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Emma Sue Prince



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Why we should all strive to be lifelong learners

Learning doesn't just happen – time needs to be carved out and motivation needs to be sustained.

We’ve noticed something of late with our trainers: when it comes to learning something new whether that’s getting to grips with Instagram Stories or writing a blog post for our website -  we often here the words 'I don’t know how to do it' and very little willingness to get stuck in and learn.

These days we often learn new skills by watching YouTube videos or tutorials and then the only way after that is to do it. Make mistakes and learn by doing - why is that so difficult?

Frantic pace

Our world is changing around us at such a frantic pace that if we do not continue to grow and develop we will soon be left behind. 

In the 21st century, we all need to be lifelong learners and we need to try and build new skills each day. This is about continually keeping our skills sharp and up to date so that we have an edge in all that we do. We all have a natural desire to learn anyway because we need to for adapting to change and for enriching and fulfilling our lives.

In his book Drive, author Dan Pink argues that we need three things to feel motivated about, and satisfied with our life: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Being a self-directed learner fulfils all three of these psychological needs and there’s a direct correlation between individuals who strive for growth in their personal lives and those who thrive in their professional lives.

In the 21st century, we all need to be lifelong learners and we need to try and build new skills each day.

Pursuit of knowledge is easier than it has ever been before – all the technological advances relay information instantaneously to our fingertips.

It's a modern day privilege to take this convenience and utilise it in productive ways. Yet it’s also technology that can be a major distraction when it comes to learning because we also need to hone our ability to focus.

Hectic and overflowing schedules

Many people may think with their busy schedules there is simply no extra time to learn anything more than what is absolutely necessary to get through everyday life.

Make learning something new part of your everyday.

It may just seem that we have too much on our plates already without adding more things to our ‘to-do’ list. Yet we are spending 23 hours every week texting and on social media. Imagine spending that time every week on learning more about changes in your industry or your personal enrichment.

  • Learning across a wide range of subjects gives us a range of perspectives to call on in our own narrow day-to-day areas of specialisation.
  • Learning helps us more easily and readily adapt to new situations.
  • A broad knowledge of unfamiliar situations feeds innovation by inspiring us to think creatively and providing examples to follow.
  • Learning deepens our character and makes us more inspiring to those around us.
  • Learning makes us more confident.
  • Learning instills an understanding of the historical, social and natural processes that impact and limit our lives.

Perhaps self-directed learning simply starts with cultivating an open attitude to life and to new information. Allowing ourselves to be challenged by views and opinions very different to our own.

Finding time to read more, whether it is a new book or following a blog but scheduling that time like we would anything else. Commutes are a good opportunity to watch downloaded TED talks or podcasts. 

Taking part in community activities from singing in a choir to volunteering at a local homeless shelter are brilliant for opening up the mind and expanding the comfort zone. Most of all it is about choosing to make the time for learning without the discipline of a requirement imposed on us to do so.

The motivation to learn, and learn for ourselves, comes from within and means being willing to have our minds changed and being willing to schedule learning time. Make learning something new part of your everyday.

Interested in this topic? Read L&D innovations that nurture lifelong learning.

Author Profile Picture
Emma Sue Prince


Read more from Emma Sue Prince

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