Become a Lifelong Learner

We are born to learn – that is our primary job for most of our lives anyways. Once we graduate, there will be times where we might think that we’re finally done going to school – no more education! But why stop there? Just because we’re not enrolled in any classes doesn’t necessarily mean that we should stop learning. Education is vital to our lives, and it makes us a well-rounded individual. There are countless great people in history who were self-learners, and I urge you to do the same.

From a traditional standpoint, education is important. But success comes from the individual themselves who’ve dedicated their lives to the concept of lifelong learning while educating themselves on new concepts and ideas and understanding the importance of creating all opportunities in life.

In this generation, we have much more opportunity to pursue learning. Technology plays a huge role – we can learn to write under our fingertips. I remember those days in elementary and middle school where we would have to go to the library and look up information in the encyclopedia. I was so grateful that my grandpa would have a little library at his house full of books. It was great!

Why should you become a Lifelong Learner?

You’ll earn more.Education is KEY to landing that job you’ve always wanted. Having a college degree  is a plus, but sometimes it just doesn’t cut it anymore. If you want to stay competitive in the field, you need to teach yourself new skills. Becoming an autodidact could open doors to many opportunities and it shows future employers your willingness to learn on your own.

You’ll build charisma.Not that you’re not interesting and charismatic already, but this can give you a boost anywhere you go. Holding a conversation in a social gathering and talking about any topic is very impressing, do you think?

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You’ll be a better leader. Having the knowledge and ability to interact and connect with others can help you find a solution to tackling on the challenges.

You’ll be independent. Stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire on I-35, well it’s a good thing I know how to change my own tires! My dad and grandpa taught me how to: change the oil, mow the lawn (and fix the lawnmower), repair the house, etc.

It keeps your brain healthy. Doing puzzles, reading articles, using your critical thinking skills can keep your brain healthy and young. Don’t stop learning, because it’s very beneficial to your health. Numerous studies show that keeping your brain stimulated can prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Because the gradual loss of connections among neurons, causes damage and death of neurons; in other words, brain shrinkage (atrophy).

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You’ll be more satisfied with life. Instead of being required to learn certain subjects or skills, you have the ability to choose what you are learning. And mastering a skill by learning on your own is such an awesome feeling!


Common barriers you might have of becoming a lifelong learner

People have the same excuses for not becoming a lifelong learner because they are filling their minds with surfing the net and watching countless hours on the television. Let's try to limit our time on the TV and take the time to learn something! 

Time. I’m sure it can be difficult to learn on your own when you have a super jam packed day with work and your family. But remember that as a lifelong learner, you DO NOT have a timeline on your education. You can take all the time you want to study on your own. Even 15-30 minutes can make the biggest difference. Ever stuck in Austin traffic and listening the same songs over and over again? Why not download an audio book and listen to it during your commute? You’ll be surprised out how much you learn during your commute.

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Money. There are so many FREE sources out there, and you can also learn at your own pace. I’ll list a few sources at the end of the post.

YmXbK7NInformation. We have the internet now. There might be a few skills that will require you to have a one-on-one session if you really want to master in something, try yelping it. Or picking up the local newspaper to see what’s available in your area.

Location. You can learn anywhere and everywhere! Again, you do not have to attend a formal class unless you’re trying to get certified in that area. There’s so many online classes available, check it out.

How to become a lifelong learner

 Mindset. What is holding you back from learning? There is this belief that you can’t learn new things, but that is absolutely WRONG. When you keep your mind active, it creates new connections among neurons. 

Change your idea of learning. No classroom needed. You can simply learn from friends, family, and pinterest! We have the opportunity to learn something new everyday. Learning isn’t strictly in the books, but acquiring a practical skill is a huge part too! For example: our pups ripped out our fence. I observed the materials used and fixed it myself. Boom. I’m officially a handywoman!

Establish goals. What are you interested in learning? Is there a deadline to learning this skill? I would highly suggest for you to set 3 big learning goals a year. Here is mine: (1) become fluent in Spanish, especially healthcare (2) master the sewing machine (3) becoming familiar with medical plants

Find your sources. Once you have your goals, be sure to gather your sources. See what’s available online. Try checking out the library as well, you’ll be surprised at how much you find there...did I mention that it’s free?

Ask questions. You can read something, but not fully understand it. When in doubt, ASK! No one is judging you. You’re doing this for your own benefit. Keep that in mind.

Find a group. I wanted to learn how to play softball last year, so I joined the Austin Sports and Social Club. Of course I joined the beginners team, but everyone was willing to teach each other the rules of the game. It’s awesome to have a group with you, because they could point out your strength and weaknesses and give you constructive criticism. I learned that really enjoy playing softball.

Practice. Seriously...PRACTICE. Whatever you learn, try to apply it to everyday life. If you’re learning a new language, speak it! Since I’m brushing up on my Spanish, I would talk to my Spanish speaking patients to the best of my ability. Every now and then I would go to the grocery stores where there are only Spanish speakers, it’s really fun. Plus, they have awesome deals on produce (mainly avocados, jalapenos, tomatillos, tomatoes).

Sources for Learning

There are many sources out there for you to learn. I’ve listed FREE learning tools that will get your started.

Duolingo - I highly recommend using this app. it teaches you words and phrases that are commonly used in that country. And it’s really fun to just play with definitely check it out! It has over 20 languages that you can learn.

Live Mocha - this is also a great way to practice your language skills. You’ll be able to communicate with other people and practice.

Khan Academy - Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom. They cover math, science, computer programming, history, art history, economics, and more.

TED - a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world. Watch a few videos and explore what they have to offer, there are topics in there that will definitely inspire you. The startup for Duolingo was featured in there as well!

Youtube EDU - instead of spending countless hours watching youtube videos of cats, why not focus that extra time spending it learning on youtube edu?

Your Public Library - I’ve been going to Austin Public Library for years. Just apply for a free library card, there are so many classes and resources you could find at the library.

OverDrive - you could download your public library to this app and check out ebooks, audiobooks, etc.

Meetup - meetup is a great site to get a group together within your community with the same interests such as dancing, cooking, etc. If there’s not a group in there that you’re interest in, MAKE ONE!

Joanna Callaway 

Did you learn anything new? Have any goals in mind? Feels free to share! 

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