The advantages of lifelong learning

When was the last time you learnt something new?

Life is busier than ever, especially as the divide between the working day and home life gets increasingly blurred as a result of more flexible ways of working. It can be tough to stay on top of the ‘to do’ list as it is, without adding in the pressure of self-development.

Continuing to learn is important, not just for career progression and resilience but also personal fulfilment. However, it’s something that many people I speak to have fallen out of love with, especially those in professions that have necessitated years of education before being able to qualify.

When you have negative perceptions about something, you find it’s all too easy to nudge it down the list or fall out of the habit of doing it all together.

Keeping on top of self-development

We’re in a constantly evolving world and to keep yourself at the top of you game professionally, you must adapt with it. Think of your career like a product that needs regular maintenance and upgrading to ensure peak performance, or a plant that needs regular watering to keep it growing.

This is a good article about the three pillars of lifelong learning. It doesn’t need to be complicated, but it does need to be regular.

There are things that will occur in our professional life that we must react to as part of this constant evolution. It could be a new technology platform being deployed, a change in management or even, as we’ve experienced in this last year, adapting to different ways of working. Even though you are unlikely to be the architect of such changes, think about how you can benefit your development by embracing the opportunities they present.

You should also think about how you can be personally proactive in your lifelong learning journey. By focusing on what’s going on around you and looking ahead to what impact this may have in your professional life, you can begin to identify what you can do to ‘future-proof’ yourself.

How to build lifelong learning in

Many of us naturally think of formal courses when we think of learning but there are actually a whole range of ways that we can continue to fill our jug of knowledge, many of them free of charge.

From engaging with professional bodies or networks, reading recently published articles and research, and even listening to podcasts or Ted Talks, there are countless ways we can top-up our learning outside of more formal settings.

If you’re still commuting on public transport you could use the time to dip into short articles or Ted Talks instead of scrolling through your phone. And audio books can be great for in the car or when you’re out walking. Even squeezing in 20 minutes a day can really start to make a difference to your development and industry awareness.

You can also factor it into your day job by learning through experience – getting involved in new initiatives, putting yourself forward for projects that will expose you to new learning or maybe getting or being a mentor for others. Try to think creatively to find different ways to add to your learning journey.

The career benefits of lifelong learning

If you’re looking to change jobs or you’re in an organisation where you aspire to apply for a more senior role, or perhaps take on more responsibility within your current one, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re ready to do so. What better way to do this than evidencing the positive steps you have taken to stay up to date with your industry or sector as well as your profession through continued learning?

For those who are dealing with the impact of redundancy, the challenge of self-learning can be harder as the pressure of needing to find a new role can often be overwhelming. However, creating your own learning pathway is great way to bring some control back to your career and ensure you’re make yourself as desirable as possible to prospective employers.
Wherever you are in your lifelong learning journey, the key is to keep horizon scanning and predicting what future change will mean to your industry or profession. With this as your guide, you can select development opportunities that will ensure you remain not only attractive to your existing or future employer, but also seen as credible and expert within your profession and you don’t get left behind.

To explore whether having a career coach could help you take the next step in your career, give me a call on 07765 894040 to arrange a free chemistry session.

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