Becoming a lifelong learner has a ton of benefits. The pace of change, of innovation, increases day-by-day, and we’ve got to keep up. Continuous learning lets us work better within a constantly changing world. Lifelong learners are more adaptable, practical, and confident. Learning keeps our brains healthy, helps us maintain our emotional balance, and lets us boost our careers. The more you learn, the more perspective you have, and the better you can assess the world in which you live. Here are some steps to help you become a lifelong learner.
Think about this for a second, and you’ll see it’s true. Here’s an example: let’s say you bought a coffee maker recently. You had to learn how to use that, right? Boom. That’s learning. Reading this article? Surprise, you’re learning!
Living requires learning. The point of this article is to help you learn more efficiently, to focus your learning to your benefit.
Read more about being a lifelong learner: What it Means to Be a Lifelong Learner.
You learn best when you’re working at something. If you want to learn more about cooking, well—make some recipes. If you want to learn about Stoicism, read Marcus Aurelius, yes, but also write down your thoughts. Having a project keeps you growing. If you have something to do, it’ll motivate you to keep learning.
Read more about starting projects: Learn by Doing.
Learning begins with the thought: I don’t know. And learning ends with the thought: holy heck, I really don’t know.
There’s no end to learning, no ultimate goal to achieve. Get excited by that fact. The world is a huge, mysterious, complex place. One satisfaction of being a lifelong learner is that you get to see just how huge and interesting it really is.
Read more about not knowing: The Art of Not Knowing.
Learning requires acceptance. You can’t be an expert at what you don’t know. To learn, you have to be comfortable with feeling a little dumb. Being a lifelong learner means becoming a lifelong student. There’s freedom in beginning. You get to see entire disciplines from the outside. You get to experience the magic of, say, music theory for the first time. Don’t shrink from what you don’t know. Being a student means you get to encounter an endless number of new and amazing innovations.
Read more about being a student: On Being a Student.
It’s easier to learn in school. High school, college. That’s because you’re around a bunch of other people. You’re part of a community of learners. People are social. We feed off each other. If you’re around lots of people learning, it makes it easier for you to learn. Try to learn with others. Maybe take some classes, attend a meetup, find some reddit forums or facebook pages. They are people out there who want to learn what you do. Go find them.
Read more about learning with others: How To Learn From People Around You.
Nothing forces you to learn like teaching, and nothing is as rewarding. Teaching also helps to demonstrate progress. It’s also a great way to create structure for your learning. You could write a post on medium once a week about what you’re learning, or create a meetup group for what you’re into. Teaching is a useful way to keep you a lifelong learner.
Read more about teaching: How Teaching Can Help You Learn.
Curiosity is at the core of being a lifelong learner. It’s the ability to find things interesting. As any lifelong learner will tell you: there’s always so much more they want to learn than they have time for. One key to becoming a lifelong learner is to work on your mindset: actively search out what you find interesting, then pursue it with intention.
Read more about curiosity: The Business Case for Curiosity.
There’s a line from a poem—“to see the world in a grain of sand”—that exemplifies the attitude you should take to your surroundings. Just because it’s your life, you see it everyday, doesn’t mean there aren’t a billion interesting things to learn from it. If you’re reading this on a phone or computer, ask yourself—how does it work? Who designed it? What’s the history that led to its creation? Lifelong learning does not start in books. It starts with asking questions about what’s right before your eyes.
Read more about paying attention: What is Attention?
In the end, learning is not about facts. It’s about asking good questions. The world is a vast, complicated place. Learning provides a better understanding of how vast and complicated it actually is. If you learn, say, about nutritional health, you’ll come to see how complicated our bodies are, and, potentially, how certain disciplines, professions, and institutions have been set up in response to that complexity. And the ways in which they’ve failed or succeeded. Getting an accurate picture of what you’ve learned takes time. It takes your brain, thinking. It’s not going to be found on fact sheets, or in an article. Learning is nothing without thinking. Make sure you do both.
Read more about processing: Perceiving and Processing Information.
A life occupies—surprise, surprise—a long period of time. Lifelong learners keep going by building good learning habits. Learning habits are about structure. Maybe block out an hour each day to focus on something you want to learn. Maybe create a curriculum for yourself. Remember, though, lifetime learning is about love of the game. Do it for you, because you want to.
Read more about building habits: How to Build Good Habits.
At Parthean, we’ve built a platform to help you fit learning into your life. Each day we’ll send you a bite-sized lesson tailored to your interests, and we’ll construct a curriculum around what you want to know. We built Parthean for the curious individual, for lifelong learners like you. Join Parthean to interact with a community of like-minded learners.