Many accomplished individuals advise us that continuous learning is a requirement for success, but what does that mean? How do professionals determine what to focus on to build a body of knowledge that makes a tangible difference in their lives? And why is continuous learning beneficial to anyone?
The answer is simple. They have to know where they are going in life to appropriately invest their time and energy.
How to decide what to focus on
To decide what to learn, you need a Continuous Learning Development Plan. But before you can create any plan you have to ask yourself the following questions and be completely honest. You are more likely to achieve your goals if they sincerely meet your needs, and if you are passionate and enthusiastic about them.
- What is your mission in life?
- What are your core values in life?
- In the next three years, where would you like to be in your personal and professional life?
- Are you committed to achieving your personal and professional goals listed above in the next three years?
- Make sure that your personal and professional goals align with your mission in life and your core values
- Why are those goals important to you
- Establish a realistic timeline for achieving those goals
- Make sure that some of your goals add value and fill a societal need
- In the past, what has prevented you from achieving your personal and professional goals?
- What steps can you take to eliminate the barriers to accomplishing your goals?
- What knowledge do you have to acquire to achieve your personal and professional goals?
- What steps do you have to take to acquire that knowledge?
- Who are the experts?
- What have they written
- How can you access the information
Use your responses to the questions to develop a simple one-page Continuous Learning Development Plan and take action daily to entrench continuous into your life.
Benefits of continuous learning
Professionals who are strategic about continuous learning, will reap several benefits that will transform their lives. They will:
- Keep current with trends and developments in their industry
- Stimulate their mind and prevent themselves from getting into a rut
- Build a body of knowledge they can readily use to problem solve and generate great ideas
- Make better decisions because they have more and better information to work with
- Think more rigorously
- Make connections among seemingly unrelated data
- Build verbal power
- Become recession-proof
Ways to learn
- Take courses
- Attend conferences, workshops and seminars
- Observe and talk to others: Customers, competitors and colleagues
How to apply what you have learned
Learning for the sake of learning makes no sense, and is highly unproductive, especially in lives that are overbooked. Practical ways to apply learning and get more out of that newfound knowledge:
- Form a buddy club where you cross-pollinate ideas among club members
- Write articles about what you know
- Develop online courses
- Teach others what you have learned and spread the knowledge
Continuous learning is critical for professionals who wish to navigate flattened corporate structures, but the key is to strategically plan your learning objectives. As Lewis Carroll wrote in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Will anywhere be good enough for you?