs in their chosen fields.
- They look for opportunities for growth
If there’s anything lifelong learners hate, it’s wasted time. Instead of lounging on the couch watching reruns on TV, they’d rather read a stimulating book or attend a workshop for something that sparks their interest. Lifelong learners are always on the lookout for growth opportunities in areas that interest them and grab each one without hesitation.
What are the advantages of lifelong learning?
There are two main reasons people commit to a habit of lifelong learning: for personal development and professional advancement.
People who actively learn for personal development find enjoyment in learning, especially when it comes to things they are passionate about such as hobbies or a pastime they enjoy. For others, it’s to learn an entirely new skill such as playing a new instrument or learning how to paint. For others, perhaps it’s learning about a place they are about to visit.
People who practice lifelong learning for professional advancement have found that the skills they’ve gained have not only made them more employable, but it’s also made them more valuable to the company, therefore making it more difficult for the company to let them go in the long run. It also gives them a chance to hone and develop the skills they already have.
If you’re working in the corporate world or even running a business, remember that there’s always something to learn. Whether you want to bag that promotion or increase your sales, you’ll need to acquire new skills and knowledge to achieve your career, business, or life goals.
When you commit yourself to continuous, lifelong learning, such as enrolling in a lifelong learning program, you enjoy the following benefits:
Helps You Achieve Success in Your Career
Have you been having trouble landing that dream job you want? This may be a good time to learn something new to boost your market value. When applying for a job, you may have noticed that companies include a list of credentials and skills they want their applicants to have. Picking up new skills can help you stand out from other applicants and make you more attractive to prospective employers. Investing in a post graduate degree or online lifelong learning program that is related to your chosen field can equip you with the specific skills and knowledge your prospective company is looking for.
Strengthens Your Existing Skillset
If you’re already on the right career track but feel stuck in your dead-end position, you can continue your education to further hone your current skills. Apart from learning skills related to your chosen field, one of the benefits of lifelong learning is that it helps you develop other skills including soft skills which are useful both inside and outside the workplace. These soft skills include time management, networking, communication, conflict resolution, and active listening, among others. Improving existing workplace competencies, such as the abovementioned soft skills as well as effective presentation skills, helps you stand out from the pack and bag that promotion you’ve always wanted. As a matter of fact, a white paper commissioned by tech giant Microsoft revealed that communication, integration, and presentation (CIP) skills are necessary for almost half (40 percent) of all high-salary and high-growth positions.
Makes You More Adaptable to Change
One of the main skills you will need to master in life to succeed is resiliency. With the leading industries shifting so frequently, to stay ahead, you will need to learn to adapt with the current demands of the market. Becoming a committed lifelong learner allows you to always stay ahead of the curve. You’ll have the skills and knowledge necessary to seamlessly jump from one industry to another. Think of the effect of the Internet on the print industry, as well as how iPhones launched a revolution in the mobile phone industry. Every new skill you acquire will help you prepare for the jobs of tomorrow. The importance of lifelong learning is that it equips you with new skills and knowledge, making you a desirable employee at all times.
Keeps Your Brain Healthy
Learning something new every day can actually be good for your brain. According to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, learning keeps the cells of the brain working at peak levels. Remember that the brain is a muscle, and like any muscle, it needs constant stimulation to stay in shape. Continuous learning is the best way to keep our brains active and healthy. It forces our brains to exert itself (in a good way!) by pushing its limits and piquing its interests. By keeping it in shape through new challenges and opportunities for growth and learning, we exercise it and help it stay as healthy as it can be. This kind of mental stimulation could curb memory and cognitive decline as people age. In fact, constant mental stimulation has been found to go as far as to slow down the physical process of Alzheimer’s Disease.
And just like with any form of exercise, when you exercise the mind, your mind gets tired from all the mental work out it gets. This has helped people sleep earlier at night, and can sometimes lead to deeper, more restful sleep.
Helps You Stay Connected
Lifelong learning does more than just increase your knowledge. Participating in continued education, whether at a physical university or in an online group, enables you to meet new people and expand your network. The mental sparring you do with these people not only helps keep you social, it is also mentally stimulating as well. You will be exposed to people who are interested in the same things you are, and who are passionate about the same things you are passionate about. The connections you make can foster lifelong friendships. You know you will have people to talk to about things that interest you, or even ask for guidance or mentorship if you need a second opinion on certain topics at hand.
On top of this, enrolling in a continuous learning program can provide you with opportunities to network. This may even provide you with the chance to land the job you want. You, for instance, could bump into someone looking to fill a top-level position. Given that some companies hire via word-of-mouth referrals, your professional network could push your career off to a great start or help you move up the career ladder.
Makes Life More Enjoyable
An article published by Psychology Today revealed that lifelong learning helps people avoid depression and improves emotional balance. Older adults will find continuous education beneficial, as depression is common in the elderly. While you can’t stop the aging process, you can stay happy as you grow old when you commit to continuous learning.
Lifelong learning helps us improve our emotional balance and reduces the likelihood of depression. It also helps reduce stress in our lives by exposing us to subjects that pique our interest, making us happier and creating a sense of fulfilment.
Building Your Lifelong Learning Skills
If you want to become a lifelong learner, you’ll need to take steps to achieve a continuous learning mindset. Here are some of the ways you can accomplish this goal:
- Establish a Learning Goal – Learning must have a purpose. When you’re acquiring a new skill, you need a worthwhile and valid reason to learn that skill. Setting goals for yourself reinforces your desire to learn new things in life.
- Make Learning an Enjoyable Process – You should look at learning as a fun journey towards personal growth and discovery. You can have an enjoyable time learning a skill by doing hands-on activities and working together with other students or classmates. When you see the process as a “chore,” you’re likely to associate negative feelings towards learning and give up halfway.
- Transform Mistakes into Opportunities – Everybody makes mistakes. It’s a fact of life. Rather than look at slip-ups as crimes, see them as opportunities to take a different approach to solve a problem. When you make an error, don’t stop. Figure out where you went wrong and come up with different solutions.
- Try a Few Learning Tools – The Internet has so many tips you can follow to learn a skill faster and better. You, for instance, could perform a mental repetition, warm up your brain with a short icebreaker, practice yoga to improve your focus or concentration and work out your body before hitting the books.
Online Lifelong Learning Courses at AMA University Online Education
AMA Online Education (AMAOEd) is a school that provides online lifelong learning opportunities for people who want to increase their knowledge and market value.
You won’t need to sacrifice your 9-5 work to become a lifelong learner. We offer a range of lifelong learning programs for people looking to enrich their knowledge and level up their educational attainment. As the first full online education school in the Philippines, we give you the option to enroll in online undergraduate degree courses, master’s degree, or even short certificate programs to reach your learning goals. With our online academic programs, you can study and learn anytime, anywhere.
It’s never too late to start becoming a lifelong learner. Don’t miss out on a chance to improve yourself and start your journey of learning with AMA Online Education (AMAOEd). Send us an email at [email protected] for more information about our online learning courses.