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the most important trait you need to live the good life and how to foster it

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lifelong learning

It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skill.” Wilbur Wright

When I graduated from university, the man who gave the graduation speech had just been awarded his PHD.

He was 86 years old.

And he was embarking on a new career that he had been working towards for a lifetime.

He knew the secret sauce recipe.

He had absolutely fostered the one trait you need to live the good life.

He was a dedicated lifelong learner.

Education – whether it’s learning economic theory or how to knit a scarf – is the portal to the good life.

Step through the and you’ll be transformed.

The more you actively seek new learning opportunities, the richer and more satisfying your life will be.

5 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD BE A LIFELONG LEARNER

1. LIFE SATISFACTION

The radiant smile when a three year old declares I did it myself! captures the pride, joy and satisfaction that comes from being capable and competent.

We never grow out of that.

It’s been years now since I worked as an accountant, but when I sat down to help someone with a spreadsheet, and I realised I actually knew what I was talking about, I stood a little bit taller and felt a little bit more confident and valuable as a community member.

When you learn new things, you’ve got more to give.

Learning new things also gives you that Aha! moment. The wow, I didn’t know that, how cool! that keeps life interesting and surprising.

2. DEVELOP YOUR NATURAL TALENTS

We all have our own unique, natural talents. It’s our PURPOSE in life to find out what those talents are, develop them and use them to make the world a little bit brighter.

To find out what your natural talents are, you have to try a wide range of activities and explore a wide range of topics.

School teaches us lots of important things, but if your natural talent doesn’t fall within the narrow syllabus, school is not going to help you develop that talent.

Which is why lifelong learning outside the mainstream education system is just as important as what you learn in school.

3. ADAPTIBILITY

There’s only one constant in life, and that’s change.

You’re better able to adapt to change if you are open to learning new things, adopting new ways of doing things and increasing the depth and breadth of your skills and knowledge.

4. EMPLOYABILITY

Gone are the days where you have one job or one career for life.

The average person can have between 12-15 jobs in their lifetime. If you’re Gen Y or younger, then that number could be a lot higher!

In an uncertain working environment, learning new skills gives you the flexibility to find a new job, possibly in a new industry, more easily.

Up-skilling also helps you go further in your career path and allows you to more easily negotiate pay rises.

5. WISDOM

We all hope we get a little wiser with age. Continually learning new things expands our wisdom while keeping our brains young and agile.

HOW TO FOSTER LIFE LONG LEARNING

SEEK LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

I should probably say ‘open yourself up’ to learning opportunities, because those opportunities are everywhere.

Every moment is a potential learning experience. You just have to recognise it for what it is. We can grow a little wiser when we listen to a friend, or deal with a tantruming toddler; when we negotiate with a difficult colleague, read a book, take a course or even scroll through Facebook.

At the beginning of the year, we looked at setting goals. Make learning something new a goal for each and every year.

All the world is my school and all humanity is my teacher.”  George Whitman

BE CURIOUS

Never stop asking why.

Or how.

Or when, where, who and what for?

Young kids are passionate learners. They’re constantly asking questions. And they’re never satisfied with ‘I don’t know.’

At some point we become a little jaded and lose that sense of awe.

Everything is amazing and nothing is boring when you reignite your natural curiosity.

READ

Lifelong learners are voracious readers.

There’s a whole universe of knowledge between the covers of a book.

(Not to mention infinite alternate realities).

A book is a direct line to what other’s have learned before us. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Read the book about how the wheel was invented.

APPLY

Reading is good, but learning happens when we apply our knowledge.

You could read a dozen books on how to play the guitar, but you’re never going to learn to do it until you pick up the thing and practice.

Give what you’ve learnt a go. Teach someone what you’ve learned. Journal about it. Write it in a letter. Call home and tell your mum. Experiment. Practice. Apply.

TRY NEW THINGS

Lifelong learners try new things. It might be trying to unravel quantum physics one day and then learning how to grow the best tomatoes another.

Take a class. There’s lots available online for free (which is a whole other article).

Start a new hobby.

Be bold and step out of your comfort zone.

We don’t stop learning when school is over. The happiest and most successful people embrace a growth mindset. Learning is a lifelong passion and an opportunity to continually make life better.

Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” Albert Einstein

lifelong learning

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2 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed reading this Melissa. You are a great example of someone who lives by these values. If anything, being a lifelong learner makes one a pretty interesting person; they’ve always got something of worth to share with others. Thanks

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