How to Create a Habit of Continuous Learning for a Better You

Contrary to popular belief, learning is a necessary part of our existence. Much like we need food for our body, our brain needs nourishment through information and continuous learning. To live a life without learning constantly is utterly unthinkable despite people's efforts. It's this reason I'd like to argue that we need to stop resisting and to embrace learning for specific reasons. On top of that, I'll explain the step by step process to train your brain to help you become a continuous learner.

Why Is Continuous Learning Important?

To quote Heraclitus:
"The only thing that is constant is change."
All around us, change happens. We change careers, our personal lives, our community or business. Even if those changes are minor, they are still changes nonetheless. But one thing we might not realize is that one of the most effective ways for us to handle change is through learning. How is that possible?

Learning Keeps Us Relevant

The biggest reason is relevancy: both individually and in group dynamics. Talent LMS raised some solid points for continuous learning, particularly for individuals and groups.((Talent LMS: What is Continuous Learning)) First off, this form of learning will allow the increase in knowledge and competency in our career and overall skills. For example, watching someone work can make us a better worker. It might also embolden us to explore alternatives or try new things as well. But we really start to see continuous learning shine in group dynamics. These days, we all work in teams in some capacity. Not only do we need to get along with others but, what we are learning also changes the team to a degree. Talent LMS explains that this learning will keep us up to speed with the changing environment in our industry. This is key because as a team, it's crucial that a team is all on the same page and to work effectively. Part of that effectiveness also hinges on people's ability to both change and learn.

Learning Prepares Us for the Unexpected

The future is unpredictable but continuous learning can help us with unexpected changes. By staying ahead of our learning, we are better equipped for drastic changes. For example, we can learn about the general workforce and how the application process works to better prepare us for job searching. This can help if for some reason you lose your job and need to find other work.

Learning Boosts Your Profile

If you're always learning, you are always improving. Best of all, you can put those skills into your own portfolio or resume. You can showcase these skills in various ways and in certain situations, you can get people to endorse those skills.

Learning Builds Confidence

A lot of us place our confidence in our own skills and abilities. When we turn something down, it can be for various reasons. However, those reasons can just be that we lack the chops necessary to fulfil what's being asked. You don't run into that issue if you are developing continuous learning. You feel accomplished when learning new things and it improves how you view your skills.

Learning Will Change Perspectives

The final reason continuous learning is so important is the fact that it opens your mind. Having an open mind and willingness to take on new perspectives can do wonders for you. First of all, it builds your attitude to change. Being excited about change can affect others around you in a positive way compared to dragging your feet and resisting. Secondly, when you take continuous learning into account, you can begin to understand how other people feel about a particular issue. Knowing one side of an argument is okay. Knowing both sides is a lot better though. It allows you to not only understand a situation better but you can also help in a more effective manner.

How Do You Develop Continuous Learning?

Continuous learning may be simple on paper but there is more to it than consuming information. When looking at top industry leaders, they're behaving in a specific manner. Anderspink.com outlined some specific traits that individuals used that made them continuous learners.((Anders Pink: 10 Tips for Better Continuous Learning)) They portrayed the following:
  • Always learning something new and sought out more
  • Had knowledge on various topics that weren't always related to current roles
  • Were always looking for new experiences and doing different things
  • Knew about the latest trends and technologies in the industry
  • Maintain strong networks with well-connected people
  • Were active and visible on social media with respect to tracking and sharing recent developments
All of this easy to say, but it's tougher to pull off all that right from the start. Here are my steps to help you get into continuous learning, but also to develop it.

Step 1 - Set a Clear And Specific Goal

Basic motivation dictates that if you want to achieve something you need to want it. No other gimmick or trick will work. As such, the best way to show you want something is to set a clear and specific goal. A goal at its core is a habit and there are all kinds of methods to help you develop that habit. You can take a slow route and consider the Kaizen method. Or if you want something more technical, look to BJ Fogg and his work on forming new habits. In his book Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything , he explains three conditions that need to be met:
  • Motivation
  • Ability
  • Trigger
This first step is the most crucial because if you lack motivation, there is little that will keep you moving forward. No one will willingly learn for the sake of learning as Roger Schank explains.((Roger Schank: Learning Occurs When Someone Wants to Learn, Not When Someone Wants to Teach. )) So how can you find the motivation to meet these three conditions? Sometimes, you need to find a passion that can boost you to do this. Examples of these passions come in many forms, some negative, but still effective:
  • Frustration - expressing unhappiness about the current state of affairs and want to change it.
  • Self-improvement - already have a desire to improve yourself in some fashion.
  • Status - a desire to feel valued and contributing to a change.
  • FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) - you don't want to be left behind and miss something important.
On top of that, these examples can also shape your goals. For example, if you're frustrated with the current state of affairs with your group or team, you can learn how to solve issues in an easier manner or communicate effectively to get points and ideas across.

Step 2 - Create a Learning System (Or Program)

Once your goal is defined, the next thing is to build a system to help support your strategy. You want to be looking for diverse sources of information, but also to be picky about it. Diversity is key for a variety of reasons. Not only does different opinions open your mind, but it also allows you to discover other angles to problems. Steve Jobs designed the Pixar building with this philosophy in mind.((Workers Resort: Steve Jobs poured his imagination into the Pixar office)) And we can apply that philosophy in our own learning. For example, reading a blog post on human psychology can make you a better communicator, sales rep, or marketer. How can that happen? That's where the diverse bit steps in. Allow your mind to wander and challenge yourself to connect the dots between those pieces of information. It could change your perspective or your overall approach to a problem. But as I said above, you want to be picky about the diversity too. Your continuous learning system should be diverse, but also selective. There is a lot of information out there and while learning feels good, you don't want to cram in the wrong information. Make sure that you devote most of your time to learning within your specific field. Furthermore, ensure the information is coming from a trustworthy source.

Step 3 - Empower Yourself with Various Tools

Either individually or as a group, you want to be using other tools to help enhance the learning system. There are all kinds of tools to help you present information and learning. Seminars, workshops, and live classes are still popular training tools. That much is clear with platforms like Udemy and Skillshare that offer thousands of courses on various topics for cheap prices. These are the tools that modern learners need as this grants learning from anywhere and at any time. Furthermore, those platforms give you have access to those courses so long as you have an account there.

Step 4 - Automate the Learning Process

The final step is to automate the process. The market for Learning Management Systems (LMS) is vast, and there is a wide variety of tools to help with that. What these tools do is make the learning process easier. It saves you time scouring the Internet for blog articles and courses on the information. Instead, these systems present them normally in a feed-like style for easy consumption. All that's left is to tell the system what you want to learn and which one to pick. Anderspink is one company that offers a learning system. Other options are iSpring, Learn Upon, Mindflash and more. Each one has its own unique features, so take the free trial and see which one you like the most.

Final Thoughts

Continuous learning provides a lot of distinct advantages to your career and life. Not only does it keep us sharper, but learning can enhance other areas in our lives. And once we tailor our learning experience, we can enhance specific skills and speed up the learning process with various tools and platforms.

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