When was the last time you learned something new? Yesterday? Last week? Three months ago? If you can’t remember, you aren’t living up to your potential as a lifelong learner.
A lifelong learner is someone who is intentional about learning. Every day is an opportunity to learn something, somewhere. A new skill. An important fact. A truth about life. Something that challenges or stretches what they already know.
Are you a lifelong learner?
The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. — Alvin Toffler
3 Reasons you should be a lifelong learner
1. Lifelong learning keeps your brain healthier
Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.— Henry Ford
To remain healthy, our brains need workouts, just like our bodies do. And, just as fitness experts recommend that for best results people should vary their exercise routins, so too the best way to keep out brains sharp is to stretch it by learning new things. Reading our favorite types of books, or solving our favorite puzzles is fine, but to truly keep our brains healthy we must challenge them with new subjects, new skills, and new experiences. How can you challenge your brain with something new today?
2. Lifelong learning enables a mindset of continual improvement
The key to pursuing excellence is to embrace an organic, long-term learning process, and not to live in a shell of static, safe mediocrity. — Josh Waitzkin
Life is not about getting to a certain point and then sitting on our laurels for the remainder of our days. We should never be content to stop growing and improving. Those who are at the top of any field—athletes, musicians, or computer programmers—are intentional about working daily to hone their skills. We too should seek to constantly improve in all areas of life: our careers, relationships, faith, hobbies, ministry… How wonderful that we have an infinite ability to change, grow, learn, and become a better human being. How can you improve 1% in some are of your life today?
3. Lifelong learning enhances your enjoyment of life
The joy of life consists in the exercise of one’s energies, continual growth, constant change, the enjoyment of every new experience. To stop means simply to die. — Aleister Crowley
This amazing world we live in is full of odd and fascinating creatures, breathtaking vistas, and centuries of impressive human achievements. Why be satisfied with what you already know, when there is so much more to explore? A sense of wonder is not something we must lose when we grow up. What new place, subject, or historical event can you discover today?
A brief list of free (or almost free) resources for lifelong learning
Your local library. A library is much more than a collection of books on a shelf. Your library offers:
- Access to books and other resources in libraries across the county, region, or state. (Most library systems have inter-library loan options. Ask your librarian if you don’t know how it works.)
- Programs (many free) on a variety of topics, from health, to computers, to finances.
- Expert help. Librarians are trained researchers who can help you find the information you are looking for.
The local newspapers. Look inside for a listing of cultural and educational events coming up in your area.
Local or national clubs and professional organizations. These types of groups often offer free or reduced-cost training opportunities on their websites. In addition, they typically have annual conferences and monthly local chapter meetings where individuals present topics of interest. If you want to learn about beekeeping, hone your writing skills, or keep up with the latest research, you should look for suitable organizations to join.
Blogs and YouTube videos. Want to learn how to make puff pastry from scratch? Repair the automatic window in your car? Improve your Salsa dance moves? The internet is bursting with helpful videos and bloggers who are happy to tell you what you want to know. Not every site is equally helpful, but a little exploring will lead you to some knowledgeable and reliable sites on whatever topic you find interesting.
And don’t forget classes from local community college or high school adult learning programs. These aren’t free, but they are typically reasonably priced, and offer schedules adapted to working students.