Why You Should Be A Life-Long Learner

“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.

kid writing while another kid watches life-long learner

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.

Related: 25 Personal Development Goals That Unlock Massive Growth

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:

Professional Learning

  • 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!

Intellectual Learning

  • 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.


31 thoughts on “Why You Should Be A Life-Long Learner”

  1. Hi Barrie,

    I remember the feeling you had about college. I too had similar thoughts and feelings about school and I was happy to leave it behind. What I realized is that while I will never miss school, I will never stop learning. I have always preferred to learn things on my own, especially the things that interested me. I recall how I have always had a passion for history but found the history I had to study in school boring. I am appalled as I look back on how I initially thought the Islamic Caliphate was boring because my history teacher made it so. But years later when I read up on it as a result of the games I played, I learned that it was truly a fascinating civilization with many heroes and villains.

    I agree that we should balance living and learning. Too much of any one thing and it becomes dull and boring. Applying what we learn is the best way to gauge how well we have understood the subject matter. I have definitely enjoyed putting down my experiences on my blog. I love the points you have made about learning. Here are my thoughts on some of them.

    Learning can make you more money

    This is true. If we keep on improving our skill sets we can earn more money. The interesting thing is that when we blend different skills in unique ways, we get new ideas about earning money which we may not have considered before. Today we have to constantly innovate if we want to stay ahead of the crowd.

    Learning keeps your brain strong, even into old age

    Mental fitness is as important as physical fitness. But not everyone realize this. The fact of the matter is that if we do not use our brains or our muscles, they will atrophy. By constantly learning even into old age, we can keep our brains healthy and prevent problems that arise with disuse.

    Thank you for sharing all the helpful learning links. Those are truly a wealth of resources that anyone can benefit from! 🙂

    Irving the Vizier
    .-= The Vizier´s last blog ..The Why of Love and Appreciation =-.

    • Hi Irving,
      I know I am preaching to the choir with you on this post! You have one of the most inquisitive minds I’ve encountered. Thank you for your comments as always!

  2. I love learning! My job requires that I complete a certain amount of continuing education every year, but I usually go way beyond the minimum. Plus, I just love learning about all types of things. I find that things may seem completely separate in the beginning, but they usually end up connected in some way in the end.
    .-= Katie Goode´s last blog ..Self-Acceptance- How to Get Your Groove Back =-.

    • You are so right about that connection Katie. I think we are often drawn to learning things that connect the dots for us and give synergy to all of our actions and endeavors.

  3. I love this article! As a manager of a continuing professional education certificate program at George Mason University in Virginia, I truly enjoy assisting others as they seek to advance their skills. I have such respect for these individuals as they take time away from work, family and other interests to better themselves. Many of these students, ranging from recent college grads to senior citizens, are intellectually curious, motivated, and committed to learning. As a bonus to me, I am continually challenged to improve my skills to keep up with demands of this field.

    The title of your blog is great and fits nicely with the mission statement on our website (www.ocpe.gmu.edu): “Our mission is to promote lifelong learning through the design and delivery of continuing professional education and training programs for individuals and organizations.”

  4. I love to learn, always have. I’ve always been a good student, but at some point you get to choose what you study, learn, apply.

    I do think there is a balance between learning from others and learning from self. We take what’s useful, filter out what is not useful to us, and start looking for ways to apply it in our lives. Learning from our own mistakes and successes can happen in each moment or interaction. I think relationships are a great place to learn about oneself!

    Some of my favorite things to do with my kids is go to the library. I have learned more about animals, nature, dinosaurs than I think I’ve ever known by reading books with my kids. My mind is open, and I can use it in a new way. My daughter’s made it her goal to learn everything there is to know about dinosaurs, and she’s only 6!
    .-= Marci´s last blog ..7 Guilt-free Ways to Create Energizing Goals =-.

    • What is it about kids and dinosaurs?? I know so many children who went through that dinosaur phase — my own son included. They just devour (no pun intended!) info about them. And then the obsession stops as quickly as it started. I wonder if it has something to do with managing fear. But I digress . . .
      Thank you for you thoughtful comments Marci. Relationships are a great learning environment. They can bring out the best and worst in us — and instigate positive change if we are self aware!

  5. Great post. Life is a journey and we need to keep our roadmap up to date as we travel along. The days of a life long employment at a single firm are gone. Now even the idea of a single career path is almost extinct. We need to grow and adapt as the world around us does the same. Continual learning allows us to do that.

    At the same time, it is not only about the career. It is about making us a better person. When I find a lifelong learner to talk to, I have a great conversation partner. The people who are not lifelong learners simply don’t measure up.
    .-= Michael @ The Successful Man´s last blog ..The Ultimate Adventure Bucket List =-.

    • You are so right Michael. My dad was with the same company for 40+ years. He had no compelling reason to be curious and investigate new ideas. But I can’t imagine life any other way than following where my nose leads me. It sure does make things more interesting! Glad to meet a fellow traveler!

  6. Although I have a Bachelor of Education degree, I have to be honest and say that any real learning I did happened after my official schooling.

    For me, doing is learning. Books and instruction only help to a degree. Applying what you know and learning as you go are the keys to true success.
    .-= Marnie´s last blog ..The 21-Day Personal Challenge Series- Part 1 =-.

    • You are right Marnie. Application is necessary unless you are a philosopher or monk! I have to be careful because I love ideas so much. I love reading about people, concepts, and self-improvement. That’s why coaching is such a great profession for me. It helps me take what I’ve learned and apply it in a really meaningful way.

  7. Hi Barrie,
    Thanks for your Article.It’s true what you say in this article.For me,learning will help me to enhance my knowledge in all aspects.Finally thanks Barrie you are doing a fabulous job.

  8. Barrie, this is a great post for the start of a new year, and I am SO with you on this. I especially like your “learning is fun” reason for learning.

    My husband, Tim, lost his lifetime memories and most of his knowledge after a head injury 4 years ago, and he’s had to relearn things the rest of us take for granted. Instead of letting that get him down, he’s relishing the joy of learning and he considers himself lucky that he gets to discover things that are old news to most people his age (50). Learning can be a total blast. And it’s quite empowering, as you point out.

    Thanks for all the great resources for continuing the learning adventure!
    .-= Ande Waggener´s last blog ..The Danger Of Duck Lines =-.

    • Wow Ande. How strange that must be for you and him. Almost like being with a brand new person. But I do see the potential joy it — especially learning things again as an adult that we didn’t appreciate as children or teens. But I can imagine learning other things, like riding a bike, might be harder at 50 than they were at 5!

  9. Barrie, I remember thinking in college, will this nightmare of having to get up for class ever be over? In reality, I have been learning ever since in one mode or another. I’ve done by putting myself in situations I knew nothing about but had to master quickly. Not intentionally, of course. But it seems to be what I needed.

    What I would wish for is that more people take on the challenge of learning. By putting ourselves in the position of the student, we also develop other parts of our personalities – that part that listens carefully, the part that lets the ego take a back seat for a while. In a world where we are supposed to be **good** coming out of the block, allowing ourselves to be a novice for awhile is really a luxury and an awful lot of good can come out of it. But it makes us feel vulnerable, and sometimes that’s not so easy.

    Very good, pertinent blog post and I hope you have a wonderful 2011.

    • Thank you Diana for your very thoughtful comments. I agree — when we allow our curiosity to overwhelm our fear of vulnerability and failure, that’s when the real learning begins. I let fear hold me back from too many things in my youth. Now I don’t mind looking like an idiot! I hope to see you in Italy in 2011. 🙂

  10. I appreciated your article because I am looking for a way to carry on my education. I would like to continue studying freely at home!
    You are encouraging me
    Thanks a lot!!!!!!

  11. Barrie: Hey, it was a pleasure to read your article! I really got some good tips from it and I agree with you that life long learning is the way to go! It’s a bit ironic, but when I was in high school I hated reading books and most of the time I wouldn’t finish them. Now though, that I am done with grade school I have learned to love reading and for the most part, it has become one of the first things I do in the morning. I used to want spend my time wanting to write books, but now it’s quite the opposite actually. I don’t even feel the want to write a book anymore. I would rather spend my time reading all the beautiful books already left behind.
    I have been into spritual and motivational learning and doing a lot of reading in that area.

    Best Wishes,
    William Veasley


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