Learning in a structured setting – whether in-class virtually, or in a hybrid combination – is not the only way to learn. Nor is it the only way to network, master real-life work skills or earn a degree, certificate or diploma. While structured classes (on-campus or virtual) are often thought of as the traditional ways to get an education, self-paced learning and developing a lifelong learning mindset are arguably stronger approaches. This is especially true if you want to continue to learn, grow and adapt to the constant changes you will face in your relationships, career and community well beyond any traditional learning years.
As such, lifelong learning is about educating the self. This approach is often driven by your inner motivation, and many lifelong learners are self-taught. These learners take techniques typically confined to the classroom and apply them to daily life, making learning and doing a regular practice. In this way, as long as you have the desire to learn and improve your skills, you can do just that – irrespective of where you are, what you do, how old you are or what type of content you want to master.
University of Phoenix can help you be the lifelong learner who can get to where they need to go. This applies to educational topics like learning a new spoken language, a programming language or a hands-on skill. But it is also applicable to individuals looking to improve their careers and workplace readiness with the latest in industrial applications and theory. Here are a few points to consider as you continue on your journey as a lifelong learner.
Understand that everyone has lifelong learning potential
Lifelong learning is not something to learn. Rather, it is a spark everyone has which only needs to be rekindled. It is an attitude, a mindset and an approach to topics, challenges and new material. If you actively seek new opportunities to learn and grow or often strive for new goals, you already have learning potential. The trick is to recognize and nurture it to achieve your personal or professional goals over the long run.
Know what you know, what you don’t and what you need to know
As the old saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Embarking on a learning journey or sharpening your learning mindset must start with an assessment of what you know, what you don’t know and what you need to know to bridge the gaps between yourself and your goals. What options do you have for improving your current skill set? What content areas or strengths can you continue to build on? What innate talents do you possess that may have gone unnoticed or uncultivated?
Overcome the shackles of a fixed and constrained mindset
There is nothing worse for the learner than the belief that you cannot do or change something. You must overcome your fixed mindset and embrace a growth mindset instead. To improve, you must be ready to try, frequently fail and incrementally enhance your skills and knowledge base. Your goal should be to remain focused on learning and not worry about how smart you may or may not look along the way. The ends will justify the means, but this change in mindset is important if you are to reach where you want to go.
Part of getting the mindset right is understanding that lifelong learning is a way of life, not a one-time activity. You cannot give up after a few simple setbacks. However, give yourself an edge by starting with simple and gradual adjustments to your schedule or routine. Develop an understanding of how you spend your time, which of your activities are value added and which activities will lead to the highest long-term returns in your chosen line of work or area of interest.
Learn to be uncomfortable
Waking up in the morning, attending classes, completing assignments, preparing for exams and successfully completing coursework is hard work. It will make you uncomfortable. However, the experience can also be quite rewarding. Nothing of value comes easy, and you must be willing and able to place yourself outside your comfort zone to experience and learn new and challenging things over the course of your life.
Take care of both your physical and mental health
You perform your best when you feel your best. Overcome learning challenges can be difficult if you are hamstrung by physical and mental illnesses that deserve your care and attention but nonetheless make it harder to reach your goals. Eat, sleep and exercise well, and do so consciously as a matter of habit to improve both your mental and physical health and get the most out of your learning initiatives.
Do what lifelong learners do
Lifelong learners are curious. They ask questions. They are open to new experiences, both good and bad, and are always on the lookout for the lessons and opportunities that can help them make mental connections and understand the relationships between the causes, effects, inputs and outputs we define as learning. They look for answers wherever they can find them, they speak up when things are unclear to them and they test what they know in the real world to imprint newly acquired information as core knowledge.
You must read to think differently, gain new perspectives and expand your horizons. Listen to relevant podcasts or watch documentaries that can teach you something in your areas of focus. Network with thought leaders in your field and push yourself to absorb whatever you can from the resources at your disposal.
With an open mindset, an understanding of what you know (or don’t know) and persistence, you can make lifelong learning second nature. Opportunities to learn are all around you, wherever you are or whatever you may be doing.
About University of Phoenix
University of Phoenix helps working adults achieve their personal and professional goals with industry-relevant coursework, flexible scheduling, vast academic and professional resources and a deep understanding of the determinants of success in career enhancement and personal development. If you want to continue your studies, pivot to a new field, improve your career readiness or simply learn more about a topic that interests you, University of Phoenix has something for you. Learn more about our program offerings at https://www.phoenix.edu/.