“All the world is a laboratory to the inquiring mind.” ~Martin H. Fischer
When I graduated from college, I remember feeling elated that I was done with school and could now go begin living my life. No more all-nighters studying for exams. No more boring professors droning on about mindless topics. I was finished learning and on my way to freedom and adventure.
When you are 21, school feels like a means to an end. You graduate from high school, go on to college, and maybe pursue an advanced degree — all with the plan of preparing yourself for a career. Perhaps there are courses and teachers who peak your curiosity and stimulate a love of learning. But when you've been in school for 16 or more years, your eyes are set on the finish line.
Once you have a few years of “real life” under your belt, you come to appreciate how luxurious those years of learning really were.
Having the freedom to spend days in self-development and acquiring knowledge and new skills would be decadent beyond measure.
Truthfully, I prefer a balance of living and learning. There is great pleasure in learning for the sake of learning. But there is even greater fulfillment in applying what you learn in ways that improve your life and the lives of others. This happened for me in a significant way in recent years.
After college, I jumped into “real life” with enthusiasm and had an exciting career in public relations. I married and had three children in my 30's, spending the next two decades learning the fine art of child-rearing. There wasn't much time for any formal learning, but I did maintain a PR consultancy and read anything I could get my hands on.
As my kids have gotten older, I've had both the time and desire to expand my skills in ways that support my lifestyle business as a coach, writer, and blogger. I went back to school to get my coaching certification. I've taken courses to learn how to create a blog, build an online business, and sharpen my writing skills. I feel more fulfilled in my work and life now than I ever have.
What about you? Are you challenging yourself to continue learning in some way that will further your professional, mental, or spiritual development?
Here's why being a life-long learner is vital to your fulfillment and happiness:
- Learning can make you more money. If you advance your professional skills, or learn new skills, you become more valuable to your organization, your clients, or your boss. If you continue to develop in emotional intelligence and leadership skills, you are viewed as a bigger player with the qualities to move ahead in your career.
- Learning makes you more attractive and interesting. As you develop your knowledge base, skill sets, expertise, and interests, you become a far more engaging, conversant, and sophisticated person. When you broaden your intellectual and emotional horizons, you attract a wider variety of people and can view the world from a more enlightened perspective.
- Learning keeps you emotionally healthy. When you both challenge yourself to learn something new and when you actually master the material, you will profoundly boost your self-esteem. The sense of fulfillment in the process of learning and the application of learning is exciting. When you are deeply engaged in learning, you are “in the flow” — in the same way you are fully present and focused during meditation or creative endeavors.
- Learning keeps your brain strong, even into old age. Just as exercise keeps you physically fit, learning enhances mental fitness. Senility is not inevitable. In the book The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science, research psychiatrist Norman Doidge, M.D., reveals that learning can alter our brain anatomy, improving cognition and perception, even as we age. This is profoundly true when you challenge yourself to stretch your mind in areas where you are weak or inexperienced. Use it or lose it.
- Learning is fun and engaging. Especially when you are learning about something you love. The learning world is your oyster. The internet has made continued learning so easy, affordable, and accessible. It's hard to come up with a good excuse not to keep developing in all areas of your life.
If you find yourself watching hours of television every day, regularly reading lightweight novels or magazines, or running the treadmill of endless chores and tasks, I invite you into the classroom for a life-changing course in miracles!
Here are some ideas for that might kick-start your learning adventure:
- Investigate the skill sets or knowledge that could help you advance in your career or grow your business. Then enroll in a continued education course for your field or begin working toward a degree or advanced degree. You can now get your degree through online programs working from home. Here's a site that reviews online schools and degrees.
- Also consider certification programs that can advance your current career or business or launch you in an entirely new direction. I received my coaching certification from Coach U, an accredited training program for personal and business coaching, and it has changed my life.
- Advancing your web and social media skills will help you in any business or career. Whether you want to build your own online business or market an existing business, you will be left in the dust if you aren't constantly updating your knowledge and skills in these areas. I took several wonderful courses in blogging and building an online career through the A-List Blogging Bootcamps.
- If you are still trying to figure out what you want to do with your life, check out my course called Path to Passion.
Self Development Learning
- Consider strengthening your emotional, spiritual, and psychological development with programs and classes that can help you become more self-aware, have better relationships, learn coping skills, have more emotional intelligence, get motivated, and deepen your spiritual life. Take a look at my Shop Page for some of my favorite courses and programs.
- Readbooks that enlighten and motivate you to be a better person. Self-help books can be an extremely valuable part of your personal development learning. Have one at your bedside all the time.
- Work with a coach, mentor, or counselor to help you learn in an intimate, one-on-one environment that will super-charge your growth, insights, and actions. This is the equivalent to personal training for your fitness development!
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- If you have a passion or interest in a particular area, take some enrichment courses just for the fun of it. Some of my favorite enrichment learning classes are offered by The Great Courses. They offer over 300 courses on every possible discipline taught by professors from Ivy League and other college and universities offered on DVD, CD, and MP3 formats. I particularly love their fine arts, literature, history, and theology courses.
- A really exciting way to learn is to take an educational or cultural vacation. Traveling in itself provides wonderful opportunities for learning and expanding your horizons. And there a many educational travel programs that offer incredible learning experiences at unique destinations.
There was a television ad many years ago with the featured tagline, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” Please don't waste yours.
There are opportunities for seizing the joy of learning right at your fingertips, just a mouse click away. When you find yourself bored, depressed, uncertain, lacking motivation or enthusiasm for life — go learn something! It will only improve your life.