One of the most important traits human beings possess is our innate sense of curiosity. It’s what drives us through life from our first steps. Unfortunately, for some, that curiosity ends quickly and abruptly after the end of education or soon thereafter. At Transcom, we believe that curiosity and the drive to learn are crucial. In fact, it is so important to us that we made it one of our core values: “We’re lifelong learners.” Today, we’ll talk about why it’s necessary to nurture that curiosity through lifelong learning by exploring what it is, why it’s important, giving you some examples, and talking about the benefits of lifelong learning.
While it doesn’t have a strict definition, one thing that all definitions of lifelong learning have in common is that it’s motivated by curiosity and personal fulfillment. The rest of it is up to the person themselves. It can be formal or informal, depending on the type of education you prefer or are available to receive, but it has to be self-motivated.
This, of course, doesn’t mean that lifelong learning has to only have personal fulfillment and growth as an end goal. As an added goal you can have business advancement, upskilling, promotions, getting hired somewhere, etc.
Apart from the benefits listed below, it is important to keep one’s curiosity and to keep trying to go out of your comfort zone to find new experiences. With access to the internet and the vast amounts of information available, it is easier than ever to find materials and learn something new.
Also, we all need something to fulfill us on a personal level. Self-realization. It can come in many different forms, but what’s important is to never be satisfied and to always keep searching and learning.
There are a vast number of benefits of lifelong learning. We’ll cover 5 main or more general ones in order to give you an overview of what it can do for you. Others can be viewed as falling under these 5 or can be seen as more fringe benefits. So, what exactly are the benefits of lifelong learning?
First and foremost, let’s cover the obvious. If you focus on learning more practical skills you’re adding another skill to your toolbox. This skill can be artistic, such as painting, sewing, or making pottery - or it can be more practical such as light plumbing, coding, or learning a new tool for work.
The first group doesn’t have to stay purely artistic or focused on pure expression. Sewing can be used to increase the lifespan of your clothes or to create clothes specifically tailored to you. Making pottery can help decorate your home or make you spend less on kitchenware. On the other hand, the second group has obvious benefits. By learning how to repair things around the house, you’re saving money on hiring and time waiting for a technician. With learning a new tool for work you can streamline your workflow and make your job easier.
The second group in the last part also ties into this benefit. By learning a new skill or improving your old ones you increase your chances of professional development. Improving old skills increases the chances of a promotion, and learning new skills allows you more professional mobility and could even be the starting point to reskilling into a new position.
In any case, by doing this you set a great example for your coworkers and you show proactivity and desire to learn and advance which is something that every employer values. At Transcom, for example, we actively encourage our employees in their pursuit of skill and knowledge by offering them things like Transcom University, which is a tool to help them grow and improve professionally.
The next benefit is possibly the most important one. Being an active and engaged learner keeps you healthy and keeps you sharp. People who maintain the drive to learn and practice learning are proven to retain more of their mental faculties at a later stage of their lives. Keeping them bright and sharp for far longer than usual.
Not only that, but it can also stave off diseases such as Alzheimer's. At the end of the day, as the old saying goes, 'the mind is a muscle' and as is the case with all muscles it is a matter of 'use it or lose it'.
Another benefit of lifelong learning is the possibility to enrich your time even further by discovering hobbies. Taking up a hobby is, at its core, a simple formula. You have to know something exists in order to take it up, and after that, it’s only a matter of will and determination.
Learning, reading, and expanding your knowledge constantly, will introduce you to a vast array of hobbies you never knew existed. Are you technically skilled with paint and brushes but feel you lack creativity? Why not try miniature painting? Do you love the competition of Monopoly but hate the tediousness? Explore the rich and vast world of board games. Do you like walking but would like to make it more interesting? Try birdwatching, and try to see them all. Cooking. Scrapbooking. Gardening.
The choices truly are endless.
We all know that with age, the opportunities for friendship and deeper social connections dwindle. You become more focused on your immediate surroundings, you meet most, if not all, of the people you can meet through work. In contrast, in our late teens and early twenties, we went from school to college to work, meeting hundreds of people per year. That’s why learning and hobbies can have an added benefit.
By joining hobby groups, chat rooms, subreddits, etc. you can meet a lot of new, like-minded people who share your interests. This can also pay off in the later stages of your life.
As we said previously, lifelong learning is easier than ever. With the internet offering an unimaginable amount of information on nearly every topic, accompanied by courses and video lessons there’s little to no excuse not to start your lifelong learning journey today.
One of the ways you can do that is to intentionally focus on what you’re weakest at. This takes you out of your comfort zone but also provides the best base for learning because you should progress the fastest. In turn, this will give you a sense of accomplishment and motivation to continue learning.
Another option is to slot the learning into your daily schedule. Not necessarily by explicitly making time for it because that then bites into your free time, but combine learning with other activities. If you’re learning a language, and like watching films or TV, combine them by watching films in the target language. By watching films and TV in that way, you are getting exposed to the language, its structure, vocabulary, and especially pronunciation.
If you’re the more organized and structured type, you can always take part in classes or lessons. There’s nothing saying that lifelong learning cannot be organized or based on institutions.
Lastly, lifelong learning can be a project in and of itself. Jumping off the deep end and figuring out how things work through tinkering and deconstructing, literally or figuratively, is a great way to learn. It does take the most time, but that way you get a deeper understanding of how something works. Be it processes, systems, tools, or machinery, the route is the same.